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Tuscany / Borgo Pignano

Connecting with nature comes easy at this low-impact rural gem. A 750-acre organic farm, with magnificent 18th century villa and hamlet that was first settled by the Etruscans.

Originally owned by the noble Incontri family, this country estate continues to transmit a true sense of place. A special infinity pool carved out of an ancient limestone quarry may be the trump card, yet the sustainable ethos that guides every aspect here cannot be ignored as a big draw. It’s taken almost 20 years to painstakingly restore the buildings, gardens and land; turning this into a thriving low-impact wonderland. It’s a challenge to truly present all the ways the immediate environment is protected and supported: from no harm organic farming, solar powered systems, community initiatives and restoring the regions ancient ecology to name just a few. For guests, this means learning how to make organic soap with resident herbalist Lisabetta, or spending time with beekeeper Antonio on an apiary tour are the common pastimes you can expect.

Most choose to find a quite enclave in the grounds, otherwise, deliciously slow days are filled with painting classes, truffle hunting, anti-gravity yoga, wine tasting and horse riding – in truth, the list of activities is astonishing and endless. Dinner is a formal affair at Villa Pignano. Pretty much everything on the menu is grown in the gardens or homemade (from free range Cinta Senese pigs to an on-site bakery), so food and drink are definitely standout. A shared table by the fireside in Fire-place restaurant encourages casual social dining and should be experienced at least once.

Each of the farmhouse country style rooms, full of quirk and character, are different. Further choices include maisonettes, cottages and a former rectory – some with original frescos. Forget room service, TVs and five-star trimmings, here, it’s the proud and deeply caring staff that will make you feel completely cosseted at Borgo Pignano.

Travel notes:

  • 14 rooms and suites, 10 maisonettes with a fully-equipped kitchen, 2 villas and the Priest’s house
  • The people working the estate are standout and more than happy to show you their craft: there’s farmer Enzo, head of organic kitchen and beekeeper Antonio, riding instructor Barbara, herbalist Lisabetta and mixologist Marco
  • There’s a small spa with private wellness suites
  • Bring suitable footwear for hiking the estate’s rugged woodland and fields
  • Storied villages Volterra and San Gimignano are nearby
  • Family-friendly: separate pool and children’s club during summer holidays

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When to visit Italy

Italy is a year round destination especially for city breaks, with a largely temperate climate with regional variations. Summers are hot especially from Rome southwards, whilst spring and autumn are mild. Winter in the south is warmer and drier than in the northern and central areas which can be much colder with snow fall in the mountainous regions.

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