Why you'd rather be in Florence

If you prefer to avoid the crowds, October is the perfect time to visit Florence. The weather can still be glorious, but the mad throngs that jam solid the Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi in the summer have given way to a more knowledgeable class of tourist. And where better to stay to continue this theme of shunning the masses than Villa San Michele.

This former monastery, nestled on a hilltop in Fiesole surrounded by trees and terraced gardens, overlooks Florence and offers appropriately exquisite views of the city. 

Once you have emerged from the winding road leading to the hotel's entrance and encounter Villa San Michele's secluded 15-century Renaissance facade, you might even be forgiven for skipping Florence altogether in favour of lounging by the panoramic pool or sipping cocktails on the famous terrace bar.

We can thoroughly recommend treating yourself to a meal cooked by chef Attilio di Fabrizio, but you must try the carpaccio - the best we have tasted. And one last tip, if you are in Tuscany for the arts, head concierge Maurizio Ammazzini is an opera obsessive and can offer some wonderful suggestions.

Villa San Michele, Via Doccia 4, 50014, Fiesole, Florence, Italy (+39 055 567 8200; www.villasanmichele.com)

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