Photo Courtesy of Villa Poggio BartoliVilla Poggio Bartoli, like many Italian buildings, is filled to the brim with centuries of torrid stories and intriguing historical elements. First built as a defensive outpost during the rule of the Medici's, the luxury villa later became an elegant country home, famed for its hunting prowess. Though its days of harboring nobility are long past, Poggio Bartoli seems to be frozen in time in its grandest age of elegance.
Its restored design is in keeping with the original architect’s plan of the villa, and remains largely the same as it was when it served as a country home for the well-connected Bartoli family. Not only is the villa itself a testament to Italian history, but the location itself, Vicchio di Mugello, was once home to one of Italy’s most innovative painters, Giotto.
Once you enter the antique-lined hallway, climb the 15th-century spiral staircase to the tower to see a panoramic view of the Tuscan countryside. If all of that spiraling makes you dizzy, fear not—the villa’s small library is halfway to the top, so you can stop and read a few lines of Machiavellian wisdom while you regain your senses.
On the way down, once your eyes have drank their fill of the stunning Mugello Valley, you’ll probably want to take a nap in the home's master suite, the Tower Suite. The size of the Tower Suite resembles more of a "shabby-chic" apartment than a guest room and is outfitted in flowing white drapery and linens, with hardwood floors below. Antique furnishings are centered around a stone fireplace, giving it a fresh and warm ambiance that will no doubt put you right to sleep. The adjacent room contains the closet and beautiful views of the park. The spacious bathroom is brightened by white cabinetry and lot of mirrors, complete with a shower and green onyx detailing.
Villa Poggio Bartoli is a place for calm contemplation of the location’s natural beauty, whether that be through hiking to a far away picnic with donkeys to carry your meal, golfing, or even enjoying a falconry demonstration. The villa also boasts a chef who produces an authentic Tuscan menu based around ingredients from the local market or the estate’s private vegetable garden. Meals are served in either the grandiose dining room or al fresco on the terrace and may be paired with wine from the owner's vineyards in Bolgheri, about an hour and a half from Florence.
To accommodate travel groups of all kinds, from a romantic weekend for two to a large family reunion, Villa Poggio Bartoli allows you to book a suite for the weekend, or reserve the entire estate for a week. Weddings are a common occurrence at the villa, as its antique chapel, horse-drawn carriages, and large halls make for a fairy tale-esque celebration.
The antique nature of the estate is offset by the villa's modern amenities, like satellite TVs, air conditioning, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and telephones. The villa also includes a game room with a pool table and foosball table, which is quite the contrast from the antique store scene throughout the rest of the property. It's good to know there's a little something to entertain everyone during a stay in this aristocratic piece of Tuscan history. Rates start at about $230 a night.