A historic mansion within Europe’s largest private garden
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“One man’s passion goes beyond the professionalism of another” (“La passione di un uomo va oltre la professionalità di un altro”), owner Matteo Perduca tells Italy Segreta as we sit on the wraparound terrace of AdAstra. His boutique hotel AdAstra proves his words true. Passion–for history, for art, for exceptional hospitality–pervades the space.
Opened in 2016, AdAstra extends over the first and second floors of a 19th century Florentine mansion in the hidden Torrigiani garden–the largest privately owned garden intra moenia (within walls) in Europe. A significant botanical garden in the 16th century, the gardens were revived in the early 19th century by Marquis Pietro Torrigiani. After inheriting the property, Torrigiani built a neo-gothic tower in the garden’s center with an astronomical observatory at the top–now a landmark of Florence. The fairytale tower, whose staircase winds around the outside, is testament to the ancient appreciation for the perfection of the circle. This observatory inspired the name AdAstra, which in Latin means “to the stars” (Perduca wishes for his guests to always be in “voyage”). AdAstra, its mansion, and the gardens are worthy of nobility as evidenced by the current Marquis, who still lives on the ground floor of the magical house. Surprisingly, football fans will also find history in the garden: the Florentine adventure in football began on its biggest lawn. This was the house of the Anglo-Italian Florence Football Club, the oldest football club in the city from 1898!
Guests are unable to independently explore the gardens for their own safety and that of the fragile ruins, but AdAstra’s terrace is the real treasure, offering the best views of the garden and tower. The terrace’s charming and comfortable green seats replicate those in the public parks and gardens of Paris. There is nowhere more pleasant in Florence than here to start your day with a cappuccino, sip a glass of wine, or read a book in peace.
AdAstra’s 14 rooms vary in style, size, and view: the four on the first floor open directly onto the terrace; on the second floor, some offer stunning views of the garden, while others look onto the tranquil Via del Campuccio; and the two Premium suites are immersed in the lush greenery of the garden itself. These two suites are in little bungalows separate from the main mansion: from here, you can hardly believe you’re in the heart of urban Florence!
Every room features a clawfoot tub and a uniquely blended style of classic, period design–original frescoes, stucco, moldings, and parquet floors–and contemporary pieces–upcycled furniture, framed “art” (from Pucci scarves to museum maps to New Yorker magazines), and knick knacks from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Perduca, who designs much of the space himself, has hit the perfect balance between old world charm and modern vibrancy (with just a hint of insurgency).
AdAstra is a true Florentine secret on the quieter, calmer left bank of the Arno River. Exploring the quarter, Oltrarno, is the best way to experience an authentic Florence. Perduca suggests walking in the neighborhood’s streets and stopping for a coffee, a panino, or even a chat with locals. To further avoid the beaten track, Perduca recommends visiting the Giardino Bardini, a Renaissance garden with lovely views of Florence, and the Bargello National Museum, a prison turned art museum.
AdAstra’s breakfast buffet features lovely, local products from Florence and Tuscany, best eaten on the terrace or in the luminous salon. Perduca’s relationship with his suppliers is very close–so close that they end up becoming more friends than suppliers. Baker and patissier Lorenzo Pintucci embodies the culture of homemade breakfast cakes, made with the very best products. The grocer Andrea is now a close family friend. They are both a few steps from AdAstra, here in the neighborhood. There’s no need to say that they are also Perduca’s family’s suppliers.
Perduca comes from a family of hospitality himself. His grandfather ran his own hotel in Lucca back in the 30s and early 40s, while his grandmother set up one of the first campsites on the Tuscan coast in the early 60s. And his great-grandfather ran an albergo con stallazzo (hotel with horse stalls) at the beginning of the last century near Pavia in Castegio! It’s no wonder AdAstra and sister hotel Oltrarno Splendid are as magnificent as they are: passion runs in their blood.
A few segreti (secrets) from Matteo Perduca:
Alla Vecchia Bettola – The worst-kept secret in town. The owner Massimiliano will double himself to let you enjoy his more than 30-year-old restaurant. Tuscan food, friendly service and reasonable prices make this place the right one to have on speed dial.
C-ucina (Via Giano della Bella) – By the owners of TodoModo (I don’t have any shares in their business, just admiration). Another radical place where to enjoy simple and real food.
Fumetti e Dischi usati e da collezione (Viale Petrarca 10) – Do you collect old records or comics? Well, you should start. And then go here.
La Sorbettiera (Piazza Tasso) – The average quality of artisanal ice cream in Florence is quite high, but this is absolutely one of the best. Though you’ll have to accept a line of local kids when you go.