Where to Sleep like a Medici in Florence
March 25, 2022
By: April Long
“People don’t look for international companies when they come here, they look for something that is truly Italian,” says Count Bernabò Bocca, President of the storied Sina Hotel group. And surely, staying in a former Medici villa is about as Italian as you can get.
Count Ernesto Bocca, Bernabò’s father, was the CEO of Italy’s leading tanning company when he purchased the Palazzo dei Baroni de Renzis Sonnino from the Medici family in Florence and transformed it into a 5-star hotel in 1960. An immediate sensation, the Shah of Persia and his wife Farah Diba were among Sina Villa Medici’s first guests, and it has been a magnet for royalty, aristocrats, celebrities, and those who simply wish to travel without compromise ever since. Its enchanting garden and swimming pool make it an oasis of serenity in the heart of the city, and it still feels like well-kept secret, even though it is one of the most renown hotels in the world.
Ten more Sina properties are nestled like jewels in historic buildings situated in Italy’s most desirable locations, offering an unparalleled taste of la dolce vita. One can watch gondolas glide past the window of a plush suite in the Sina Palazzo Sant’Angelo on Venice’s Grand Canal, lounge poolside with a panoramic Mediterranean-blue view of the dramatic Faraglioni rocks at the Sina Flora in Capri, or sip a spritz in Sina De La Ville’s elegant Visceonto Bar in Milan, just steps away from the city’s iconic cathedral.
The properties are distinguished by their covetable addresses and heritage architecture, but also by the fact that they are proudly owned and run by the Bocca family. “Our properties are like houses, so every time you make an investment in your hotel, you are making an investment in your house,” Bocca explains. “That is very important and unusual.” A meticulous attention to detail, and maintaining a profound sense of tradition while embracing the latest technology and prioritizing the sustainable practices that today’s travelers value is key.
“Years ago, people traveling in deluxe hotels were older,” says Bocca. “Now the situation is completely different. They want something modern.” This speaks to one of Sina’s most exciting ventures for 2022: a Twiga restaurant to open on the rooftop of the Sina Bernini Bristol hotel in Rome. Twiga, created by Italian businessman Flavio Briatore, is a luxury showstopper, and its presence will create a buzzy new destination for locals and tourists alike. “The terrace boasts the most stunning view of the Eternal City and I knew that for Flavio it would the right location,” Bocca says. “Likewise, having such an iconic international brand at the Sina Bernini Bristol hotel would generate more awareness of the property itself.” He is also employing the partnership model in other locations, such as opening a historic Harry’s Bar in the Sina Villa Medici.
The Bocca family’s care and authenticity imbue their hotels with a splendid warmth and relaxed atmosphere, something that is also cultivated by the staff. “We have had people working for the company for 20 years,” Bocca says. “The staff becomes part of the family. They know our mentality, and they make the client feel as we want them to feel.” Which is, of course, as though they have found “a home away from home—only better.”
April Long is currently the Beauty Director at Town & Country, and formerly the Beauty & Fitness Director at ELLE. As a beauty, wellness, and travel writer, her work has also appeared in publications such as Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire, Allure, and New York Magazine. Visit www.aprillong.com to see more.