Tuscany is a magical region in Italy that combines idyllic landscapes with historic cities that brim with art and culture. When it comes to finding somewhere to stay, there is plenty of hotel choice and Lulu has personally picked the best boutique hotels in Tuscany, from luxury hotels in Florence to B&Bs near Scarlino and gorgeous spots in between. One of the best all-round boutique hotels in Tuscany is Castello Banfi il Borgo which can be found on the Mariani family's award-winning vineyard and winery near Montalcino in the Brunello region of Tuscany.
The jewel in Tuscany’s crown is Florence, with its compact UNESCO World Heritage centre, collections of famous masterpieces (the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery should be top of the list) and world-famous Duomo. From centrally-located luxury Florence hotels such as JK Place Florence to the Casa Howard guest house and out of town boutique hotel options which include theMarignolle Relais & Charme, a boutique hotel in the countryside near Florence, the Chic Retreats selection of Tuscan boutique hotels caters for all tastes and budgets.
An hour’s drive west of Florence Albergo Villa Casanova is an 18th-century farmhouse surrounded by 360 acres of woodland that has been transformed into a luxury boutique hotel near Lucca with 14 large suites, an infinity pool and a tennis court. It’s another of our carefully considered luxury hotels in Tuscany and great place to unwind for a few days. For a foodie treat, book a table for dinner at romantic Buca di Sant’Antonio in Lucca and visit the nearby sites, which include several churches (the Duomo di San Martino is one of the best) and Piazza Anfiteatro, a former Roman amphitheatre which is now lined with shops. A highlight of the year is the Puccini Festival, named after the great composer who was born in the city, which takes place at the open-air theatre of Torre del Lago in July.
Pisa and the surrounding area
From Lucca, it’s a short 20 minute drive to Pisa, famous of course, for its Leaning Tower in Campo dei Miracoli. The tower became too heavy for the subsoil when it was being built and began to tilt after only 3 of its 8 storeys were complete: it was later stabilised and is now the town’s much-photographed, world-famous tourist attraction. After a day in Pisa, have a casual supper at Antica Trattoria Il Campano, which is famous for its Tuscan dishes: homemade pasta with cod, leeks and tomato sauce, sirloin steak with chianti sauce. An hour away is Barbialla Nuova, comprised of 7 self-catering apartments and a Tuscan farmhouse in the middle of a 500 hectare estate which is ideal for nature lovers. The estate is home to the famous white truffle of San Miniato so if you visit in autumn, you can join the truffle hunters on a dig.
For another equally gorgeous luxury hotel option, take a look at Borgo Santa Pietro, a sought after boutique hotel in the village of Palazzetto (the garden suites are ideal for families) where you can do activities including hiking, cycling and horse riding or simply relax surrounded by fragrant herbs and roses. From either base you are perfectly positioned to discover Siena, where life revolves mostly around the cafe-lined Piazza del Campo and the duomo in Piazza del Duomo. The Torre del Mangia, the tallest tower in Tuscany which has spectacular views from the top, is also worth exploring. For dinner, eat at Osteria le Logge, just off the main square, where the menu includes such as zucchini tempira, porcini mushroom salad and pumpkin stuffed ravioli.
Scarlino and the surrounding area
For the best of both worlds - olive groves and woodland combined with fresh sea breezes and sandy beaches - carry on driving 1.5 hours towards Scarlino and the Gulf of Follonica. Book into Relais Vedetta, a small boutique hotel near Scarlino, Tuscany from where you can explore Etruscan archaeological sites such as Vetolina, do watersports and spend the day in the Maremma National Park (the most popular beach in the National Park is Marina di Alberese - be prepared to queue for the car park in the summer). At night, book a table at La Pineta, a Michelin-star restaurant right on the beach at Marina di Bibbona (and a favourite of Italian chef Antonio Carluccio). The fresh fish - which is usually simply grilled, served raw or pan-fried - is the main draw and the real must-have on the menu. Other restaurants in Tuscany worth checking out include Locanda Pietracupa in San Donato in Poggio and La Bottega in Volpia (the Bar-Ucci wine bar opposite has the same owners) where you can tuck into homemade pasta followed by a succulent pork roast.
Whether you prefer spending time seeing art, history and culture or touring the Chianti wine towns and estates, this plentiful region has a lot to offer - and we have the Chic Retreats, luxury B&Bs, apartments and boutique hotels in Tuscany to match.