Charming Villa Panna is for those who want to be surrounded by history, culture, and nature during their holiday stay.
The best thing about most European holiday homes is that they are not just hotels or resorts where you check-in, enjoy some of the facilities maybe, and for the most part are simply a place to sleep and rest more than anything else. Some of the best of them – like Villa Panna in Scarperia, Florence– are real destinations in themselves.
If the name rings a bell, that’s because it’s located beside the Panna spring from which one of Italy’s most renowned lightly mineralized natural mineral waters, Aqua Panna, emerges. Villa Panna, rising up within a 1,300-hectare of unspoiled natural oasis, has always been at the very heart of the history of Acqua Panna, which in turn is a natural part of the spirit, history, and culture of Tuscany.
The Panna spring is located in the 1300-hectare estate that used to be a part of the favorite hunting ground of the Medici family, the powerful dynasty of Florentine Lords during the Italian Renaissance. A visit here would not be complete without a visit to the spring. On the way there, not only is the scenery amazing – the greenery, the vast park, and all. The well-preserved wildlife also was. As we drive to the spring an entire pack of deer followed us, making the trip nothing short of magical –some of us were even imagining those days when the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and their illustrious guests where hunting here.
Simply put, Villa Panna was a beautiful property, one that ensures a beautiful holiday experience. Antonella Stefanelli, who is in charge of worldwide PR and media relations for Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino, told us that the original structure of the villa, built upon the orders of the Medicis in the mid-16th Century when they took over ownership of the estate, was that of a farmhouse. Stefanelli came down from Milan to personally meet the Lookeast team and give them a tour of the estate.
Today it had taken on the appearance of a patrician villa after progressive expansion and development. But the surroundings, obviously, were very much preserved.
Even though Villa Panna underwent significant renovations between 2005 and 2007, they were carried out with complete respect for nature and the villa’s history, bringing back the former splendor of the magnificent, ancient residence, and making it a true meeting point between the Renaissance and the modern world. Such that one member of our group, a well-traveled woman, remarked that this is “one of the most beautiful properties I have ever seen.”
The romantic villa is adorned with statues and Neo-classical decoration, sweetened by artificial ponds and a spectacular panoramic view. Just exploring the villa is quite an adventure. What was once the main entrance to the villa is now home to a splendid cadastral map dated 1792, which depicts the lands of the vast territory that lies within the Panna estate.
Leaving the cadastral map area behind, one finds the breakfast hall inside, which is adorned with silver services dating to the 19th Century; and the fireplace hall; an addition built in the first half of the 1900s. There is also a modern kitchen where a wonderful chef prepares the exquisite food that usually pays homage to the Tuscan terroir, which are served to guests like us.
Completing Villa Panna are the garden hall offering a wonderful panoramic view of the natural landscape, the internal garden graced with original statues from the Torrigiani era that bring to mind Virgil’s discourses on bucolics, and the small church, built in 1572, that brims with distinctive architectural details. Inside the church, one will find the broad window used by the nobility to attend religious functions separately from servants and commoners, and, just below that, a sacred terracotta image from the late 15th Century attributable to the Della Robbia School.
Today, lucky guests can enjoy the Villa, its garden, and the surrounding oasis of protected flora and fauna that is still around one third of the original hunting ground of the Medicis. But it’s not just the beauty of Villa Panna and its beautiful natural setting. Guests will also enjoy the best of examples of warmth and hospitality that make this region of Italy a favorite of many travelers.
Thanks to on-site experts who make sure this tradition lasting for centuries continues so that discerning modern travelers may enjoy a charming, unforgettable holiday retreat and pay homage to Renaissance heritage, culture, and nature, today.
Scarperia, Florence, Italy