If you are traveling to Tuscany, we highly recommend a stay at Hotel La Tabaccaia.
When we arrived at La Tabaccaia, a four-star hotel on the grounds of the vast Toscana Resort Castelfalfi in Montaione, Italy (about an hour southwest of Florence), we spotted a red Vespa inside the hotel lobby. It looked very Italian and very decorative—but we weren’t aware that this sexy scooter was integrally linked to the medieval hamlet’s history.
Until the 1960s, a nearby Vespa factory had employed many workers living in the old stone farmhouses that dotted the area. When the plant closed and farming alone wasn’t lucrative enough to sustain them and their families, they left for jobs elsewhere turning Castelfalfi into a virtual ghost town.
In 2007, Tui AG (a large multinational tourism corporation) purchased 1000 hectares (about 2500 acres) of the surrounding countryside that included a series of deserted stone houses, an ancient castle and a small Romanesque church that comprised the old village (called a borgo). They had the ambitious goal of revitalizing the area and developing a luxury resort unlike any other in Italy.
In addition to Hotel La Tabaccaia, restored farmhouses and luxury villas are available for purchase and rental. Next year, the resort will open a new five-star hotel with 120 rooms and a 7,000-square-foot health and wellness center.
If you are touring Tuscany or nearby Umbria, here are some reasons why you might want to take a detour and visit Castelfalfi:
1) Stunning scenery and grounds
Castelfalfi sits on a hilltop in the municipality of Montaione with extraordinary views of the surrounding countryside, beauty whose colors change with the seasons. Although you’ll have to navigate narrow roads and hairpin turns to get there, the approach to the resort is a feast for the eyes. Once you arrive, the best panoramic views are those captured from the terrace of the castle. Bring your camera.
Guests who enjoy the outdoors can walk, hike and cycle the expansive grounds covered with a patchwork of vineyards, olive groves, forests, wildflowers and lakes. Golfers will enjoy the views from the mountain and lake courses that comprise the resort’s 27-hole golf course, the largest in Tuscany.
2) Four-star luxury hotel
La Tabaccaia is a contemporary, boutique hotel with only 31 rooms. In this case, “small” is beautiful, especially for travelers who want to get away from the crowds and queues that typically overwhelm large cities like Florence and San Gimignano during peak tourism periods. As opposed to places that restrict private vehicles from pedestrian zones, parking spots are free and ample in number here.
The hotel itself is housed in the shell of a large, two-story stone building that was once used to dry tobacco for Tuscan cigars (from which it gets its name).
On the ground level, the hotel has a spacious lobby, an intimate bar, library lounge and breakfast room.
Guest room interiors are tastefully designed and decorated featuring modern amenities such as travertine bathrooms with large stall showers, elegant trough-like sinks, and bidets. The eco-friendly bath toiletries are olive-fruit-oil-based.
Emphasizing sustainability and natural materials, the bedrooms have beamed wood ceilings and olivewood floors. Fabrics and wall coverings are in muted tones with lime green accents. Rooms are also equipped with flat screen TVs and free wireless internet.
For someone who is the frequent target of Italian mosquitos (zanzare), it’s worth mentioning that this is the first hotel I’ve seen in Italy that has opening windows with functioning screens. (Because window size is so irregular, most private and public residences do not have them.)
3) Charms of the borgo
The old borgo, which has been brought back to life, is just a few hundred yards from the hotel. Lovingly restored farmhouses and stone buildings nestled on the property are evocative of the past but the interiors of these old buildings have been gutted and updated to make them comfortable while retaining their rustic charm.
The new borgo includes a pharmacy, grocery story, wine shop, art gallery and gelateria as well as a gracious park, a perfect setting for apertivos at sunset.
4) Gourmet dining
Two excellent restaurants currently operate on the grounds. Il Rosmarino, an informal trattoria with a lovely outdoor patio, serves local products and regional dishes for both lunch and dinner. Freshly baked breads in a brown paper bag were still warm when they arrived at the table—a perfect pairing with the oil from the olive trees on the property. We ordered a plate of assorted crostini with liver, tomato and pistachio patés. Then we shared a delicious plate of pici (thick hand-rolled spaghetti) cacio e pepe style (with cheese and pepper) with a very palatable local wine.
La Rocca di Castelfalfi is a destination restaurant lodged in the renovated Castle towering over the estate. The food is fit for royalty or foodies. With Michelin-star chef Michele Rinaldi overseeing the kitchen, gourmet dishes showcasing regional products are presented as artfully as they are tasty. Guests can opt to order a la carte or choose the tasting menu. Tenor Andrea Bocelli played at the piano bar here in the 80s prior to his meteoric rise on the international music scene.
5) Ample opportunities to balance activity with relaxation
The hotel is perfectly positioned to embark on day trips to the iconic cities of Tuscany or the smaller villages that characterize the region. Guests can also take advantage of the full service resort’s numerous onsite health and wellness options including the spa (which offers massages, facials and beauty treatments), the fitness center, four outdoor swimming pools, two clay tennis courts and yoga classes.
The concierge team can arrange Vespa rides, cooking lessons with an Italian chef, horseback riding lessons, truffle hunting with dogs, or vineyard tours and tastings at the resort’s boutique winery.
La Tabaccaia: Bottom line
Elegant but still casual, the hotel is likely to have wide appeal for those seeking a bucolic getaway in Tuscany— without having to sacrifice any creature comforts. During our stay, we noticed several multigenerational groups and some golfers. The setting is also idyllic for weddings, honeymoons or romantic weekends.
While the emphasis has been on renovation and restoration as opposed to preservation, La Tabaccaia offers a comfortable and luxurious stay in a characteristic setting—along with a truly extraordinary Tuscan culinary experience.
IF YOU GO
Localita Castelfalfi, 50050 Montalone, Firenze, Italy
- The hotel is handicapped accessible and has an elevator.
- Because the two restaurants are outside the main building, some walking is entailed to get from place to place. (A complimentary buffet breakfast is served in the breakfast room.)
- Unless private transportation or hotel drop-off/pick-up is arranged in advance, it is essential to have a car to reach or leave the property.
- Because construction is ongoing, views from some rooms can be disappointing.
Disclosure: Our overnight stay at La Tabaccaia was hosted by the resort but any opinions expressed in this post are our own.
On GettingOnTravel: Toscana Resort Castelfalfi: One-of-a-kind luxury in Tuscany