Last Updated on October 13, 2021
Five-star relaxation in Dimora Palanca’s elegant surroundings will refresh and revive
Florence hosts some of the world’s most important and most beautiful works of art – the Botticellis are brilliant, the Michaelangelos magnificent, the Giottos gorgeous. The Uffizi, the Accademia, the Bargello – these are must-visit galleries for must-see art.
And the must-stay hotel is the new Dimora Palanca.
At the end of a hot Florentine day of cobbles and queues, to step into Dimora Palanca’s light and elegant reception is to relax instantly. The lobby air is cool, the welcome warm and friendly.
And Dimora Palanca’s calmly understated décor is like a wet flannel to a hot forehead. A day spent admiring the paintings in the galleries and the frescoes in the churches is stimulating, but can also be enervating. After so many images, painted and sculpted and strange to the modern eye, you can feel mentally as well as physically tired. Dimora Palanca’s mix of white walls, parquet floors and delightful ceiling frescoes is wonderfully refreshing to a culturally dazzled but cultured-out traveller.
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Dimora Palanca started life as a grand Florentine home. The 19th century saw the villa in the ownership of avid art collectors, becoming well known in the city as a kind of private gallery, a hub of artistic activity and society events.This link to the art world continues today, with Dimora Palanca newly transformed into a contemporary-styled, boutique hotel. One which remembers its artistic past and asserts its artistic present by hosting over fifty pieces of modern works created especially by local artist Paolo Dovichi.
The building’s original architectural elements have been beautifully restored with many of the rooms featuring lovely, original frescoes and fine plasterwork. The 18 bedrooms and suites feature a neutral palette of warm shades of ivory, cream, cool whites and greys set off by darker hues of graphite and charcoal.
This mix is continued in the public areas – the breakfast room, library, lounge and bar – where interiors are bathed in natural daylight. The bright breakfast room features an eye-catching ceiling light resembling the top of a mushroom-shaped cloud (smart modern lighting is a big theme of the hotel). The former chess room has a mezzanine with small balcony from where guests in the 1800s could follow the game below – or just hide away with a drink.
Speaking of which – whether staying as a guest or not, the hotel is well worth visiting for a cocktail – modern and forgotten classics – or a light meal. Order that refreshing spritz and enjoy it in the hotel’s bistro bar, or step through the French windows into the shady courtyard garden between the villa and the former orangery. Better still, book a table in the hotel’s fine dining Restaurant Mimesi, situated below stairs in the villa’s original kitchens – the atmosphere, food and wine here are truly exceptional.
The hotel offers a wide choice of rooms and suites. All are spacious, light and airy with high ceilings and natural wood floors. They are comfortably furnished and decorated with a restful colour scheme in perfect harmony with the modern art and original features of the old villa.
The large, comfortable beds are made up with the softest Italian linen sheets and topped with a cashmere throw. Furnishings are fine, soft, sensual. The first class soundproofing throughout the building guarantees sleep undisturbed by any outside noise – Dimora Palanca is truly tranquil.Several rooms have their own private balconies overlooking the gardens with some offering tantalising glimpses towards Florence’s medieval centre and the famous Duomo. The suites in the old orangery are perfect for guests with younger children and are just a few steps from the main villa. Suites are also available for those with special access requirements.
Some bathrooms come equipped with chromotherapy showers (a therapy based on the healing benefits of colour and which aims to create a more positive state of mind). Several boast large whirlpool bathtubs, strategically placed in front of the TV or with a view of the sky.
Everything at this lovely hotel is intended to create an environment of stylish relaxation. After a night at the Dimora Palanca, you can set forth the next day, re-born, to explore the birthplace of the Renaissance.
The hotel’s Restaurant Mimesi is situated in the villa’s original kitchens and offers a sophisticated fine dining experience under the guidance of innovative head chef Giovanni Cerroni. Having worked with some of Italy’s most respected Michelin starred chefs, Cerroni has brought his skill, wit and inventiveness to Mimesi. Only open since August, Mimesi is already starting to win high praise from food critics.
At Mimesi, the menu has been designed to celebrate a Mediterranean style of fine dining, using local and seasonal ingredients infused with flavours from around the world Cerroni discovered during his travels. Mimesi means ‘’mimesis’’ – representation not imitation – and he sets out to produce dishes that reinterpret traditional gastronomy anew with elegance and refinement. And he succeeds.
The dishes on the tasting menus are not only beautiful to look at, but they’re also delicious, and Cerroni’s creativity really does put a happy smile on your face: serious fine food can be fun. The menus are enhanced by careful pairing with selected regional wines.
The five-course tasting menu starts with a course of six amuse-bouche ranging from quail egg with capers to a “chocolate” of ceviche, all to be eaten strictly in a set order.
The first course is based on classic combination cheese and onion – but a glazed onion, pecorino cheese and a slightly tangy Sangiovese beurre rouge sauce. Plate-lickingly good. This is followed by a super salad of marinated anchovies, vinaigrette foam with small squares of brioche and a fun fake olive.
Risotto is cooked in oyster butter with parsley, a shiso emulsion and a sprinkle of sauteed oysters. Superb.
The meat course looks simple – a piece of wrapped chicken with sliced peppers and jus – but it is absolutely excellent: glazed peppers, crunchy skin, the jus so intense, so savoury, it’s something else.
Before the final course, there’s a fun little dish – a sphere of passion fruit like a yolk is encased in a white choc shell, wrapped in a light gel on a liquorice crumble.
Dessert is light and lovely honey-soaked sponge, surrounded by dots: lemon, salted caramel and almonds and just when you think that’s the finale, there’s an encore of delightful petits fours.
‘’Please take a seat, and enjoy a gourmet revolution…’’ so says the menu – we really did and thoroughly recommend you do, too.
Three nights is probably the minimum to get around Florence’s main attractions comfortably and to allow time to enjoy your stay at the hotel.
Arriving by plane in Florence, the frequent tram service from the airport is a good way to get to Dimora Palanca with one easy change from line T2 to T1 at Alamanni – Stazione. The closest tram stop is Porta al Prato – Leopolda, a minute’s walk from the hotel.
Arriving by train, the main railway station is a short walk – or an even shorter tram ride – away.
Dimora Palanca is well situated for those wishing to explore Florence on foot – it’s an easy 10 to 15-minute walk to the heart of Florence’s old town with major landmarks such as the Duomo, the Piazza Della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio. Pre-booking and arranging timed tickets for Florence’s galleries, churches and museums is a must and means you can avoid most long queues. The whole process can be Byzantine (or maybe that should be Florentine…), as you have to negotiate several different websites for different places.
Thankfully, the Dimora Palanca concierge team can help. They can arrange private guided tours and some out of hours gallery visits which sound very special. Tailor-made itineraries include everything from private viewings of art collections to visits to fashion designers, from tickets for concerts, opera and theatre to art or gourmet cookery classes, from bike hire to truffle hunting.
They’ll also organise any Covid tests which might be required for homeward travel, if necessary.
Via della Scala 72
For more about the city in general, check our previous post covering things to do in Florence