Rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves and cypress trees – all watered down with a light chianti. Many clichés spring to mind when you think of Tuscany. But they’re all gorgeous – so come and sample them for yourself. Culture Trip rounds up the best places to stay for a true taste of la dolce vita.
Built in 1044, Castel Monastero is a medieval building, dripping with history, set among rolling hills in the Chianti region. You’ll wake up to views over the vineyard and sip evening drinks as the setting sun turns the grapes a fiery orange. With a fantastically appointed spa and wellness centre as well as two outdoor pools, it’s no hardship to spend your days here just lounging and relaxing. Dining at La Cantina, in the castle’s wine cellars deep under the hotel, is an experience not to be missed.
Bagni di Pisa was built in the 18th century as the holiday home of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who was attracted to the region by its thermal pools. Today it has retained much of its grandeur and the focus on the healing powers of the thermal pools hasn’t waned, with the hotel a renowned wellness retreat. So spend your days being pampered – whether by human hands or the mythical waters – and your evenings dining on fresh Italian dishes and local wine at one of the two in-house restaurants.
It will come as no surprise that the stunning Villa Le Piazzole is a popular wedding venue. Set in the rolling Tuscan hills, with views over the vineyards and sprawling gardens, this palatial property is beautifully done out – with enormous Turkish rugs, gilded picture frames and marble fireplaces. It’s just outside the centre of Florence, so you can be sightseeing in the daytime and back poolside in time for happy hour.
In the heart of Lucca, just steps from the San Martino cathedral, N°15 Santori is in a Roman structure that feels like both an homage to the past and a look toward the future. Renovations have kept the grandeur of the space while simultaneously adding a 21st-century flair – think exposed brick and beams, enormous oil portraits and mahogany furnishings alongside neon orange chandeliers and Modernist armchairs. It’s run by the Santori family themselves, so you’ll feel more like you’re staying in the home of a good friend than a hotel.
Perched on the banks of the River Arno, just 1.5mi from the centre of Florence the Ville Sull’Arno is a traditional 15th-century terracotta villa that was once the hangout of the Macchiaioli, or Roman landscape painters. The hotel is steeped in history, and it shows in its art. The rooms are all different – those in the main house have a palatial aspect to them, while the rooms in the Villino Spa building are more contemporary, and those in the Loggia come equipped with canvases and art materials – so you can channel your inner Renaissance painter.
The 18th-century Villa Marta is a former hunting house in a quintessentially Tuscan setting. It all feels as if you’ve walked onto the set of A Room with a View – with the villa beautifully hidden from the rest of the world. Rooms are luxurious with opulent touches – some even have gold baths – and you can while away the days sunbathing among the lemon trees.
This former medieval fort, in a hilltop hamlet, has a rich and illustrious history, including a visit, so they say, from one Dante Alighieri. The rooms are quite traditional, with terracotta tiles and exposed wooden beams – all very atmospheric. Dining is a glorious affair, with dishes including locally sourced beef, freshly made pasta and grilled wild boar.
Set amid olive groves and vineyards, with rolling hills as far as the eye can see – Quercia Rossa has everything you’d hope for in a Tuscan hotel. Strolls are positively encouraged through the nearby scenic villages of Manciano and Montemerano, and there’s a huge pool offering respite from the Tuscan sun. Wind down in the evening with drinks outside, as the setting sun casts its magical glow.