The Relais Santa Croce of Baglioni Hotels and Resorts in Florence was the home of the papal treasurer and sonnet composer Marquis Giovanni Maria Baldinucci, an intimate palace for the nobles. Also known by its historical name, Palazzo Jacometti-Ciofi, it was built in the 1700s and has been beautifully restored with original frescoes and marble throughout.
The 24 luxury rooms and suites are spacious and thoughtful, with the signature luxury suites – Da Verrazzano and De Pepi – each decorated with impressive ceilings with full frescoes. The hotel is located on Via Ghibellina, in the heart of the old Santa Croce district at the eastern end of Florence’s historic centre. This stretches along the city’s charming Arno River, with picturesque bridges and bustling markets.
Why stay here?
If you are a fan of opera, this hotel is a must place. A passion for music is central to the property’s design, with the hotel’s jewel crowning the Music Room. Equipped with a high vaulted ceiling, soprano rooms and frescoed walls, this concert hall has been specifically designed to provide the best acoustics for listening to musicians and singers.
True to its origins, this is a hotel without a doubt. Designed for Florentine nobles, it offers guests a quiet and luxurious home to relax in – the perfect respite after a day of sightseeing. Vibrant Santa Croce is known to haunt artists and art lovers, but it is located outside of the city’s most touristy areas. This means it’s far from damp, but a quick ten-minute stroll from the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and other major attractions.
eating and drinking
Guelfi & Ghibellini, the hotel’s elegant restaurant run by chef Niccolo di Rio, serves an array of delicious dishes. Inspired by Tuscan cuisine, the menu features seafood typical of the region’s coast and meats typical of the interior. Try the felicetti fusilli pasta with ‘dolceforte’ duck ragout – rumored to have been created by Catherine de’ Medici – for an extraordinarily hearty dish, with a hint of sweetness from the dark chocolate melted in the sauce.
For a night of opulence, the three-star Enoteca Pinchiorri is located below the hotel on the ground floor. It shares a special partnership with the hotel, so ask the concierge about exclusive experiences for guests – experiences range from wine tasting in the exceptional cellar to suite dining.
For a close trattoria, try Il Francescano. Ask the hotel to reserve a seat outside in advance, so you can sit outdoors and enjoy the orange evening light. A wide range of delicious seafood pasta is available upon request. For meat lovers seeking a fun night of indulgence (you’re on vacation after all), soaking up the city’s traditions, opt for the famous Pestica alla Fiorentina – the Florentine steak. With its origins in Florence’s most prosperous era, it’s a huge T-shaped steak (a porterhouse cut between sirloin and tenderloin, and well-marbled) that arrives with divine, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes. I recommend sharing this between at least two people and note that it always comes on the rare side, so let them know if you’re curious how to cook it.
What do I do
When in Florence, you should of course visit the Duomo – one of the most impressive pieces of architecture in the world – and Michelangelo’s statue of David in the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze. But, behind the hotel a 2 minute walk you should also visit Piazza Santa Croce, where is the wonderful Santa Croce Church. With a striking facade of colorful marble and an interior space filled with religious masterpieces, it is famous for harboring the tombs of some of Italy’s most famous – the true titans of history. Step inside the cooler interior to escape the midday sun and visit the tombs of Galileo Galilei, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Dante, to name a few. Make sure you have a scarf or jacket to cover your shoulders – this is a requirement for most churches in Florence.
For day trips, the hotel organizes special experiences including hot air balloon rides over the rolling hills of Tuscany and cooking classes. For an evening close to home, book a private concert in the music room. Although such an intimate performance may seem daunting at first, soon you will be completely immersed in the performance and the strong feelings it will evoke will be unparalleled.
Rates at Relais Santa Croce by Baglioni Hotels & Resorts start from £396 per night; baglionihotels.com