We had left the medieval town of Volterra earlier that morning, visited bustling San Gimignano, enjoyed a delightful wine and olive oil tasting at Sant’Agnese Farm and called in at the small, walled town of Radda in Chianti before driving deeper into the Tuscan hills and up the winding path to our final destination. Glowing golden in the afternoon sun, Villa la Palagina was the final hotel during our 8 nights of touring Tuscany and the Cinque Terre with Back-Roads Touring and they had certainly saved the best til last.
After a warm welcome from the hotel’s Direttore, Eric, we ascended the grand staircase to our room, charmingly decorated in calming shades of blue with a splendid four-poster bed, a couple of armchairs and a spare bed. A small balcony provided views across the hotel’s pools and gardens to the surrounding hills covered in vineyards, olive groves. Our generously-sized bathroom contained good quality fittings and toiletries.
Outside our room was a spacious library/sitting room containing some ancient tomes as well as modern novels, with doors leading onto a rooftop terrace. Other facilities include bikes for hire, a table tennis table, two infinity pools, pretty gardens with a fountain, and woodland. The reception area has a pc, a range of local products for sale and information about activities in the area. There are 27 rooms, with additional, self catering accommodation available in nearby buildings and villas.
The restaurant is in an attractive room with stone vaulted ceilings. Restaurant manager Fabio and his team provide attentive service whilst Master Chef Federico compiles delicious and imaginative menus using high quality produce. I was fortunate enough to watch Federico preparing his home-smoked prosciutto using a wooden barrel in the grounds of the hotel. Our meals were taken on the outside terrace under a canopy, warmed by patio heaters in the evening, serenaded by the gentle sound of the fountain.
There are plenty of interesting places nearby to explore on foot, bike or by car and the villa has produced a sheet with a map suggesting a tempting culinary tour of the region. However, we were booked in for a cookery class on the morning of our only full day at the villa and proudly donned our Villa la Palagina aprons, feeling like contestants on MasterChef. Federico taught us the craft of making the italian bread, focaccia; and pasta, which we cut into strips of tagliatelle. We enjoyed the fruits of our efforts at lunch and then a couple of us joined our tour guide Dario on a hike through the olive groves and up the hills to an ancient olive farm, San Leo where the owner of the agriturismo accommodation, Patrizia, kindly opened up the museum for us and showed us around.
Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, own a villa on the hills beside the “Villa la Palagina”:https://palagina.it/ and it is easy to see why they fell in love with the area. I certainly hope to return, maybe to sample one of their packages: Florence, Gastronomy, Romantic, or Sports and Fitness; or maybe just to relax and enjoy fine food and wine in this rural haven.