Surrounded by 1,272 acres of vineyards and olive trees, Château de Berne's mere existence is practically a clarion call for luxury R+R in the heart of Provence
You might confuse this 15th-century monastery turned luxury palazzo hotel for Mount Olympus at first glance. When viewed from the duomo fringed alleys and gelato-colored buildings of Firenze, the grandeur of this hilltop venue is mesmerizing to say the least. As to be expected from the Belmond group, the service is excellent, the aesthetics are smashing, the food is supreme, the comforts are omnipresent and the views are unmatched. If you're searching for a luxury wedding venue in Tuscany with a prime location, round-the-clock convenience and a heck of a lot of views to write home about, you'll want to read on as we unpack Belmond Villa San Michele below.
Surrounded by 1,272 acres of vineyards and olive trees, Château de Berne's mere existence is practically a clarion call for luxury R+R in the heart of Provence
This Franciscan monastery has been the destination for many a pilgrimage since the 15th century, and the number of annual visitors has only increased with time. While it's all too easy for ancient Italian buildings to grow stale in an effort to preserve the remarkable art, architecture and stories these grounds hold, we would hardly describe Villa San Michele as cold or archival. In fact, its classically styled artworks are punctuated by offbeat spins that remind you not to take anything too seriously in this castle on a hill. Think: a reproduction of Michelangelo’s David, but make it scuba. Here, you're invited to appreciate ancient craft in modern terms, and this familial, yet ever-sophisticated approach is one of the many reasons we adore the Belmond group.
Terraced gardens speckled with sage + ruby campaign tents (perhaps a nod to Napoleon Bonaparte who once called this property his Florentine HQ) overlook the sprawling birthplace of the Renaissance, while the Michelangelo-designed facade of the main building gently interrupts the cascading layers of emerald green with a glorious cloister, dramatic loggia and vaulted ceilings as if to say, "Scusa, but don't forget there's an abundance of treasures that lie within." And boy, are these trinkets far from ordinary.
An antique tapestry dating back to the 17th c doubles as sentry over the lounge, itself brimming with sage + lemon sofas and vine-ensconced pillars. Adorning the friar's former refectory is a 1642 fresco by Nicodemo Ferruci depicting the Last Supper. Donatello’s coat of arms for the Davanzati family, who not only gave this land to the Franciscan monks in the 14th c, but agreed to renovate and enlarge the monastery in 1600, hangs proudly in the cloister.
Congruent with the down-to-earth royal treatment you can expect from the seasoned staff, Belmond Villa San Michele marries this revered cornucopia of riches with enriching comforts and luxurious modernity at every turn. The rooms and suites flaunt terra cotta floors, stone fireplaces, artisan furniture and exquisite views you might mistake for a painting. Iron chandeliers and high windows bathe the spaces in soft light, while Carrara marble stretches out across the expansive bathroom floors. And all in a manner that breeds understated elegance. Unsurprisingly, it seems Villa San Michele has "monastic chic" down to an art.
Supremely high-brow, the Italian Garden features four symmetrical quadrants of freshly cut grass sitting between the cream-colored facade climbing with 300-year-old wisteria, the grassy plateau headlined by a bucolic pool and the glittering lights of the Arno Valley below. Peppered with sun loungers, iron garden furniture and sumptuous silk pavilions during the day, this garden is most often transformed into a posh dinner space with long, rectangular tables - though you're free to use it however you'd like! As a whole, this space can comfortably seat up to 200 guests, though with a partial hire, you're able to rent by the quadrant (50 ppl max per quadrant).
You also might consider hosting your wedding dinner for up to 120 guests in the distinguished Loggia, with its romantic arcades and formal yet hospitable vibe. Day and night, this sleek tunnel boasts the most romantic views of a distant Brunelleschi's dome. The Loggia is separated by the Italian Garden only by some rather fantastic draping, so you might still find the delightful aromas of rose, lemon and orange blossom tinged air lingering after your picturesque ceremony or drinks reception.
Of course, the 17th c chapel hosts its fair share of ceremonies as well. Originally used as a place of prayer and meditation by the Franciscan monks, the apse and high altar are ornamented with pietra serena while the crystal chandeliers angle towards the magnificent painting of Christ. Of the four holy water stoups, two date back to 1515 - the year believed to be the church's original completion. Blessings can take place inside this remarkable Chapel with up to 80 guests, though you can have your pick of the garden litter too. The Rose Garden boasts a dreamy blooming terrace above the Italian Gardens, while the Roman Garden exhibits a lovely corner below the Loggia. Civil ceremonies may be celebrated in town and city halls throughout Italy or in the hotel, while religious ceremonies are allowed for non-residents according to Catholic rites in a Catholic church.
As far as indoor options go, you have the Cenacolo Room, an intimate space for cocktails + banquets of up to 50 people that gets its name from the original fresco decorating its wall. Then there's the Davanzati Room with its private garden overlooking the cypress-studded hills that can receive a small throng of 100 people comfortably. Every event can be customized to suit your specific needs, and that's the beauty of a destination wedding venue with dynamic spaces, views and indoor/outdoor options for guest counts between 20 and 200.
The 45 rooms and suites at Belmond Villa San Michele are an utter sensation, awash in a finely curated assortment of antique hand-carved wardrobes, bottle-glass window panes, austerely shaped chairs, Carrara marble bathrooms, richly embroidered textiles, glazed terra cotta floors, elegant upholstery, vaulted ceilings, private lounge areas and sumptuous design sense from warm pastel threshold to tranquil garden + valley views.
Everywhere the eyes rest, beauty abounds. But looks will only get you so far. What really secures their place among the stars is the top-tier luxuries that dwell in each of these modern Tuscan retreats, from plush canopy beds and compellingly massive bathtubs to Bose speakers and flat-screen TV's that wittingly hibernate inside furniture when not in use. You'll find fresh orchids on your bedside table and freshly stocked coffees + teas each day, and the most distinguished guests will find monogrammed pillows in their room upon arrival - that's the kind of attention to detail you can expect from this Master of Hospitality.
Of the 20 rooms and 25 suites spread out across the main building + garden annexes, you have the following categories:
* Double Classic (2)
* Double Superior (5)
* Double Deluxe (12)
* Junior Suite Superior (3)
* Junior Suite Deluxe (7)
* Junior Suite Executive (10)
* Garden Suite (3)
* Donatello Suite (1)
* Michelangelo Suite (1)
* Limonaia Suite & Villa (1)
We break down each of these room categories at length in our full venue profile for weddings at Belmond Villa San Michele, but you can see from the lineup that the hotel is sufficiently tiered for different price points and needs. Anywhere from 90-141 guests can stay at the hotel each night, depending on how many people stay in each room. Should you need overflow accommodations for your wedding guests, you'll find a wide assortment of options within the city of Florence below, just a 15 minute drive from the Belmond's ecclesiastical sanctuary at the summit.
A final word on the rooms at Villa San Michele - we can't help but give the Limonaia Suite & Villa a shiny gold endorsement for its fit for the couple themselves. With a heated plunge pool that feels a little like Neverland's mermaid lagoon (cascading waterfall, private leafy garden and all), this former orangerie spans two levels with a terrace and offers all the seclusion, splendor and euphoria you'd hope for during your wedding weekend in Tuscany!
Trailblazing Chef Alessandro Cozzolino helms the spellbinding cuisine at Belmond Villa San Michele, while you're guaranteed a prolific sommelier to reign over all things wine. The exceptional gastronomy on offer can be attributed to Cozzolino's unique approach based primarily on emotions. He's a storyteller through and through, weaving the veritable centuries-old traditions of Tuscany with nostalgic salutes to his roots in Campania and modern techniques gleaned through his years of international experiences in Hong Kong, France and Finland. The result is a most invigorating repertoire of dishes like traditional Panzanella bread salad with amberjack ceviche and Jerez vinegar, Florentine 'lasagnette' with lightly smoked rabbit sauce and peppered Tuscan cheese, Pigeon breast served with smoked aubergine and peach sauces and Seared turbot with mango. *Chef's Kiss*
You can be as adventurous or conservative as you'd like when it comes to your wedding menu. Typically comprised of 6-8 canapés and perhaps a stationary display (i.e. cheese and/or charcuterie grazing station), Cocktail Hour is often succeeded by a 4-course meal, wedding cake and coffee. Late night bites are, of course, on offer too. Whether you want to break out the wood-fired pizzas in a surprise pizza tunnel moment, park a vanilla-colored gelato bike with a striped canopy and assortment of pastel-colored flavors near the garden overlook or treat your guests to some comfort food from home, we love the customizations available from this relaxed Tuscan caterer where practically anything (within reason) goes.
A selection of red, white and sparkling wines, along with soft drinks + water, are a must for Cocktail Hour sips, extending into the Dinner + Dance Party too. Open Bars and signature cocktails are, certo, available as well should you want to treat your guests to a selection of Tuscan craft beers or refreshments ruled by elderflower cordials + Seedlip Garden infusions.
Well-equipped to serve you and your guests between wedding events as well, downtime never needs to turn into off-site excursions in search of delicious cuisine. Hearty breakfasts are included for all guests, so for those of us who need a bit more than cold cuts + espressos to start our day, you'll be pleased to find fresh out-of-the-oven croissants, seasonal jams, fluffy pancakes, made-to-order eggs, fennel-infused Casentino sausage, locally grown fruits, chilled yogurts with granola and honey on standby and pastries with the ultimate buttery flaky crusts available at sun's first light.
During the day, your guests can order bubbles + fizz at their leisure from either the cloister or pool bar and enjoy casual Tuscan fare for lunch in the gardens, the pool grill or the comfort of their own room. Your tastebuds will never grow weary in this land of seasonal and locally-sourced cuisine, where the Fiorentina steaks, fresh cherry tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil beckon from both this mountain perch and medieval Florence below. Bellissimo!
If you're hosting a wedding or event at Belmond Villa San Michele, please note that they are the exclusive provider of food & beverage services and there are minimum spends in place depending on the length of your buyout. Corkage fees as applicable.
It doesn't get better than a feeling of seclusion from the bustling city of Firenze, without the actual distance. Only 15 minutes up the hill from the city center, Belmond Villa San Michele is ideally situated for couples interested in an Italian wedding destination that prioritizes convenience for their guests. Arrivals + departures couldn't be easier, with an international airport just a stone's throw away and one of the busiest train stations in Italy centrally located within walking distance of major attractions like the Basilica of Santa Maria, from which it gets its name.
The city of Florence is recognized as the birthplace of the Renaissance, and as such, it's a hive of wonders for anyone fascinated by art, history and culture. We might as well add shopping + cuisine to the list. Florence, after all, is a city for the well-heeled. From the Ponte Vecchio, a cobblestone thoroughfare crossing the Arno River that was built in 1345 and lined with 48 pocket-sized jewelry storefronts (a W&O approved change from the original inhabitants hawking butchered meat + stinky fish) to Brunelleschi's Dome, one of the most admirable feats of architecture in human history, which crowns Florence's iconic green, white and pink stone cathedral we can't help but compare to a retro wedding cake, this medieval city has no shortage of marvels.
On the days surrounding your wedding, you and your guests can spend time ogling over blockbuster art from pioneers like Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Dante, Botticelli, Galileo, Raphael and Titian in museums and churches such as the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, Accademia Gallery, Santa Croce, Piazza della Signoria and more. Did we mention that Monte Ceceri Park, which sits above the hotel, is quite literally the same neck of the woods where Leonardo Da Vinci first tested his flying machine in 1506?
Getting back down to earth, there's the world-renowned leather market and ancient leather school, the artisan workshops in the Oltrarno quarter (which specialize in everything from marbled paper and bookbinding to musical instrument restoration), the off-the-beaten-path gardens, the stumble-upon-it street musicians, the sunset boat rides along the Arno River and of course... Gucci.
The world-class concierge at Belmond Villa San Michele can help you organize group activities as well, so if you have your heart set on darting through the city in a classic Ape Calessino (those three-wheeled electric cars so emblematic of 50's and 60's Italy) with your bridal party or want to kick off your parents' arrival with a customized food tour through the sprawling markets + hidden gems of Florence, upper management has got you covered.
If we haven't hammered home the point yet, it bears repeating: Belmond Villa San Michele is an ideal Tuscan wedding venue for couples who appreciate art, history, culture and scenery, who value ease, comfort and flexibility for their guests and who don't mind spending a pretty penny for these top priorities. As with all things in life, you get what you pay for... and convenience is always priceless.
While the property does allow for Partial Hires, it's best suited for Exclusive Use if you're the kind of person who wants to avoid lookie-loos throughout your wedding events. We adore the location of the property, of course, but we value its ability to host most, if not all, wedding guests on-site even more - a true rarity for wedding venues throughout Italy and France. What's more, your guests will have access to all on-site amenities throughout their entire stay (the pool, the restaurants, the concierge, the complimentary shuttle looping to and from Florence's city center each day...) It's a breath of fresh air to find a venue that can take the burden of hosting every meal or entertaining your guests across 3-4 entire days off of your shoulders.
One of the biggest stressors couples face when planning a destination wedding is making sure their guests feel comfortable from the moment they arrive at the airport to the final sendoff. Whether your guests are well-traveled or not, navigating the complexities of transportation, accommodations, meal planning and entertainment during any downtime from formal events can be a headache and a half. A property like Belmond Villa San Michele eliminates this struggle entirely, allowing them the ease of customizing their stay and venturing out beyond the hotel walls whenever and however they'd like. Not to mention, they have a dedicated kid's concierge and a range of childcare services, making it an exceptional choice if you anticipate any of your guests traveling with their bambini.
While the more remote wedding venues in the Tuscan countryside can be wonderful options for couples who plan to entertain their guests every second of their stay and perk up at the sound of no curfew for outdoor music, venues closer to a major city like Florence are great if you want your guests to have more flexibility, less time traveling and a unique opportunity to experience the luxuries of a Florentine refuge without the noise and crowdedness of the city.
Please note that Belmond Villa San Michele is a seasonal property open annually from the end of March through November.
Chateau de Fonscolombe
Bastide de Gordes
Chateau de Berne Helipad flight from St Tropez
Saint Tropez Airport
Cote D'azur International Airport (NCE)
1 hr, 15 min
Marseille Provence Airport (MRS)
1 hr, 30 min
Les Arcs-Draguignan TGV train station
1 hr, 20 min