“It is like England, only better” our translator declares and I couldn’t agree more. I adore England and it’s crazy weather and quirky ways, but there’s something about Tuscany that keeps pulling me in year on year. With it’s winding roads, regimented olive groves, lush greenery and unspoilt hillside, it possesses a romanticism I’ve yet to find elsewhere.
It’s the middle of July and a balmy 28 degrees as we make our way through the traditional villages and past the seasoned farmworks enjoying a restbite on the wooden benches that line the road. Having been to Tuscany five times, it still feels like I’m coming home. And our new home for the week is the stunning boutique hotel, Villa Pitti Amerighi. Located in the Valdinievole in Pieve in Nievole at the foot of Montecatini Alto, it’s a little off the beaten track but minutes from the local town, Montecatini Terme. Set in landscaped gardens and lush greenery, Villa Pitti is a home away from home, offering a warm welcome and glass of Prosecco courtesy of owner, Stefano. With winding pathways and Renaissance statues, the evening sun is sheltered by the plethora of weeping willows and conifer trees. After a long day of travelling, the pristine white sofas dotted on the courtyard are a welcome site as we take in the view of the empty swimming pool lined with lavender hedges.
The Villa offers 10 suites and bedrooms; all finished to an exceptionally high standard and make us feel as though we are entering our own private apartment. With a vast sitting room complete with white wash beams, cream sofas and oatmeal soft furnishings, the space is spotless and well cared for. This is understandable when we are told under no uncertain terms that no food or coloured liquids can pass the threshold (I immediately think of that bottle of Chianti in my suitcase and suddenly find myself desperate for a glass!) Across the hall lies the master bedroom, containing a shabby chic white bed, crisp bedding and breathtaking views over the garden and surrounding hills.
The next four days are spent rather vertically by the pool, enjoying the comfortable loungers and shaded canopies. With a rental car at our disposal, we’re able to explore the local towns and villages including the neighbouring San Grimignano and Montecatini Terme which is home to the most incredible olive Focaccia I have ever tasted. But with a base such as Villa Pitti it’s difficult to tear ourselves away from the luxurious surroundings they have created. Family-owned, it is a little rigid with the rules (no food or drinks in the rooms, the bar has very stringent opening hours and ordering food has to be a decision made in advance) which could put a damper on the experience. As a seasoned traveller, flexibility is a vital ingredient to a memorable holiday and what makes tourists return again and again. But the family-feel is ever-present as the owners dogs lay quietly in the shade and “make yourself at home” is the motto of the week. Bellisimo!