As golden sunlight pours into the stone courtyard, a landscape of emerald green is seen from all angles, and a breeze picks up the scent from flowering jasmine and lemon trees nearby. There are few things better in this life than experiencing Italy the way it should be done — with an abundance of the simplest pleasures: meals thoughtfully prepared, stunning natural surroundings and an interior design that pays tribute to history in a modern way. This is all experienced at Monteverdi, a divine hotel in Tuscany.
A draw of Monteverdi is the property’s ability to provide all of the seclusion that you could hope for while being a short drive from excitement, shopping, and rich history. This Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany is famous for Etruscan, Roman and medieval collections as well as ruins and artifacts. In fact, one of the most recent and significant Etruscans tombs, Tomba Della Quadriga Infernale, was unearthed less than 5 km from Monteverdi. In addition, from this unique hamlet, it is less than an hour’s drive to the most renowned Tuscan hill towns: Siena, Montepulciano, Orvieto, and Pienza, to name only a few. It is less than two hours from Florence and Rome. A personal concierge will deliver your every want, from private transportation, cooking classes, couture shopping, truffle hunting or a wine tasting at one of more than 300 vineyards in the region.
As with many Tuscan villages, the original inhabitants of Monteverdi had dwindled significantly in recent years, due to many moving into the cities for work or last-generation family members who have passed on. Enter Michael L. Cioffi, an American lawyer touring Italy to explore his Italian roots. He immediately fell in love with the 12th century forgotten and nearly abandoned village. He wanted to preserve and restore this “new love.” Though friends and family advised against it, he purchased the first building that would later become a part of Monteverdi Tuscany. Unknowingly at the time, this one purchase would lead to breathing life into a town that had been forgotten by time, with only a few remaining families living there. Michael has since renovated various empty homes in the most thoughtful way with renowned interior designer Ilaria Miani, who exemplifies sophisticated modern spaces that nod to historic elements.
What began as a single building in the nearly abandoned Tuscan village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro has become a travel destination of beauty and luxury on a peak above Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage site. By infusing modern amenities and style into the bones of an 800-year-old village, Michael has developed a once-forgotten town into an example of fine living and thoughtful design. He follows the credo Love, Life, Land and, in the Spirit of Tuscany, he has created a mecca where Opera performances, a Modern Art gallery, fine and casual dining, wine tasting and exploring the land flourishes. The hamlet of Castiglioncello del Trinoro, home to Monteverdi, now relishes in visitors who have an appreciation of the simple pleasures that make up a well-lived life. Think of carpe diem and la dolce vita rolled into one experience in the green and gold rolling hills of Tuscany.
As with the interiors, the Spa at Monteverdi is a testament to design, perfectly reflecting the natural environment. A sensory experience, the Spa offers the best of the healing arts with a product from legendary perfumer Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Established in the 13th Century by Dominican friars, Santa Maria Novella was created based on the healing properties of herbs, plants, and flowers. A treatment called The Full Monteverdi, for example, is a total immersion in the scents of Tuscany. The treatment begins with a rubdown with warm oil, followed by a salt scrub enriched with Tuscan plants such as rosemary, lemon balm, and sweet orange, followed by a heavenly soak in an outdoor tub overlooking the Val d’Orcia, finished by a 75-minute massage.
As with what you expect with Tuscan dining, the meals are nourishing, delicious and made with love. Chef Giancarla Bodoni masterfully takes tradition to a modern place, as with the Monteverdi theme. With a kitchen garden flourishing with organic produce, she creates the menu based on each season to enhance each meal with foods grown in the Tuscan sun and soil. Her passion can be referenced in each bite. When I asked if she could write one of her most-loved recipes for readers to experience at home, she was delighted to do so. The recipe for Ricotta Panna Cotta is included for your enjoyment.
With twelve bedrooms and three, 2-6 bedroom villas each uniquely designed and decorated and scattered throughout the narrow, intimate streets of the village, Monteverdi Tuscany is a place that inspires. Local villagers strolling the streets create the feel of an era steeped in the simple pleasures of living life fully and passionately. This incomparable hotel property is the opposite of ordinary. As with many things in life, trusting an instinct brought on by immediate love is the stuff of greatness, which is how this revival of beautiful Monteverdi came to be.