Villa Colombaia was built by a well-known Florentine family as a country lodge in the 17th century. Today it still has the old world charm of its origins, with large spacious rooms, beautiful views and a swimming pool set in a terracotta surround overlooking the hills.
Approaching from the drive the villa's profile stands tall - three broad floors and a dovecote. Facing the best view, the entrances to the villa are located on the southwest and whether one climbs the stately dual staircase or enters through the arched door below it reception is in a spacious entry hall.
To the right of the ground floor hall is the delicately frescoed living room, whose original tiled flooring and pastel landscapes, as well as its lovely piano, have been preserved with care. This room leads directly into an old world study whose broad desk may come to hold a laptop or two, for this room has the best WiFi coverage in the villa. Also off the entry hall is the charming dining room with a table for 10 and a handy 'dumb waiter' that allows dishes to be passed directly from the kitchen pantry. The pantry, which is reached up a few stairs from the entry hall is adjacent to a large country kitchen that provides necessary modern appliances yet, with its corner fireplace and over-the-sink drying rack retains its traditional look. Also on this level, to the left of the staircase to the upper floors, is a guest WC/wet room and a laundry room.
On the first floor, accessed via interior or exterior stairways, is the entry hall with patrician dimensions, a coffered ceiling and furnishings that relate its age, be it a grandfather clock, beautifully glazed ceramics or reminders of the villa's day as a hunting lodge.
To one side of the hall is a double bedroom with stately canopy bed and a brightly tiled ensuite bathroom whose tub allows sitting rather than stretching.
Also on this side of the house is a twin bedroom with an ensuite shower room whose window looks to the trees in the side garden. On the other side of the entry hall is a sitting room that leads to a large double bedroom off of which is a smaller room furnished with a baby bed, the ideal set up for parents wanting to have their young one close by. Adjacent to this suite is another double bedroom with hand-painted bedstead and adjoining small sitting area.
Guests in these double bedrooms will share the large bathroom and additional WC off the wide corridor nearby. A further staircase leads up to the remaining available bedrooms on the second floor - a double bedroom with a small sitting area and two twin bedrooms whose bright painted beams add height to their spacious dimensions. There is one shower room on this level and a sitting room with a TV provided for DVD use only.
As the villa was built to enjoy the pleasures of summer, the outdoors has received its due and there are a number of spots to savour the view and the warmth of the day. Tables are set in the natural shade of trees for meals al fresco, while benches, bistro tables and cushioned chairs invite one to share a cup or a glass and a moment's delight. The fenced swimming pool, approached through flower-draped arbor, sits on a slightly lower level and has room on a side patio and the nearby lawn for sun beds.
Though the villa is surrounded in greenery, shops, restaurants, and a tennis court are all less than a kilometre away, as is the train station with hourly trains to the center of Florence and a shuttle bus to The Mall outlet shopping center nearby. If your day trip follows the meandering Arno River northwest, before reaching Florence consider a stop in Fiesole, once an important Etruscan settlement set high above the river valley and by the 14th century dotted with summer villas and impressive gardens of wealthy Florentine families; in fact it was here that Boccaccio's protagonists recounted their tales in the 'Dacameron'. Once in Florence, park under the main station and set out to explore the city centre on foot for its Renaissance palaces, museums, bridges and gardens are all within easy reach. Heading in the other direction brings you to the heart of the Chianti Classico, where lively market towns celebrate the fruit of the vineyards that surround them. In a little over an hour there are the picturesque medieval towers of San Gimignano, the great Leonardo's home town of Vinci or the charming town of San Miniato, famous for its white truffles. And just a bit farther is Florence's historic rival, Siena, a hill city with one of the loveliest piazzas in Tuscany. So many destinations possible and such a welcoming spot to return to - a recipe for the best of holidays.
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