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Francis Bown, Bown's Best

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See below for the latest June 2018 Reviews

Palazzo Magnani Feroni, Florence, Italy | Bown's Best


Just occasionally, I tire of grand hotels, and seek instead the comfort of a friendly palace. Thus did I find myself, not far from the River Arno and the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, walking off the street into the grand entrance hall of the Palazzo Magnani Feroni. Originally built in the 16th Century, and much expanded by the Marquis Feroni around 1770, this handsome pile passed into the Magnani family in the Nineteenth Century. And now, I am pleased to report, it offers accommodation to those of us who like to be surrounded by columns and fine works of art.

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Il Salviatino, Florence(Fiesole), Italy | Bown's Best


On a hill overlooking Florence is a restored 15th Century villa, surrounded by gardens, with a spa, a swimming pool and as many frescoes as a civilised traveller could wish. Il Salviatino opened as an hotel in 2010. Since 2016 it has been owned by Alessandra Ravati Vitali, the founder and art director of Tearose. Its 44 rooms are stylish and imbued with the sophisticated taste of modern Italy. Moreover, it enjoys the services of two gentlemen of impressive talent: the genial General Manager, Marco Milocco (whom I first met at the Danieli in Venice, years ago) and his brilliant Executive Chef, Stefano Santo.

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Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo, Florence, Italy | Bown's Best


At the very epicentre of Florence, snuggling up to the East end of the vast Duomo, is a most attractive alternative to the city’s many luxury hotels. It is a fine palazzo, whose origins go back to the 14th century. On this spot the genius Donatello had his workshop. Later, an important banking family, the Naldinis, constructed the palace, which was eventually brought into the Niccolini family when Christina Naldini married the Marchese Eugenio Niccolini di Camugliano in 1879. Today it offers its hospitality to paying guests, under the watchful eyes of Filippo and Ginevra Niccolini.

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Francis Bown 2003
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