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The English love Tuscany – so much so that it has been dubbed Chiantishire, as they decamp from gloomy England and set up in villas for a summer of sightseeing, swimming and socialising. But Tuscany is large and there are many hidden or lesser-known places so you don't have to mix with your fellow Brits if you don't want to. The landscape, recognisable as the background of countless Renaissance Madonnas, remains relatively unspoiled, dotted with ancient farmhouses which have been beautifully restored into villas or boutique Tuscan hotels. For a summer stay that showcases the best of this beautiful region, these addresses get our pick for being the best villas in Tuscany. 24 Mountain Bike
Of all the beautiful addresses in Tuscany, few can claim the grandiose place in history that Villa Cetinale can. And we mean grandiose in every sense – built in 1680 for Pope Alexander VII, it's hosted famous names from royalty (Princess Margaret) to rock stars (Mick Jagger) over the years. Edith Wharton famously praised the Cetinale gardens, an icon of Tuscan beauty with climbing roses, lemon trees, statues and vine-covered pergolas. From the villa, you’ll have private access to the gardens, along with a heated pool and tennis court. Each of the thirteen bedrooms is named after a different colour. All are sumptuously decorated but the red room, with its scarlet velvet four-poster, is the one to aim for. Naturally, a stay here is accompanied by the service of a full staff including a chef, waiter, daily housekeeping and a porter.
Sleeps: 27 across 13 bedrooms Price: from £5,950 per night, or £221 per person per night, three nights minimum
Dating back to the 16th century, this full-of-character villa has lived a varied life, from housing a stable to operating as a nightclub. Today the property is a unique two-bedroom two-bathroom private stay available on Plum Guide. The original honey brick walls are beautifully offset with mid-century modern decor and a sleek chrome kitchen. There’s a home cinema set up, an artist studio space and a striking rainfall shower set without an arched alcove. But the real star of the place is the underground plunge pool, hidden away in the vaults and only accessible via a trapdoor.
Price: from £976 per night, or £244 per person per night, minimum three nights
If your trip to this region is inspired by the classic film Under the Tuscan Sun then why not double down on the fantasy and stay at the traditional, centuries-old villa that features in the movie? All of the quintessential elements are here, from soaring beamed ceilings to terracotta tiles and original stonework. Modernised updates include a contemporary kitchen, with a spacious marble-top island, and a games room. In the gardens, there’s a pool, a hot tub and a pizza oven, as well as a farmhouse with additional bedrooms. All in, the estate has space for 16. Take it over for a group holiday and soak up that Italian sunshine.
Sleeps: 16 Price: from £1,769 per night, or £111 per person per night, seven nights minimum
From the badminton court to the infrared sauna, truly everything has been considered at this exquisite 14th-century Tuscan house. Within the former convent are six bedrooms that resemble those found in a boutique hotel, all featuring smart seating areas, exposed beamed ceilings and air conditioning. The kitchen, originally used as a literal pigsty, is now a chef’s dream with marble kitchen tops, an Aga and plenty of cookbooks. Outside there’s a vegetable garden and orchids to pick fresh ingredients from. Much of the house is built around a courtyard where the whole crew can gather at the outdoor lounge and dining area. The other main hangout hub is the magnesium infinity pool, surrounded by sun loungers and an outdoor hot tub, and overlooking the romantic rolling hills of Tuscany.
Price: from £29,063 per week or £2,421 per person per week
From stone arch doorways to wooden-beamed ceilings and cool flagstones underfoot, this Tuscan villa has all of the hallmarks of a traditional farmhouse. The four bedrooms are set apart from the main villa in three spacious guesthouses, so it’s beautifully private and ideal for big group getaways. The main draw, however, is the exterior – set on a private estate of 150 hectares, the home is surrounded by manicured gardens, a huge pool, fire pit, outdoor Jacuzzi, beach volleyball set-up and a bocce court. Outdoor dining, under the twinkling lights of the pretty cabana, makes the most of the cinematic views over olive groves and dipping hills.
Sleeps: 8 Price: from £22,733 per week, or £406 per person per night
From the arched entryways and wooden beams to the roll-top baths and antique stone basins, you can tell every inch of this farmhouse has been restored with love. Home cooks will be in their element in the atmospheric kitchen, where a large cooker and double oven sit inside a stone fireplace. Rustle up a rustic Italian feast for the whole crew and serve it outside on the large pergola overlooking the surrounding olive trees and vineyards. All five bedrooms are beautiful, but the standout is on the ground floor, where the bedroom connects to a spa area with a beautiful mosaic-tiled steam room, sauna and sunken jacuzzi.
Sleeps: 10 Price: from £8,295 per week, or £830 per person per week
Perfectly placed between Rome and Florence, this sprawling Tuscan retreat offers a supremely stylish stay within an 11th-century castle. Much of the history has been preserved – the main kitchen with exposed stone walls and ceiling is a particular highlight – while modern comforts are blended seamlessly throughout. All nine bedrooms come with ensuites, while other features vary from four-posters to terraces with hot tubs, lounge rooms, minibars and even kitchenettes. There’s room for everyone to gather in the glass-walled dining room that overlooks the surrounding gardens. Or for an even better view, lunch can be served outside from the elevated al fresco dining area with views of the surrounding farmland, vineyards, olive groves and soaring Cypress trees. After lunch, head to the infinity pool for a dip – there are two to choose from.
Price: from $14,164 per night or $787 per person per night, minimum two nights
If you don't have the bandwidth to take over an entire villa, Borgo Santo Pietro is a 13th-century Tuscan villa that operates as a boutique hotel. Book into one of the traditional rooms, where murals adorn the walls and antique furniture features throughout or opt for a spacious garden suite where crystal chandeliers hang over four poster beds and doors lead out onto a lavender-filled courtyard. Breakfast is served in the huge farmhouse-style kitchen or on the terrace with views of lemon trees and the green hills beyond.
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