When the whole of a region is stunning it's hard to pin down exactly where to stay. It's certainly a problem in Tuscany, where almost every town is beautiful and set in gorgeous countryside. Luckily we're on hand to help pick out some of the best places to visit in one of the most famous holiday regions in the world. Equally luckily all these properties fall under the Small Luxury Hotels umbrella – which means you are guaranteed a stay in somewhere you will want to come back to years after year. You can thank us when you get back…
The best way to 'do Tuscany' is by car; pack up your favourite robust motor and enjoy a week of culture, fantastic food and more than a reasonable amount of wine. It's also a good excuse to disconnect from the City, those Tuscan hills make it refreshingly hard to get a phone signal!
Grotta Giusti Natural Spa Resort
The first place to visit is the Grotta Giusti natural spa resort, a short way from both Pisa and Florence airports (oh go on then, do some sightseeing on the way); the spa is in a 19th century villa that turns heads so quickly, you'll want to have a camera to hand. Great architecture aside, the real draw of Grotta Giusti is the chance to scuba dive and explore the underwater cavities in the natural cave's age-old thermal lake. Instructors will make sure everyone from beginners to experts will be able to enjoy the submarine caves. If you can tear yourself away from the landscape you can enjoy the spa rooms named Paradise, Purgatory and Hell. Realistically they could have called the rooms Paradise 1, 2 and 3 because there is nothing hellish about Grotta Giusti.
You may not want to leave the spa at first, but when you arrive at Villa Mangiacane, a wonderfully secluded villa deep in the Chianti-Classico region you’ll be glad you did. It's like a fairytale (without any big bad wolves or giant beansta... oh, you know what I mean). During your stay you'll be able join the chef in the traditional kitchen for a hands-on private cooking lesson and, if you're anything like us, use the opportunity to taste the outstanding wines for which the region is famous.
Villa Di Monte Solare
Once you've eaten enough to feed a small army head over to Villa Di Monte Solare, an 18th century villa surrounded by vines and olive trees. You can enjoy tours of the Chianti region along with a chance to discover the truly fantastic local cuisine and some of the best wines in the Tuscan region. Before you head back to the airport make sure you visit San Gimignano for lunch, the town's striking towers and delicious food make it a perfect way to end your time in central Italy.
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