After summer's final rays had faded away here in the UK, last month's trip to Italy allowed us to dabble in a final fling with the sun. We were booked in for a long weekend in Tuscany, more specifically the ridiculously pretty village of Vorno – near Pisa and Lucca – to see one of my best friends tie the knot.
Our home for three nights was Villa Michaela – a family-owned villa oozing character, nestled amongst 50 acres of gnarly olive groves. Clean lines and minimal styling this is not. Instead it's an eclectic mix of colour, texture, flamboyant decoration and weird and wonderful artefacts dotted around the vast 18th century villa – think chandeliers, book-lined shelves and quirky sculptures – making it one of the most Instagrammable places we've ever set foot in. This is old world charm at its best.
We stayed in the Dante suite which, after arriving deliriously tired at 1am (10 hours later than scheduled due to storms diverting us to Milan) was a very welcome sight. It's grandeur and stately – almost Disney-esque – stature slightly transported to another time. An enormous bed scattered with marshmallow-soft pillows from which we could lie and admire our frescoed ceilings; heavy draping curtains framing views on three sides; a fresh, pale pink rose bouquet and Prosecco; and a socking great jacuzzi in the middle of the room. I'll let the pictures do the talking here.
No two rooms are the same; some parts of the villa connect several suites via a labyrinth of winding hallways and loppy doorways you'd never realise were tucked away.
Others pointers on Villa Michaela to note outside the rooms:
Breakfast is served around a vast dining table dressed with decorative tablecloths – friendly staff make fresh coffee and we had a fry-up each morning served on pretty cockerel-embellished crockery.
Though we arrived slightly shy of pool season, the Villa Michaela offering is enormous – I'm sure a width would feel like a length to me.
It's the kind of place that feels like there should be a dog and sure enough we ran into Patrizio in the main hall during our stay – an almost labrador though I think there's a bit of something else in him.
The Villa has hosted weddings and is home to a cooking school. Woman-in-Charge Milly is pouring TLC over it by the bucketload with 'many plans in the works' including an art exhibition set to be held in 2018.
This home away from home – if you can see Tuscan sunsets from your own bedroom that is – boasts oodles of character and quirks. Really that's the magic of it.