Monteverdi isn’t just a hotel, it’s part of a Val d'Orcia-view village: with cobbled mediaeval streets, an ancient church, and a peaceful pool. Flowers bloom prettily in the sprawling gardens, where guests loll by the pool and chef Giancarla proffers fabulous farm-to-table cuisine; spices, herbs and vegetables are plucked straight from the garden. The spa takes a cue from the glorious Tuscan surrounds too, with herb- and flower-infused treatments. As if this weren’t traditionally Tuscan enough, there’s also the ruins of a 12th-century castle, discovered by the owner, to explore.
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A glass of prosecco and a selection of local cheeses and meats at Enoteca
18, including 13 suites. There are also three self-catering villas (a two-bedroom, a three-bedroom and one with six bedrooms).
If staying in the hotel: 11am, but flexible, subject to availability; check-in 4pm. If staying in a villa: check-out is 10am, check-in 3pm.
Double rooms from £1661.16 (€1,850), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include a generous Continental breakfast.
Arrange private lessons with executive chef Giancarla Bodoni or one of her talented team and you'll learn to whip up authentic Tuscan dishes, including pici pasta and boar ragu. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your newfound cookery skills in the academy’s indoor or outdoor dining area, and be gifted with a Monteverdi apron and recipe book to take home. Book in advance to attend a session; they’re held at 11am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
At the hotel
Spa, culinary academy, gardens, gym, library, art gallery with artists in residence, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TVs, bespoke bath products. Villas have fully equipped kitchens.
Our favourite rooms
Do you want a romantic private garden, a supply of logs or your own wood-burning fireplace? Book your spacious suite accordingly. The villas are an excellent option for families, with plenty of space (ranging from two–six bedrooms), cosy living rooms and neat kitchens. Designed by Ilaria Miani, the rooms evoke rural romance: wood-beamed ceilings, elegant, slender-framed four posters (in some rooms), original artworks and agricultural artifacts hanging on walls, and fresh flowers from the hotel's gardens.
The glittering turquoise infinity pool surveys the verdant Val d’Orcia and is surrounded by lavender.
The spa brings the rustic surroundings indoors; trees snake through tables, baskets of fruit and fragrant herbs are dotted throughout the lobby. There are soothing treatment rooms, underground hot and cold pools, a hammam, countryside-view heated pool and garden-view relaxation lounge. Treatments use natural lotions and potions – herbal unguents sourced from 13th-century Florentine farmacia Santa Maria Novella and hammam-inspired Charme D’Oriente products. There are facials to soothe and illuminate, rose-scented moisturising treatments, massages, and revitalising scrubs; spring for a signature treatments and you’ll find yourself submerged in a perfumed bath, slathered in Etruscan mud, or de-knotted and pummelled for 75-minutes after a half-hour soak. The Technogym kitted-out fitness centre is a four-minute walk away.
Walking shoes and sketch books for afternoons in the Tuscan campagna.
The hotel hosts artists in residence and decorates bedrooms with their work: if you like what you see, buy a print or painting to take back home.
Very welcome: extra beds for under-12s (free) and cots (also free) can be added to rooms. English-speaking babysitters cost €30 an hour (for a minimum of three hours).
Babies, and older children who can run around in the gardens or splash about in the pool.
The villas offer families more space. The Pietas and Vergilius luxury rooms can be interconnected, and some suites share a living space that would suit a family of four.
Ask staff about organising a trip to one of the local farms included in their culinary tours, where your little ones can pet the animals and learn how cheese is made. Guests staying in a villa can arrange children’s cookery classes with the hotel's chef.
The pool doesn’t come with lifeguards, so keep an eye on less confident swimmers. Ask staff for floats and pool toys if you need them.
The chef will happily adapt menu items for younger palates, or – for villa guests – conduct a cookery class with junior Jamie Olivers.
Babysitting can be arranged with the concierge: sitters are English-speaking and charge around €25 an hour.
No need to pack
Staff will provide games, pool toys, footballs, skipping ropes and croquet kit. Children staying in the villas can borrow a Wii.
Sit at one of the little tables out on the terrace, or outside any of the restaurants, with the Tuscan tapestry of fields and valleys stretching beneath you.
Linen; leather sandals; an unbuttoned shirt.
Top-flight eatery Oreade is helmed by chef Giancarla Bodoni. She carved out a name for herself at her acclaimed Miami-based restaurant Escopazzo, where the menu adhered to her farm-to-table philosophy. She's brought her forward-thinking culinary prowess to Monteverdi sourcing the freshest Tuscan ingredients and going back to basics with unpretentious yet delicious dishes. Smoked duck breast with micro-celery and green-apple sorbet; braised wild-boar short ribs; and chocolate fondant with liqueur-poached pears are just some of her palate-pleasing offerings. If not in the kitchen, the team are scouring the local markets for ingredients from nearby farms and cherry picking herbs, fruit and vegetables from the hotel’s gardens. Enjoy a laid-back lunch at the Enoteca, where bruschetta, sweet and savoury tarts, fresh salads, and charcuterie and cheese plates are served.
The Library bar, which has a terrace with sweeping views of the Val d'Orcia, serves locally brewed beer, wine, prosecco and an impressive cocktail menu, which offers sparkling bellinis and kir royales, daiquiris, margaritas and negronis. Abstainers can enjoy a small but tasty menu of non-alcoholic cocktails, too. Cosy up by the fireplace in the Lobby Lounge & Terrace Bar, or take your locally produced wine out onto the terrace and watch the Tuscan sunset.
Breakfast at Oreade runs from 7.30am to 10.30am; lunch from noon to 2pm; and dinner from 7pm to 9.30pm. Dine at Enoteca between 12.30pm and 9pm, sip cocktails in the lobby lounge and terrace bar from 10am to 10.30am (from 8am in the Library bar).
There’s a comprehensive bar menu featuring fresh garden salads, regional meats and cheeses, bruschette, pastries and just-baked panini and crostini. Hot dishes from Enoteca's and Oreade's menus are also available (when they're open).
Monteverdi’s location is enviable: a mediaeval hamlet called Castiglioncello del Trinoro, in the Val d’Orcia (a Unesco World Heritage site), midway between Rome and Florence.
The closest airport is Florence, it's 144km from the hotel – roughly a 90-minute drive or taxi ride – and services a range of flights to major European destinations and within Italy. Pisa International Airport is about two and a half hour's drive from the hotel and serves a wider range of destinations. Most transatlantic flights or flights across the Pacific will arrive at Rome Fiumicino Airport, which is 180km (a two-hour drive) away.
Chiusi-Chianciano Terme in Chiusi is around 30 minutes from the hotel by car, with services connecting to Rome and Florence, via Arezzo, and Siena.
The town of Sarteano is less than 10 minutes from Monteverdi by car. The hotel has free parking, but be prepared for narrow, windy roads and gravel-topped streets in the village.
Worth getting out of bed for
Days at the hotel are best spent doing very little, aside from eating, drinking, wandering over to the spa and being very merry. Castiglioncello del Trinoro is a great base for discovering Tuscany’s vineyards, historic villages and tempting trattorias. Ask staff to arrange hiking trails around Monteverdi, yoga, painting and sketching in the lavender garden, wine and cheese tastings at the Enoteca, or a discussion with the current artist in residence. Sant'Andrea church comes alive with the sound of music in regular music concerts; the Incontri in Terra di Siena festival, of which the hotel owner is a patron, occasionally hosts performances in the hotel's grounds. The hotel also recommends tours of La Foce’s famous gardens, 15 minutes away by car, as well as trips to Montepulciano’s vineyards to sip some Vino Nobile, or Montalcino for Brunello. Olive-oil tastings and horse riding can also be arranged.
In Sarteano, steer straight to Dopoteatro, a cosy wine bar right in front of the theatre that's perfect for aperitivos and light meals. Osteria da Gagliano on Via Roma is a great spot for simple, traditional Tuscan cuisine: pici with ragout, stewed boar, spelt with pecorino and pears, leek and saffron cake and so on. The little restaurant with its exposed brick and stone walls and arched ceilings makes for an atmospheric setting: there’s only space for 25 though, so be sure to book. The dining room has space for around 20. Once a tannery owned by Tuscan nobile, Locanda dei Tintori is now a humble restaurant serving rustic Tuscan dishes made with locally sourced ingredients; try traditional pici (like a fat spaghetti) or one of their thin and crispy pizzas, followed by a large slice of homemade tiramisu. For a memorable end to a trip, take a table in the cobbled 15th-century cloister of Il Chiostroon Corso Garibaldi; dine on their pici al cinghiale or veal tartare while sipping a large glass of rosso vino amongst fragments of classical pillars and large urns full of blossoming flowers.
I have a glass of prosecco in my hand; Mr Smith has a cold beer. We have our feet in the swimming pool; a jawdropping view of the Tuscan hills laid out before us is obscured only by enormous white butterflies.
We have been at Hotel Monteverdi exactly 17 minutes, but already the real world – the easyJet flight, the cavalier Italian disregard for indicating on motorways, the diabolical choice of Italian music radio – has faded away. We are in a better place now. A chef wanders past, cutting herbs from the garden, which reminds us that we are starving after a day of travelling and dinner – but oh, what’s that they brought with the drinks? A tray of fresh bruschetta and olives? Hmmm. We could get used to this.
Monteverdi is the kind of hotel you could wax lyrical about for hours, but if I had to choose just one adjective instead it would be this: ‘classy’. Monteverdi is not a hotel, but an entire village; an ancient hilltop cluster of pale stone buildings with a panoramic aspect across the Val d’Orcia which has been converted into self-contained villas and hotel rooms, with a swimming pool, gardens, a relaxed breakfast-and-lunch café and an elegant restaurant. So instead of arriving in a soulless foyer, you park your car on a steep cobbled lane and you are led through lavender-lined steps to your room. In place of getting a lift to the infinity pool with a view, you meander across terraced lawns, counting lizards as you go. It is an extremely pleasing arrangement, which allows maximum enjoyment of the vistas – I know I’m banging on about the views, but I promise you that if you come here, you will totally see why – and it all allows you to feel as though you are drinking in Tuscan sights and culture without actually having to venture more than a few yards from your perch.
We stayed in Room 3, which was just above the restaurant, but utterly peaceful. (This is not a late-night-party kind of a hotel.) The decor is of the chic rustic-whitewashed-simplicity school familiar to anyone who has stayed in upmarket hotels in, say, Ibiza, or Andalucia, or Provence. I’m not being snarky – when done well, it is the perfect backdrop for an idyllic holiday, for fabulously restorative sleeping and for those heavenly siestas when the world seems to stand still for an hour or two, and Monteverdi does it very well indeed. Thick mediaeval stone walls ensure the interiors are wondrously cool, while heavy wooden shutters keep it pitch dark until whatever time you decide to call morning. (Being an isolated village on the top of a Tuscan hill ensures the quiet. In fact, the first night, it took me a while to get to sleep as the adjustment from London levels of outside-the-window shenanigans to the blanket of utter silence that had descended by midnight was something of a shock. But, you know, we learned to live with it.) We had the bed from heaven, two mini dressing areas off the sleeping space, a good-sized bathroom, and a little sitting room with a sofa and a desk. Pool towels came in a stylish basket to take to the pool; the little notebooks were covetable enough to have been, I admit, immediately snaffled into my suitcase.
There is no better way to kick off a summer evening than an Aperol spritz at sunset. Especially when it is served with a thick, serious-looking menu presented with a proud flourish by waiters who know that even here, in Tuscany, among the very best food in the world, Monteverdi takes some beating. The sheep’s cheese bruschetta antipasto was so tasty I had it every night. The sea bream with clams and the Florentine steak both so delicious that there was really no excuse for chocolate pistachio cake – except that when you’re on holiday, and the food is this good, it would be criminal not to make the most of it, right?
Blissfully easy as it would be to while away the day by the infinity pool, watching the tiny Hummingbird butterflies dart in and out of the lavender, Monteverdi is within tempting striking distance of some of the most picturesque towns in Italy. Montepulciano, a treasure trove of restaurants and frescoed churches, winding streets lined with gelaterias (for ice-creams) and enotecas (for the acclaimed local red) is a 30-minute drive away. Even closer to hand, Sarteano – a sleepy Italian town a few minutes from Montepulciano – is the perfect size for a shady, atmospheric wander from piazza to hilltop fortezza. At the hotel’s recommendation, we lunched in a tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it osteria Gagliano, just off the main piazza, where the pici – pasta in the traditional Tuscan noodle-shape – with wild boar ragu was to die for.
So there we were, in the heart of the most beautiful landscape in Europe, surrounded by the most opulent treasures of Renaissance art, within an easy and picturesque drive of Siena’s famous Piazza del Campo, and of Montalcino where glasses of the town’s famous Brunello can be bought and sipped around the castle walls – and not to mention of the Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada outlet stores – and yet, what did we find ourselves yearning to do by early afternoon each day? Head back to our hilltop bubble for an afternoon swim à deux, an hour with a book, a shower in our cool room, aperitivos, and dinner. Perfetto. Whoever it was who said you can’t buy class clearly had never stayed at Monteverdi.