The hills immediately to the south of Florence are full of grand and beautiful villas, many of them erstwhile summer residences of wealthy Florentine families. The 15thC Villa Poggio San Felice is such a house; perched on a little poggio or hill and surrounded by private gardens and orchards, it could be in the heart of Chianti but is, in fact, only a few minutes from the heart of Firenze.
   The renovated villa is set in a lovely gardens designed by Porcinai in the late 1800s. Inside, the feeling is very much of an elegant Tuscan private house; airy and laid-back. The five restored suites and two apartments have great views over the beautiful city or the Tuscan countryside. Each different from the next - lead off a landing on the first floor; two have working fireplaces and one has a little reading room and a terrace overlooking the city.
   Breakfast is taken in the ancient greenhouse, with large windows opening out on the patio and garden. On his way to work everyday, the head chef shops at the local farmers market, what he buys here is used to cook lunch and dinner. Only Tuscan products and the villa's own pressed olive oil are used in the cooking here. The wine cellar stocks a dizzying array of wines from all over Italy, with special emphasis on Tuscan grapes.
   For relaxation, there is a pretty, partially arched loggia, while more meditating visitor might enjoy the comfy chairs under the olive trees - or there's a sitting room for cooler weather.