The Belmond Villa San Michele knows something about history. Michelangelo designed its facade, Franciscan monks tended its gardens, and Brigitte Bardot stayed here. But, like any elegant host, it’s not brash about its pedigree. Manicured Italian gardens—designed by 15th-century friars—beckon you for sun-soaked strolls. The colonnaded loggia is a pleasant place for a sunset aperitivo or candlelit dinner, especially with a view of Florence and the Arno Valley. The hotel’s expansive rooms are already decked out in the most tasteful, almost understated interpretation of Renaissance luxury—terra-cotta tile floors, heavy wood furnishings, just a dash of red velvet, and plenty of cream-colored walls—and then the panoramic views, original frescoes, and modern Carrara marble bathrooms steal the show. There’s a real-deal cooking school, where the chef actually works with each person in hands-on preparations—no demonstrations-only here. Other perks include the hillside pool, the concierge service that can get you into the Uffizi outside of operating hours, and, from the Loggia Restaurant, a view of the ancient Roman road that once connected Florence to Fiesole.