Tucked away in northern Tuscany, the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa is the perfect setting for a long weekend away - particularly if you want to enjoy panoramic views in the setting of an elegant, rustic hotel. I travelled to Barga, Tuscany to escape the hustle and bustle of London life, whilst wanting to cling onto the last of the summer warmth, and found this resort the ideal place for the calming oasis I was dreaming of. Despite the peaceful allure, I was able to take in some of the rich culture and history as well as the social scene in the midst of the long weekend away. The region itself breathes romance and serenity thanks to its rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves, as well as the picturesque sun-soaked vistas.
The view of the Serchio Valley and Apuan Alps
My hotel room offered incredible scenes, overlooking the Serchio Valley and Apuan Alps as well as the town's pretty streets. Inside, the room is spacious and bright, complete with crisp white bed linen and classically designed round-wooden tables, mirrors and arm-chairs. My suite also came with a marble bathroom and a cute little balcony which provided a glorious backdrop of Barga and L'Uomo Morto – perfect if you have a great book and an aperitivo to hand. There are plenty of open and casual space offerings which would be perfect for impromptu meetings or quick catch-ups.
The resort serves a variety of delicious local delicacies, with guests having the option of taking a cooking class with the hotel's head chef. Here, I got to try my hand at making fresh homemade gnocchi, ravioli, soup and an indulgent cannoli, using locally sourced cheese, tomatoes and meat. The hotel’s menu itself offered all the classics with light, fresh vegetarian risottos, pastas, a good selection of fish and meat dishes along with delicious, rich dessert options.
A trip to Podere Concori Winery
When it came to unwinding, the resort’s spa offered the best sort of "me" time. The Tuscan-style wellness refuge, which boasts an indoor pool, steam room and treatment room provided tranquillity, relaxation and the perfect escape - you'll come away feeling both lighter and calmer. I indulged with a relaxing herbal pindas massage, which contained Tuscan herbs soaked in warm oil. Guests are also free to explore the expansive lands, or can take a dip in the inviting, extremely Instagrammable, outdoor swimming pool – one to note for the sun-seekers.
The hotel's swimming pool was divine
Meanwhile, a day trip to Barga - the most Scottish place you’ll ever visit in Italy - is easy to arrange. A favourite among locals and tourists, the valley’s beautiful medieval town boasts some of the best views in the Tuscan countryside. Some of the streets are lined with vintage style homes, coloured in pink, yellow and orange hues. The place is only half an hour's drive from the hotel and well worth a visit for the gelato, restaurants, cathedrals and squares.
For those who want to sample some of Tuscany's best wine, a trip to the Podere Concori Winery - owned by winemaker Gabriela da Prato - was a highlight of my stay. I spent the morning learning about the process of making Pinot Noir and Shiraz wine as well as having a hands-on experience in making it myself. At the end of the tour, I devoured a beautifully thought-out menu of the region’s organic local delicacies; tomato soup, bruschetta, cheese and olives.
So if you're looking for a 'a luxury escape with a touch of class and culture' when you're travelling to Tuscany, you certainly can’t go wrong with Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa. With easy access to Florence, Bologna and Pisa, there's simply no arguing that you’re in the best place to be.