A stay at Casa Bellavista is an experience in total Tuscan immersion if it’s bucolic Tuscany you’re thinking of, with its gently rolling hills spiky with cypresses, rustic terracotta architecture furnished with family heirlooms, the sun-drenched flavours of good homecooking, etcetera. Casa Bellavista is a real, old-fashioned B&B, a private house where guests share space with their hosts, who in this case include the family dogs and cats. Simonetta Demarchi – forgoing a career in hotel management – and her husband Guido Conti – who still manages the exclusive Castello di Spaltenna – restored their country home and its adjacent barn to open the establishment some years ago. It offers four charming bedrooms and lavish breakfasts, superb dinners by arrangement, living areas indoors as well as a large and lovely garden and outdoor pool and hot tub.
And Bellavista is no exaggeration. There’s no room without a view up there on a hill in the Val di Chiana overlooking nearby Cortona but also Montepulciano, Monte San Savino and Lucignano, with Monte Amiata in the background and all the agrarian terrain in between. Simonetta looks after everything and everyone with a great deal of charm as well as irrefutable competence. She runs cookery courses around the marble-topped table in her country kitchen using home-grown or locally-sourced produce, and organises guided visits of nearby towns and wineries. The intrepid can borrow one of the house scooters – of the legendary Vespa variety – to explore the surroundings.