Delaney Erin & sister Courteney enjoying the company of the Irish Wolf-hounds at Ashford Castle on the Irish Elegance tour #insightmoments by Insight Tour Director Aine.
I recently travelled on The Country Roads of Ireland which is truly an amazing journey of the Emerald Isle. Visiting both the North and South, you really get immersed in the history, people, and culture. Ireland is full of history, scenery, warmth, cheer, and Guinness of course!
In just 12 days you get twirled and whirled through the countryside, meet locals, and of course see all the famous sights, and some not so famous sights that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for our Tour Director Harry. Keep reading to see some of my highlights.
Situated in the Tuscan Hills of Mugello near Florence lies one of the most beautiful late Renaissance country homes in Tuscany. Villa Le Maschere, a Signature Hotel, is a luxury resort with stunning views of Lake Bilancino that will whisk guests away on an Italian escape to the countryside on our Luxury Gold La Serenissima itinerary.
Built in the second half of the 16th century by the Bettini family, Villa Le Maschere was later acquired by the Florentine Gerini family, who began to enlarge and restructure the house, and to reorganize the park with new avenues and an Italian style garden. At the end of the 17th century, the villa was remodelled by Giovanni Battista Foggini, chief architect and sculptor to the court of the Grand-duke of Tuscany Cosimo III de’ Medici. Foggini’s most famous works include statues at the churches of the Carmine and Santissima Annunziata in Florence, but he was also responsible for renovations at many Florentine palaces including the grand staircase at Palazzo Medici-Riccardi.
By the 18th and 19th centuries, Villa Le Maschere was considered one of the most beautiful Tuscan villas. Le Maschere was a favourite stop for popes (Pius IX in 1857), sovereigns (Carlo Emanuele IV King of Sardinia in 1801, King Carlo Felice in 1821), as well as many renowned noblemen and artists. It was also the venue for some memorable theatrical parties, like the one for the wedding of the marquis Carlo Gerini with Isabella Magnani in 1832, which required a grand decorative restyling of the villa.
After 1963, when the Gerini family abandoned the villa, it fell into such disrepair that the roof collapsed and frescoes were lost or stolen, and the Italian Ministry for Cultural Property was compelled to declare the building “irrecuperable”. However, a painstaking 5-year restoration took place, and has brought this historic establishment back to new life. This restoration has helped recover the decorative work of Tito Chini, the many stuccoes throughout the complex, the Venetian style floors, and the beautiful frescoes by the school of painter Francesco Furini that for many years were hidden under layers of plaster. These art treasures now occupy some of the resort’s bedrooms: two impressive statues of young girls carved by Giovanni Battista Foggini at the end of the 17th century decorate suite 915 (which is dedicated to the artist), the decorative floral reliefs by Tito Chini that embellish room 115, and delicate 18th century frescoes illuminate suite 901 where Pope Pius IX once slept.
Boasting 65 bedrooms and suites all varied in their decoration, fabrics and furnishings, complimentary buffet breakfast (including a selection of gluten free products) is offered. During the spring and summer seasons, breakfast is served on the staircase terrace overlooking the park – creating a beautiful Tuscan start to the morning. A large wellness centre has been developed in the ancient basements of the Villa, where guests enjoy a spectacular view through the three large arches that lead to the external swimming pools. The large wellness centre offers a sauna, Turkish bath, Emotional Showers, relaxation area, Jacuzzi with direct access to the outdoor swimming pools, and treatment rooms where guests have the opportunity to partake in various massage styles and indulge in products from the renown French beauty line, Sothys.
For more information about Villa Le Maschere, visit here.
For more information about travelling to the Italian countryside with Insight Vacations, visit the La Serenissima itinerary.
Image credits: Villa Le Maschere
Gruyère Castle in Gruyère, Switzerland. The town is also famous for its cheese! #insightmoments by La R.
Watch it on the big screen from one of our favourite films!
Believed to have been built by Raja Man Singh during 967 CE, what is the name of this UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Be sure to stay tuned this week as we travel to India, one of the most diverse and culturally rich destinations in the world! Come explore with #InsightIndia