The Palazzo d’Epoca Leone Blu is not a hotel. With its illustrious history, authentic furnishings and gracious host, it is a palace. With its modern fittings, exceptional service and unparalleled location along the Arno, it is the kind of place to call home. Nothing could have prepared us for this most unique stay experience in Florence. We were let in by the palace concierge. We crossed the courtyard and ascended a private elevator. There was the Baroness Maria Teresa Ricasoli, who welcomed us into her family home with elegance and warmth. Portraits of illustrious ancestors on the walls reminded us that we were in esteemed company.
Welcome to Leone Blu, Florence
We were staying in one of the several restored rooms at Leone Blue, named after Baroness Guiliana, the famous benefactress who granted use of the Palazzo to the Red Cross during the First World War. Evidently the Baronesses of this family have impeccable taste, as we discovered the elegant manner in which Baroness Ricasoli has restored the beautiful suite. Reflecting her discerning eye for art, the room balances its 10 century old decor and objets d’art with ultra modern and minimalistic pieces. The original wood beamed ceiling loomed overhead, French tapestry hung above the bed. On the walls, portraits of the Baroness Guiliana looked down at us. Marble busts sparkled in the sunlight pouring in through the gigantic windows. Windows that opened out onto the Arno, Ponte Vecchio just to our left. Doesn’t get better than this for an address, right?
The room had beautiful armchairs and sofas, where we would settle down after a long day of walking around. I pictured myself seated at the desk, writing letters with a quill, that’s the kind of desk it was. The bath was completely modern, and as far as products go, the Argan range they provided was absolutely the best I’ve ever used in any hotel. And Charles will vouch for the fact that I’m a bit of a bath product connoisseur (although I’m not sure he’ll use that word exactly). A small walk in closet, with a bar and coffee machine completed the wood floored suite. Here even lights were intuitive and elves made up the room with the most considerate of flourishes. Every room in the Palazzo was an absolute surprise, with frescoes, painted wood beams, lots of pieces by ancient artists I recognised, and some family heirlooms. The thought that had gone into the design of each of these was evident.
The formal dining area was open to guests who wished to eat in, bring their breakfast or help themselves to the bar. The lounge was by far my favourite room of the Palazzo. Beautifully lit, the sun streamed in from three sides, gigantic windows allowing us to truly enjoy this precious address. Lamps repurposed from the antique curtain rods, a massive and elaborately framed mirror, this room probably came closest to actually experiencing the life of the Ricasolis. At this point, Charles turned to the Baroness, asking her if anyone famous had ever stayed here. I was curious, as she thought for a moment, trying to sort through the rich history, and then said, “Tchaikovsky did. Back when it was a hotel for a while during the 19th Century.” This would have been just before he found a house for himself in Florence, falling in love with it and composing Souvenirs de Florence. I could see Charles’ eyes light up in absolute fascination. We know there have been other members of international royalty that have stayed here since.
We enjoyed our days at the Palazzo d’Epoca Leone Blu. Coming and going with a private elevator, or using the sweeping stairs, being made to feel right at home with the gracious hospitality of a fascinating Baroness.
The Ricasoli family also owns the sprawling Brolio castle in Siena where the Baron makes a beautiful Chianti among other wines. Unfortunately we couldn’t visit while we were in Siena, but we did have a chance to taste their delicious Chianti while in Florence. And it’s definitely among our favourite wines from Tuscany.
Discover the fabulous Leone Blu and take your pick of the most sumptuous suites. For we’ve seen them all and can vouch that every single one of them is absolutely special. Have you ever had a chance to explore such an illustrious family’s home? What would you be most curious about if you did get the chance?
This post was made possible by Leone Blu, Florence. Opinions as always, are our own.