Go to Castello di Vicarello for complete restoration of the body and soul. A 12th-century castle, located in the Maremma, still a fairly undiscovered part of Tuscany, you feel a million miles away from the tour groups and coaches that flock to the hill towns of Chianti and central Tuscany.
All the bedrooms have their own character but share a high level of comfort. Televisions are banned, but the softest sheets, divine bath products made with organic ingredients from the garden, art books galore and other home comforts are not. The owners Carlo and Aurora Bacceschi Berti have travelled extensively in the Far East and this is evident in the hand-carved Indonesian day beds, 19th-century Thai antiques and the general feel of spirituality and peace. Our favourite suite is La Chiesina, a private jasmine-covered cottage which was made for honeymooners. Other rooms include the split-level Giardino which has its own private garden, and La Grotta with its cave-like setting among the olive groves.
The Spa occupies its own cottage overlooking recently planted vines and woodland. The Indian therapist specialises in Ayurvedic treatments and her massages are outstanding. It feels utterly indulgent to watch the sun set on a warm summer evening while relaxing in the hot tub, watching the swallows swoop and dive as crickets chatter in the background.
There are two stunning pools to choose from; rows of lavender, banks of scented roses and jasmine pervade the air and there are a variety of quiet spots to read a book, enjoy the sun or feast on one of the mouthwatering dishes created by Aurora and her team. The kitchen is so good that it is quite possible not to leave during your stay. Dishes are predominantly Tuscan including fresh pasta, cakes and cheeses on a daily basis. There is no menu to choose from: dishes are dependent on what is fresh in the garden that day and what the local suppliers have in season. On a recent visit, we feasted on fresh ravioli stuffed with pheasant and rosemary, Tuscan steaks and a salad made up of crisp leaves picked moments earlier.
This is not somewhere to come if you want to sightsee through Tuscany. The fact that it is so off the beaten track is one of the reasons that make it so special. Vicarello is understated luxury at its best and we urge you to visit soon.