You’ve already visited Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and the Amalfi Coast? Here are five perfect reasons to visit majestic Tuscany!
1. The properties are absolutely stunning.
- Hotel L’Andana at Castiglione della Pescaia is located in the heart of the Maremma region and was once the tyrannical Duke Leopold’s summer residence. There are 33 bedrooms and suites decorated in Ettore Mochetti’s shabby chic style. The property is immersed in the vineyard-strewn countryside bordering the Chianti area, easily in reach of the Tuscan coast and some of Italy’s most attractive seaside towns. I experienced a vintage Fiat 500 (cinquecento) tour at this property, which brought a lot of laughter and fun!
- Castello Banfi il Borgo offers 14 rooms and suites with quality selected furnishings and fabrics with classic fixtures and luxurious amenities. Each room is painted and furnished in a different color scheme and appointed with eclectic artwork. Some include separate dressing areas, a writing desk and breakfast table. Vineyards are the highlight of the estate, and the winery is at its heart, using homegrown grapes that yield the purest wines, reducing sulfites and histamines, creating more organic, tasteful wines.
- Castiglion del Bosco is situated in the heart of the Brunello di Montalcino wine region, and is located on a 5,000-acre country estate, ennobled by eight centuries of history, founded by Massimo and Chiara Ferragamo and managed by Rosewood Hotels and Resorts. This is one of Tuscany’s largest private estates, a lovely Tuscan home with a wide range of elegant and spacious suites and 11 beautiful villas dotting the property. The villas are open year round even during the Christmas season. This would be a very special venue where multi-generational families could spend quality time together escaping life’s demands during special times of the year.
- Borgo Santo Pietro brings a sense of calm, relaxation and well-being, far from the stresses of the outside world. I felt a spiritual connection to this place that inspired love, passion and appreciation. This 13th century villa is a haven where people come to celebrate a special occasion, an engagement or enjoy a taste of heaven. Nestled in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, luxury knows no limits and reflects splendor in a welcoming manner.
Many of these properties recognize farm-to-table dining and have extensive gardens that produce abundance at the harvest. Meandering among the rows of vegetables and vines in these well-groomed gardens produces peace that the soul yearns for throughout the year in the everyday hustle bustle of life.
2. There is an abundance of good food and wine.
At Borgo Santo Pietro’s Trattoria Sull’ Albero, I enjoyed a cheese platter, fruit and vegetable compotes with hand-cut Tuscan ham from San Galgano, and artichoke flan with pecorino cheese fondue. The main course was delicious tomato bread soup or spelt and bean soup. Dessert was apple pie with rosemary-vanilla ice cream and Cantucci almond biscuits.
At La Posta Vecchia’s The Cesar Restaurant, I sat around a beautifully decorated table in a spacious room with high floor-to-ceiling windows, engaged in conversation about our travel experiences. I enjoyed Roman artichokes with potato sauce and garden aromatics, Calamarata pasta with seafood, basil and cherry tomatoes, sea bream, seasonal vegetables and mussels in a delightful sauce. Artichokes were in season when I visited, and they were sautéed whole in olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper, tender and delicious! For dessert I had a strawberry iced biscuit, gianduja, milk ice cream and vanilla.
A special treat was visiting Castiglione della Pescia, a coastal town in Tuscany, the hilltop of which is a medieval fortress with a backdrop of the Tyrrhenian Sea. I dined at Osteria del Mare and enjoyed a seven-course meal including homemade pasta, seafood, thirst-quenching wines, at a family-run trattoria. The father and son had some of the finest tattoos I’ve ever seen, all depicting their adventures as fishermen on the surrounding seas.
Another treat was the lunch at Podere del Casale, a family-operated farm-to-table trattoria, where they make their own pecorino cheese and serve meals family style with personalized service and delicious table wine. The owner of the farm was from Switzerland and took great pride in sharing her property. The freely roaming peacocks interacted with us and attracted us with their lovely feathers.
Cooking classes are available at many restaurants in the area, where guests can learn authentic Tuscan cooking techniques and eat the meals their hands have prepared, all with the guidance of executive chefs in ultimate gourmet kitchens with copper kettles. Enjoy a cooking lesson in a contemporary space with an old soul, a space for learning new gastronomic experiences with people who recognize the incredible value of food and culture, a fusion of culinary know-how and artisanal style in a convivial setting.
3. The countryside is some of the most beautiful in the world.
Hills covered with tall stately cypress trees, grapevines, hazelnut orchards, vegetable gardens and olive groves dot the region with layers of peace and tranquility. Tuscany is rich with culture and artistic heritage that can be found through the region’s churches, galleries, palaces, museums and countryside. City life is left behind, and visitors are free to soak in the fields of yellow flowers and stunning vistas surrounding the country roads on every side.
4. The service is phenomenal, and the locals are welcoming.
Everywhere I went I was treated with the utmost respect and courtesy, provided with the ultimate service and most delicious and palatable meals. I literally wanted for nothing. Spending a week in Tuscany was really the best travel week of my life! The photos found online are stunning, but they really do not give justice to this magical corner of the world. The hills are larger, the villas more enchanting, the wine more delicious, the food more divine, and the fragrances more intoxicating. The locals are welcoming, service-oriented and love to share their culture!
5. The Tuscan hillside is a place with plenty of places to go and things to do.
One perfect little historical Renaissance town that I came across was Pienza, home to Pope Pius II, which is ideal for walking and exploring. Take in this traditional Tuscan town where there are many gems to be found along the cobblestoned streets including the magnificent home to the 14th century Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral with a travertine façade designed by Rossellino.
I was awestruck at the Antica Cantina di Monte Oliveto Maggiore, a large Benedictine monastery in Tuscany, south of Asciano. A walk through this abbey was quiet, thought-provoking, and exhibited what seemed to be endless frescoes and hours of spiritual rejuvenation.
Just to name a few other hillside towns: Montalcino and Montepulciano are places where fine wines have been produced since the 15th century. There are extensive wineries, olive oil and balsamic vinegar producers where enthusiasts can take tasting tours and purchase their favorites. Montalcino was seen in Twilight as the set for Volterra and is where the Abbey of Sant’Antimo can be found, which dates back to the times of Charlemagne. Historical San Gimignano is home to Piazza della Cisterna, a square that is encircled with 14 towers and is known as medieval Manhattan.
These are just a few gems you can find in the hills of Tuscany, but there are many more. If you have already visited Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and the Amalfi Coast, and would like to get a little taste of heaven on earth, now you have five good reasons to visit spectacular Tuscany. Frontiers would be happy to plan an elegant journey for you and your family in this corner of the world. We have contacts and resources to avoid many traveling pitfalls and have skilled destination specialists who can easily navigate Italy on your behalf.