“Italy is like a Mosaic.”- Gabriele Calabrese.
There are endless dreamy getaways in the world but not many live up to an Italian summer. They call it the ‘Dolce Far Niente’, the sweetness of doing nothing. In a country rich in culture, nature and heritage, there is so much to offer for the inquisitive.
In the northwestern part of Italy, lies the region of Tuscany, known as the birthplace of the Renaissance and infamous for its dramatic landscapes, artistic legacy and cultural influence. The Tuscan beauty is unmatched and simply effortless. As you drive into the revelled countryside, you will see tall, slender cypress trees in your line of vision. This is an undeniable sign of your location, ensuring a perfect display of quintessentially Italian nature.
Spanning 700 hectares of the Serchio Valley, II Ciocco is a grand estate set between the rocky Apuan Alps to the west and the Tuscan-Emilia Apennines to the east. In the countryside of Lucca, the northwest of Tuscany, the Renaissance Tuscany IL Ciocco Resort & Spa is nestled high up in the hills. A luxury retreat for visitors of this revered destination — The serenity of the hotel whisks you up into a dream-like fairytale and the privacy it offers is truly splendid.
The outdoor pool is fringed by bay-facing sun loungers. Tangerine orange towels paired against the white umbrellas mark a noteworthy sight. Panoramic views of the magnificent mountainous valley are available throughout the hotel, from lazing around the pool; having dinner on the La Veranda terrace to the view from the deluxe rooms at the front of the property.
‘Immerse yourself in the total luxury of high-quality slumber with scenic valley views. —
The rooms and suites display refined sophistication with elegant, stylish decor showcasing neutral and deep brown tones. In the Balcony King Deluxe room, carved wooden bed frames topped with Frette luxury liners are backed against ivory drapes. There is an oversized, beige leather armchair, all necessary amenities and a marble bathroom. This room provides the best views of the valley, looking down on the mesmerising surroundings. As dusk approaches, and the sky turns midnight blue, the stars come out and the moon shines bright. Marvel in the starry night from your balcony as you enjoy a glass of bubbly perhaps?
Italy is well known for its spectacular cuisine, and the Renaissance has none less than an impressive food offering. Moderna vinegar (also known as black gold) mixed with olive oil soaked up by warm bread starts the night. Then comes the buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad. Homemade tagliolini with sausage sauce and truffles won over my heart, taking the place of my late beloved Carbonara. For dessert, the rich, velvety Tiramisu, also known as the Tuscan trifle and ‘Pick me up’ was heavenly. The hotel restaurant La Veranda is rather marvellous and serves an excellent spread from breakfast to dinner.
The Spa is outstanding with first-rate massages and treatments. There is an indoor, heated pool, Turkish Bath, Sauna and Emotional showers – a sensory voyage through lights, temperatures and aromas.
This Marriott franchised hotel, Renaissance Tuscany IL Ciocco Resort and Spa takes on the significance of this region and embodies its rich history through its delivery. Their signature mark is tour navigation. They are experts in the area with lead navigator Maria Rossi. Available at the reception is a whole host of resources to help guests authentically familiarise themselves with the local area.
Hike through one of the most expensive forests in Tuscany, boasting an abundance of aromatic chestnut trees and honeycomb. Along the way, you will see small villages nestled on the nature trail. After which you can reward yourself with lunch at the delightful tavern of Pian di Fiume, tucked up in the mountains with panoramic views of the Garfagnana valley, where you can dig into delicious homemade pasta and slow-cooked ragu.
Worlds apart from the city of Lucca is the old medieval town of Barga. Quiet in nature, this is a great nearby place to enjoy a peaceful day out with wonderful little Italian restaurants and the best Gelato spots! Bailey’s and Biscottino is a personal favourite…this heavenly combo is rich, creamy and truly luxurious with a level of sweetness that is just right. At the top of the hill in the old town is the grand, Collegiate Church of San Cristoforo. From the front of this cathedral, there are stunning views of the town. Watch as the splendour of the sunset is met by the dusk on the horizon as it sets on the sleepy town of Barga Vecchia.
For wine lovers, visiting a vineyard is a must and Tuscany is not short of options. Nearby to the Renaissance Tuscany, IL Ciocco Resort and Spa is Podere Concori Winery in the Garfagnana Valley. This family-run winery specialises in biodynamic wines using an astrological calendar which harmonises between flowers, land, animals and people. They also intriguingly use the remains of the grapes to produce a range of skin care products. Look out for Pietro the donkey while you’re there!
La Dolce Vita…This philosophy of life is what makes Italy so special. Whether you’re after relaxation or in need of a grand wedding destination, the Renaissance Tuscany, IL Ciocco Resort and Spa is fitting. Hiring a car to explore the area is ideal with easy reach of the city of Lucca, Pisa, Florence and Cinque Terre.
Vueling has 27 direct routes from the UK covering 18 destinations and 3 countries including France and Italy besides Spain. The London Gatwick – Florence route currently has 14 weekly frequencies with returns from £52.99. See vueling.com for more details.
Via Giovanni Pascoli, Castelvecchio Pascoli, Barga 55051 Italy
+39 0583 7691