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7 Piazza della Repubblica, Florence
Like all of Sir Rocco Forte's select group of hotels, this 102-room establishment enjoyed the attentions of his genius designer sister, Olga Polizzi, who (unlike many a hip hotel designer) does contemporary-cool interiors without crushing a building's bones. Despite the Savoy's immense popularity, beautiful calm reigns here. Get in early to book the new Brunelleschi or Signoria suites, whose private steam rooms have chromotherapy (color therapy) and aromatherapy capability.
7 Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Florence
This hip 20-room town house hotel mixes coffered ceilings with wenge wood and steel, and 18th-century Florentine antiques with 1970s furniture and mid-century lamps—the overall effect being more neoclassical than mod. Rooms in cool slate, cream and stone colors overlook the glass-roofed internal courtyard breakfast room; the piano nobile (first-floor) Master Room with its four-poster bed is the one to get. The roof terrace lounge-bar exemplifies the general chill-out, private-house vibe.
VILLA SAN MICHELE
4 Via Doccia, Fiesole
Frescoes, archways, oils and antiques abound in this 15th-century monastery with close Michelangelo connections (they say he designed it) just north of Florence. It's not hard to see why it's one of Italy's best-known luxury addresses: historically correct rooms with graceful proportions and views over the Arno Valley; lush, landscaped gardens; a loggia (roofed yet open-air) restaurant with a panorama of Florence laid out below; a bucolic heated pool; brilliant service. Sure, it's way pricey, but it's worth it.
Località San Martino 370, Cortona
There's a personal feel to this country retreat thanks to its caring owner–managers, Silvia and Riccardo Baracchi. A dozen rooms in the 17th-century villa are big, with four-posters, cotto floors and antiques; the tower room is the smallest, but it's also a prize for its 360-degree views. A pool behind a rosemary hedge, a mighty fine restaurant in the old limonaia (where lemon trees wintered) and a divine horse-chestnut and cypress-lined cocktail terrace make you feel like staying for good.
Cala dei Santi, Località Sbarcatello, Porto Ercole, Grosseto
The only deluxe resort on tony Monte Argentario is a stunner, perched on the rocks overlooking pretty Porto Ercole's harbor. The 50 rooms in various villas around the grounds vary: There are black-beamed ceilings; Vietri or cotto tiled floors; pale wicker furniture or solid antiques; canopy beds and divine palm-shaded terraces—you must get a terrace. There's a thalassotherapy spa, pool and gorgeous terraced restaurant. Many VIPs come back here year after year.
Tenuta La Badiola, Località Badiola, Castiglione della Pescaia