The astonishingly beautiful region of Tuscany has it all: art cities and ancient hill towns, high mountains and long sandy beaches, alongside luxurious hotels and some of Italy’s best food and wine.
Recommended place to stay:
Cortona, Tuscany, Italy|www.ilfalconiere.it|
Official star rating:
This comfortable Relais & Chateaux property lies just below the lovely old town of Cortona, overlooking the Valdichiana.
An evergreen favourite with an international clientele, the style is very much up-market Tuscan country estate with exposed brick, ceiling beams and terracotta floors, plus beautiful gardens scented with rosemary and lavender.
Dinner at the Michelin-starred Il Falconiere restaurant – set on a beautiful terrace in summer – is a treat; co-owner and chef Silvia Baracchi is big on local produce and her menus showcase specialities such as Chianina beef and local game, fruit and veg from the kitchen garden and the estate’s own olive oil and biodynamic wines.
This is a classic, high-end hotel – lovers of contemporary style may wish to look elsewhere.
It’s a great base from which to explore the Valdichiana and its towns, Arezzo to the north, Lago Trasimeno to the south (and across the border into Umbria) and Umbrian heavyweights Assisi and Perugia.
Approached along country lanes, Il Falconiere is set in farmland and olive groves several kms from the main road which can be neither seen nor heard.
It’s about 5 kms to Cortona (the setting for Frances Mayes’s much-loved ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’), full of art treasures, good restaurants and shops.
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A heady mix of incomparable Renaissance art, gorgeous palazzos, Tuscan cuisine and home-grown haute couture.