Thanks to the talent of Renaissance architects and the great riches of their clients, beautiful palaces are scattered across Tuscany like confetti on the dancefloor at a wedding. Villa Michele was built by the Medici family – the centuries-long rulers of Florence and Europe’s most famous bankers. Their love of art is reflected in the frescoes and abundance of other artwork and decorative ornamentation in the palazzo, which is unusual in that it has a clock tower above its front entrance. Three kilometres from central Florence, the palace is situated within its own private park and has two reception rooms, eight bedrooms and eight bathrooms within its 20,000sqft interior. During a restoration in 2001, a gym and other contemporary amenities were added to the 17th-century residence. The Medicis knew how to throw a party and the lower ground floor of the palace, with its vaulted ceiling and cobbled floors, makes a great place for rustic dinners and entertaining; wine cellars are to the rear. Within its 12 hectares of grounds are three further residences (all restored) and landscaped gardens, arable land, olive groves, parkland, a swimming pool and a tree-lined avenue leading up to the villa – perfect for making that grand entrance.