Monteverdi

near Sarteano, Tuscany, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Robyn Hodson
Stylish boutique hotel, restaurant and 3 villas for 4-12, set in an authentic Tuscan village high above the Val d’Orcia
Castiglioncello del Trinoro is about as close to picture-perfect as any medieval hamlet you’ll find in Tuscany. What makes this one interesting is that it had lain dormant for decades until 2005, when Michael Cioffi, an American lawyer visiting his Italian ancestral roots, decided to buy and renovate the old buildings (some dating back as far as the 14th century).

Now a 12-room hotel and a trio of meticulously restored villas for 4-12, the village forms a peaceful haven, although there are a few private homes dotted around. Above all, it’s a place for romance and relaxation; I recall standing in my suite enjoying the cool stone floor under my bare feet, while my other half threw open the windows. The white linen curtains billowed as the sweet scent of jasmine drifted up from the pergola beneath, and the pleasing tinkle of wine glasses and cutlery from the restaurant held the promise of a long, lazy lunch on one of the shady outdoor terraces. Far below, towering cypress trees stood sentry along bendy country roads, red poppies danced in golden fields, and sweeping vistas extended out over the breathtaking Unesco-listed Val d’Orcia. Unforgettable.

Highs

  • Rustic yet sophisticated rooms, many with double showers or in-room bathtubs big enough for 2. They're perfect for loved-up couples
  • The swish villas are great for groups and families, with 2-6 double bedrooms, full kitchens and added extras such as wine cellars or steam rooms
  • The colourful, terraced gardens are alive with lavender, pink valeria, climbing roses, silvery olive trees and tiny erigeron
  • The locally sourced dishes in the restaurant won’t disappoint serious food-lovers. There's also a bar plus an enoteca where you can sample 32 different wines
  • We loved the infinity pool and deck - an idyllic place to watch the sunset with a rosemary martini

Lows

  • It's pricey, but luxury like this rarely comes cheap
  • A car is essential if you want to explore the local area (Montepulciano, Siena and Pienza are within easy reach), and the roads leading to the village are all gravel
  • Most rooms don’t have air-con but the hilltop breeze means they’re extremely well ventilated
  • The car park is a 5-minute walk from the entrance, though you can drop bags at reception first
  • Monteverdi closes between December and March for general maintenance

Best time to go

The quietest time of year is the end of May and early June, when the weather is warming up and the countryside is bursting into flower. August to late September marks the busy season, but it’s the best time for guaranteed hot weather. Local towns can get quite crowded during summer, but Monteverdi is a peaceful retreat with cooling hilltop breezes. Note that it closes each year between December and the end of March.

Our top tips

  • Visit the on-site Etruscan archaeological dig to find out more about the hamlet's origins
  • Chat to the enthusiastic staff about their favourite places to explore in the area. Often the smaller towns are more authentic in terms of food and atmosphere, as their shops and restaurants aren’t catering to hoards of tourists. A pizza in Siena’s main square is disappointing compared to one made fresh in Pienza or Montepulciano. Note that things are far pricier in the larger towns too, so try gelati and shop for wine and cheese in the less touristy zones
  • Stay off the main highways and take the smaller back roads for beautiful views - and less of the crazy Italian driving!

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel & Villas
  • 12 rooms + 3 villas for 4-12
  • Restaurant and bars (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • 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: Aeneas Suite

Rooms

The hotel rooms sit in 3 beautifully restored buildings. All are unique in layout and décor but have the same simple sophistication. Soft palettes, subtle lighting and the finest linens sit against stone walls and rustic beams, while hand-dyed fabrics and furnishings from Italy, Egypt, Tunisia and Spain add richness. Talented husband-and-wife team Giorgio and Ilaria Miani were tasked with the design, retaining the integrity of the old shells whilst adding polished modern touches such as sleek bathrooms and flat-screen TVs. The cherry on top is the original artwork in every room (available to buy should you wish).

The 3 Luxury Rooms are certainly spoiling, with kingsize beds and rainfall showers positioned near windows to capture the views, but it’s worth upgrading to a larger room or suite (some with separate sitting rooms) if you can. All have a special touch - my favourite was the light and airy Val d’Orcia, which is set a little way from the others and has a freestanding in-room tub. Il Pozzo wins the prize for the most magnificent bath I’ve ever seen (an 18th-century marvel in shining copper), while Suite del Bosco has imaginative posts sculpted to resemble trees. La Pieve has a fireplace, plus an outdoor dining area. The Sant' Andrea Suites (the only rooms with air-con) sit near the village square and have a sitting room, tub or double rain shower. Since our visit, the more colourful Aeneas Suites have been added - sharing a small living room, they're ideal for a family or group to book together.

The villas - San Pietro (2 ensuite double bedrooms), Amiata (3 ensuite double bedrooms) and Muri Antichi (6 ensuite double bedrooms) - lie a short walk away. They’ve been lovingly reconstructed, with original arches, beams and tiles enhanced by granite and marble. All have state-of-the-art kitchens and living areas with fireplaces, plus luxurious additions - a steam room (Amiata), spa tubs (Amiata and Muri Antichi), wine cellars (Muri Antichi and San Pietro). Muri Antichi even has a library and large dining terrace.

See Rates for full details of the various options.

Features include:

  • Air con in Sant' Andrea Suites
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Full kitchens in the villas
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

I once heard someone say that even bad food in Tuscany is good food. Fortunately, the food at Monteverdi is good through and through. My first sight of the outdoor terrace at the on-site Oreade restaurant (open for breakfast and dinner) brought on a deep sigh of contentment. Kicking off a balmy evening with a glass of local Brunello wine whilst contemplating the landscape from which your food has been plucked is truly living the dream.

Oreade’s chef keeps things close to home in the kitchen. Most of the ingredients for the incredibly tasty yet simple Tuscan dishes are sourced from local farms and markets, and the hotel grows its own herbs, fruit and vegetables. Our meal incorporated pecorino cheese from Pienza, as well as prosciutto and rigatino from Siena’s famous acorn-eating pigs. There was gnocchi made from nettles, black truffles so fresh they could have been snuffled straight onto our plates from the forest, and the signature dish: wild-boar ragù on homemade rosemary pappardelle. We felt like we needed a forklift to return us to our room.

For cocktails and other drinks, there’s the Library Bar and terrace, open late into the evening. If wine’s your thing, you can head to the enoteca to sample 32 varieties from modern enomatic dispensers, along with a light repast.

Whether you're staying in the hotel or a villa, a continental breakfast is included in the rates and served in the restaurant; you can order a hot breakfast for an extra cost. The 3 villas also have fully equipped kitchens for self-catering (you can pick up groceries in Sarteano, a 15-minute drive down the hill), and private chefs can be hired on request.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Chef on request
  • Children meals
  • Restaurant
Eating: Villa Muri Antichi
Activity:

Activities

  • Monteverdi is 2,000 feet high on slopes flush with verdant forests and trails, so head out to explore on foot, by bike or on horseback (bikes are available to borrow, and reception can provide maps and arrange guides)
  • Tour the gardens of La Foce (once home to famous American author Iris Origo) at the bottom of the hill
  • Eat and drink - you’re in Italy, after all! The hotel offers private vineyard tours with lots of tasting opportunities, as well as the chance to learn how to cook traditional Tuscan fare with the chef
  • Head to Montepulciano, a beautiful and bustling town some 20 minutes away, and visit its magnificent church, the Sanctuary of San Biagio (the original model for St Peter’s in Rome). You can buy some of the area’s world-famous wines, too
  • Explore Pienza - a jewel of a town that isn’t overrun by tourists like larger Siena. Any place that races wheels of pecorino cheese (a take on Siena’s famous Palio horse race) can only be a winner in our books. While there, visit Bar Di Casello for the best views over the town walls
  • Pack your swimsuit and head to the pretty spa towns of Bagni San Filippo and San Casciano dei Bagni, both around 30 minutes away. Walk in the woods along white-sulphur hot springs and then take a dip - the waters are said to have healing properties
  • Back at Monteverdi, curl up with a book in the gardens and enjoy the happy buzzing of bees in the flowerbeds, then cool off in the infinity pool or unwind in the spa's outdoor soaking tubs (stunning views!)
  • Or enjoy the hotel’s cultural programme, which sees artists from all over the world perform, exhibit and give talks. Concerts are often held in the old village church, Sant' Andrea, too

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cultural performances
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Monteverdi is a romantic spot, but families are very welcome and the hotel, villas and restaurant all cater for children. Kids will love the gardens, and there’s the pool to paddle in. There’s some handy baby and toddler kit to borrow, too, including strollers, car seats and highchairs, though the uneven paths and terraces mean it's not well suited to roving little ones.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Some of the hotel rooms and suites can take extra beds, and baby cots are available on request (free of charge); 2 Luxury Rooms interconnect, too. The 2 Aeneas Suites can also interconnect via a shared living room. Larger families can book one of the 3 self-catering villas (with room for 4, 6 or 12 guests), but note that all have double bedrooms only.

Babysitting:

Reception can organise a nanny from a local agency if requested with 24 hours' notice, see Rates

Baby listening:

A couple of baby monitors with a range of 30m to borrow

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Highchairs
  • Car seats
  • Strollers
  • Blackout blinds

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

Children's meals:

The cafe/restaurant can tailor dishes on request

Kids Activities on site:

  • Pool, with pool toys and floats on request
  • Gardens to romp around
  • Bikes and helmets to borrow, bike with training wheels for smaller ones
  • Wii consoles on request
  • DVDs and CDs
  • iPad on request

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Visit local markets
  • Visit local farms
  • Day trips to historic villages and towns such as Siena

Families Should Know:

The gardens, hotel and villas are all on various levels, with uneven paths and high stone steps between the terraces. There’s also no cover on the pool

Distances:

  • Airport: 1.5-2 hours’ drive (Florence, Perugia, Pisa or Rome)
  • Hospital: 30 minutes’ drive
  • Shops: 15 minutes’ drive
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
10/
Overall

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},

Rates for Monteverdi