Among a 750-acre Tuscan estate sits Borgo Pignano, a countryside hotel and sustainable showstopper that boasts an organic farm and a dense woodland ideal for truffle hunting.
Twisting our way through the undulating Tuscan landscape framed by tall, elegant Cypress trees, we enter the private estate of Borgo Pignano, in which an 18th-century villa lies in the heart of its surrounding organic farm. Situated 500 metres above sea level, this rustic retreat comes with captivating views across the romantic region.
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Borgo Pignano is a world-class example of ecological tourism, protecting both the estate it calls home and the nature it stands within. An organic oasis, restorations here have taken place using environmentally-friendly and locally-sourced materials, and the estate farms much of its own produce – wine, olive oil and flour – uniting modern and traditional techniques. As the summer heat subdues and fresh autumnal air canvases the landscape, harvest season arrives with abundant opportunities to unearth the prized white truffle.
The natural landscape coupled with an organic ethos runs through the veins of Borgo Pignano, coupled with an easy-going feeling that emulates stepping into the country home of your most stylish friend. On fresco-painted walls, canvases – some by well-known artists and others painted on-site during one of the hotel’s artistic retreats – are hung, and depict Tuscan landscape scenes alongside striking contemporary portraits. You’ll find them in the bedrooms, but also in the library, dining spaces and in the games room upstairs. Competing for attention is the hotel’s equally-impressive infinity pool, carved from an ancient limestone quarry with views stretching across the estate towards faraway hilltop towns that sparkle on the horizon at night.
Accommodation spreads comfortably across the estate and caters to everyone, from honeymooning couples to families. Up a grand stone staircase, in the centre of the main, 18th century villa, is a collection of 14 whimsical rooms and suites dressed in locally-sourced and inherited antiques, Renaissance art, and Italian linens. Sala Musica, aka The Music Room, is one of the most impressive and is the go-to for honeymooners, with high ceilings, a four-poster bed and a grand piano.
Located beside the main villa and the Church of San Bartolomeo, we checked into an enchanting three-bedroom apartment, dating back to the 13th century. Named La Canonica, it was originally a Priest’s house and is one of the oldest parts of the estate. Abundant with medieval stonework, ancient archways, columns, vaulted ceilings and terracotta floors, we loved the restored medieval frescoes of ivy that embellish the walls and ceilings, carefully and elegantly lit by an Italian glass chandelier.
Ten further apartments can be found in the barn, stables and woodshed buildings, otherwise known as The Hamlet, and two new villas will be welcomed into the portfolio for 2024.
The Food + Drink
Borgo Pignano doesn’t just have great artistic taste, but a flavour for cuisine, too. The estate’s chef, Stefano Cavallini, was the first Italian chef to be awarded a Michelin star outside of Italy, back in 1995. In 2023 he’s been recognised for his conscious practices and awarded his first Green Michelin Star, a celebration of Borgo Pignano’s inspiring zero kilometre cooking philosophy. The accolade sets the standard for the estate’s culinary offering, one that evolves sustainably with the seasons. Among other tasty treats, the team here lovingly create artisanal breads, organic pastas, stone-ground flours, cold-pressed olive oil and jams, each using herbs, fruits, grains, and vegetables from the farm.
The main restaurant, Villa Pignano holds the Green Michelin Star and is located in the heart of the hotel. Contemporary interpretations of traditional Tuscan cuisine – with a zero kilometre footprint – can be sampled here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast includes an elegant buffet of homemade granola, yoghurts, fruits, and freshly-pressed juices paired with an à la carte menu of farm eggs (cooked how you like) with a gorgeous, crispy pancetta or large farm sausages, while lunches and dinners are served alongside organic and biodynamic Tuscan wines.
Autumnal dining comes to life inside the heart of the house during the cooler months at the Kitchen Community Table. Uniting guests over a gourmet offering, enjoy a peaceful dinner beside the large open fireplace with glasses of red wine, freshly-baked focaccia, and an exquisite T-bone steak to share. Elsewhere, head to the terrace to dine at the suitably named, Al Fresco Restaurant, set outdoors, overlooking the Italian hills. Here, from underneath your parasol, sip on local glasses of sparkling rosé with cured meats and cheeses, and tasty plates of risotto and rich parmigiana.
Other dining options include use of the farm’s produce to cook in the comfort of your villa, or having a private chef from the restaurant visit your villa to cook up a treat for you instead.
The Little Extras
Each experience at Borgo Pignano ties back into the organic values of the estate. Take the Herbal Laboratory, for example, where you can take part in a fragrant workshop, learning about the herbs and flowers that are grown on-site as well as how the hotel’s herbalist creates organic soaps, perfumes, and scented oils. You’ll find the final products in your bathroom toiletry collection.
Fuelling the creative soul of Borgo Pignano are the art retreats that take place throughout the year. In partnership with the Royal Drawing School, the hotel welcomes alumni in aid of their creative careers. In turn, the students offer guests painting lessons in the on-site art studio, teaching art enthusiasts how to capture the natural beauty of the landscape that has inspired artists for centuries.
The To-Do List
Borgo Pignano is an Italian retreat that encourages guests to sample and explore each detail of the estate. The autumn months are a golden opportunity for gourmet scavenger hunts in search of the black and sought-after white truffles. We navigated the woodland on the Borgo Pignano estate with the hotel’s specialist truffle hunter and the expert scent of his dogs, quickly uncovering both types from the fertile soil.
Another on-site gastronomic experience we enjoyed was visiting the winery to learn about how they produce their labels in a tasting session with the sommelier. Guests can also book cooking lessons, take part in honey-making with beekeepers, take horse-riding lessons or go for hikes around the estate. Enjoy the summer months outdoors, exploring the surrounding countryside with mountain (or electric) biking, football, basketball, tennis, or soaking up the sun at the new family swimming pool set to open in 2024. Back indoors there is a yoga studio and gym as well as the spa, which is found beneath a stone-built hamlet that was once a winery and water cistern. Blending health, nature, relaxation and sustainability, spa treatments are inspired by the beautiful Tuscan landscape and use produce from the estate’s ample and verdant gardens and farmland.
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