Renaissance Roots in Tuscany

by Fiona Johnston
   
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VILLA ARMENA RELAIS

Villa Armena is located in beautiful Tuscany, surrounded by a wealth of history. A creation of the noble Malavolti family in the 16th century, the original villa, built of red brick with oak beams and beautiful terracotta floors, was designed by one of the best known architects of the Italian Renaissance, Baldassare Peruzzi.

Now a hotel after being fully restored, this stunning building creates a fairytale world for guests wishing to experience the perfect Tuscan break. There are only 10 rooms at the Villa, and each has been individually designed, furnished with gorgeous antiques, fabrics and prints – Renaissance-style paintings even hang above the free-standing marble bath tubs.

The hotel kitchen has a ‘made in Italy’ approach, meaning that as much food as possible should be locally sourced. Furthermore, the ‘Garden of Perfumes’ provides many of the fresh herbs and vegetables for the dinner table.

Dinner at the Sorbo Allegro restaurant was unforgettable, with the finest Italian cuisine and wines on offer from the hotel’s renowned wine cellar (the wine cellar holds more than 100 vintage bottles).

Having a coffee and delicious pastry, followed by a dip in the swimming pool, was the best way to start the day. The surrounding rolling hills and relaxed atmosphere make this a leisurely and delightful place.

In the 16th century the Malavolti family commissioned this stunning villa from one of the most talented architects of the Renaissance, Baldassare Peruzzi.

Following an extensive reconstruction, the stunning villa and its gardens, located just outside the town of Buonconvento, have been fully restored to enhance the original 16th century features. You can really sense the history as you wander through the ancient hallways or take a stroll around the 400-year-old orchards.

There is plenty to do in the region. Indulge in a wine tour of Brunello di Montalcino, the king of Italian wines, in a small town on a hill south of Siena. Take a delightful walk through these exquisite vineyards and taste some local wines before heading to the spectacular Sant’Antimo Abbey.

Love art? Take a fine arts walk (staff at the hotel will suggest an itinerary) and discover some of Siena’s precious art treasures. The pulpit of the Duomo cathedral is stunning – visitors can see and learn about some real masterpieces here.

Complete the day with an energetic bike ride around glorious Chianti, making sure you also visit Certosa di Pontignano, a 14th century monastery.

One morning we made a trip to Montalcino. We strolled through the streets admiring the castle, medieval buildings, frescoes and artworks before stopping for a coffee in the pretty piazza. Later in the afternoon we lounged by the hotel swimming pool, gazing up at the cypress trees and taking cooling dips when the summer sun got too hot.

Dining at Villa Armena is a sublime experience, with locally sourced produce transformed into delicious Italian cuisine. These dishes are accompanied by a well-researched selection of impeccable wines, produced by independent local wineries whose passion for wine goes hand-in-hand with their love and respect of the region. If you’re looking for a romantic venue for your wedding, the Villa’s professional in-house planner ensures that every aspect of your special day exceeds your expectations.

On request, excursions in a hot air balloon or on horseback, regional wine tours, or guided tours can be organised for both the newlyweds and their guests.

TO DO TOGETHER
  • Gardens of Perfume
  • Il Sorbo Allegro restaurant
  • Montalcino
Facilities
  • Il Sorbo Allegro, serving delicious Italian cuisine using local and homegrown produce
  • Living Room – a bar/lounge where you can enjoy an extensive wine list and grappa menu
  • Swimming pool

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