Castello di Vicarello

Poggi del Sasso, Tuscany, Italy Book from Book from £295 per night

Remote, magical and characterful castle with 7 romantic suites, 2 pools and outstanding views across Maremma valleys
This is the stuff of film sets and fairy tales: half a medieval castle (the other stone tower burnt to a cinder in the 13th century) atop a hill of vines and olive groves. Stone steps lead up to a cobbled courtyard, from which arched doorways open into a labyrinth of dark, mysterious rooms. Expect huge sooted fireplaces, stone-flagged floors, vaulted ceilings, arrow-slit windows and enchanting gardens with undulating lawns of cypress and mulberry, and beds of rose, lavender and rosemary. On a clear day, you can just see the sea, a line of blue or silver, glinting on the horizon beyond thick forest.

The castello has been a holiday home to Aurora and Carlo Baccheschi Berti since 1978. They converted an outbuilding (the villa, Chiesina, is now one of 7 amazing suites), but the tower remained a ruin until they turned it into a retreat for stressed out fast-laners. After restoration, a labour of love, they stuffed the place with treasures (glass, brass, books, curios, exotic art, dark oak and dripping votive candles) and added 2 ozone-treated pools plus a spa. The rest, as they say, is history.


  • So romantic: the castle's ancient stonework, its palpable history (the surviving tower is 1,100 years old) and its nooks and crannies all ooze atmosphere
  • With 2 pools shared between 7 suites, guests often get one to themselves, at least for some of the time
  • The food is freshly prepared from home-grown organic produce
  • The gardens are a joy
  • They can arrange boat trips to the islands of Giglio and Giannutri


  • Room rates were hiked up in 2013 and are now eye-wateringly expensive - though dinner is included in high season
  • No air con, though thick stone walls and natural ventilation keep rooms quite cool at night (beware of the mozzies)
  • Continental breakfast is average, and fresh orange juice, eggs or prosciutto and cheese are charged as extra
  • The nearest shops and restaurants are a 20-minute drive - you'll need a car

Best time to go

The gardens are at their best in late spring and early summer. High summer is hot and crowded, though the Maremma is a little off the tourist beat, and you can avoid the crowds by staying put.

The castle ups the atmosphere during winter months, when you can snuggle up to a real fire. For the hunting season, come between October and March. For a slice of local life, catch the olive harvest at the beginning of November.

Our top tips

Bring your favourite brand of tea or coffee for brewing up in your suite (all have tea- and coffee-making facilities). Sitting on your terrace with a cuppa makes for a perfect start to the day.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7
  • Breakfast (+ dinner) included, lunch on request
  • All ages welcome.
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available


There are 7 suites to choose from: 4 in the castle (Sprone, Giardino, the Chinese Room and Vicario) and 3 in the garden (Chiesina, I Sassi and Grotta).

The castle rooms, all accessed from the courtyard, have bare stone and colour-washed walls, and are furnished with a mix of antiques and souvenirs from around the world (many from Indonesia, as Aurora and Carlo spent some years living in Bali).

Giardino is arranged on 2 levels, and has a terracotta stove, leather armchairs and a bath with a view of the hills. Also split across 2 storeys is the Chinese Room, the most affordable suite, which has a wonderfully ornate antique Chinese bed plus a shower room accessed via a spiral staircase. Vicario is furnished with antiques and retro Italian design, and has fab views and a 16th-century fireplace.

I Sassi (a garden suite) is Mediterranean in style, with picture windows, a large bathroom, a bedroom, a huge living room and a wicker-furnished terrace. Grotta is a cave-like room cut into the hillside overlooking the valley, with great views and access to the pool. It's reached by a set of steep and rather precarious steps.

Most rooms have some sort of outside space (Sprone has a rose-draped pergola overlooking a lawned garden; Grotta has a shaded wooden deck). All but Grotta and the Chinese Room have mini kitchenettes, and all but the Chinese Room come with bathtubs (I Sassi has a shower as well). You'll also find hairdryers, bathrobes, minibars and coffee- and tea-making facilities.

Villa Chiesina is a separate 2-storey cottage sleeping one couple in a double bedroom (or 2 if you rent it in conjunction with Grotta, which is underneath). There's a fully equipped kitchen with a fridge, a dishwasher and a gas hob, a small bathroom, a terrace with a BBQ, and a shaded pergola overlooking the infinity pool.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Terrace
  • WiFi


Aurora designs the menus and does most of the cooking; Carlo often helps. Some of the ingredients (oil, vegetables, herbs, honey, eggs) are produced on the castle’s own organic farm. Meals are served alfresco in the courtyard (or, when it’s wet, at long oak tables by a crackling log fire). And though you generally get your own space, the atmosphere is rather like a family dinner party - a medieval dinner party, lit by candles and oil lamps, with each group of diners sitting under the stars in a pool of flickering yellow light.

A typical lunch menu (billed as ‘light’ but not cheap) might include panzanella (with tomatoes, olives and parmesan), vitello tonnato (cold veal in a tuna sauce), fresh salad (from the garden) and ice cream. Dinner might offer stuffed calamari, pasta (say, spaghetti with caper pesto), tuna fillet cooked in spices, caramelised tomatoes, and tatin di pesche. The wine list includes the estate’s own - Castello di Vicarello or Terra di Vico.

Breakfast consists of fresh fruit, home-made yoghurt, pastries, toast and preserves. Fresh orange juice, eggs, prosciutto and cheese are available for an additional charge.

Between meals, take the opportunity to peek into the kitchen: an extraordinary mix of antique utensils, art, state-of-the-art cooking ranges and artful displays of fresh veg under high vaulted ceilings.

If you want to eat out, there are several trattorias and Montecucco wineries within a 10km radius, and more restaurants in Paganico (20km away). Plus all suites except Grotta and the Chinese Room have kitchenettes, so you can whip up a snack or light meal with ease.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Kitchenette
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce


  • Dive into one of the 2 pools (one an infinity pool with sweeping vistas, the other lined with mosaic tiles and hidden among olive trees), then lie on a lounger and soak up the view

  • Go hiking. From Vicarello’s own land you can venture into the woods of Macchia Mediterranea and down to the Ombrone river; or drive to 1,700m Monte Amiata, which hides secret valleys and well-marked trails

  • Shoot a wild boar. During the season (October to March) you can book a day trip to Vicarello’s own Valle di Buriano hunting reserve close to Castiglione della Pescaia (within a 45-minute drive); or visit the reserve April-October on a guided tour including a barbecue, or hunt for mushrooms in October

  • Join an Italian cooking course. Step into Aurora’s 11th-century kitchen and follow her seasonal, regional recipes using the castle’s own produce (see [i!#rates!Rates)

  • Go horse riding - there's a riding school within a 25-minute drive, or you can arrange to cross-country ride from Vicarello and become a Tuscan cowboy

  • Book a massage. Ayurvedic, Shiatsu and reflexology treatments are available in the spa, which also has an outdoor Jacuzzi, a yoga space, a sauna and a Turkish bath

  • Hire a bike and enjoy miles of hilly but largely traffic-free roads. Vicarello has a few bikes on offer and can arrange a picnic for you to take with you

  • Play a round of golf - Punta Ala and Pelagone golf courses are within a 55-minute drive

  • Explore historic Tuscan towns - hilltop Montalcino for Brunello wines, tranquil Castiglione d'Orcia for its fortified rocca, or further afield, Saturnia for thermal baths

  • Head for the coast. Grosseto, Porto Ercole and the beaches of Tuscan’s Argentario coast are 30-45 minutes away (try Baratti for windsurfing, and the Maremma National Park for unspoilt coves)

  • Take a boat trip. From Talamone, a little harbour town near Grosseto, you can hire a fishing boat to take you along the coast or over to Giglio Island

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Hunting
  • Swimming
  • Trekking
  • Wine tasting


Children are welcome, particularly from age 2 upwards. Young children may be considered a disruption by any peace-seekers among the guests, but Vicarello is child-friendly and provides babysitting services and kids' meals.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra beds and baby cots are available. Giardino and Sprone can connect to make a family apartment, and Villa Chiesina and Grotta can be combined.


Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Children's meals:

Children's meals are available on request, and all suites except Grotta and the Chinese Room have kitchenettes (ideal for preparing kids' snacks and baby food).

Kid Friendly:

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