Resort spotlight: Castelfalfi, Italy
Castelfalfi isn‘t a golf resort in the manner of Verdura or Turnberry, with a hotel overlooking courses.
It‘s essentially a village, sprawling across numerous buildings that sit for the most part on the top of a Tuscan hill.
It couldn‘t feel more authentically Tuscan; it‘s as if you are holidaying in a hilltop village that just happens to have a lot of high–end amenities in it.
The buildings are all beautifully appointed in local stone and there is a tranquility to a stay here that you will struggle to beat anywhere in Europe.
The golf courses
There is an 18-hole course and a nine–holer here, both laid out on raunchy terrain half a mile from the centre of the resort.
The Mountain course is aptly named. This 6,986-yard course was designed by Rainer Preißmann and Wilfried Moroder and it is absolutely packed with distinctive holes.
Of course the changes in elevation are a key feature but they have been used skilfully to produce a course of great interest without being ‘gimmicky’.
The Lake is intended to be kind to beginners but it‘s still 3,488 yards.
There are two hotels and a range of villas to rent. The five–star option is the brand–new Il Castelfalfi hotel, which sits on the edge of the hill and offers breathtaking views down the valley while your sunning yourself by the pool by day or dining in La Via D‘El Sale by night.
It is chic yet comfortable, with flashes of creative interior design or piece of art wherever you look.
La Tabaccaia is four star, but you really wouldn‘t know it. It has been exquisitely renovated from a one–time tobacco–drying building into a hotel dripping with character, with beautifully restored olive–wood parquet and brawny wood–beamed ceilings.
With just 31 cosy bedrooms, we might even have preferred it to its flashier sister Il Castelfalfi.
You’ll enjoy breakfast at La Tabaccaia, but otherwise you’ll eat in Il Castelfalfi.
The highlight is the fine dining experience in La Via del Sale, which not only dazzles with delicacies by executive chef Francesco Ferretti but also with the spellbinding sunset views of the Tuscan landscape as you dine al fresco.
It feels as the architect decided on this prime spot for the No.1 restaurant and built the rest of the hotel around it.
Elsewhere, Ecru is a terrace bar that serves anything from speciality coffees to Tuscan–inspired cocktails depending on the time of day.
When around the pool, enjoy salads and grilled meats at the Giglio Blu pool bar.
Off the course
Where to start? Castelfalfi is positively bursting with things to do.
You can hunt for truffles in the hunting reserve, you can hike, you can hire bikes and explore the countryside on two wheels, you can ride horses and you can even take a tour on a Vespa…or a Ferrari.
There is also a cooking school, a wine and olive oil shop that sells produce from the vineyard and orchard on site, and a host of different swimming pools.
Il Castelfalfi also has an amazing spa with a bewildering array of treatments, plus a first–class gym to burn up some of the extra calories you will definitely consume.
Oh, and from here you can explore the glorious city of Florence and the cute towns Siena and San Giminagno.