Florence is enchanting. We all know this. But it is particularly enchanting when you are staying in a Renaissance-style palace overlooking the River Arno. And it becomes ravishingly, heart-wrenchingly enchanting when your apartment within the palace is a large and impressive suite in the traditional style with its own view over the said waterway. Thus it was for me at the Westin Excelsior Hotel, as splendid a hostelry as you will find in splendid Florence.
J K Place hotels appeal greatly to those of taste and discernment. They have a style which combines tradition and modernity with flashes of good humour. It is impossible not to be charmed. The Classical references, the sumptuous fabrics and the abundance of white are used with such a lightness of touch that an atmosphere is created which might best be described as both sophisticated and homely. It begins at once, with the registration process on arrival – which takes place in a leisurely fashion over complimentary drinks. The relaxed and friendly atmosphere continues throughout one’s stay. In Florence, it obviously owes much to the charming Claudio Meli, the General Manager.
Perched one thousand feet above the Amalfi Coast, Ravello is a town of ancient churches, narrow streets and luscious gardens. It is the sort of charming little place which ought to have a festival. And it does have one, which specialises in that most civilised of artistic forms – chamber music. Here, then, the brash and the vulgar have long been banished. In Ravello you can expect courtesy, modesty and restraint. Its hotels reflect these characteristics. One of them was once the villa of the Marquis de Cinque. Now it is the Hotel Villa Maria, and it has been owned by the Palumbo family for four generations, since 1934. I decided to pay a visit.
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See also Dining in France & American Farm to Table