Culture is the oil of Tuscany. The region boasts rich olive groves, otherworldly frescoes and incredible cucina contadina (farmer’s kitchens). Its heavenly, hill-drenching light shines on grand churches, golden wheat fields and sculptural masterpieces.
Regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, it’s easy to see why Tuscany is often considered ‘a nation within a nation’. Every hamlet, village, town and city is packed to the rafters with soul-soaring art, nature, cuisine and friendly faces.
Wineries, restaurants and historic hotels in Tuscany – as befits such gloriously fruitful lands – are unmatched. Get swept off your feet to these three romantic treasures:
Villa Campestri: Mugello, Florence
Set against ethereal skies, gently rolling hills guide your eyes across impossibly postcard-like landscapes, dotted with cypress trees that look like dexterous paint strokes and olive trees as old as the world. You’re only an hour’s drive from Florence, but it feels like you’ve just glided into another world: all of the cultural trimmings, none of the tourist thrum. Paolo Pasquali is there to greet you at his 13th-century home, usually with a welcome prosecco. His passion for Tuscany’s fertile fruits led him to create the one and only Villa Campestri, an olive oil resort you can linger, learn and fall in love with local, seasonal and sustainable cuisine. From stress-melting massages to truffle hunting in the Fiorentine hills, it’s arguably one of the most unique historic hotels in Tuscany.
Castello di Gargonza: Monte San Savino, Arezzo
The discerning looking for a romantic (re)treat are in the right place in Tuscany. To be more specific, they’ll hit the jackpot in Monte San Savino, where 13th-century stay Castello di Gargonza is located. Tranquility comes in spades here, as does authentic Tuscan cuisine. Think homemade pasta, Chianina meat cooked over embers and over 60 labels of wine to pick from. Strong nods to the past are prevalent throughout the ancient dwelling, which bears one of the most exciting stories of any historic hotels in Tuscany. In 1303, poet and writer Dante Alighieri, best known for The Divine Comedy, stayed at the fortified castle – which became a farm and then a village full of travellers. Today, the Italian hideaway has been lovingly restored without losing the simplicity of its rural past: like stepping back in time, but bringing all your modern creature comforts with you.
Villa Le Barone: Panzano, Chianti
Medieval sculptures, breathtaking museums and spectacular markets – Chianti could be Florence if only it had 10 million tourists a year. But on that front, the Italian wine region fails to deliver, remaining relatively free of selfie-snapping hordes. Villa Le Barone is like a secret you’ll only want to share with your favourite people, hidden away in the pea-green hills of Panzano. Wooden beams, log fires and old-world furnishings shower you in homely, old-world goosebumps – like stepping into simpler, charming times gone-by. That doesn’t mean it’s not smack-bang up-to-date: the heavenly rose garden is kitted out with a heated, salt-water infinity pool, overlooking lyrical landscapes beyond. And let’s not forget one of the finest gifts Italy has given us – food. Dinner is a quintessentially Tuscan affair, served by candlelight in the old winery or on the terrace under the stars. From scrumptious pasta (including gluten-free alternatives) to specially selected Chianti wines, it’s buon appetito from the get-go.