Borgo Pignano

Luxury Villa in Tuscany

Standing sentry over a sea of Tuscan hills, the estate of Pignano has quite a history. Inhabited since 900BC, it’s witnessed war, peace, plague and prosperity, and even a stint as a medieval hospital. Today its main focus is relaxation, thanks to a decade-long restoration that has seen it transformed into a sumptuous and spoiling retreat.

At the hotel’s heart is a rambling old villa, whose ramparts enclose 16 frescoed rooms and suites, plus an elegant restaurant; dotted around are a variety of cottages and maisonettes. But that’s not all. If you fancy lazy days doing very little, you’ll find cypress-scented lawns, fire-warmed lounges, and a sparkling pool carved into a former limestone quarry. If you’d prefer a bit of activity, there are music and billiards rooms, a yoga hall, a lake, horses to ride, and art and cookery classes to sample. There’s also a biodynamic garden that produces everything from the veg and honey used in the kitchen to the herbs which infuse the in-room soaps. Beyond, the walled towns of Volterra and San Gimignano tempt with their towers and trattorias. It’s a very special place indeed.

Dining

The restaurant is a serene, vaulted space overlooking the garden – the kind of spot where you could happily linger for hours. We were treated to fresh, zingy flavours at every meal – for breakfast, a buffet of lavender-infused honey, homemade jams, juices and just-baked bread; for lunch, pasta with a medley of tomatoes, followed by silky olive-oil ice-cream. Once a week, staff organise a pizza night in the grounds or a roast in the old medieval kitchen. Our stay coincided with the latter, and we gorged ourselves on flame-grilled pork while chatting to other guests in front of a blazing hearth.

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Before your meal, we recommend lounging on the terrace with one of bartender Pietro’s wonderful creations. Just let him know your tastes and he’ll magic up a bespoke cocktail garnished with herbs from the garden. Ours contained thyme, prosecco and orange liquor, and made a wonderful start to our evening. If you’re staying in a maisonette or cottage, you canself-cater in your fully equipped kitchen (shared with other guests if you’ve booked a set of rooms in La Fonte), or wander up to the restaurant; breakfast is included in the rates. Features include: Bar Chef on request Children meals Cooking classes Organic produce Restaurant Room service Vegetarian menu

ACCOMMODATION

The main villa houses 16 rooms and suites, all elegantly dressed in antiques and Italian linens. Some have frescoed walls, others ornate fireplaces or terracotta floors, and a few come with additional beds for children. All are spacious and sumptuous, with marble- or travertine-clad ensuites, though it’s worth choosing one with a tub so you can wallow in the fragrant bath soak made on site using home-grown herbs and lavender.

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We were lucky enough to bag one of the Signature Suites – a sprawling set of rooms gazing out over the countryside. We slept blissfully in our canopied bed, and awoke to a magical view of mist shrouding the hills. The maisonettes and cottages are simpler in style but just as beautiful. Some sit in outhouses next to the main hotel, others in the meadows a few minutes’ walk away. Our favourites were Il Granaio, a 2-bedroom apartment with soaring ceilings and a roof terrace, and Casa del Lago Cottage, a romantic lakeside hideaway for 2-4. There’s also a large farmhouse called La Fonte, which is divided into clusters of connecting rooms for 2-13 and offers flexibility for groups. Features include: Bathrobes Central heating Cots Available Extra beds Fan Hairdryer Phone Toiletries WiFi

Activities

  • Stroll or cycle around the estate (there are bikes for hire), play boules, then loll by the pool with a book from the library and a tipple from the bar
  • Tour the biodynamic garden, then visit the lab to see how its produce is turned into honey, aromatic soaps and more
  • Ride Borgo Pignano’s horses (lessons and guided treks are available), book a yoga or Pilates session, or head to the kitchen to learn how to make pasta and bread with the chef
  • Art classes, in-room massages, wine-tasting, truffle hunting (in season) can all be arranged, too
  • Drive a few km to the walled town of Volterra. Wander its atmospheric ramparts and cobbled alleys, then linger over lunch in the alabaster-clad piazza.

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Or head in the opposite direction to San Gimignano, famous for its 14 towers (its skyline has been likened to a ‘medieval Manhattan’). It attracts swarms of tourists in summer, so visit after dusk to avoid the worst of the crowds Siena, Florence and Pisa are also within easy day-tripping distance Activities on site or nearby include: Art classes Cooking classes Cycling Hiking Historical sites Horse-riding Mountain biking Museums / galleries Pool table Private guided tours Shopping / markets Swimming Wine tasting Yoga

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Borgo Pignano

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Location

Borgo Pignano sits in the Tuscan countryside, halfway between the historic towns of Volterra and San Gimignano. It’s around an hour’s drive from Pisa and Florence, and 40 minutes from Siena.

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By Air: Pisa (75km) is Tuscany’s main airport and is served by numerous airlines – click on the links below for a list. There are also some flights toFlorence (70km away). Transfers from either airport can be arranged, but we recommend hiring a car so you can explore the area (see below). By Car: For car-hire recommendations, click here. Bear in mind that Borgo Pignano is reached via a rather bumpy 1km track, but it’s nothing a normal vehicle can’t handle. Free parking is available on site. Detailed directions will be provided when you confirm a booking through i-escape.com. More on getting to Tuscany and getting around Airports: Florence Peretola 70.0 km FLR Pisa Galileo Galilei 75.0 km PSA Other: Beach 70.0 km Shops 10.0 km Restaurant 10.0 km

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