- Joanne Herd
Tuscan Dreams: Discover 6 enchanting countryside hotels you'll never want to leave
If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own villa, or even your own town, Tuscany is where those dreams can become reality. At least for a little while.
With some of the world’s most beautiful and sought-after vistas, dotted with medieval stone towns and picturesque vistas, Tuscany is a landscape unlike any other. Rich in history, many towns and villages can trace their roots back to the Etruscans.
In the midst of all the beauty lie country villas and small villages that time has forgotten. People have moved on, and many villas and borgos (small medieval hamlets) have been left to fall victim to neglect and disrepair.
Until, that is, the luxury hotel industry started seeing the value of these secluded retreats.
Starting in the early 2000’s, entrepreneurs began purchasing some of these villas and borgos, turning them into inspiring, luxury countryside retreats. They’ve become places to escape everyday life, where you can immerse yourself in simple living, nature, and food and wine sourced from the land around you.
Whether you’re looking for a single room in a villa, or would prefer to rent an entire borgo for the ultimate in luxurious seclusion, Tuscany has a country escape for you.
Sit outside enjoying the magnificent Tuscan sunset, aperitivo in hand, with a group of your closest friends and family. After watching the sunset, head inside to the grand dining room, where glass and crystal wink in the lights of the chandeliers and sconces.
As you sit and chat, your dinner is served. Three courses, with vegetables picked that afternoon from the gardens outside, fresh meats from the butcher down the lane, and wines from the world-renowned vineyards just a few miles away.
Content after an exquisite meal, you retire to your villa suite to dream the night away. Awake refreshed and ready for a swim in the infinity pool, an excursion to one of the nearby hilltop towns, or a wine tour to a few of the 200 local wineries.
All of this can be yours at Borgo Finocchieto, a tiny, 800-year old farming village in the Province of Siena.
For the ultimate in privacy and luxury, the entire six-acre property can be rented, with 22 rooms spread across the Manor House and four additional village houses. Or, when available, you can rent a single house for a private couples or family vacation in the heart of Tuscany.
Oenophiles can enjoy the best of Tuscan wine, surrounded by the Chianti Classico, Montalcino, and Montepulciano DOCG wine regions.
Day trips to nearby Montalcino, Pienza, Siena, Florence and the Val d’Orcia will allow guests to experience all that Tuscany has to offer, from wine to world-class art and breathtaking vistas.
Start your day with fresh honey, harvested by the resident beekeeper from the local hives, drizzled over your cornetto. Enjoy a massage, with fragrant oils distilled from botanicals grown on the 750-acre estate and picked by the resident herbalist.
Take a dip in the saltwater infinity pool overlooking the Tuscan countryside, or take a walk through the gardens and fields of the estate. Watch butterflies drinking from the lavender and wildflowers and listen to the birds singing in the woods.
That’s just the beginning of what life looks like at Borgo Pignano, where the motto is “everything comes from the land.” Part luxury resort, part working organic farm, you’ll enjoy the ultimate in Tuscan hospitality, as well as commanding views over the countryside and spectacular sunsets.
Book one of the 14 rooms in the 18th century villa, decorated with antique furnishings, frescoes, and artworks from the owner’s personal collection. Or, if you prefer even greater privacy, select one of the maisonettes or private villas, surrounded by aromatic gardens, orchards and fields.
Day trips from the Borgo can include San Gimignano, with its 15 medieval towers, Volterra, Siena and Florence.
Borgo Santo Pietro
Winding your way up the cypress-lined drive, you’ll think you’ve been transported into a Tuscan fairytale as you approach Borgo Santo Pietro.
Once a derelict ruin sitting in the midst of fallow, muddy fields, the 800 year old manor and farm was purchased by Claus and Jeanette Throttrup in 2001. They started the process of transforming the estate into a dreamy hideaway, with thirteen acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.
Walk winding paths through the grounds, along walkway lined with roses and wildflowers. Explore the kitchen gardes, which provide the farm-to-table produce you’ll enjoy in the Borgo’s restaurants. Or borrow a bike and explore the 100 acres of Tuscan forests and fields that lie just outside the gates.
Immerse yourself in the full “Borgo experience”, with cooking lessons in the state-of-the-art cooking school, artisan cheese demonstrations in the dairy, and honey tastings with the resident beekeeper.
You can even learn a new skill, like painting or flower arranging, when you take a class with the resident artist or florist.
With only eight rooms in the main villa, you’ll have plenty of space and privacy. Or, if you prefer a private garden, you can reserve one of their secluded garden suites.
For the ultimate in privacy and luxury, consider one of the pool suites. Each pool suite feels like its own private villa, a haven of luxury with a private terrace and saltwater pool.
Castello di Casole, A Belmond Hotel
Play the part of a returning Italian aristocrat as you drive up the long, cypress-lined lane to the Castello di Casole. Here you’ll find 39 serene rooms and light-filled suites, exposed brickwork, wooden beams, and open fireplaces.
Part restored 10th-century castle, part medieval village, the 4,200 acres of Castello di Casole invite you to slow down, reconnect with nature, and indulge in “la dolce far niente” (the sweetness of doing nothing).
Originally populated by the Etruscans, and later the Romans, this land has been inhabited for centuries.
Sprawling vineyards, olive groves, woodlands and meadows invite exploration. You may even see the native deer, rabbits, porcupines, pheasants and boar who call the Tuscan countryside home.
In the evening, enjoy a delightful cocktail at the Bar Visconti while taking in the sunset over the Tuscan hills. After the sun goes down, consider a walk to the garden amphitheater for an evening of stargazing with the assistance of a telescope and an expert astronomer..
You’ll think you’ve entered into a fairytale if you choose to enjoy the Castello’s Enchanted Table dining experience. Set in the middle of a beautiful glade, with a floating table and chandelier suspended from the trees above, enjoy canapés and aperitifs in a truly magical setting.
The tiny, fortified village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro, on the edge of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Val d'Orcia, spent decades lying semi-abandoned. It seemed fated to a slow decline back into the natural state of the Tuscan countryside.
That changed two decades ago when Michael Cioffi, a Cincinnati lawyer, began buying up the ancient stone houses.
Today the hamlet, still home to a handful of permanent residents, is also the boutique luxury hotel of Monteverdi Tuscany. Guest accommodations are scattered throughout the scenic medieval village, which also features a spa, culinary academy, retreat center, art gallery, performing arts center, and multiple dining venues.
The rooms range from king studios, scattered through the houses in the village, to the grand Monte Cetona suite, with enviable views over the surrounding valley.
Regardless of the accommodation you choose, you'll enjoy the rustic, reclaimed wooden beams and cool Tuscan flagstones that are in keeping with the historic surroundings.
Monteverdi Tuscany is a place where life slows down. Take a walk through the lavender garden or lounge next to the infinity pool. Enjoy simple foods, like crostini and creamy burrata, paired perfectly with regional wines from the nearby vineyards.
Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco
One of Tuscany’s most beautiful and luxurious hotels, surrounded by rolling hills, vineyards and ancient farmland, the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is located within the Val d'Orcia UNESCO World Heritage site.
At the center of the property, which was founded by Massimo and Chiara Ferragamo, lies the Borgo. Originally a small village founded over 800 years ago, the Borgo has been converted into 42 luxury suites, each with authentic Tuscan country style.
Along with the suites you'll find many other historic stone buildings, including the medieval church of San Michele Arcangelo.
The Borgo is truly the heart of the estate. Here you'll also find three of the estate's 11 villas, two restaurants, the spa, which offers treatments from renowned Florentine apothecary Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, and the cooking school.
The remaining eight villas are scattered across the Tuscan landscape. These private homes have been lovingly restored from 17th and 18th century farmhouses. The distance between the villas allows each to be an oasis of tranquility and peace, with infinity pools, terraces and gardens of their own.
In the heart of the Brunello di Montalcino wine region, and with an on-site winery of its own, the 5,000-acre estate is an oenophile's dream.
The Bottom Line
You can turn your dreams of living in a grand Italian villa into reality, even if it’s just for a few nights.
Whether you choose to spend your time lounging next to an infinity pool, touring vineyards and tasting Chianti wines, visiting historic hilltop towns, or experiencing the culture of world-class cities like Florence and Siena, the hardest part will be leaving the slice of paradise that is Tuscany.
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