In 855 A.D., a church stood on the same ground as Villa San Marco today. By 1819 (after a long series of renovations, collapses, changed hands, etc...), the building had evolved into a bishop''s house. As the twentieth century unfolded, it was owned by one Professor Rachah who turned the premises into a trade school for orphans displaced by WWII. Finally, it was purchased by the San Marco Company for the purpose of providing lodging to weary travellers wanting to enjoy the beautiful hills of Tuscany. Renovation took more than nine years, but the result is a modern retreat with a medieval charm.
There is evidence throughout Villa San Marco of its ancient history. The original foundation from the 855 A.D. church is visible. There is a plexi-covered space in one section of the floor in the restaurant through which you can peer into the remains of an ancient (and empty!) crypt. The decor is done in such a manner as to remind guests of the past, from the heavy lamp hanging from a rope in one hall, to the 18th century open-hearth oven still lit with crackling flames each chill night before dinner.
Still, the rooms have every modern convenience. They are richly decorated in red and gold. Fresh flowers are kept on the tables. The suite sitting areas are large and comfortable. There are temperature controls on the marble tubs in the bathrooms. In one, very romantic room, the bedspread is white, waiting for a newly married couple. The beamed ceiling is sharply sloped over a staircase. Roses lay in an arched window. Brick and castano (chestnut) wood make the space feel warm.
A honeymooning couple would greatly enjoy this retreat. The fact that the frescoes in the parlor room are not the originals will not matter. From the beautiful cyprus trees that line the walk to the pleasant staff and ancient feel of the place, any hint of gawdy is overshadowed by a sense of romance that even the most ardent lovers will enjoy.
There are 21 suites in the historical section of Villa San Marco. 30 more suites are being added to a newer section. Rates vary. Visit www.sanmarcohotels.it for more information.