Imagine growing up living within the grounds of a Tuscan villa surrounded by sweeping hills, clusters of olives groves and getting lost in the hallways of your ancient hunting lodge once owned by the infamous Medici family. Now imagine, as an adult, you are a wine maker spending your days in the same Chianti fields growing grapes and olives to make fine wine and oil this region of Italy is famous for. This is the world of Diletta Malenchini, who has had the joys of being immersed in the beauty of the Tuscan countryside at her family country house, Villa Medicea di Lilliano, since birth. The villa dates back in part to the 11th century when it was a lookout tower and later became home to Grand Duke Ferdinando II of the Medici family. Today, Diletta resides in the estate nestled in the Colli Fiorentini, the hills just south of Florence where she oversees the production of the Malenchini wines and olive oil. The estate is also one of the most popular villa destinations for private events and weddings in the region, keeping tradition for hosting lavish parties alive with many esteemed guests having enjoy the beauty of the estate over the centuries including King Frederick IV of Denmark in the 1700's. So with all this beauty on your doorstep what makes such a woman inspired when in Florence? Here Diletta shares her NINE when in the Tuscan capital…

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1. Galleries I Love 

My favourite is Corridoio Vasariano (Vasari Corridor), the original private walkway linking the Uffizi Gallery to Palazzo Pitti. I know it is not really a gallery per se rather a walkway, however, as it's lined with portrait paintings (400 or so at any given time) it is a unique gallery space and the views from the ancient circular windows high above the city streets makes for a memorable experience.

2. For A Perfect Dinner

Gastone, on via Matteo Palmieri, is a nice restaurant that combines Tuscan food with fresh new ideas. It is very good for fish which is what I love to order every time I dine there. Plus their wine list is also extensive which is important for any Italian when having a meal! 

3. For A Sweet Treat 

Vivoli in Santa Croce is a historic gelateria a few streets from the piazza of the same name that hand makes their icy treats every day. Many flavours are seasonal, so change regularly, plus the coffee shop is a nice wood panelled room perfect to enjoy a hot drink and a break from exploring the leather shops in the neighbourhood.

4. My Florence Style

I am very classic in my style which I think is perfect for Florence; Italian fashion is very well known all over the world for its style. I travel a lot and I have found the Italian style works best and foreign people try to copy its simplicity and elegance. 

5. Favourite Shopping Stores & Streets 

The Santo Spirito neighbourhood in the Oltrarno. I love this area because there are more Florentines versus travellers plus you can find many artisan studios and stores to explore. Walk down Via di Santo Spirito for a great mix of fashion, food, antiques and artisan studios. 

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6. For Sunset Cocktails 

Se.Sto, the roof top bar at the Westin Excelsior, has such a nice view from the terrace and is always perfect at sunset, especially in the summer months. Plus they offer a good aperitivo buffet for a light supper.

7. For Art & Culture {beyond the obvious galleries}

I love the summer operas held in the courtyard of Palazzo Pitti or the ballet performed in the Bargello museum. During these months, many of the historic buildings in Florence host spectacular music and dance events. However, one of the best concerts I have experienced has been from our family friend, Dan Zhu, who has performed at Villa Medicea di Lilliano and many other venues throughout the world. 

8. Favourite Green Space In Florence 

Giardino Torrigiani is the most beautiful, and largest, private garden in Florence. It's closed normally to the public, however, you can visit by appointment for a private tour. It's really worth doing; a secret green oasis in the heart of Florence.

9. Escape To The Countryside {best day trip from Florence}

I live in the countryside at Villa Medicea di Lilliano, so most of the time I love to go to the city! Luckily it is only 15 minutes by car to Florence; it's incredible how close the city and country are situated in Tuscany. However, I can suggest Via Chiantigiana which runs from Florence to Siena in the south. This road winds through Chianti countryside and offers such impressive views at every turn and many pretty towns to explore.

MALENCHINI WINES offer wine tasting at Villa Medicea di Lilliano including visiting their historic cellar. Find more details at malenchini.it

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Photo credit: John Werich