Cocktails with a view at Villa San Michele

Cocktails with a view at Villa San Michele

Indulge in the finest drinks in the finest surroundings at this Belmond property near Florence.

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Sat 29 Jun 2024 4:24 PM

Picture this. The sun makes its golden descent over arguably the most beautiful urban valley in the world as you sip a finely concocted cocktail in equally fine surroundings. If you’re looking for the ultimate aperitivo in and around Florence, head up the hill to Villa San Michele, A Belmond Hotel, Florence for a well-deserved drink in the Italian gardens alongside the former 15th-century monastery.

As soon as the temperature rises, life in Italy turns alfresco, and there’s nothing more glamorous than indulging in crafted cocktails at this immaculately preserved Belmond property 15 minutes from Florence and a bend away from the hilltop town of Fiesole. Open to external clients, the lush terraced gardens, encircling woodland (where Leonardo is said to have conducted his flying machine experiments) and vast metropolis views make Villa San Michele the perfect escape from the city on balmy summer nights. Given that this is no ordinary hotel, customers can choose from three locales: Bar San Michele in the Italian gardens, the Indoor Bar housed in the former small cloister of the property, and the Pool Bar, all helmed by bar manager Luciano Ferlito.

Bar San Michele: a new drinks destination

An elegant edifice entices in the heart of the courtyard garden. A boiserie frontage, Tuscan terracotta tiled roof and refined pillar define the vibe at Bar San Michele in the Gardens, where customers are invited to while away summer evenings, enjoying the cocktail of their choice while listening to the best of live music. Stylish gazebos add a touch of bygone class, creating cosy corners for private chatter among friends, and contemporary cast iron sofas provide an additional option beneath the age-old pergola entwined with roses. Sinking into the comfortable cushions, we study the drinks menu. For the 2024 season at Villa San Michele, five drinks—such as Woodland featuring lemon verbena, lavender and mountain pine, and Sunset Bliss centred on jasmine—have been added to the offering that have been inspired by the botanicals and plants grown on the grounds. Five contemporary twists on the Negroni, which was invented in Florence, stand out, all of which have been named after Florence’s ruling families: Pazzi (gin, Campari, vermouth); Medici (mezcal, Cynar, and gentian and cocoa bitters); Strozzi (gin, Cinzano, strawberry Campari, white crème de cacao); Corbizzi (white rum, Campari, sherry); and Davanzati (gin, Marsala and vermouth). We’re equally tempted by the five Martini variations, including a classy Tuscan Martini consisting of Tuscan olive oil vodka, pear grappa, Lillet Blanc and drops of saline solution. If alcohol’s not for you, the selection of virgin cocktails delivers the full aperitivo experience with creative reworkings like Blossom (Seedlip garden, mint tea, pineapple syrup, lemon juice and berry vinegar) and Scent (turmeric syrup, lemon and lavender cordial, apple juice and ginger beer). In Italy, the aperitivo hour calls for a sensible bite or two and Villa San Michele is no different, upping the ante with superlative Tuscan delicacies, the freshest of salads and a curated selection of oysters and caviar from the menu.

Indoor Bar

Embrace the air-conditioned cloister bar where French artist Daniel Buren has coloured the centuries-old space with a singular artwork for the summer. Making an impression with his trademark shades and stripes, Sosta colorata per Villa San Michele, lavoro in situ, 2024 can be savoured while sipping on art-inspired cocktail Riflesso (mezcal, gin, tangerine syrup, Campari, lemon juice) that’s prepared by the waistcoated bartenders behind the striking marble counter.

Contemporary art highlights at Villa San Michele

French conceptual artist Daniel Buren brings colour and stripes to the former monastery turned luxury hotel near Fiesole.

Pool Bar

Head for a higher level with poolside drinks at Villa San Michele’s sought-after Pool Bar. Serving refreshing signature cocktails inspired by the elements and smoothies infused with herbs and fruit cultivated in the kitchen garden, the soundtrack to your drinks will be splashes from the sinuous pool and international songs that celebrate the sea and countryside, especially on Tuesdays from 7 to 10pm when the poolside aperitivo is embellished with a DJ set. The vintage-vibe sun loungers and parasols provide irresistible relaxation in true leisurely villeggiatura style.

Don’t miss the mixology nights this summer as part of I Giardini di Villa San Michele, when the gardens host a lively calendar of events spanning concerts, creative workshops and more. Stay tuned to The Florentine for more details.

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