The leafy boulevard that winds through the hillside just above the south bank of the Arno is packed with grand houses, but late 19th-century Villa Cora is one of the most sumptuous of them all. Now a painstakingly restored and supremely comfortable hotel, it is set in a rose-scented garden with terraces, a large pool, and views over the city. The fabulously decadent interior flaunts frescoes, stucco work, lofty mirrors, and vast chandeliers, nowhere more dramatically than in the huge pink, green, and gold ballroom. Bedrooms are divided between the main villa and neo-classical Villino Eugenia, ranging in style from grandiose suites with four-poster beds and velvet flourishes, to rose-themed boudoirs and Moorish boltholes. There's an excellent restaurant and in warm weather, lunch and evening cocktails are served by the pool.