Picture the perfect holiday destination and what do you see? The chances are, if you’re a lover of food, wine and culture, it’s Tuscany…
This world famous Italian region not only boasts of iconic cities like Florence, Siena and Pisa but also some of the best produce on the planet. Add to that, sweeping landscapes of vines, cypress trees and sun-kissed homes, and it’s no wonder that Tuscany remains one of the world’s most visited destinations.
But if a week in Tuscany conjures up visions of queues to the Uffizi Gallery and traffic jams in the narrow lanes, think again. A week’s stay at one of the beautiful villas offered by specialist travel company To Tuscany will provide you and your fellow holidaymakers with the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind.
Travelling with our close friends, we stayed for a week at La Vigna villa at the Borgo Montebuoni complex in the Chianti area. Here, the villas share an impressive swimming pool, tennis courts and acres of gorgeous gardens overlooking the Tuscan countryside. Our two-bedroom villa was the perfect size for two couples, with the large outdoor terrace and private jacuzzi giving everyone space to relax and do their own thing.
Like most Londoners, it took us 48 hours to really decompress but with a holiday itinerary of nothing more strenuous than a daily swim with books by the pool, a home-cooked meal and unlimited Scrabble, we soon got into the swing of things.
It would be incredibly easy to spend a week at the villa doing very little but by day three we were ready to explore the delights of our surroundings. We had all visited Florence before so we headed to nearby Siena for a culture fix. It’s a wonderfully compact city famous for its medieval brick buildings.
Tuscany is noted for its cuisine – sample some amazing local dishes including Ribollita soup and Castagnaccio chestnut cake
You need to start at the fan-shaped Piazza del Campo, which is so picturesque you will feel like you have stumbled across a film set. Here you will find the Palazzo Pubblico (the gothic Town Hall) and Torre del Mangia, a slim 14th-century tower which can be seen for miles around. Stop here for a coffee but unless you’re really wealthy it pays to walk five minutes away from the Piazza to eat lunch at one of the many restaurants in the city.
Tuscany is noted for its cuisine and whether you visit Siena or any of the smaller towns or villages nearby to the villa, you’ll get to sample some amazing local dishes including Ribollita soup and Castagnaccio chestnut cake. For the greatest choice of restaurants and bars serving excellent food and Aperol spritzes head to the nearby market town of Radda. Alternatively, leave the car behind and walk to the local village of Lecchi.
And no trip to the Chianti area would be complete without a visit to a local vineyard. We spent a very agreeable three hours sampling some excellent wines, including a divine Chianti Classico, at nearby vineyard Casanuova di Ama.
Sitting back sipping wine under the Tuscan sun… life doesn’t get much better than that.
Stays at La Vigna at Montebuoni cost from £694 to £1,215 for a week’s self-catering, depending on the season. For more information see to-tuscany.com