An understated revolution is underway at Hotel Number Nine, in central via dei Conti, where Ginevra Moretti and Maximilian Fane are storming the bastille of wellness, restaurateuring and entertainment in a purposeful volte-face to the good old days.
The thespian vibe is encountered on the cobbles outside as passersby are irresistibly drawn to the golden and royal blue Hogwarts-esque rebranding on the windows of the long-established five-star hotel. The showmanship is a nod to Maximilian’s previous success as president of Fondazione Mascarade Opera and the couple’s love of the whimsical and the wonderful, all of which is rooted in a drive to give back to Florence and preserve the city’s identity. Stepping into the hallway of Nine Vita is akin to entering Scheherazade’s salon. Mystic blue lampshades, a handcrafted mirrored reception desk and plush red theatrical velvet drapes, all with signature purple trim, conjure up a beguiling One Thousand and One Nights ambience. To the right, a door invites guests to make use of the chic Pilates salotto decked out with state-of-the-art Reformer and Cadillac machines.
On a quest to embrace “the art of eternal beauty”, the wellness space’s slogan, the reception staff, all donning elegant purple silk skirts, show The Florentine into the treatment room vaunting the same eclectic style as the entrance hall: vaulted ceiling, Bordeaux walls, quirky artwork. Greeted by a smile and a pristine white coat, Dr. Bianca explains the cosmetic dermatology procedure uniquely available at Nine Vita. An individualized approach for each patient, High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or Hi-Fu, biovitalization is a non-invasive treatment that uses an electrical pulse to open up the face’s pores, enabling hyaluronic, amino acids and vitamins from leading brand SkinCeuticals to reach deeper layers of the skin. Lying down on the medical bed, the doctor places a patch under my right arm and tucks away my hair with a tissue band. As the probe caresses my face, there’s no pain or proper sensation, apart from an initial tingle on my forehand, when the doctor immediately turns down the frequency in line with my sensitivity. Unlike other beauty treatments, we chat throughout the 15-minute session. Bianca’s main job is in internal medicine at a private clinic in Florence, yet cosmetic dermatology is her professional passion. “You would have a similar outcome with micro-injectables, fillers and Botox, all of which we administer here at Nine Vita.” She notes my instinctive aversion. “It can be subtle too! But with Hi-Fu there’s no swelling, redness or bruising.” I ask about the sunspots that have taken up residence on my 43-year-old face. “The next step would be a peeling to lighten pesky hyperpigmentation,” Bianca advises. “And, of course, to continue with Hi-Fu to lift and tone, stimulate the collagen and musculature with four sittings over six months.”
While one of Nine Vita’s emblematic massages is tempting, as too is a spa session downstairs in the historic basement, where a hammam, sauna, Jacuzzi and Chinese reflexology bath entice travellers with tired feet, my visit coincides with a Nine Weekend and lunch awaits at Nine Bistro. A dramatic colourful spoke chandelier dominates the dining room as the oval room walls are adorned with all-seeing eye motifs, Greek-style theatre masks and medieval pennants. Quality linens line the tables topped with dainty stemware, outré lion salt cruets and palm tree candlesticks. Open for lunch from Tuesday to Saturday, the stylish menu, titled “A Chic Table”, has diners spoilt for choice between international fare (club sandwiches, fish and chips and chicken curry, to name a triplet) and Tuscan classics (think spaghetti with chicken ragù, porchetta panini and pinzimonio). For a hotel in the heart of Florence, the prices are surprisingly affordable.
After ordering, the mother and daughter on the adjacent table include me in their lunchtime conversation. Both Florentine, the figlia travels the world researching and importing exotic plants, while the mamma is a high-school teacher, proud of her city, yet disillusioned at the effects of overtourism on class visits to the Uffizi. We chat openly as our food arrives. Feeling an urge for early-autumn soul food, I make short shrift of the salty Cantabrico anchovies spread with butter on little toasts before devouring the generous helping of Tuscan spinach and ricotta gnudi, both of which are washed down nicely with a goblet of Franciacorta bubbles. All the while, live music is playing in the main lounge as guests pause to watch at the doorways. Beginning with background music by Daisy’s Jazz Shade Quartet, the lunchtime builds up to a crescendo as Arachel Dolphie, Daniel Rojas Chaigneau and John Russo celebrate Latin American culture. In something original for contemporary Florence, the diners are up dancing before dessert in a throwback to how Firenze must have been in those Grand Tour days replete with cultural salons and tearooms.
That evening, my husband comments on my skin. “Whatever you did today was wonderful. You look so relaxed. Make sure you do it again—and remember to take me with you!” He can rest assured that Nine Vita is firmly on our radar for many a return visit this winter and beyond.
Hotel Number Nine Firenze, Nine Vita and Nine Bistro are located along via dei Conti in central Florence.
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