“In the heart of wine-fabled Montepulciano, a converted medieval oratorio with 4 elegant rooms and views to die for”
The word antique springs to mind, and I mean really old fashioned: big hefty wardrobes, French polished beds, Regency stripes, silky sateens, gilded mirrors, beaded lamps, all in a muted palette of golds, creams, browns and terracotta. But it’s all beautifully done, with a lot of class and very little fuss; and though the look may be ultra-traditional, the facilities are bang up to date. There's air-conditioning, power showers, LED satellite TVs, DVD players and free WiFi. Plus, all the rooms are light and sunny with restored parquet flooring and great views.
One of our favourites is the Superior Room (Room 1) - not just for the imposing antique bed with its carved and panelled olive wood headboard, but for the dual-aspect view, one window looking down on the Piazza San Francesco and the Val d’Orcia, the other over the roofs of Montepulciano and the Val di Chiana.
Our other favourite is the Suite (Room 4) which features a gilded bed under an original brick arch, a kingsize Gothic bathroom and a spiral staircase leading up to a tiny stanza segreta, a secret room discovered during restoration between 2 stone walls that once formed part of the bell tower. A glass panel in the terracotta floor reveals the remnants of the tower’s access hatch.
There are also 2 Standard Rooms: Room 2 is decorated in tones of yellow and orange, with a beautiful hand-painted wardrobe, while Room 3 has a vast 19th-century bed.
The bathrooms are equipped with hairdryers, universal power points and toiletries. All the bathrooms (except Room 3) have windows with views.
Served in an elegant, book-lined salon with a cross-vaulted ceiling, breakfast is a buffet of cereals, hams, cheese, eggs, fresh fruits, croissants, toast and jams, and unlimited tea/coffee/cappuccino.
E Lucevan Le Stelle ("And the stars shone"; a famous aria in Puccini's Tosca) is Cinzia and Luca’s wine bar, bistro and art space just downstairs - and the heart and soul of the Locanda. It runs as a separate entity but is handy for lunch or dinner with a glass of vino nobile di Montepulciano. A modern bar, with brick arches, high ceilings, art on the walls, low lighting and a terrace on the Piazza San Francesco, it offers an excellent European wine list by the bottle or the glass. Foodwise, the menu is good, old-fashioned Tuscan basics (salami, prosciutto, pastas with wild boar, hare or home-made ragu sauce, soups, salads, and cheeses), and there's occasional live jazz to entertain you. On our latest visit in 2013, we had a delicious light lunch of local cheeses, cold cuts and faggottini (pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese, pears and smoked chicken). Bear in mind that the bistro is closed for most of the winter.
If you want to eat out, Cinzia will point you in the right direction. Try La Grotta (outstanding tasting menus and very attentive service), Le Logge del Vignola, or Osteria dell’Acqua Cheta - all within walking distance.