BORGO SANTO PIETRO
CHIUSDINO, TUSCANY, ITALY
BEST FOR: ARISTOCRATIC LIVING
NOT FOR: URBANITES. IT’S MAGICALLY REMOTE HERE
Borgo Santo Pietro oozes romance. This Tuscan estate, an hour from Florence, near the mediaeval town of Chiusdino, was bought by the Danish owner for his new wife on their honeymoon, 15 years ago. Together, they have turned a magical wedding present into a “pinch-myself-is-this-real?” boutique hotel. The love that Claus and Jeanette Thottrup have poured into the property emanates from every brick; from the exquisite English style gardens that must be amongst the most enchanting in Italy, to the heavenly unstructured blousy flower arrangements that are copious and refreshed daily. There’s something almost too perfect about the idyllic planting; the trailing roses over private bowers, the rambling wild flower meadows, the lake with meditative gardens, the rows of antique terracotta pots with lemon trees and the billowing honeysuckle and jasmine. It’s almost as if the whole hotel is a carefully choreographed stage setting for a Hollywood rom com set amidst the wrap-around undulating Tuscan countryside.
What this mind boggling attention to design detail does is make you feel unbelievably nurtured. There are only 16 rooms at the moment, but careful expansion is under way, so it is like staying in a private house party. The vibe is Tuscan luxe crossed with English country house comfort; polished antiques, vast fireplaces, sofas to sink into and flickering scented candles. The bedrooms in the main Borgo are a tad over the top; slightly cheesy murals on the walls and gilded cherubs flitting around but in the cottages in the grounds, it’s calmer and more pared down. The effect of the roll top baths, beautiful Italian linens, softest towels, Santa Maria Novella bath products and stunning terraces with outdoor fires allows you to sink into the deepest relaxation secure in the knowledge that any need you might have will be instantly met.
Breakfast is the first delight of the day. Laid out in an open plan kitchen with chefs on hand and a roaring fire in the dining room, this is sustainable living at its finest. All the breads are organic and made on site and as with every meal, the vegetables are straight from the garden. The main dining room is partly open plan, over-looking a sublime rolling hills view without another house in site. The only niggle is the piped music which is rarely preferable to nature’s calm.
Borgo is a foodie’s delight. The executive chef, Andrea Mattei, has won a Michelin star for his farm to plate dishes inspired by the Tuscan countryside. The hotel’s sister restaurant, La Bottega del Buon Caffe, in Florence, with its informal brasserie style and seasonal food, is a must if visiting Florence. Back at Borgo, dinner can be taken in the fun informal Tree House restaurant or you can treat yourself to the Meo Modo menu by Andrea Mattei on the main terrace. The Tree House is a wooden cosy chalet crossed with a club house feel. You can eat delicious salads or robust Tuscan stews. Back in the main house, Andrea Mattei’s menu is worth the flight alone for its spectacular blend of flavours and textures. It is beautifully presented with unusual edible flowers and rare garden herbs. Try melting corn flower agnolotti stuffed with rabbit, snail risotto or memorable suckling pig with hay and acorns.
The Borgo cooking school is in a separate building, close to the vast vegetable gardens, with tables outside under shaded leafy canopies. Everything is incredibly sophisticated and well thought out. Learn to make and cook fresh pasta Italian Mama style with easy buttery sauces. A morning there ends with lunch on site, after which you want to fall into a carb coma in the spa. Again, Borgo’s small spa with only two treatment rooms, set amidst another carefully landscaped relaxation garden, feels out of the ordinary. It’s all exposed Tuscan stone, pale linen sofas, more roaring fires and towering ecclesiastical candles. All the treatments use herbs from the garden and the finest grade cold-pressed Argan oil, which has a high anti-oxidant content. Tracey, the spa manager has healing hands, so if you book a treatment with her, she will send you into that whoozy spaced-out reverie whereby you leave the treatment unable to come straight back down to earth. There is a pleasingly small and bespoke spa menu, which is sensible and ensures tailor made massages to suit your physical and emotional state. Tracey uses Damascus rose oil to rebalance any hormonal issues, while the spa is the first in Italy to use the Heaven Skincare range by Deborah Mitchell. She pioneered the Bee Sting Facial using bee venom – nature’s Botox. It’s a measure of the sophisticated clientele here that the spa offers London Lashes, high quality eyelash extensions along with London Brows and Shellac manis and pedis.
Borgo Santo Pietro is reminiscent of a smaller, Italian Soho Farm House. The boutique, bursting with expensive, modish clothes is in a garden shed, while a row of cherry red Vespas stand outside the front door of the Borgo, should you wish to whizz around the Tuscan countryside. Here they don’t just offer you a country break, they allow you to experience the lifestyle of the rich and fashionable which may appear understated yet make no mistake – every conceivable whim has been considered and catered for.
CONTACT: +39 0577 75 12 22; www.borgosantopietro.com
PRICE: From €515,00 per room
NEAREST AIRPORT: Florence
TRANSFER TIME: Just over an hour
First-Hand Visit Write-Up By: Anna Pasternak