“You should take the first opportunity yourself to leave the din, the futile bustle and useless occupations of the city and devote yourself to literature or to leisure.”
– Pliny The Younger
The old adage of the journey outshining the destination has always felt like one of the truer clichés, particularly in the literal sense. Double this when vacationing: there’s something about hopping in your zippy little Fiat to explore a new landscape by way of your drive. The idea becomes infinitely more romantic in a place like Tuscany, Florence’s walled city giving way to an onrushing, rolling-hilled countryside, each turn conceding to a vista more beautiful than the last. Though young Pliny dismisses city charms altogether (and we never would!), there is indeed a kind of sublime peace derived from disappearing into softer pursuits. Best never to feel then, that an arrival is anything other than beginning of something new. This jaunt ensures that you’ll enjoy the ride.
Departure: Welcome To Borgo
Relais Borgo Santo Pietro
Località Palazzetto 110, 53012 Chiusdino | +39 0577 75 12 22
From the moment you’re admitted through Borgo’s great, latticed gates and feel the sun-baked gravel crunching beneath your tires, there’s the sense that this is the Tuscany you pictured in your armchair travel daydreams. A cypress tree-flanked welcoming committee envelops you in hearty reception, greeting you by name as your bags are instantaneously exchanged for cool herbal towels and flutes of Prosecco. A thorough yet expedient lay of the land ends at a Santa Maria Novella-scented suite reminiscent of a rococo courtesan’s chambers, the hand-painted murals, roaring fireplace and freestanding, claw foot tub appropriately starry-eyed accoutrement for your country respite. “Your wish is our pleasure” is the published mantra, and given the evidence, you’re inclined to believe they mean it.
Scenic Route: The Gardens & Farm
What began as a family estate for owner Claus Thottrup and his wife Jeanette has become a passion to share the magic of these Relais & Châteaux grounds with those seeking a true retreat. Each pillar of the Borgo Santo Pietro experience has been polished to a high shine, the service, cuisine, activities and accommodations all standing out in their own exceptionality. It is the landscape and its staggering beauty, however, that is the stop-you-in-your-tracks factor. Nature is Borgo’s center, and all paths lead you up, around, alongside and through it. A slice of heaven terrace with unobstructed valley views merges with the fresh water pool oasis before another manicured path beckons. The thoughtful interplay of water and roses, vegetable garden and farm, lemon trees and tranquil places for savoring reconnects you to simpler things. Pliny would be proud.
Accelerator: Classes & Activities
Borgo both relaxes and heightens the senses with its abundant beauty, priming you to partake in leisurely learning. The crown jewel in a sea of appealing activities, The Borgo Cooking School is a rustic food lab for the simply delicious. The masterful, Michelin-starred Andrea Mattei oversees the soulful exploration of traditional country cuisine in a converted warehouse where farmhouse chic meets high-tech. Handcraft a variety of pasta noodles and sauces finished with the property’s own olive oil, cheeses and honey. If all this beauty has awakened your inner artiste, the resident artist of the month is onsite to coax her out to play in the paintbox. Flower arranging, biking, hiking and horseback riding are just some of the other fun ways to deepen your love of the land.
Tune-Up: The Spa
A constitutional down Cinderella’s garden path leads you to the Spa, a high-design hideaway bathed in the Tuscan sun’s amber glow. Amidst fruit trees, lavender and the gentle guardianship of a masterful masseuse, letting go has never felt quite so effortless (or blissful). Unique touches like an herb-infused foot bath or a Moroccan-sourced Argan oil blended especially for the resort mean that even the shortest of stints here are unforgettable. Again taking cues from Borgo’s naturally grown gifts, the Spa incorporates fresh herbs and flora in its holistic treatment offerings. The effect is deeply restorative in a way that remains with you. Once your treatment is complete, don’t hurry back; the Spa opens out onto a garden where plenty of daybeds, benches and floral nooks prompt your extended relaxation.
Refuel : Food & Wine
‘Catering to’ is at the heart of Borgo’s culinary philosophy. Mornings begin with a trip to the villa’s spectacular kitchen and a smiling chef’s “What may I prepare for you?” Eggs gathered that morning bring new meaning to the words “farm fresh” and your coming-right-up frittata does the same. An elaborate buffet featuring the farm’s fruits, cheeses and yogurts, and an array of house made breads and pastries accompany custom cappuccini, fresh juices, smoothies and Prosecco cocktails. You can opt to have your heart’s desire delivered to your room, or to dine on the terrace as the sun climbs slowly upward. Made-to-order pizzas at the poolside Treehouse Bar quickly become a favorite lunchtime ritual, and Monday’s Farmer’s Market dinners bring a deliciously casual spin. The traditional evening apertif is a cut above here, sinking into your grand wicker throne as you sip your martini, gin or spritz. Chef Mattei’s Meo Mondo tasting menu meal beneath the stars is a fanciful – and special – treat.
Detour: Beyond The Borgo
If you must tear yourself away from this happy hamlet, the Borgo is, naturally, at your service. We loved exploring our immediate surroundings via racy red Vespa with a perfectly packed picnic in tow. Additionally, the Medieval city of Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site a mere 30 minutes away. A center for art and architecture as well as outstanding trattoria fare, it’s well worth a day’s exploration. If you’re looking to visit a vineyard or taste local wines, the hotel has the inside scoop on the purveyors best suited to your tastes.
One (Or Two) For The Road: Lessons & Mementos
The now familiar tempos of Borgo’s quietude and comfort certainly tug at your heart as you drive away. But as with all great journeys, you leave with more than you had when you arrived. And if ever your memory of the sultry sunsets or garden corners begins to fade, there is always a Cooking School recipe or farm-made treat to bring you right back.