A Little Bit More of Heaven - Villa San Michele, Italy

The Loggia RestaurantThird day in a row of Villa San Michele posts and I bet no one's getting sick of it. But this is my last one, a final batch of photos - after my room and the cookery school - of this glorious hotel perched in the hills above Florence in the tiny town of Fiesole, that I just had to share. Let's all go back one day and take a pasta class together okay?

Exterior that Michelangelo apparently designedSunshine in the gardens

Wonderful place to start the day with breakfast!

Another room type that I saw That view of Florence againWent to a concert at Villa San Michele one night...didn't understand a word but still nice!

The Cookery School at Villa San Michele, Italy

I took the photo above as our class began at Villa San Michele's cookery school without even realizing it looked like the Italian flag. How appropriate. Basil, garlic, and tomatoes. From now on, that's what the flag means to me. Isn't that what Italian cooking means to so much of us? The sizzling smell of garlic in the pan of olive oil, letting tomatoes bubble until the skin bursts, and topping it all off with fresh basil. At the cooking school, we made gnocchi from scratch, which is surprisingly easy, a simple sauce, and a tiramisu. All with Chef Attilio di Fabrizio, who has headed up Villa San Michele's dining for 25 years. I love to cook but cooking with a panoramic view of Florence before me and not having to do the dishes makes it even better. We finished the class with Tuscan wine and eating everything we had prepared. Bellissimo! My dream is to go back and take one of their Symphony of Pasta courses, with three classes and three nights included in the program.

An apron is included in the classMy station set upChef Attilio di FabrizioRolling out gnocchiReady to cook


Setting up for tiramisu

My Room at Villa San Michele Above Florence

THE VIEW outside my roomMy room deserves its own post. After I wrote this for Forbes on the luxury adventures that Villa San Michele organizes, from the cooking school to truffle hunting and fresco painting classes, I started drooling over all my Villa San Michele pictures again. When I walked outside my room, I had the spectacular view above of Florence and the Tuscan hills before me, as well as the terraced gardens and flowers that Villa San Michele is known for. My room itself, one of the junior suites, was like a Tuscan flat without a kitchen, but with a desk, dresser, couch, giant bathroom, and table for two where I had tea each evening after dinner. I loved the entrance to the room, with a private balcony in front to enjoy the view. Doesn't the door just look like there's something magical beyond it? I used my heavy, real key to push open the weight of the door - and to push it open in the early morning to see the sun roll out over Florence.

Entrance to room Table for two with my gorgeous key

Other view from my balcony

Forbes - 5 Luxury Adventures To Find The Heart of Florence

5 Luxury Adventures To Find The Heart of Florence

I paused when I scanned through my Twitter feed recently. One of my favorite food writers and the original domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson, was tweeting about her trip to Italy. “Think must have died and gone to Heaven. Either that or am at @villasanmichele [Villa San Michele].”

Read more here

View from Villa San MicheleWhat's your favorite?

1. The Most Fabulous Cooking School overlooking Florence at Villa San Michele

2. Meeting and Going Behind-The-Scenes with leather artisans, shoemakers, picture frame shops and silk weaving studios using the same looms from the 17th and 18th centuries

3. Learning what a fresco actually means and trying it yourself with an artist

4. Going truffle hunting with an expert and his truffle hunting dog!

5. Going to the Carrara Marble Quarries and seeing the cave where Michelangelo found the block of marble for David


The Most Beautiful View from Villa San Michele

I am staying at Villa San Michele, an Orient-Express hotel, in Fiesole, a swanky suburb high above Florence in the hills just 10-15 minutes away by car. I've had zero free time, but okay, the time has been spent doing everything from cooking classes that inspired me to be a better home cook to touring great fashion museums Gucci & Ferragamo, to dinners that run late...and later...

Here is just a sneak peek at this incredible hotel. This is the view of Florence from the restaurant - a covered patio area that is used when it's warmer. You can see the Duomo in the distance on the right. Imagine having prosecco as the sun sets here. Perfetto!