Everyone who loves Italy will love the Villa La Massa. It was built in the countryside near Florence in the 16th Century (and was extended in the 18th and early 19th Centuries) and sits in 20 acres of gardens right next to the River Arno. An hotel since 1948, in 1998 it became the sister hotel of the great Villa d’Este on Lake Como. Although it is much smaller than its sibling, the Villa La Massa offers its guests something of the same experience, for it, too, is spotlessly elegant and supremely comfortable, and provides the sort of service which is both attentive and entirely proper.
Everyone who goes to Florence knows that there is one dish which must be eaten. I suspect even vegetarians might sometimes be tempted to try it, just once. It is that enormous slab of prime beef which is called the Bistecca alla Fiorentina. And one the most famous places at which it can be found is the splendid Ristorante Buca Mario.
To eat beef in the City of Art those in the know go to Florence’s oldest restaurant. Tradition at Buca Lapi is everything. And I say: three cheers for that! Opened in 1880 in the cellars of the magnificent Palazzo Antinori, Buca Lapi (‘buca’ means ‘hole’) is famous throughout the world for its beef. Those who love Florence and who love beef – and strange those who, in full possession of their senses, do not do both – come from far and wide to this remarkable gastronomic destination, close to the church of SS Michele & Gaetano, and bring with them the healthiest of appetites. Thus did I present myself for an evening of homage to the cow.
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