Tuscany, Italy

Having returned from a truly wondering holiday in Tuscany, we recommend the beautiful Relais la Cortei dei Papi. Just outside the medieval hilltop town of Cortona, made more famous by Frances Mayer’s book ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’, stunningly beautiful only begins to describe this place, both the hotel and surrounding countryside.

Relais La Corte dei Papi is a small boutique property of just 16 rooms, owned and run by David Papi and his mother Gabriella. From small beginnings as a restaurant David and his mother have put their heart and soul, not to mention tremendous flair and style into gradually creating the beautiful property it is today.

The stylish rooms, many of which are spa suites with your own private spa, contain traditionally opulent Italian furnishings and are completely in keeping with the heart of the property. It’s the perfect place for a romantic getaway.

David is always on hand, seven days a week and likes to personally welcome all his guests with a genuine warmth and sincerity. This warm welcome extends throughout your stay where really nothing is too much trouble.

In the winter you may dine in the cellar restaurant; characterful, elegant and intimate. During the summer months the restaurant is set up outside by the pool surrounded by the immaculate and very beautiful gardens. Either way the food they serve is sublime - Tuscan specialities at their finest. So good in fact, we really didn’t want to leave.

Tuscany is all about exploring the local countryside, so take our lead: adopt an Italian theme and hire a Fiat 500. It’s a great fun way to get out and about.

La Corte dei Papi is located in the East of Tuscany, close to the Umbria border, so it is easy to visit a wide area. We personally loved Montepulciano, Pienza, San Quirico D’Orca, Bagno Vignoli and Montiecello; this whole area is simply breath-taking. Each medieval hilltop town seems to get more beautiful than the last.

Heading north west we visited the larger towns of Siena and San Gimignano. It is also quite possible to visit Florence as a day trip, or combine this to make a two centre holiday itinerary.

For anyone wishing to really taste Tuscany, bespoke vineyard tours can be arranged to visit the very finest cellars. At the Relais, the chefs offer a private cookery lesson and are happy to share some of their traditional recipes and closely guarded secrets!

Or if speed is your thing, the team can arrange for you to hire the very latest Ferrari or Maserati for the day!

There are many lovely hotels in the world, but the personal input and passion from David and his team make Relais La Corte dei Papi quite unique. Nick and I are sure to be back in a heartbeat!

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