Design + Architecture

Hotels With A Past

by Cathay Che

THE PAPAL PLAYPEN: Relais La Suvera
Where: Siena, Italy
What it is: A fancy country hotel in Tuscany
What it was: Pope Julius II's private home

The story: You've seen the robes, the frescoes, even the Popemobile, but have you ever wondered about the full extent of papal abundance? The bling-bling lifestyle of Julius II, who commanded the Holy See from 1503 to 1513, is on full display at La Suvera, his former residence in what's now Tuscany. Julius was a patron of Bramante and Raphael, and he commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He hired the ingenious Siennese architect Baldassarre Peruzzi to transform the medieval fortress into a showplace villa. It's just as magnificent today, welcoming overnight guests with ornate statuary, canopied beds, antique furniture, and oil portraits of the current, blue-blooded owners. The Marie Antoinette Suite reflects the decadence of Versailles (very chic right now, thanks to Sofia Coppola's biopic).

Be sure to check out: The wellness center, housed in the medieval portion of the villa, where an old stone cistern has been transformed into a hydromassage bath.

Relais La Suvera
Tel: 39 050 7796 0300
Doubles from $488

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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