FELL IN LOVE WITH HOTELS & SPAS

La Tabaccaia: Rustic Tuscan charm coupled with contemporary comforts

June 10, 2016
View from Toscana Resort Castelfalfi

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.

The Vespa in the lobby of La Tabaccia

The Vespa in the lobby of La Tabaccia

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.

Portrait of Castelfalfi as it once was---in the hotel lobby of Hotel La Tabaccaia

Portrait of Castelfalfi as it once was—hanging in the hotel lobby

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.

Church in Castelfalfi

San Floriano Church in Castelfalfi

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.

Grounds of Toscana Resort Castelfalfi

Terrace outside the castle of Toscana Resort Castelfalfi

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).

Entrance to La Tabaccaia

Entrance to La Tabaccaia

On the ground level, the hotel has a spacious lobby, an intimate bar, library lounge and breakfast room.

Intimate hotel bar at La Tabaccia

Intimate hotel bar at La Tabaccaia

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.

Room 206 in La Tabaccia

Room 206 in La Tabaccia

Bathroom in Room 206 La Tabaccia

Bathroom in Room 206 La Tabaccia

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.

View of the borgo walking from Hotel La Tabaccia

View of the borgo walking from Hotel La Tabaccia

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.

Wine store in the Borgo

Wine store in the Borgo

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.

Patio outside Il Rosmarino

Patio outside Il Rosmarino

Selection of Toscana Crostini at Il Rosmarino

Selection of Toscana Crostini at Il Rosmarino

Pici pasta with caccio e pepe

Pici pasta with caccio e pepe

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.

Chianina Beef Tartare at La Rocca di Castelfalfi

Chianina Beef Tartare at La Rocca di Castelfalfi

Foie gras stuffed gnocchi

Foie gras stuffed gnocchi

5) Ample opportunities to balance activity with relaxation

Directional sign at Toscana Resort Castelfalfi

Directional sign at Toscana Resort Castelfalfi

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

Hotel La Tabaccaia

Localita Castelfalfi, 50050 Montalone, Firenze, Italy


Tips:

  • 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 

  • Reply
    Suzanne Stavert
    June 11, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    This looks so beautiful! Lucky you. The food looks delicious too.

  • Reply
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    June 21, 2016 at 3:43 am

    Small is beautiful is a great description of this perfect gem. And screens may well be one of the ultimate luxuries, Irene to ward off any pesky invaders. I’d love to wander the streets of the old and new Borgas and just take some time to absorb the amazing views. Gorgeous!

  • Reply
    Betsy Wuebker
    June 21, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    How grateful we can be for the foresight shown in repurposing this amazing place into a luxurious and relaxing place to stay. The views and the food are equally gorgeous. What a lovely experience for you and one we would gladly replicate.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      June 21, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      I’m always so appreciative of how much of Italy’s past is preserved~

  • Reply
    Janice Chung
    June 21, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Everything is so gorgeous—the food, the surroundings and especially the hotel. You’re right when you say you would need a car. Based on the map, it is out in the country….but that would make it so nice and peaceful! Guess I’ll have to go back to Tuscany for a third time!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      June 21, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      It’s a wonderful respite from the hubbub of Florence!

  • Reply
    Sand In My Suitcase
    June 22, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    La Tabaccaia sounds like a very pleasant resort to stay at as a base for visiting Florence. With golf, walking trails and a Michelin-starred restaurant, there’s a lot to keep one happy there :-). And the outdoor activities would be a nice contrast to the cultural activities in Florence.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      June 22, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      May be a little too far if you really want to spend more than a day in Florence but it’s a great place to go before or after!

  • Reply
    Jackie Smith
    June 24, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Love the looks of this place and you hooked me when you said the windows open and have screens. That is a must in Tuscany as far as I am concerned – love its sounds and smells! Great information, Irene.

  • Reply
    Vicki Winters
    June 25, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Everything looks stunning and the FOOD!!!!! On my list right now! Thanks for all the info!

  • Reply
    Sue Reddel
    June 26, 2016 at 9:46 am

    This looks like the perfect spot to relax and enjoy yourself after visiting Florence. I really like the elegant simple decor. Two delicious restaurants on property would have me not wanting to leave.

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