Villa La Massa, Florence

The villa where Bowie and Iman wed


Reviewed by Charlotte Cox 


It’s been an unbearably sad start to the year. David Bowie, the man who bent genres, bent minds; the man who fell to earth and inspired generations; the Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, Ziggy Stardust; he passed away, aged 69, after being diagnosed with cancer.

Much has been written of Bowie the performer; less of his enduring love with his wife of 24 years, supermodel Iman. After all, this was the most intensely private of couples, having decided from the start to keep their life together well away from the spotlight. But this much we do know: they met at a dinner party in 1990, introduced by their hairdresser. For their first date, a nervous Bowie asked Iman to afternoon tea (despite not drinking tea himself). And for their wedding in 1992, they chose to marry at Villa La Massa, Florence.


‘Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows’ Photo: Getty

And you can immediately appreciate why. A Medici villa with an appropriately timeless glamour, its secluded location on the banks of the river Arno also creates the feeling that you’re far away from modern life; the feeling nothing else exists past your serene bubble in the Tuscan countryside. And what else can you ask for when getting married than to be in a world of your own?

The scenery fulfils all ‘dolce vita’ fantasies: green hills dotted with cypress trees, pastel-hued flowers and yellow and pink villas abound. And then there’s the light. Oh, the light. From the morning sun sparkling on the river to the big blue skies of midday, right through to the painting-worthy sunsets, it's as if you're lit for film all day long. And to have all this space and serenity just a 15-minute drive from downtown Florence? A huge bonus.


The villa itself, meanwhile, couldn’t be more romantic – decorated in classical Renaissance style, it’s all grand, airy spaces and shades of sienna, orange and aquamarine. Yet somehow, it feels intimate, making it perfect for a mid-size wedding. In the rooms you’ll find four-poster beds, plush furnishings and marble bathrooms, or – if you’re pushing the boat out – book into the palatial Presidential Suite.

In the luxurious Arno Spa you can have all manner of pre-ceremony pampering and there’s a large, modern gym if a workout is more your thing. Top it all off with incredible food at the Verrocchio restaurant (home-made tortello with pumpkin cream, turbot filet with champagne sauce) and you have yourself a wedding location where – to quote the villa’s famous groom – you can be heroes, just for one day.



Holding a truly special bespoke dinner in the 15th century wine cellar (price upon request). The local vintages, aren’t bad, either…

Sipping delicious Santa Maria Novella champagne cocktails at the villa’s cosy Bar Mediceo.
Languishing under a parasol by the outdoor pool, admiring the rolling Tuscan hills all around.
Posing for pictures in the 22-acre garden, complete with lemon and olive trees.
Playing ‘Modern Love’ by Bowie to feel in the mood. All together now: ‘Get me to the church on time…’


While close to Florence, it isn’t walking distance. However, the villa runs a frequent free minibus service right to Ponte Vecchio.


PRICE: Doubles start from around £375, per night. Exclusive rental of the entire Villa La Massa (37 rooms) starts from an eye-watering £14,000 per night (doable if you do happen to be marrying a rock star), but the smaller separate Villino (sleeps 14) starts from around £4,700.

WEDDING PACKAGES: There is no fixed wedding package price, as each event is bespoke, although the reception must be held at and catered by the Villa. There is no in-house wedding planner, but good local planners can be recommended.

MARRIAGE TYPES: Either Catholic and Anglican services can be arranged at the on-site chapel (holds 40). The Villa also holds civil ceremonies and symbolic services.
MINIMUM STAY TO MARRY: For a civil service, you need to be there 4-5 days in advance.


Villa La Massa, Via della Massa, 24, 50012 Candeli, Bagno a Ripoli FI, Italy, +39 055 62611

City Jet ( flies from London City Airport to Florence from £69. Villa La Massa is five miles east of the city; and a minibus transfer from Florence station can be arranged. 

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