I have been meticulously planning this trip to Tuscany for several months, but my husband would argue that I’ve been planning it for years. The last time I was here, I was a little older than 10 and my most vivid memories of Florence are its museums and having endless ice creams and handmade pasta. This time, I was going with my husband and two kids to enthusiastically share with them a little part of me and what I remember from summer holidays with my parents.
FAWNING OVER HOTEL LE FONTANELLE
Landing at the Bologna airport late in the evening, we start the two-hour drive to our first destination. We pass Florence and the GPS tells us to take a side road and encounter our first memorable moment. Driving through the immaculate landscape, the stars in the night sky were shining over the vineyards, small villages and Tuscan homes. My husband stopped the car and we stepped out for few minutes to enjoy the view. Just after midnight, we arrive at Hotel Le Fontanelle. This idyllic hilltop property sits on its own 500 hectares, immersing its guests in the essence of Chianti. The team welcomes us and escorts us straight to our room. By this time, the kids were so excited they were wide awake. Our family room is ideally located by the pool and steps from the restaurant and lobby. The team welcomed us with a bottle of wine and cookies and we decided to have a toast, even though it was very late.
When I wake up the next morning, I run to the window to finally take in the beautiful view in daylight, and I conclude that Hotel Le Fontanelle has one of Tuscany’s most beautiful landscapes. We head over to La Colonna Restaurant, where the team is waiting for us at with a beautiful a la carte breakfast of fresh fruit, pastries and cappuccinos: I was finally on holiday.
The hotel offers many activities to enjoy, including horse riding, wine tastings and complimentary bike tours. Their sister property, The Club House, offers a range of additional services Fontanelle guests can partake in, including a top-quality spa. We opt to spend the day at the pool enjoying the view and il dolce far niente, “the sweetness of doing nothing.” That evening, we return to La Colonna Restaurant for a tasting and highly sophisticated menu showcasing the importance of the local gastronomy and excellence of produce used in every single dish.
The exceptional service, decor, and sense of hospitality that runs through the family and owners—Hotel Le Fontanelle is a magical place.
BORGO SAN FELICE FELICITATIONS
Just few kilometers away, Borgo San Felice is our next stop. Having personally known General Manger Mr. Guerrini for over a decade, I was overjoyed to finally discover this fairytale Borgo he had been telling me all about for years.
Borgo San Felice is nestled in the most beautiful surroundings. Its cypress, flowers and overall perfume of spring is captivating. While we did check-in, the kids ran around discovering this enchanted place: its gardens, tiny medieval streets, heated pool and beautiful chapel—they even found a small playground. The attention to detail in every little corner of this Borgo is incredible.
Ines, the executive housekeeper, makes us all feel welcome with an arrival drink for us and a little present for the kids: a coloring book she had drawn herself of the Borgo. We get the kids ready and head straight to the pool. In the evening, we opt for their Osteria del Grigio, a traditional restaurant serving local produce, homemade pasta and the typical Fiorentina. All of this accompanied of course by a bottle of their Chianti—now, that’s amore!
Come morning, we decide to discover the area, visiting Castello di Brolio and enjoying a gelato in a nearby village. I also made sure to experience their Michelin-starred restaurant Il Poggio Rosso, run by the young chef Juan Camilo Quintero. The delicacy and choice of ingredients mixed together in simple dishes kept surprising us. What an incredible food journey!
Before we depart, Mr. Guerrini shows us the Orto Felice Garden, a social project with UMANA MENTE Foundation that is one of a number of economic and environmental commitments the property is actively participating in for maximum sustainability.
THE KINGDOM OF CASTELFALFI
Early in the morning, we head to our last stop, Toscana Resort Castelfalfi. This resort is a true Tuscan escape, only a few kilometers from San Gimignano, a small town known for its Medieval architecture. All the things on offer here overwhelm us: yoga classes, fishing classes on the lake, pizza courses, archery, an adventure park for the kids, tennis, golf and a spa, to name a few! The staff offers me the option to review all experiences via their app which makes it very easy to book restaurants and any activities. That night, we enjoy pizza and pasta in their trattoria Il Rosmarino.
In the morning, I wake up a little earlier than everyone to enjoy a yoga class on a private rooftop with views of the resort and magnificent hills. After breakfast, my family enjoys the indoor pool while Dario, the director of sales and a longtime friend, takes me around the resort, seeing its traditional houses and golf courses and looking out for wild animals with the local guardia caccia or hunting guard. The resort is nestled within over 1,000 hectares, so there is a lot to see; it took us over one hour to drive around and explore the resort! Dario shares with me all the new projects opening for the summer, including a kids’ club with a dedicated pool and activities.
We cannot leave Tuscany without experiencing a tour of the vineyards and wine tasting. Our guide and wine connoisseur, Cosimo, picks us up from the reception and takes us on a private tour around the vineyards while explaining the history of Castelfalfi and how today it’s one of Tuscany’s top producers. It’s the perfect ending to our trip.
We will remember this family holiday and experience for a long time, and I’ve checked off one of my bucket-list destinations. I can’t wait for the next one.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Based in Spain, Federica Lorijn-Antonioli is Kiwi Collection’s Global Director, Hotel Programs