Tuscan Villas - Food, Wine, Hotels in luxurious Tuscany
Tuscan villas offer travelers to Florence and surrounding areas an alternative to staying and dining within the region’s city centers. Many villas in Tuscany have not only converted themselves into hotels or home rentals, but also, they are now open to visitors as restaurants, wineries, and even olive oil fabriche. To discover another side of the richness, beauty, and history of Tuscany, a stay or day trip to a villa or farmhouse is well worth the visit.
Via di Campestri, 19/22, 50039 Vicchio di Mugello FI, Italy
How tempting is it to run off to a rustic Tuscan villa? To just drive the rolling, vineyard- and olive grove–lined hills of Tuscany until you find the perfect one to painstakingly, lovingly restore, à la Under the Tuscan Sun, where you can produce your own olive oil and wine, grow your own vegetables, go for long bike rides in search of Etruscan ruins, and befriend the locals in the nearest village despite speaking nary a word of Italian? That’s pretty much what a stay at the Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort is like, except they’ve done the heavy lifting for you. The Pasquali family spent two years transforming the 17th-century villa, once the domain of the noble Florentine Roti Michelozzi family, into a rustic retreat and working olive oil farm. Now, guests can waltz in and lounge by the pool, take long walks through the orchards, sample the house olive oils, dine alfresco on fresh local cuisine, and learn to cook Tuscan specialties with the chef. The surrounding countryside is yours for the taking, with horseback riding, biking, and hiking excursions on nature trails up to Monte Giovi.
53017 Villa SI, Italy
In the hills of Tuscany, protected by reserve status and hidden by ancient trees, deer roam wild and a spring -- with water so fresh it was the preferred source by the famous Medici family -- flows for 15 years before emerging to become the perfectly balanced liquid you drink when you open a bottle of Acqua Panna. The ancient Villa Panna, on the same property and once a hunting reserve for the Medici family, then owned by Marquis Torrigiani, with its chapel commissioned by Grand Duke Francis I in 1572, is just one of many villas hiding away in the hills of Tuscany with a fascinating history. Andreas Larsson, Best Sommelier in the World 2007, walked me through a tasting of water and wine in the Villa’s main dining room after which Carlos Cracco taught me how to make true Italian risotto in the kitchen. I rode in an antique jeep, far into the 1,300 hectare reserve and looked at the source which produces Acqua Panna water and somewhere in there I determined that Villa Panna would not be the last Tuscan villa I visit. Now, I’m fascinated by the history of the homes and the people who make Tuscany the storied region that it is. A region not just notable for its wine but for its water as well.
Parks Highway, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99755, USA
There are no guarantees the Northern Lights will start dancing on the night you look skyward, but it’s so worth taking the chance. One of the great rewards for hanging out in Alaska once the dark and cold settle over the state, the Northern Lights (or if you want to be scientific about it, aurora borealis) serve up a light show that is equal parts science, magic, and art. Your best bet for catching the light show is to head away from city lights. That’s one of many reasons it’s worth making the trip to Denali National Park, open year-round. When the park’s summer crowds disappear, visitors feel as though the massive national park is an intimate personal space.