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Castello di Vicarello

Halfway to the sea from Montalcino, where Tuscany gets a little wilder and a little less visited, the Castello di Vicarello is tucked away at the end of a country lane, and is as good as any small hotel we’ve ever visited.

With four suites and one villa, it’s a small, personal place. The thousand year old castello has been beautifully restored and filled with antiques from Italy, Indochina, Indonesia and beyond, and the hotel is run and managed by the owners – whose sense of style and hospitality pervades it entirely. They’ve got the mix of rustic/rural with stylish/extraordinary right down. An organic market-garden produces food for the stone-vaulted kitchen, where cooking classes can be taken, and from which meals are served al fresco in the summer, or fireside in the winter. Expansive gardens offer sweeping views of the Maremma hills, scented with lavender and rose. Two infinity pools dot the gardens. A new spa opened in ’08.

In all this peacefulness, it’s a funny thing that the owner is as keen as mustard to take you out hunting to blow a wild boar out of the woods with a shotgun; but it’s also testimony to the fact that Vicarello is not a vanity project – not simply a spa/hotel for stressed out urbanites. It’s very much germane to its location, in the food that’s served, the olive oil and wine that’s produced, and the mushroom-hunting, grape-picking, boar-slaughtering, jam-making activities on offer. Not that this is some hilltop hippy enclave, either – prices go as high as 1,000 EUR per night. However, if I was getting married, and my lady was as happy to rampage through the woods as she was to luxuriate in the spa, this is where I’d come on honeymoon.

They've got the mix of rustic/rural with stylish/extraordinary right down.

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