Tenuta di Artiminio immerses guests in a Renaissance oasis of UNESCO heritage architecture and authentic Medici meals.
Leaving the city of Florence, the monumental white villa, 20 km away, is already visible in the distant green hills. Surrounded by shady trees, the fortress-like main house and adjoining arcaded stables once belonged to the powerful Renaissance Medici family. Now, more than four centuries later, Tenuta di Artiminio continues to thrive under Meliá Hotels, which recently acquired the nearby hotel and apartments for their Meliá Collection portfolio.
Sitting in the shadow of the 16th-century Medici hunting lodge, the hotel’s rooms are housed in an elegant 17th-century structure that was once the stables and servants’ quarters. From the arcaded walkway that wraps around the upper floor, one has a view of the rolling Tuscan hills and the vast white facade of Villa Medicea La Ferdinanda. Built in 1596 by order of Ferdinando I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, the villa, rich in frescoes and sculptures, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013.
This architectural setting, fully restored with care, plunges guests into a Renaissance oasis. The hotel’s wood-beamed rooms have pleasant details like stone coats of arms under towering fireplaces or carved stone sinks. Large armchairs and heavy wooden desks recall the origins of the estate. The hotel also offers guests an outdoor pool, spa, gardens, and event spaces.
In the nearby medieval village, visible from the terrace of the villa and a few minutes walk away, Meliá is also opening several apartments and rooms in the historic houses. The village of Borgo Artiminio is, like the villa, steeped in history, with an Etruscan museum attesting to its ancient origins.
For guests, a stay at the Tenuta di Artiminio also gives a taste of the splendors of noble Medici country life. Breakfast and dinner are served at Biagio Pignatta, once the home of Ferdinando’s namesake butler and a short walk from the hotel. Around the walls are copper pots and historic cooking utensils. From the veranda windows, diners can marvel at the Tuscan countryside dotted with vineyards and olive groves.
At Biagio Pignatta, guests can experience the sumptuous cuisine favored by the Medici. Chef Michela Bottasso is a passionate researcher of the Renaissance family’s historic dishes and recreates many of them on her menu. She proudly offers dishes such as duck à l’orange and onion soup whose fame in France, she explains, is due to Catherine de Medici, of Italian origin, who imported the recipes when she married King Henry II and became Queen of France.
You can also taste Tuscan gourmet dishes and specialties such as Ribollita soup made in the particular style of Carmignano. The dishes are accompanied by the estate’s wines, including a full-bodied Carmignano DOCG and an aromatic Vin Santo to accompany the dessert.
Guests can spend their days sampling traditional activities like truffle hunting with specially trained dogs, wine tastings with the estate’s sommelier, a cooking class with Chef Bottasso, or a visit to the honey workshop with the resident beekeeper.
While the villa is sometimes busy with weddings, guests often have the chance to take a guided tour of the historic building. The cavernous rooms are adorned with frescoes by Renaissance master Domenico Passignano, while in the ground floor kitchens there is a roasting machine designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
Nicknamed the Villa of a Hundred Chimneys, the period property is one of the few built by the Medici to have survived relatively intact since the 16th century. Indeed, even the ghost of Ferdinando himself was not expelled.
For another experience in a historic house, try the Hotel Meliá in Rome, Villa Agrippina. The five-star resort is housed in a former palace and located near the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.