A Tuscan sanctuary
Toscana, the place everyone wants to visit and
buy a villa. It is not easy renovating anything in Toscanait
is far better to stay at Borgo Santo Pietro. It is home away from
home but with a lot more pampering, reports Anita Talbert
Borgo Santo Pietro front hall
AS WE DROVE through the verdant
green hills and winding roads of Toscana, Italy, in the middle of
nowhere, I began to wonder where I was and if wed ever get
there. Suddenly, the Borgo Santo Pietro
sign appeared like a heavenly apparition. As the driver whisked
me up the impressive driveway, through elaborately designed gardens,
I knew a special experience awaited me.
Borgo Santo Pietro, on the outskirts of the village
of Palazzetto, began as a ramshackle farm transformed over seven-year
restoration project. Once a mediæval monastery in a past life,
owners Jeanette and Claus Thorttrop claimed the spirit of pilgrims
and monks who visited the beautiful nearby San Galgano Abby for
healing adds the magical feeling one gets of peace, calm and revitalization.
As you enter the hotel, there is no reception area,
making it feel as though you are entering someones elegant
personal home. Two guests were reading and sipping wine by a roaring
The owners are passionate about food and the
way it is grown and cooked. Their food ethos is simple: they aim to
know the provenance of every ingredient of every dish they servefire, a little resident cat was asleep at their feet. I was immediately
charmed. After a warm welcome by their staff as my luggage was whisked
to my suite, I was invited into their open kitchen and offered a
vegetable or fruit smoothie straight out of their garden. Before
long, I found myself dozing in a lounge chair outside near the inviting
All eleven suites, soon to be twenty, are individually designed.
Mine offered resplendent Italian Renaissance with luxurious taffeta
drapes swaged allowing in the breath taking views on all sides of
the rooms, a porcelain tub for soaking, a charming velvet settee
with baroque pillows, two comfortable stylish armchairs and table
in front of the fireplace, Renaissance hand-painted murals on the
walls and a double-king-size bed with the plushest mattresses on
which I’ve ever slept. In each bedroom is a large plasma screen
hidden behind an oil painting, a full library of movies are available
for the choosing, as well as iPods for each guest to enjoy the Santo
Pietro music list.
The bathrooms stay true to the old-world style, yet offer modern
facilities. Their plantation-head showers have perfect water pressure
and temperature, something not always found even in the finest hotels
throughout Europe. Thick towels imported from Belgium fresh from
gold towel warmers and a light yet warm monk-like monogrammed bathrobe
and slippers designed by the owner herself offers more comfort,
luxury and pampering with stunning simplicity and the highest quality.
hand-made blue and white pots in each bathroom are filled with abundant
Santa Maria Novella products. Originated in 1212 in Florence, these
very special products have been given the exclusivity to Borgo Santo
Pietro for guest bathrooms and the hotel spa.
Mornings begin with sumptuous, individually prepared
breakfasts in their open kitchen. Omelettes are cooked to perfection;
their bacon is sensational and proved to be deliciously different
from what we are familiar with in the US
or New Zealand. Fresh juices from the fruit in their gardens, their
own creamy yoghurt, organic eggs and breakfast meats can be eaten
outside in the purest Tuscan air and uninterrupted panoramic views.
You can dress for dinner, or be casual: at no time do
you ever feel that you must adhere to special dress codes. The cozy
candlelit restaurant is replete with Renaissance paintings, fresh
flowers and three kinds of salt on the table, including volcanic,
sweet and fine. Breads and rolls, baked on premise by their chefs,
are accompanied by the luxurious Manni olive oil and balsamic vinegar
from Modena, Italy.
The owners are passionate about food and the way it
is grown and cooked. Their food ethos is simple: they aim to know
the provenance of every ingredient of every dish
Toscana will never
change, thankfully, as the environmentalists and government have
a ﬁrm grip on the thousands of acresthey serve. Fresh and seasonal,
from fish to fruit, the menu at Borgo Santo Pietro is more than
just food, it is a taste of nature, delicious in its purest form.
Their menus include salads fresh picked from the hotel’s vast
organic garden, lamb and meats from surrounding organic cattle farms
and fresh fish from the nearby coast. Guests have a chance to try
wines from smaller special Tuscan vineyards, rarely found anywhere
else, and the hotel’s personally cured organic meats and cheeses.
In addition to the herb and vegetable gardens, they
have planted orchards and olive groves. At the furthest reach of the property are Borgo bees creating honey flavoured by the flowers
on their estate. If you enjoy a good walk or bicycle ride, meanwhile,
there is the Tuscan countryside, or the hotel’s elaborate
flower and botanical gardens, with an impressive 250,000 plants.
At every turn, you will find surprising romantic nooks and crannies
with tables, chairs, statuettes and lounging sofas where you can
be truly away from the maddening crowd.
During summer, guests can lounge at the freshwater infinity
pool with giant natural stones and order lunch from their informal
grill and bar. The pool, containing no chlorine or dyes and naturally
purified and heated by solar power, will soon be connected to a
vast natural swimming lake on the grounds. The spa will be expanded
from its current location in a tranquil candle lit stone barn next
to the hotel, to a spanking new building offering all the latest
Other facilities include a tennis court, large children’s
play area, a bocce pitch, bicycles, hiking boots and equipment to
explore the nearby abbey of San Galgano and much more. The hotel
offers the services of their driver upon request and reservation,
or you may rent a car and the hotel will pack up a bounteous picnic
basket for your countryside or coastal exploring.
The mediæval town of Siena is close by as are
San Gimigiano, Volterra, Monticiano, Monteriggioni, Chuisdino and
other charming towns to explore. The owners are on hand in an unobtrusive
way, overseeing that every aspect of a guest’s stay is perfection.
We want our guests to experience lazy luxury in our small
hotel, says Jeanette. Service on such a personalized
level, combined with exceptional facilities in stylish and comfortable
surroundings and innovative fine dining, that offer guests what
they want, when they want it and where they want it on the estate.
Toscana will never change, thankfully, as the environmentalists
and government have a firm grip on the thousands of acres. If you
want to build a villa, you must buy a standing building and renovate
it. Borgo Santo Pietro will never have anything obscure their astounding
views. To access Borgo Santo Pietro, you can fly in from the Pisa
Airport, Firenze’s airport or the Santa Maria Novella train
station and from Siena as well.
Anita Talbert, a well respected event producer, is a guest writer
For more information, visit www.borgosantopietro.com.
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issue 22 of Lucire
Valle Serena suite
Borgo Santo Pietro spa sign
Room service breakfast
Courtyard at night time
Fresh home made frocaccet
The gardener and the courtyard
Refreshment on terrace
View towards rose garden