At the end of October I took my first trip to Italy, which took me to Tuscany (which I’d wanted to visit ever since seeing A Room with a View as a teenager) and the Italian Riviera. The hotel that I stayed in for the Tuscany part of the trip was in a lovely place called Artimino.
The hotel itself, the Hotel Paggeria Medicea, is located high in the Tuscan hills at an old hunting villa of the Medicis, the famous banking family who rose to prominence from the 14th century onwards.
The hotel part of the complex is actually what once was the servants’ quarters. My room was on the upper floor and the door opened onto a loggia, with views across the countryside and up to the villa. There is another building which houses the hotel’s restaurant and an open-air swimming pool. The grounds are full of olive trees, flowers, and there’s a large grassy slope from which there are stunning views across the countryside.
The villa itself is used for events, and there was a wedding taking place on the first afternoon/evening I was there. At one point I opened the door of my room and lay listening to the music and watching the children of the wedding party play on the lawn. That evening we were all taken for a tour of the villa’s wine cellars, and then saw the bride throwing her bouquet!
In the villa we saw a roasting spit which had been designed by Leonardo da Vinci, and Galileo had worked at the villa as a maths tutor to one of the Medicis.
In the mornings there was lovely birdsong.
There are lovely views from the hotel to the village of Artimino, which is a short walk away down a straight tree-lined road. The village has a walled area with a clock tower and narrow steep cobbled streets, restaurants, beautiful houses, and the archaeological museum (there have been many Etruscan finds in the area). The hotel has apartments here and another restaurant, where one evening we tasted the wines produced on the estate. There are religious plaques and shrines on many of the houses and along the roads. Another few minutes walk down the road, outside the walls, is a lovely old church, the Church of San Leonardo.