Castello di Gargonza

near Monte San Savino, Tuscany, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Abigail Blasi
Rooms, apartments and a house (each sleeping 2-10) in a fortified medieval village, with endless views, a restaurant and lots of atmosphere
Who can beat staying in a castle for setting the imagination alight? This tiny 13th-century walled village (borgo) has a Sleeping Beauty ambiance, perched high on a hill above thick Tuscan forest where wild boar and antelopes roam. Surrounded by 500 acres of protected land, it was given as a dowry to the great, great grandfather of the 91-year-old owner, Roberto Guicciardini Corsi Salviati. Now a hotel and collection of apartments, its medieval and Renaissance buildings are clustered around the main house, which the family still uses in summer.

It’s such a place of charm that guests might find themselves mingling with day-trippers as they wander the narrow lanes. But by night, when the smattering of non-residents has gone, you’ll have the star- and lamp-lit village to yourself. It’s great for families, with an array of rooms and apartments sleeping 2-8, plus a 4-bedroom house (Contessa Francesca) that has space for 10. However, it’d also suit couples, with enough space to guarantee peace and quiet, and a splendid restaurant just outside the walls.

Highs

  • A unique place where you can sense the history; it’s full of character and atmosphere
  • A remote, get-away-from-it-all feel, yet within easy driving distance of Arezzo, Florence and the Chianti vineyards
  • The outdoor pool, set outside the walls and surrounded by fragrant flowers, has great views across the Tuscan countryside
  • An excellent on-site restaurant (open daily for lunch and dinner) serving delicious meat and pasta dishes, plus a choice of self-catering and bed-and-breakfast options
  • Accommodation to suit everyone (intimate rooms, a large house, 1- to 4-bedroom apartments), all with beautiful original features - wood-beamed ceilings, working fireplaces, stone staircases

Lows

  • Although comfortable, interiors have an old-fashioned feel; if you’re looking for 5-star style, this isn't the place for you
  • No TVs and limited in-room WiFi (a ‘high’ for some), though there is reliable WiFi in the communal lounge
  • A strict cancellation policy, and a 3-night minimum stay (7-nights for Accommodation Only rates)
  • The village streets are uneven and sometimes slippery - difficult to negotiate with a buggy or limited mobility
  • You’ll need a car for day trips and to get to other restaurants for a change of scene

Best time to go

High summer (July/August) is great for lazing by the pool and eating alfresco, but local sights are at their busiest. Spring brings wild flowers and balmy weather; autumn and winter are lovely for cosying up by an open fire and taking frosty walks through the countryside. Castello di Gargonza normally closes in January and February.

Our top tips

It’s worth staying here for a week or two, so you can relax at Gargonza and have time to explore the surrounding countryside and the amazing, art-filled medieval towns.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel, Apartments & Villa
  • 13 rooms, 8 apartments + 1 house
  • Restaurant & bar (open daily); some self-catering
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Cave - Comfort Room

Rooms

The rooms and apartments are dotted around various buildings in the borgo and just outside its walls. They all have plenty of rustic charm, with wood-beamed ceilings and terracotta-tiled floors; many also have working fireplaces (great in winter, when there’s often snow). Beds are large and comfortable, and there are simple wooden dressers, tables and wardrobes. Most of the tiled bathrooms have bathtubs with overhead showers; you get hairdryers but no toiletries or robes.

Starting at the most basic level, there are 3 Classic Rooms, all fairly spacious doubles or twins. Comfort Rooms are bigger and have sitting areas or separate living rooms with sofabeds. Of these, Fattore 23 has wonderful views over woodland, Forestia 4 has 2 bathrooms (useful if you have an additional guest), and Cave is located in the old village quarry. Superior Rooms are larger still, with kitchenettes; most have spectacular views, and some have sofabeds. Worthy of special mention are Palle, which has a terrace; Pietrino, accessed via a steep 800-year-old staircase with a bedroom and living room linked by a steep wooden ladder; and Canapino, whose door is opened by a huge medieval key.

The apartments range from the 2-person 'Sotto gli'Archi' choices in the centre of the borgo, to larger Superior Apartments sleeping 2-3 or 4-5. There are also 3- and 4-bedroom Classic Apartments (Nerina and Fonteblanda II) sleeping 6 and 8 respectively, plus a self-contained house, Contessa Francesca, which is near the pool and sleeps up to 10 in 4 bedrooms and a sofabed. Most bedrooms in the apartments and house can be set up as doubles or twins.

Classic, Comfort Rooms and Triple Superior Room (Fattore 22) are offered on a bed-and-breakfast basis only. In other apartments and Superior Rooms, you can choose between self-catering and bed-and-breakfast tariffs - see Rates for full details.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Terrace

Eating

Castello di Gargonza’s restaurant is located just outside the borgo walls and is open to all guests (as well as non-residents) for lunch and dinner. There’s a high-ceilinged, regal-looking dining room in a converted tractor shed, with large windows overlooking the woods, or you can sit outside in the gravelled garden, underneath white sunshades.

Most of the food is locally sourced or grown on site in the kitchen garden. Tuscan meat is famous all over Italy, and chef Susi Brogi makes the most of it by cooking delicious Chianina beef over embers. Other options include wild boar, excellent homemade pasta dishes (some gluten-free), traditional ribollita (Tuscan vegetable soup) and fruit-laden desserts. The wine list is as inviting as you would expect here on the edge of the Chianti region, with over 60 labels, including Chianti Classico and Colli Senesi.

There’s also a snack bar by the pool, open for light lunches and drinks, and another bar in the village centre, with seating in a pretty garden. And if you’ve booked bed and breakfast, you’ll find a morning buffet of homemade cakes, pastries, fruit, yoghurt, juices, cereals and more in the former olive press.

If you’re staying in a Superior Room, an apartment or Contessa Francesca, you can self-cater in your kitchenette, where you’ll find an oven or microwave, a fridge, a kettle, a toaster and crockery and cutlery. A few basics are provided (oil, vinegar, salt and pepper), and the village has a little shop selling pasta, meat, cheese, biscuits, preserves, wine and Castello di Gargonza’s own olive oil. For other supplies, you'll need to drive 6km to Monte San Savino.

There are plenty of restaurants in the surrounding area if you fancy a change, though unless you arrange a local taxi this will mean a bit of a drive home.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Restaurant
Activity: Chianti vineyards

Activities

  • Relax next to the swimming pool, with its fantastic views over the surrounding woodland
  • Rent a mountain bike or head off on foot to explore the rolling hills and forests of this beautiful corner of Tuscany
  • Discover the treasure-trove city of Arezzo (35 minutes away), with its breathtaking medieval piazzas, antiques markets and Romanesque churches
  • Meander around Chianti, stopping at vineyards to taste the very best local wines. The region’s heartland is around the town of Greve, an hour away
  • Get to know Siena (40 minutes away), with its exquisite medieval townscape, glorious Gothic architecture and distinctive black-and-white striped cathedral
  • Visit Florence (just over an hour’s drive), cradle of the Renaissance and home to the famous Uffizi gallery, the Ponte Vecchio, the beautiful red-roofed Duomo, myriad churches and excellent eateries
  • Stroll around gorgeous hilltop towns such as Montepulciano, Montalcino and San Gimignano, and enjoy long, lazy lunches in the sunshine
  • Take a cookery class back at Castello di Gargonza, where you’ll learn how to make the local pici pasta, as well as ragout and traditional sauces, before eating it all for lunch. Tailored bread- and pizza-making lessons can also be arranged for families

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting

Kids

This is a great place for kids - the maze of little streets topped by a castle feels like something out of a storybook, and the pool is a good size. There are rooms and apartments to suit all sizes of family, and the choice of self-catering or bed-and-breakfast options means you can tailor your stay to your needs. Cots and high chairs are available for babies.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Many of the Comfort and Superior Rooms have sofabeds and work well for families of 3. The Superior Apartments can sleep 3, 4 or 5 in 1-2 bedrooms plus sofabeds or additional single beds, and the Classic Apartments - Nerina (3 double/twin bedrooms) and Fonteblanda II (4 double/twin bedrooms) - can accommodate 6 and 8 respectively. The self-contained house, Contessa Francesca, sleeps up to 10 in 4 double/twin bedrooms and a sofabed. Most options can also take cots for babies. Most bathrooms have tubs with overhead showers, and some of the larger apartments and Contessa Francesca have several bathrooms.

Babysitting:

Available on request

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • High chairs

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The Superior Rooms, apartments and Contessa Francesca have kitchenettes for self-catering, and there’s a shop on site selling limited ingredients. If you’ve booked bed and breakfast, you’ll find some child-friendly options (cereal, yoghurt, cakes) in the morning buffet. Note that bed-and-breakfast rates are not available in the Classic Apartments and Contessa Francesca, which are available as weekly self-catering rentals only

Kids Activities on site:

  • Outdoor pool
  • Mountain bikes for hire
  • Tailored bread- and pizza-making lessons
  • Learning to paint frescoes
  • Estate to explore and wildlife to spot such as wild boars and rabbits

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Tree climbing park at Rapolano Terme (18km away)
  • Arezzo (28km away) has a good play park in the centre
  • Day trips to Siena and Florence
  • Towers to climb in San Gimignano (80km away)

Families Should Know:

The village’s uneven lanes can be difficult to negotiate with a buggy, and the pool is unfenced

Distances:

  • Airport: Florence (111km)
  • Shops, including a pharmacy: Monte San Savino (6km)
  • Hospital: Arezzo (28km)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
8/
Overall

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Rates for Castello di Gargonza