Gina Baksa enjoys the Tuscan sun and superb hospitality at the luxurious Borgo Santo Pietro estate near Siena.
Tuscany is God’s gift to the planet. The perfect movie backdrop; a haven for foodies and oenophiles and an artist’s dream, her rolling hills and sentinel cypress interspersed by honey-coloured stone villas are dreamily compelling: a beguiling romance in the making.
And it’s here, among the winding roads of the Val de Merse that I’m being chauffeured in a Mercedes S Class to the 5-star Borgo Santo Pietro spa estate – just 45 minutes from hilltop Siena. You can arrive at Pisa, Siena or Rome airports – or even charter your own helicopter – all are within easy reach of this extraordinary Tuscan retreat.
We’ve taken the coast road from Pisa, stopping for lunch at Relais Poggia Ai Santi, high above the village of San Vincenzo. Hilltop views across the Tyrrhenian Sea alongside home-made pasta and fine organic wine induce profound relaxation. So by the time we arrive at Borgo’s impressive wrought iron gates just outside Chiusdino, I’m ready to immerse myself in this luxury hotel’s seductive landscapes and accommodation.
A long avenue of majestic sun-lit cypress trees leads up to the main house: A magnificent 12th-century restored villa nestled in a 270-acre estate with breath-taking views across the forests and fields of the Valle Serena.
Borgo’s owners, Danish couple Jeanette and Claus Thottrup (fashion design and construction background) were looking for a holiday home in Tuscany back in 2001. About to leave the region empty-handed, they were en route to the airport when a friend suggested they look at Borgo – then a ruined villa – located on an ancient pilgrimage route near the abbey of San Galgano. It was love at first sight.
Fast forward 18 years and this extraordinary couple have created an exclusive 5-star luxury retreat with 20 rooms and suites, deep in the undulating Tuscan Maremma hills – and now a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux Group. In addition to the eight grand rooms in the villa (the best suite is the Santo Pietro) and 12 garden suites, there’s an infinity pool with bar, a Michelin-starred restaurant, a spa, 11 hectares of vineyards, and a working organic sheep farm with the cheese-making facility. Add to the mix bountiful orchards and vegetable fields, alpacas, beehives, chickens… and you’ll see why Condé Nast readers have voted Borgo Santo Pietro their No. 1 resort in Europe. The exquisite courtyards, terraces and gardens all flow into each other, scented with jasmine, rose, honeysuckle and cypress.
The communal spaces in the grand main house – enveloped in golden-hued Tuscan stone – have been beautifully and imaginatively restored: An impressive entrance hall with baronial fireplace leads into the dining and lounge areas. The attention to detail here is astonishing: a Medieval-Baroque smorgasbord of antiques, tapestries, frescoes, glass chandeliers, capacious comfy sofas, exquisite plant arrays and lit fireplaces. I feel completely at home.