An idyllic wine estate near Florence – perfect for a special function, and with some enticing offers for shorter stays.

I know we are stretching a point a bit, as Villa Machiavelli, even with its Renaissance Florence connotations, is not exactly in central Florence.  However, it is just 12 kilometres south of Florence, and there are magnificent views over the Tuscan countryside to the city - the Duomo and Giotto’s bell tower can both be seen in the distance framed by archways, from the villa’s stunning furnished loggia.

Dating from the late 15th century and once the home of the Machiavelli family, this wonderful retreat exudes atmosphere, with its sumptuous interiors adorned with frescoes and antiques.

The property is set within 600 acres of flourishing vineyards and olive groves, which produces three award winning wines and a distinctive olive oil, which you can taste and enjoy during your stay.

As well as the gardens and outdoor pool, there is an indoor spa, with a heated swimming pool, steam room, sauna, relaxation area, treatment rooms and a small gym. A welcome basket of fresh fruit and a bottle of rosé wine will be awaiting your arrival. Full buffet breakfast each day is included in the price as well as daily housekeeping and daily change of bed linen and towels, and the services of a chef and butler during the summer months. The property has a private helicopter landing pad, and transfers can also be arranged from Florence airport or railway station. The 10 bedroom property, and adjacent 19 hotel suites (with separate garden and pool area) is ideally suited for weddings and other special functions.

For all bookings confirmed by 7th June, for stays up until 31st October 2013, we are offering the following:

A 7 night stay for the price of 6 nights

6 nights for the price of 5 nights

5 nights for the price of 4 nights

In addition, guests will enjoy a tutored Wine Tasting in the Wine Cellar and a complimentary bottle each of award winning wine and olive oil in every room.

Five of the best Luxury and Lifestyle Bloggers

We’ve scoured the web to find five of the best luxury travel blogs to follow and inspire:

A Luxury Travel Blog

A Luxury Travel Blog is a giant in the luxury travel world, with over 250 writers and guest bloggers producing a daily feed of inspirational posts, photography and city guides.

Since 2005 Paul Johnson’s site has gained a loyal following on Facebook and Twitter, and been featured by many mainstream newspapers and websites. Paul’s background in the travel industry has meant he has travelled a great deal.


Velvet Escape

Keith Jenkins has been running Velvet Escape since 2008, after switching careers from the banking sector. His extensive travels have allowed him to see the world, and in some style. Based in Amsterdam, Keith’s passion for travel and travel blogging is obvious when reading his stories. Keith is well-known in the travel sector, and has been seen speaking at many high-profile events from TBEX to World Travel Market.

Mrs O Around the World

One of Lisbon’s finest exports, Mrs O is a relative newcomer to the travel blogging world, but is already establishing herself as one of the most important luxury travel blogs to follow. Ana follows her mother’s motto “if you are leaving home, it has to be to a better place”, and it shows – luxury experiences, mojitos by the pool and first class travel are standard on her site. With marketing qualifications and a real drive to succeed, Mrs O is definitely one to watch.


Gourmet Chick

Travel and food are just two of the subjects lavishly featured by Cara Waters on her site, Gourmet Chick. Covering London and Melbourne, the site showcases gorgeous photography with handy travel tips and detailed gourmet recipes. There is a great selection of restaurant reviews from the world over, accompanied by sumptuous looking food photos and useful guides and maps. A superb journalist, Cara has been featured by major newspapers in the UK, and deservedly so.

Savoir There

 Jaillan Yehia runs this stylish website from her home in London, combining travel journalism with blogging and travel planning. Not just another well-travelled blogger, Jai’s excellent writing style and photography skills transport you to wherever she is, be it Italy or the Philippines.

The Tribeca Film Festival and 3 other Great Reasons to Visit New York this Month!

Ticket sales open today, Monday  1st April, for the Tribeca Film Festival, so if you are planning to be in New York between 17th – 28th April, check out their website, where there is a ready guide to the very tempting and huge variety of films being shown.

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Jane Rosenthal, Robert de Niro and Craig Hatkoff, in response to the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the subsequent loss of vitality in the TriBeCa neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. The mission of the festival is “to enable the international film community and the general public to experience the power of film by redefining the film festival experience.”

The Festival’s programme includes a selection of independent films, including full feature films, documentaries and shorts, and also a programme of family-friendly films. It also includes talks and panel discussions with personalities in the entertainment world, this year including  Emmy Award-winning director Jay Roach (“Game Change”) in conversation with actor Ben Stiller, and Academy Award-winning director, Clint Eastwood, in conversation with Academy Award-nominee Darren Aronofsky following the world premiere of Eastwood Directs:  The Untold Story.

One of the film highlights this year will undoubtedly be Martin Scorsese’s satirical cinematic exploration of celebrity, media and obsession, “The King of Comedy”. A restored version of the 1983 comedy-thriller directed by Mr. Scorsese that starred Jerry Lewis as the abrasive talk-show host Jerry Langford, and Robert De Niro as his dangerously fixated fan, Rupert Pupkin.  This will be presented as the closing night film.


Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This exhibition of 79 paintings and 14 period costumes, prints and photographs, demonstrates the role of fashion in the works of the Impressionists from the mid-1860s to the mid-1880s, when Paris emerged as the style capital of the world. The era was captured by painters, such as Manet, Monet and Renoir, who depicted  modern life as it was at the time, with stylish Parisians strolling down wide boulevards or through parks,  wearing the fashion of 19th Century Paris.

Eight galleries are given to this exhibition, each reflecting a different aspect of how fashion developed during this period, including ‘The Urban Male’ (Frock Coats and Fashion) and the transformation of the colour black (‘The White Dress and the Black Dress’) from a colour representing  grieving to become the epitomy of daytime elegance and evening glamour.  The second half of the 19th century also included the advent of department stores and ready-to-wear clothing, as well as illustrated fashion magazines, and the rise of couturier designers, such as Charles Frederick Worth.  It is a wonderfully informative exhibition for anyone with a love of Impressionist paintings and the history of fashion wanting to explore the relationship between fashion and art, during such an exciting and evolving period.


Edvard Munch’s The Scream at The Museum of Modern Art

This iconic painting (1895), recently given the dubious honour of being “the most expensive work ever to be sold at auction” when it was sold for about $120 million, has now been lent to MoMa for a period of six months by a private collector.  It is one of three versions of the painting by Munch between 1893 and 1910.  The painting is exhibited along with a selection of prints by Munch, from a collection already at the museum,  which also add to the understanding of the motivation behind the painting.   Originally conceived as part of his epic Frieze of Life series, focusing on the themes of love, angst and death,  Munch was associated with the international development of Symbolism during the 1890’s and  recognized as a precursor of 20th century Expressionism.  His images of dread, anxiety and loneliness have given pictorial shape to the inner life and psyche of modern man, and is thus a precursor in the development of modern psychology, and are as relevant in today’s uncertain economic and political climate as they ever were.

Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Guggenheim

The art movement Gutai (“concreteness”) originated as a reaction to the trauma of World War II. The idea was conceived in 1954 by visionary artist Yoshihara Jirō as a kinetic combination of painting and sculpture, encompassing performance, painting and interactive environments. He was followed by a group of young Japanese artists from the southern town of Ashiya, who had seen Jackson Pollock’s paintings, and whose work also embraced the idea of individuality and play, of new technology and the material innovation that drove it. One of the first of these was the Gutai artist Sadamasa Motonaga, who created his artwork ‘Work’ (Water) in 1956, consisting of translucent tubes (some filled with water dyed various colors) that he strung between trees in Ashiya.  At the Guggenheim, these crisscross atrium, giving the show a playful, fun  atmosphere.

The in-depth exhibition displays 100 works of painting, sculpture, drawing, installation art, film and performance, supplemented by photomurals and printed matter, all brilliantly interwoven and arranged in chronological and thematic sections: Play, Network, Concept, the Concrete, Performance Painting, and Environment Art.