The Renaissance meets wellness at Il Salviatino in Florence

A special Christmas package in a prestige luxury hotel

We visited this lovely Florentine hotel for a weekend in autumn, to recharge our batteries in the midst of a natural setting rife in the colours of nature. The yellows, reds and browns of the Tuscan countryside blended with the warm colours of the interiors at Il Salviatino, a luxury hotel placed in a superb position with views over Florence. Our suite, l'Affresco, provided a setting that combined pure romanticism with fine art, because the ceiling features a fine fresco by 19th century painter Bruschi. It was discovered during the restoration that led to the creation of the hotel, because it has mysteriously been walled up at some time in the past, probably because the room was used as a kitchen. Today, a remarkable bathtub in the suite, a rectangular tub in sculpted stone, offers a privileged viewpoint from which to savour the painted ceiling at length. However the sort of luxury offered by the hotel is not just in terms of art and history alone. Guests are welcomed and assisted by a personal concierge, who, in our case, explained all the high-tech functions available, such as rain shower, Nespresso coffee-maker, wi-fi lighting control, plasma TV and more.

The same sort of meticulous attention to detail could be seen at the hotel's restaurant, “Il Grappolo”, which presents a menu based on the genuine flavours of Tuscan cuisine. The restaurant kitchen is directed by famous Florentine chef Saverio Sbaragli, who uses local, fresh ingredients in his culinary creations. The menu differs in approach according to where the food is served. At the panoramic “Terrazza” restaurant, the dishes are closer to their traditional form, while in the more secluded setting of “Le Serre,” recipes are more experimental. We particularly liked the "season's vegetables from the garden," a beautifully presented antipasto; a risotto named "Acquerello" with vegetable ash, fresh goatsmilk cheese, and carrot concentrate with aniseed; and the superb main course "Slow-cooked suckling pig flavoured with Vadouvan, celeriac and caramelized apple." We are partial to figs, and so we loved the caramelized figs stuffed with milk and honey, a veritable taste of paradise.

We were lucky with the weather, and so we could enjoy the view of Florence, with the evocative vision of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, from the park in which Il Salviatino is located. We were tempted to drive down into the city - it is in fact just 10 minutes by car - but, as our objective was to regroup and recharge, we decided to remain in the hotel in order to utilize the services of its Thai spa, Devarana, located in the park of Il Salviatino. The Spa has won many awards, including Best Urban Spa (Anywhere Travel Awards), Best Spa and others, and it has many superb treatments including the one that we tried, Idillio Fiorentino. This begins with a relaxing milk and rose-petal bath, followed by a fresh rose petal peeling. The result is skin with a wonderfully fragrant and velvety feel. The process ends with a Swedish massage that is both relaxing and invigorating.

We can warmly recommend Il Salviatino, but in particular for the coming Christmas holidays it offers an attractive package. The Christmas package does not require a minimum length of stay, and it comes with a fixed price with the benefit of being allocated the finest room available at the moment of booking, in the chosen category. The package includes a wide range of activities that can be selected as required, such as cooking courses, trips to the local markets, museum tours, tasting sessions, and much more. It is available from 22 December 2010 to 9 January 2011, and it is ideal for all guests who look forward to relaxing during the holidays. For readers of luxos.com there is an additional 10% discount on prices! Just quote Luxos when booking. For further details, take a look at the website www.averyspecialholiday.com

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