Secret Hotels of Tuscany

Want to experience the real Tuscany? Don’t waste time with boring old hotels. Live the farm life, share dinner with the family, sleep amidst the vineyards, or move in with the count at his medieval castle.

Every hotel, castle, and agriturismo farm is in the Tuscan countryside except for the ones listed in the "Hotels in town" section.

  • The Chianti
  • Southern Tuscany
  • Northern Tuscany
  • In town

★★★ Agriturismo Villa Vignamaggio [€€€] - If you want to be steeped in history at the most luxurious agriturismo in Tuscany, stay here. This elegant wine estate's 14th-century main villa and its gardens are instantly recognizable as the set used by Kenneth Branagh to film Much Ado About Nothing, but the artistic pedigree goes back much further—this was, after all, the childhood home of a young girl who would grow up to pose for a painting by Leonardo da Vinci and become known as the Mona Lisa. Outside Greve in Chianti... » more » book

★★ Villa Rosa di Boscorotondo [€] - If you want a quiet country escape just off the main road a short drive from Florence, stay here. The villa was built by a French ex-pat in the early 1900s, and many of the original elements remain: octagonal stone floor tiles of red and black, terracotta stoves that once warmed the rooms, and little sitting rooms filled with books, comfy chairs, and the occasional TV set. The Florentine couple that runs it, the Avuris, have added canopied beds, funky lamps, and a swimming pool amid grape vines—not to mention excellent set-priced dinners on the terrace. Località San Leolino 65... » more » book

Staying in Town
Hotel Giovanni da Verrazano [€€] - If you want comfy but basic (and cheap) accommodations in the heart of the action, with a room overlooking the bustling market square of the Chianti's tiny main town of Greve in Chianti, stay here. The ten guest rooms have modern terrazzo floors and painted metal bedsteads, but the views are lovely. Rooms on the front overlook the bustling square; those on the back (nos. 4–7) have little private terraces with vistas over lichen-spotted roof tiles to the hills beyond (the larger room no. 10 upstairs, with its sloping attic ceilings and Persian rugs, has similar views but no balcony). There's also a popular terrace restaurant... » more » book

★★ La Rignana [€€€] - If you want to stay in an elegant country villa away from it all, stay here. Along with a horizon pool amidst the olive trees and an excellent Tuscan country restaurant, there is a B&B (the “fattoria,” seven rooms of rustic furnishings, orthopedic beds, and sloping brick ceilings laced with beams) and an elegant, frescoed “villa” (available on a nightly basis only in April, May, September, and October; otherwise, rent either all four doubles on the ground floor, or all four upstairs, as a single apartment by the week). Via di Rignana, 7... » more » book

★★ Podere Terreno [€€] - If you want the closest thing to the experience of staying with relatives on their Tuscan farmhouse, stay here. This sixteenth-century Chianti farmhouse set amidst vineyards has seven country-comfy guest rooms with a hodgepodge of painted metal bedsteads, carved wood vanities, and worn terracotta floors. It also has a pair of hands-on owners—Roberto and Silvie—who cook massive dinners then sit at either end of the long table to preside over the lively dinners where all the guests eat, family-style. Podere Terreno Volpaia 21... » more » book

★★ Borgo Argenina [€€€] - If you want to feel like you've been adopted by an energetic Italian auntie at her fabulous Tuscan country home, stay here. In 1993, the gregarious Elena Nappa (raised in Naples, worked as a fashion stylist in Milan) fell in love with an abandoned, crumbling 100-year-old hamlet in the southern Chianti. By 1998, she had turned it into a lovely hotel hotel with B&B rooms in the main house—furnished with antique wrought-iron beds, deluxe mattresses, handmade quilts, hand-stitched lace curtains, and time-worn terracotta tiles—and three rental cottages in the surrounding houses. She refuses to advertise, or even post a sign by the road, yet each year books up fast with repeat customers, which tells you something. Off the SS408 outside Gaiole in Chianti... » more

Hotel Fonterutoli [€€] - If you want to live alongside the locals in the ancient hamlet of a renowned wine estate with a top-rated restaurant next-door, stay here. Fonterutoli is a wonderful example of the kind of old, centralized aristocratic agricultural estate that has vanished from much of Italy, preserved largely because the Mazzei marquises still own, operate, and inhabit it as they have—for 24 generations—since 1435. Of course, these days it no longer take a village of peasants to run even a large farm, so the Mazzei have converted several of the old houses into rental apartments and B&B rooms, installed a swimming pool with vineyard views, and opened a gourmet restaurant to which people will drive the 30 miles from Florence to enjoy... » more » book

Il Colombaio [€€] - A country stone house on the edge of one of the main Chianti towns. Dates to the 16th century, and was long used to house shepherds when they came into town to market their flocks (downstairs rooms are actually converted stalls). Lovely bedrooms (sloping bean-and-tile ceilings, terracotta floors, country-elegant furnishings, and iron bed frames incorporating painted shields on the head- and foot-boards) seem to belong to a well-to-do 19th century farming family. Upstairs rooms are lighter and airier, with better views. Nice, rustic reading room converted from old kitchen. It's just south of Castellina in Chianti, next to turn-off for a picture-perfect Etruscan tomb (a green beanie of a hill sprouting two cypress from the top). Chiantigiana 29, Castellina in Chianti, tel. +39-0577-740-444, » more » book

Castello Ripa d'Orcia [€€€]
Near San Quirico d'Orcia
Once you settle into a cavernous room or mini-apartment in this medieval castle and surrounding stone hamlet, the only contact with the outside world (three miles down a curvaceous and bumpy dirt lane) is the pay phone in the restaurant (two-course meals: €25/$32). Adding to the feeling that, in passing through the tower gate you’ve stepped out of the modern world and its frenetic pace, is the fact that the owner is around to check you only between 2:30 and 6pm. Count Piccolomini is a tall, slightly morose man who seems a bit uncomfortable in his own skin—perfect for a member of Tuscan nobility still shambling around the family castle. The Piccolomini clan—a big name around these parts, and a family that produced several Renaissance popes—has owned the joint since 1483, though the castle itself dates back to 1218. Accommodations are gorgeous in an antique country-castle minimalist sort of way: very rustic, with massive ceiling beams, thrilling countryside views, and no TVs to disturb the calm—just birdsong in the mornings and the chirping of cicadas on hot summer afternoons. There’s a long, narrow garden with a fountain and sunning chairs, battlements once patrolled by soldiers (and now guarded by flower pots) that you can stroll, and an old granary converted into a common room lined with books, gaming tables, and a fireplace. The six rooms are available for two-night minimums; the eight apartments by the week. The castle is open mid-March through October.
Well signposted about five miles south of S. Quirico d'Orcia along a long dirt road. When you come around a bend and see a castle straight ahead, that's it. tel. +39-0577-897-376, » more

Fattoria di Vagli [€€€]
Libbiano (north of San Gimignano)
After 4.3 kilometers of dirt road winding through dense woods, a cypress-lined driveway leads to this noble 17th-century farmhouse surrounded by fields of corn, sunflowers, wheat, grape vines, and farro (an emmer-like grain). The Vagli farm has been in Carla Ferri’s family for generations. Her father tends the crops, her uncles shepherd the free-range livestock (pigs, cows, rabbits, ducks, chickens, and pigeons), and her mother works in the kitchen curing meats, making marmalades, and cooking meals for the family and their guests. Carla, meanwhile, takes care of the guests, tending to the ten rooms furnished in a simple country style with hand-painted headboards under rough wood beams. Rooms on the ground floor have exposed stone walls and are a bit smaller, but the abundance of light from the large windows makes them feel airy. The dining room walls are lined with topographical maps to help you plan hikes and rides (free bikes for guests) throughout the region—or just within the woodlands that cover most of Vagli’s 800 acres. Once a week, guests can tour the farming operation, and Carla can also arrange for guided hikes through the Castelvecchio Nature Reserve that overlaps their land and includes the ruins of a medieval castle and village. There’s a pool hidden in the fruit orchard.
From San Gimignano, take road toward Certaldo, the left turn-off for Gambassi, and another left turn for Libbiano. tel. +39-0577-946-025,

Il Poderuccio [€]
Near Sant'Angelo in Colle (Montalcino)
Don’t be alarmed if there’s no one around when you stroll across the manicured lawn to the check-in desk. Chances are, Giorgio Girardi’s in the back tinkering with the tractor and his wife, Renate, is off tending to the gardens of the immaculately landscaped grounds. Il Poderuccio lies just down the road from Sant’Angelo in Colle, a perfect little button of a hilltop medieval village in the heart of Brunello wine country. Giorgio left a banking career in Milan to restore this abandoned farm, and is proud to have strung vines along only half of his available acreage. Locals think he’s crazy to limit his production of one of Italy’s most famous (and expensive) red wines, but Giorgio likes keeping the operation small enough to run single-handedly. Renate spends more time tending to the six largish rooms of whitewashed walls and thick-beamed ceilings. She’s filled them with thoughtful touches, such as window mosquito screens (rare in Italy), plenty of towels, and garlands of dried lavender tucked into the curlicues of cast-iron scones or overflowing wall baskets. There are pretty nooks throughout the property—benches under shade trees, an open shed with a brick oven, stacked wood, and garlands of garlic and onions hung to dry, and a swimming pool in the olive grove. Breakfast is served on back patio with countryside views straight out of a Renaissance painting—distant mountains above green and gold fields striped with vines and spiked with cypress. The hotel closes late November until Easter.
Follow signs from roundabout at edge of Montalcino toward S. Angelo in Colle. Pass the turnoff for that town; Il Poderuccio is just a little ways further on the left at a bend in the road. 011-39-0577-844-052.

Santo Pietro [€€]
Between Pienza and Montepulciano 
One of Tuscany's first official agriturismi—20 years and going strong in a converted 13th-century convent—retains a strong sense of farm life. In addition to tending the 1,800 olive trees, the vineyards, and the orchards of apricot, apples, and prunes, Giulia Scala raises goats, rabbits, and chicken. She also keeps boars and the famous local cinta senese (black pigs with a white "belt" around the midriff) to turn into fresh salami, prosciutto, sausages, and stews for dinner. In fact, from late afternoon on, Signora Giulia is usually in the kitchen, sleeves rolled up, preparing a family feast for her guests. She complains if folks eat out too often; she wants them to feel at home, and part of home life is dinner with the family. After dinner, her husband, Felice d'Angolo, and their son Luca are fond of picking up the guitar and keyboard and belting out a few tunes. The ten rooms are furnished with thoughtful touches—mosquito screens, modern baths—and whimsical ones, like elaborately carved headboards and creaky old wardrobes painted with hot-air balloons. The pool has a view over fields roaming with ponies to the Renaissance village of Pienza, famed for its pecorino sheep cheese, five kilometers away. The inn is closed from late October/early November through mid-March (except Christmastime).
Loc. Santo Pietro 29, Pienza (on the main S.S. 146 from Pienza to Montepulciano). tel. +39-0578-754-151, » more » book

Le Fontanelle [€€€]
This farm hotel run by Daniela and her father Gianfranco has rooms scattered across several stone buildings with red shutters down gravel paths lined by azaleas, including a private chalet in the woods. The best is room #10, on corner of one building, its windows surrounded by ivy and offering with the best views (across vines to Montemerano). Their big item is the fenced-in park thronging with ducks, geese, guinea pigs, speckled deer, mountain goats, and pigs--all of them for looking at, not for eating. Also lots of dogs and cats wander the place, and there's a friendly donkey named Gina who serves as the mascot. After you settle in, grab your bathing suit and drive up the road to the Terme di Saturnia (not the fancy-schmancy spa hotel, but rather the roadside pull-over where the hot springs spill down a series of cup-shaped pools in a never-ending waterfall—open-air natural Jacuzzi time. Poderi di Montemerano. (Directions: Along main road from Pitigliano towards the sea, turn north at Manciano toward Montemerano, Saturnia, and Scansano. After 7km, turn left at the miniscule roadside hamlet called Poderi di Montemerano before you get to town of Montemerano itself. Follow signs.) tel. +39-0564-602-762, » more » book

La Fattoria [€]
This lakeside cottage smothered in vines lies just outside a famous Etruscan town (with great museum and Etruscan tombs in the area). Rooms done in flowery, country style with dark wood furnishings, and the best ones have views over the tiny lake a few dozen feet away. (True budgeteers can pitch a tent at the campsite here for just €8 per person.) It also has a great restaurant, with old-school style Tuscan cusine—hand-carved prosciutto and the like. You can rent mountain bikes, horses, or period cars for exploring the area. The hotel is small and frequently booked, so arrange a stay well in advance. Loc. Paccianese, Chiusi, Directions: Follow signs from Chiusi east to Lago di Chiusi, about 5k away down in the valley (right at the Umbria border, actually). tel. +39-0578-21-407, » more

Castello di Gargonza [€€]
On top of a mountain enveloped by forest sits a castle straight out of a fairy tale, its thirteenth-century stone hamlet curled around the base of a crenellated tower. This is Gargonza, fought over for centuries by the Florentines and Sienese, host to an exiled Dante—and now entirely for rent. Every stone house has been converted into a mini-apartment with kitchenette, working fireplace, and 17th century–style furnishings, plus there are seven simple doubles in one of the larger buildings. Converting the place into a tourist residence was the only way Count Riccardo Guicciardini—whose ancestors have been lords of the castle since 1700—could find to save the decaying village after the resident peasant farmers and artisans abandoned Gargonza for the cities back in the 1960s. The village’s central courtyard, with its stone well and azaleas spilling from arcaded balconies, serves as the guests’ open-air living room, and the old olive press building is now a common room with sofas, TV, and the breakfast buffet. The count also runs an excellent restaurant just outside the town walls near the castello’s swimming pool, which is surrounded by olives, cypress, and fragrant rosemary.
Off the SS73 west of Monte San Savino (the Gargonza turnoff is roughly 8km toward Siena on the right). tel. +39-0575-847-021, » more » book

Le Rondine [€]
The Carozzi family B&B is in a miniscule village high in the hills north of Montecatini Terme. Several of the rooms retain frescoes, including the spectacular, signature "le rondine" room, with 360 degrees of frescoes on the walls and continuing up onto the ceiling, to turn the room into an outdoor garden complete with robins flitting across the ceiling. The garden scenes on this wall inspired owners Fulvia and Carlo Carozzi in their planting and care of the small, pretty walled garden across the street (cypress and olive trees, lemons against wall, grape arbor at back, lots of flowers), where guests breakfast in summer and can use the kitchen/dining room installed in the limonaia at the back of the garden. Via M. Pierucci 21, tel. +39-0572-33-313, » more » book

Hotel Giovanni da Verrazano [€€]
If you want comfy but basic (and cheap) accommodations in the heart of the action, with a room overlooking the bustling market square of the Chianti's tiny main town of Greve in Chianti, stay here. The ten guest rooms have modern terrazzo floors and painted metal bedsteads, but the views are lovely. Rooms on the front overlook the bustling square; those on the back (nos. 4–7) have little private terraces with vistas over lichen-spotted roof tiles to the hills beyond (the larger room no. 10 upstairs, with its sloping attic ceilings and Persian rugs, has similar views but no balcony). There's also a popular terrace restaurant Piazza Giacomo Matteotti 28... » more » book

Il Giglio [€€]
Wrought-iron bed frames, beamed ceilings, and fabulous countryside views in the heart of this medieval hilltown in the heart of the Brunello vineyards (the best wine-tasting enoteca is in the crag-top castle just around the corner). Via Saloni 5, tel/fax 011-39-0577-848-167, » more » book

La Cisterna [€€]
Fifty comfy rooms in a series of ivy-clad medieval towers backed by a piazza and its ancient well. The best rooms have view split between this hill town's iconic stone towers and the rolling, postcard countryside below. Piazza della Cisterna 23, » more » book

Le Canelle [€€]
Airy rooms with sleigh beds overseen by sisters Sara and Simona Corsi in an 18th-century convent restored by their father, village mason to this Etruscan hilltown a 20-minute ride by city bus above the crowds and summer heat of Florence. Via Gramsci 52, Fiesole. 011-039-055-597-8336, fax 011-39-055-597-8292, » more» book


Mueblé il Riccio [€€]
Wood-beamed ceilings and modern comforts just fifty feet from Montepulciano’s main Piazza Grande lined with Renaissance palaces and wine-tasting cellars. Owners Giorgio and Ivana Caroti are inveterate travelers themselves; ask about countryside tours in one of Giorgio’s classic cars. Via Talosa 21, tel/fax 011-39-0578-757-713, » more

Piccolo Hotel Etruria [€]
Friendly family management of rather bland and functionally modern rooms—but with the best location of any hotel in town: on a side alley a mere 165 feet from Siena’s central Campo square. Via delle Donzelle 3,, » more » book

Piccolo Hotel Puccini [€€]
Not only is Paolo the friendliest and most helpful hotelier in town, and not only are his cozy rooms across the street from Puccini’s birthplace remarkably cheap, but his little hotel also has Lucca’s best location: half a block from the central Piazza San Michele (from the 12 rooms on the street side, you can even lean out your window and see a sliver of the Romanesque façade on San Michele church). Via di Poggio 9 » more » book

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