Sitting in the back of the car, I turn around to catch my last glimpse of Borgo Santo Pietro. My immediate impulse is to jump out of the moving car and run back up the very long path to the place where luxury dreams really do exist. The entire experience exceeded every expectation, from the moment I pulled up to the property until the very last second spent there. It was an experience that will be forever etched in my memory.
Claus and Jeanette Thottrup created this boutique style hotel after coming across the “dilapidated ruins” in 2001. They saw, in the ruins, what others could not. They visualized the potential of restoring the vast estate and they made their vision come to life. This labor of love became an international effort, as well, including local craftsman who worked with artisans on the furniture, layout, style and décor. Meanwhile, architectural designers from all over Italy worked on the restoration, taking years to get it right. This extensive work was carried out all under the attentive eyes of the Thottrup who added their own special touches seen throughout the estate.
The award-winning, 13th century property (named the #1 resort in all of Europe by Conde Nast Traveler) can be found nestled in the heart of the Tuscan countryside. Words simply can not describe the beauty this destination emanates, nor the powerful feeling that overcomes you as you discover the property.
In the main villa – where you check-in – you will find an oversized wood burning fireplace, an extensive wine cellar, an active kitchen and gourmet dining room, along with a few guest suites on the second floor. All the villas are set in stunning natural settings and spread out around the property. Each villa is unique; they are decorated with chandeliers, exquisite furnishings, antique art, bespoke beds and elegant bathrooms. Whether you choose to stay in a classic suite in the main villa, or a secluded garden villa, each one will deliver a 5-star stay.
My villa is reached by first entering double, rod iron gates, ensuring us the utmost level of privacy. As the door opened, I literally lost my breath and let out an audible gasp! The combination of dark wood beams along the high vaulted ceilings played a dramatic contrast to the four sets of light colored French doors. The plush cream upholstery seemed to melt right into the rich, creamy, flagstone floors. Multiple crystal chandeliers, and stone fireplaces, filled all the rooms; such beauty followed me thru each door. Both the bedroom, and its sumptuous bathroom, have forever spoiled me. The roll top soaking tub is housed, separately, right off of the master bathroom, in a glassed enclave, with doors opening directly onto the private outdoor stone terrace and private pool.
The outside area was designed for private entertainment, decorated with Tuscan terracotta, olive trees and layers of foliage. There is a lavish covered lounge area with a fireplace and chandeliers. Arranged around the pool are Moroccan day-beds and sun beds. There is nothing that has not been thought of! It is sheer immaculate perfection! These intricate details have been put into the experiences offered to guests and are just an example of the passion Claus and Jeanette have put into their dream.
A tranquil sanctuary, with fireplaces and stunning architecture, is what the spa at Borgo Santo Pietro delivers. Whether a blended plant formula or a gentle exfoliation from Borgo’s fresh sheep milk, the broad range of holistic treatments offered adds a new dimension to the term “beauty treatment”. The spa uses only all natural ingredients, herbs from their biodynamic gardens; owner, Jeanette, has created her own line of products called Seed To Skin, that are made on-premise in an incredible skin care lab. Guests are able to tour this lab and see how it is all made.
The “farm to plate” philosophy at Borgo Santo Pietro is as authentic as it gets. The culinary gardens that surround the property are elaborate in landscaping and have more than 300,000 plants. It was extremely exciting for us to have Ivan Piras, the resident head farmer and cheese maker, take us through the ricotta cheese-making process. You may even have the opportunity to milk a sheep yourself, as I did! The cheese made at Borgo Santo Pietro is by far the freshest tasting ricotta cheese I have ever had. From the raw honey collected from the bee boxes, free-range eggs (straight from the chicken pens each morning) to the herbs that enhance every dish, organic freshness is in every morsel served.
There are two dining choices at Borgo Santo Pietro: Meo Modo and Trattoria sull’Albero Restaurant. Each offers simple, yet exquisite creations. The promise that Borgo Santo Pietro makes is that they know the journey of every ingredient from their meat to their fish, all sourced locally, if not on the property itself. Together, the gardeners and chefs work to create deliciously seasonal dishes that taste amazingly FRESH; creative skill is also added to make them look as beautiful as they taste. You can feel the love that has gone into each dish; it’s no surprise that Chef Andrea Mattei’s Michelin star was just reconfirmed for Meo Modo. Best described as “an elegant culinary experience that leaves you in a state of never-ending awe”.
Trattoria sull’Albero is just as spectacular. It was built around two giant oak trees, overlooking the views of Valle Serena, creating the ambience of a rustic tree house. Its décor includes exposed wooden beams, lush plants, studded leather chairs and a double-sided fireplace, all enhanced by perfect subtle lighting. Make sure to grab a stool at the outdoor bar and watch an expert pizzaiolo make and twirl a wood-fired pizza from scratch.
Visiting the wine cellar for a tasting hosted by Borgo’s expert sommeliers is a must. You will be taken on a virtual journey through Tuscany by virtue of your senses! The vineyard on the 200-acre estate has been planted with Sangiovese grapes, alongside some indigenous Tuscan varieties. The wine cellar, which is situated in the main villa, hosts more than 1200 prestigious and boutique labels. The selection of wine and winemakers is based upon traditions, history and the culture of wine.
There is so much to do around the villa, but, the highlight of my stay had to be the cooking class. Even though she only spoke Italian (with an interpreter present to assist), “Mamma” – the quintessential Italian grandma – guided us in a pasta making extravaganza! It was simply a fabulous experience in a gorgeous setting. Not to be missed.
Whether you choose to lay at the infinity pool looking over the vineyard, ride bicycles through the garden maze, wander down the path to see all the farm animals, watch an artist in residence paint alongside the pond, or relax in your villa…a stay at Borgo Santo Pietro will be one that exceeds every expectation with an enchanted stay – assolutamente bellissima, una vacanza incredibile. Gratzie, Claus and Jeanette!