Head to Tuscany’s beautiful south and relax in style at L’Andana Resort, an historic and welcoming Medici villa overlooking the tranquil Maremma landscape.
Image © L’Andana
Under expansive, ever-changing skies, the Maremma in southern Tuscany is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. From its woodlands and wide plains, where the butteri (cowboys) still drive their long-horned cattle, to the coves and crags of its coastline, (second only to Liguria for its tally of Blue Flag beaches), this is a peaceful and verdant region, but it hasn’t always been so – much of it used to be marshland.
The Romans recognised the potential here and drained the fertile swamps for cultivation, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopold II, began an ambitious and far-sighted reclamation scheme, transforming the Maremma from brackish, marshy wetland to fertile, habitable terrain.
Image: Amanda Robinson
It was in this spot the Grand Duke built his own country residence, L’Andana, set on the gentle slopes overlooking Castiglione della Pescaia. And following in his footsteps, we arrived to stay at this elegant Medici villa. Those Italian aristocrats knew a thing or two when it came to picking the right spot for their summer getaways, as this elegant old manor nestles deep in the Maremma heartland, a peaceful, working patchwork of fields, criss-crossed by narrow lanes dotted with small farms.
Sweeping up the long avenue flanked with sentry-straight cypresses and flat top stone pines, this gracious residence rises before you with a creamy stone façade and refined proportions. The sun-warmed air hangs heavy here, infused with lavender and Mediterranean herbs from the gardens that surround the hotel.
The light and airy lobby area with floor-to-ceiling glass windows create a restful space inviting you to appreciate the unspoiled pastoral landscape outside, while the classy interiors (designed by Ettore Mocchetti, architect and director of AD: Architectural Digest) combine traditional Tuscan country style with more decorative, fancy touches. Think warm neutrals and earthy tones highlighted with accents of vibrant orange, crimson and purple – to soothe the senses and establish a refined air of understated luxe.
With 33 bedrooms and suites in the main house, plus 14 apartments at the wonderfully family-friendly Casa Badiola in the grounds, this is a place to rest and relax. There are plenty of diverting activities on offer, some more active than others – bliss out with a massage at the ESPA wellness centre or relax in the thermal indoor pool. With a heated outdoor pool in the gardens along with a 12-hole golf course and tennis court, time passes quite pleasantly. Younger guests have a well-appointed kids’ club in the grounds as well as their own swimming pool
If you fancy something more adventurous, L’Andana can organise cycling tours with e-bikes for the those who want to enjoy the views of the rolling countryside – and mountain bikes for the off-road hardy types. Horseriding, sailing, yoga and specialist sports academies are all here too, so there is plenty of choice throughout the year.
WINE AND DINE
The underground fresh water spring Acquagiusta has been serving the area for centuries and is the inspiration for the resort’s new winery. This exciting initiative, which now produces wines from a rich red blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah) to a crisp white Vermentino with great success, looks set for continued success with a favourable harvest this year.
These and many other fine wines are served at the two restaurants here: La Villa within the main building and the Michelin-starred La Trattoria Enrico Bartolini, a minute’s walk away in the gardens. Local produce features large on the seasonal menus, which are overseen by the same tireless chef in both kitchens. From fine dining tasting menus to a simple boiled egg, every dish is created with flair and generosity, to savour in this undisturbed oasis, tucked away in a quiet corner of southern Tuscany.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Take a cookery class. The chef’s kitchen has its own take on zero food miles, by offering cookery classes to guests who prepare their own lunch. Under chef’s watchful eye and inspired instruction, you’ll exceed your own culinary expectations, and have enormous fun at the same time. In just one morning class, we made hand-rolled pici (a rustic Tuscan spaghetti) and a fresh tomato sauce, filled tortellini and a saffron-infused (and indulgently buttery) risotto milanese.
Maremma Reginal Park. Via del Bersagliere, 7/9, 58100 Alberese, Grosseto. Visit the Maremma Regional Park, a vast area of outstanding natural beauty both inland and along a simply glorious stretch of coastline. With forest trails, cycling paths and fishing, there are guided itineraries which start from Alberese and Talamone. Track down the ancient Abbey of San Rabano in the heart of the park, and the beautiful WWF Orbetello Nature Reserve is an oasis for bird-spotting.
Out and about. Don’t miss Roselle, Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana for Etruscan heritage and stunning clifftop settings, and nearby Castiglione della Pescaia for serious seaside chic. Hire a boat to explore the Tuscan Archipelago – from diminutive Gorgona, at just 2.23 sq km, to car-free Giannutri, historic Giglio and the largest and best-known, Elba, where Napoleon was exiled. The hotel can arrange excursions for guests.
FIND OUT MORE
Getting there • By plane and car, L’Andana is 135 km from Pisa airport – around 1¼ hours by car. From Florence airport, it takes around 2 hours. • By train, Grosseto railway station is 20km away. Take the tram from Pisa airport to Pisa Centrale. The direct train to Grosseto takes about 90 minutes.
L’Andana Resort Tenuta La Badiola, Località Badiola 58043 Castiglione della Pescaia, Grosseto, Tuscany. Rooms at L’Andana cost from €440 per night based on two people sharing on a B&B basis. See website for offers.