Tuscany, Italy

If the slopes dotted with cypress trees and olive groves don’t win your heart, the aromas and flavours of the flourishing farmlands will, via your stomach. Perfectly preserved Renaissance treasures in culture-packed ancient cities scream out for attention, while the quieter lure of Maremma, Italy’s Wild West, is characterised by beautiful coastline, hot springs and marshes once patrolled by cowboys. Don’t let Tuscany’s popularity with tourists fool you into thinking you can’t get away from it all here – sure, this beloved province will treat you to the gamut of holiday activities, but whether you feel like touring mediaeval hilltop villages, hitting the designer boutiques, or flopping on a lounger-for-two for poolside sun-kissed snoozing, Tuscany’s allure can be enjoyed at every pace.

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When to go

Tuscany can be busy with tourists throughout the summer months, although once you’ve escaped to your retreat you won’t notice. The cities of Florence and Siena in particular are best enjoyed outside the peak summer season.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Pisa’s Galileo Galilei airport (www.pisa-airport.com) is the most convenient regional gateway, but Florence and Rome Fiumicino are options; a two-hour drive from either will get you into southern Tuscany. If you're a high-flier with your own jet, there is also a small airport in Siena (www.siena-airport.it).
  • Trains

    The main station in Florence is behind Piazza Santa Maria Novella; Florence acts as a hub for services to other Tuscan cities, including Siena and Pisa (www.trenitalia.com). Grosseto is on the main Rome-Genoa line and has frequent express services. Once in the Tuscan countryside, however, public transport is fairly limited.
  • Automobiles

    The cities are best explored on foot, but there’s nothing more fun than putting the top down and exploring the Tuscan countryside by convertible. Hire classic and vintage cars from CLM Viaggi (+39 0577 287415).
  • Taxis

    Your best bet is to ask your hotel to organise pick-ups and transfers for you, as you won’t be able to hail a taxi in the hills.

The gourmet gadabout

The gourmet gadabout

Fling some dough under the expert, private tutelage of chef Stefano Santo (formerly of two-Michelin-starred Square in London) at Borgo Santo Pietro in Italy. He’ll teach you classic Tuscan dishes for a lifetime of contented munching. And if you need more, consider a foodie-friendly tour of Italy, across Florence, Tuscany and the Amalfi coast. 

FOLLOW YOUR TASTEBUDS

FOLLOW YOUR TASTEBUDS

For many of us, travel is what we eat: new flavours, local delicacies and relaxing al fresco feasts. Grade-A gourmands tend to love things Gallic and, when it comes to getaways, Provence’s Alain Ducasse-owned Hostellerie de l’Abbaye is the cerise on France’s rich gâteau. Nearby Baumanière is a Michelin-star-spangled stay hugged by abundant vineyards. Cross the Med to Castiglion del Bosco and you can learn the secrets of the Tuscan cucina at its renowned cookery school. Thirsty? California’s cinematic wine country – valleys Napa and Sonoma – will sate you in style. 

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Tuscany

Tuscany

Loaded up with luxury souvenirs, escape for your country retreat – specifically, the enchanting Borgo Santo Pietro, a lovingly restored 13th century villa with a sensuous spa. Honeymooners will love the lavish Santo Pietro Suite with antique furnishings, vast private balcony and a Roman steam bath and shower. Don’t let Tuscany’s popularity with tourists fool you into thinking you can’t get away from it all here. Sip your way through ‘Chiantishire,’ between Siena and Florence, on an exclusive tour to uncover your favourite bottles of Italy’s legendary wine. Or, saddle up and explore vineyards, olive groves and medieval villages with local guides on horseback. Unwind post ride at a family-owned farm with pecorino, prosciutto, salami, bruschetta, and, of course, some of the world’s finest Chiantis. Tuscany’s allure – mediaeval hilltop villages, ancient vineyard and sun-bathing in a poolside lounger for two – can be enjoyed at every pace.

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ON THE ROAD

ON THE ROAD

Your own convertible, an ocean-side highway and some unironic blasting of The Beach Boys – a California road trip is driving as it's meant to be. Farmhouse Inn, a romantic ranch in wine country, is a great starting point for your adventure, once you've sampled the Michelin-starred food and some local blends (and slept it off, of course). Make a stop at Big Sur for some intimate isolation and dramatic Pacific views at Post Ranch Inn. Alternatively, follow in the tyreprints of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon and take your own feast-fuelled trip around Tuscany (Michael Caine impressions optional). Or, hire a car in Naples, and put Monastero Santa Rosa's address into the sat nav – you'll follow the jaw-dropping Amalfi coastline before tackling a death-defying uphill road to the hotel. 

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