♥ La Dolce Vita Visits “a Noble Palazzo in the Heart of Florence” ♥
Ah, Florence! There is just so much to see and experience in this iconic and magnificent city…
There so much to see that, in a short visit, it’s easy to miss many of the architectural gems. Spectacular edifices that were once elegant palazzi are government or financial institutions, museums, apartments, hotels, and the like. Although the exteriors may be somewhat unassuming, upon entering there is much more than meets the eye.
As is often the case, there is a rich and fascinating history behind these façades. This is most surely the case with the Relais Santa Croce – one of the jewels in the crown of Baglioni Hotels’ luxurious properties…
“Luxury with an Italian touch”…
Luxury Italian-style has a completely difference ambiance than what may be considered luxury elsewhere. It is an understated and tasteful elegance that is often unexpectedly welcoming and comfortable.
What is now Relais Santa Croce was once a private residence in the mid 18th century of Marchese Baldinuucci, a Florentine aristocrat and powerful treasurer of the Pope. Located on Via Ghibellina, in the residential neighborhood of Santa Croce, the palazzo has known many prestigious owners and guests over the centuries.
Today, known as Palazzo Jacometti Ciofi, it has been faithfully restored to retain the original elegant architectural features including the lovely frescoes dating from the 16th century. Extraordinary care and attention were given to restore the period furniture, fabrics, and aesthetics. These efforts “to preserve the typical atmosphere of the original private residence…” are apparent and praiseworthy.
Indeed, from the time you enter and ascend the main staircase, you feel that you have been personally invited into a beautiful and tastefully appointed palace. Despite the refined atmosphere, rather than being intimidating or uncomfortably formal, it is a delightful portal to the grace and sophistication of the past.
With its tasteful blending of Florentine elegance and modern conveniences, Relais Santa Croce exudes classic sophistication.
In Good Company…
Literati, scientists, artists, celebrities…and me! Angelina and Brad, Placido Domingo, Kate Moss, Charles Aznavour, I Volo…to name a few, are some of the luminaries that have stayed at Relais Santa Croce.
Today I, along with my lovely friend, Michela Ricciarelli, have the pleasure of being guests for a private tour and lunch! While we waited in the elegant Sala della Musica, we were welcomed with a lovely glass of Prosecco, one of many genteel touches we would enjoy.
Our private host today is Flora who greeted and escorted us graciously through the lovely drawing and meeting rooms, and parlors. We were fascinated as Flora pointed out the exquisite details – including the frescoes, inlays, magnificent chandelier, and the secret panels of the Sala della Musica (music room).
Had it not been pointed out, we would have never guessed that these panels revolved to reveal a hidden spaces where musicians, hidden behind the walls, would play and fill the room with “live” music. The panels could also be opened to see them playing. The perfect acoustics are still utilized for private concerts.
A behind the scenes peek at the truss (or trestle) and walkways constructed in the 16th century was fascinating. Still in tact, they allowed the chandelier to be lowered and raised in order to allow servants to light candles. We were fascinated by the mechanical ingenuity.
Taking a peek at several of the 24 beautifully appointed suites and rooms, many with breathtaking views of the rooftops of Florence, was a rare treat. Each accommodation, with its tasteful touches and luxurious amenities, offered a distinct aura of privacy and intimacy.
Flora’s pride in sharing the property, its history and the interesting details was apparent.
More to Our 5-Star Afternoon…
Ushered into the Guelfi & Ghibellini Restaurant dining room, we were then treated to a sumptuous repast… of classic Tuscan cuisine, of course!
Under the direction of Chef Fabrizio Innocenti, the menu is a mouthwatering array of tempting fare making it almost impossible to choose!
Asking for wine pairing recommendations from our accommodating server, Luisa, I enjoyed:
Antipasti: Uovo in camicia con spinaci novelli al tartufo, grana padano e pancetta croccante
(Truffle poached egg with spinach, cheese and crispy bacon)
Secondi (Main course): Spigola di mare con caponatina di verdure in agrodolce e riso rosso
(Sea bass filet with sweet and sour vegetables and red rice)
Neither one of us could resist dolce! And why would we?
My Tiramisù al cioccolato bianco in salsa caramello e agrumi
(Tiramisù in a dome of white chocolate and caramelized orange sauce)
Michela’s Semifreddo ai cantuccini di Prato con sala all’arancio, zenzero e Vin santo
(Cantucci parfait with orange, ginger and Vin santo sauce)
Both were both absolutely meraviglioso!
And the final touch? Espresso and biscotti tastefully presented on original Richard Ginori porcelain china.
Elegant and delicious cuisine and impeccable service… Is that la dolce vita? Certamente!! I would say 5-star divine!
Grazie, Relais Santa Croce, our lovely hostess Flora, Marco Del Lama (hotel manager), our server Luisa, Baglioni Hotels, and Italian Talks for this unforgettable and extraordinary afternoon!
~ I am so very delighted and honored to be a contributing writer/blogger for Italian Talks for the last 3 years. Read more about my 5-Star experiences at the Baglioni luxury hotels in Venice and Rome. ~