Villa Montebello

Camaiore, Tuscany, Italy Book from Book from £154 per night

Beautifully restored farmhouse turned boutique B&B, in the lush foothills of the majestic Apuan Alps
The country road wound up from the agricultural coastal plain, passing unspoiled villages and quaint hamlets, the view becoming more spectacular the further we climbed. All around were forested slopes ascending to the jagged Apuan Alps. Arriving at the B&B, a steep driveway led past semi-wild olive trees and calling cuckoos to a stone terrace heralded by cypress trees.

Ex-architect and engineer Thomas, originally from Germany, has been coming to this region of North Tuscany for 2 decades, first buying a holiday home, then embarking upon this ambitious 2-year restoration project. His run-down farmhouse has been completely transformed into a gorgeous 4-room boutique B&B. The hillsides are landscaped into bijou gardens, there's a breakfast terrace and sunny pool with loungers, and the old goat and sheep barns now do duty as a pool house and airy stylish living room -
perfect for pre-dinner drinks. There's much to do nearby. We explored authentic Lucca with its intact Renaissance-era walls, and dined out on delicious local fare; others bike and hike in the Apuan Alps national park, or drive 15 minutes to stunning beaches. Yet the most memorable part of our sojourn was simply relaxing in these blissful surroundings. A gem.

Highs

  • Just 4 romantic bedrooms, with high-quality fixtures and finishes; a cut above traditional Tuscan decor
  • Delightful breakfasts served whenever you want beside the pool
  • Thoughtful, capable service, including a personalised guide to local restaurants and attractions
  • In summer, the 350m altitude, thick walls and insulated roof keep it refreshingly cool: no air-con or fans required
  • The delights of lesser-known Tuscany: beaches and caves, mountains and nature, wine and food - it's all here and just 30 mins from Pisa airport

Lows

  • You'll need a car, and the driveway is very steep with a tight hairpin bend (we left our car at the bottom and walked up)
  • You'll have to head out for lunch and dinner, no hardship with 40 restaurants inside a 15-minute drive
  • No children under 14, to maintain the peaceful atmosphere; definitely a bonus for some!
  • A 3-night minimum stay
  • No TVs, minibars or tea/coffee facilities in the rooms, but staff can bring drinks to the courtyard, or (after hours) you can prepare your own in the pool house

Best time to go

Spring and autumn are best for avoiding crowds and more reasonable temperatures and prices. Summers in Tuscany can get very hot, though Villa Montebello is a cooler oasis given its 350m elevation above the coast. The B&B is closed Nov-Easter annually.

Our top tips

Tour the amazing marble caves, underground mines and quarries at Carrara. You can do it by yourselves, but the Jeep Tours are cheap and you'll learn all about the mining and trade.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • Boutique B&B
  • 4
  • Breakfast only; restaurants a drive away
  • Over 14s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Boules Court
Room:

Rooms

The 4 light-filled rooms are spread over 3 storeys and linked by a winding staircase: 2 Deluxe Double bedrooms facing the garden and valley, and a pair of 2-bedroom Suites overlooking the plunge pool. All share the same crisp and calming aesthetic: soft grey walls, original beams and terracotta floors, smart upholstery in natural colours, and contrasting pops of pink in throws and cushions.

Ground-floor Giacomo Puccini has a semi-private sunny patio, so is great for romantics, while Giosue Carducci, where we stayed, has a good-sized shower bathroom and long valley views. Adjacent is the elegant Michelangelo Buonarroti Suite with 2 queensize rooms. Top-floor Gina Lollobrigida Suite has 2 kingsize/twin rooms and impressive chestnut beams; it benefits from being beside the shared TV lounge (there are no TVs in rooms), so is the best choice for families. All rooms have power showers in their bathrooms, mosquito screens on the windows, orthopaedic mattresses, and toiletries by ADA Hotelcosmetic (Thomas himself designed their factory!).

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • Slippers
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

It was a delight to rise whenever we chose, and to saunter down to a beautifully presented simple breakfast poolside, with birdsong bursting forth around. The coffee was perfect, the fruit platter both delicious and nutritious, the local cheeses and cured meats a taste sensation. There are eggs cooked to order, and croissants with artisan jams too. In cooler weather, eat in the ground-floor dining room, or in your bedroom if you prefer. Coffee and tea aren't available in-room but can be brought to the terraces and courtyard when staff are present; otherwise you can serve yourself in the kitchen.

From time to time a complimentary aperitivo is offered, with home-made Tuscan finger food. Ask in advance and you can use the kitchen to prepare cold snacks or meals; there's a guest fridge (in which to chill your bottle of Prosecco for booking through i-escape). But you'll probably dine out; there are many good restaurants nearby. We enjoyed authentic local fare and spectacular views at Le Tre Terrazze in nearby Monteggiori, and a sensational meal at upscale Ristorante La Dogana in Capezzano Pianore.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Organic produce
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The majestic Apuan Alps are a mecca for cyclists and hikers; the National Park is on your doorstep
  • You're 400m up from the coast so enjoy extraordinary views from authentic small towns such as Monteggiori. Bohemian Pietrasanta and Camaiore are also worth a visit
  • The beach clubs of the breathtaking Versilian Coast are 15 minutes' drive; head north towards Liguria and the Cinque Terre for photogenic towns including Corniglia and Vernazza
  • To the south-east are Tuscany's heritage jewels: Lucca, Florence, San Gimignano and Siena (allow 35-60 minutes and park on the outskirts) - stroll around historic streets and enjoy marvellous buildings, lovely restaurants and good shopping
  • Read by the pool and play boules on the shady court

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting

Kids

This is a tranquil couples' retreat and only children over 14 are accepted. Teens would enjoy hanging out at the beach and mountain biking in the hills, but there's not much for them at the property itself aside from boules and the pool, which is not big.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Suites each have 2 bedrooms and a shared shower bathroom. We thought Gina Lollobrigida on the top floor the best option, as it shares the floor with the communal sitting room, so you'd have more space, and its kingsize beds can be twinned.

Families Should Know:

The plunge pool is unheated and only 6x3m long, so best for a refreshing dip

Distances:

  • Airport: 30-40 minutes' drive (Pisa)
  • Hospital: 15 minutes' drive
  • Shops: 8-10 minutes' drive (Camaiore)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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Rates for Villa Montebello