Take the waters at a spa in Tuscany

The pleasures of a trip to Tuscany taken out of season make up for the lack of summer sun, says Natasha Langan.

979_MW_P43_Travel_01
Take a hound truffle-hunting, or just enjoy the rejuvenating waters

Many Britons think of Tuscany as the perfect location for a summer holiday, relaxing in an olive grove under the hot sun sipping chilled Chianti, but they're missing out on the seasonal beauty of autumn and winter when its verdant valleys are shrouded in mist. The ideal base is Fonteverde Spa in the picturesque Val d'Orcia valley, next to the medieval village of San Casciano Dei Bagni, renowned for its natural thermal spa and large pools of mineral-rich waters bubbling up at a balmy 42C, making outdoor bathing comfortable even in the depths of winter.

The main building of Fonteverde is the historic former property of Ferdinando I de' Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, originally commissioned in 1607. Extended over the years and fully refurbished in 2002, the grand exterior is orientated to overlook the valley, with comfortable interiors that reflect the history of the building without guests feeling like they're staying in a museum. There are two restaurants, the Ristorante La Corte, serving delicious breakfasts and lunches, and the Ristorante Ferdinando I, serving refined versions of traditional Tuscan dishes.

Autumn is of course the start of the prized white-truffle season and the hotel can organise a truffle-hunting session with a local licensed hunter, Gianni Barzi, accompanied by his dog, a Lagotto Romagnolo, specially bred and trained for truffle hunting. We visited a local truffle reserve in uncultivated and protected woodland, as truffles can only be collected by those with a licence. The woodland was in the Radicofani area, a Unesco World Heritage site famed for its beauty and the legend of Ghino di Tacco, a legendary 13th-century outlaw and popular hero, Tuscany's very own Robin Hood. After a refreshing few hours scrambling after the dog, who does all the work, you get to taste your finds with your guide and take them back to the hotel where the truffles are shaved over your dinner.

The main reason for a stay at Fonteverde is to take the waters, which are packed with minerals and trace elements bubbling up from the aquifer of Mount Amiata and have been famed for their therapeutic properties since Roman times. The spa has a selection of indoor and outdoor pools, including one with a waterfall drawing water unfiltered directly from the aquifer. After a few hours of floating in the steamy pools, my skin felt amazing. They also recommend you drink a glass of the mineral water daily to aid digestion it certainly helped with all the truffles, pasta and wine.

Natasha was a guest of Fonteverde. Nightly rates start from €198 (£152) per person. Email travel@fonteverdespa.com or call 00 39 0578 572333.

Recommended

Get out and enjoy the autumn
Travel and holidays

Get out and enjoy the autumn

It’s the season for hikes among the trees and cosy meals in pubs, says Nicole Garcia Merida.
16 Oct 2020
Travel: a cosy weekend in London at No.5 Maddox St
Travel and holidays

Travel: a cosy weekend in London at No.5 Maddox St

Chris Carter enjoys a city break in London, his home town.
9 Oct 2020
Where to take a skiing holiday this winter
Travel and holidays

Where to take a skiing holiday this winter

There are still several appealing options for a skiing holiday, despite Covid-19, says Chris Carter.
2 Oct 2020
Four British holiday retreats fit for royalty
Travel and holidays

Four British holiday retreats fit for royalty

Settling for a holiday in the UK needn’t mean roughing it, says Chris Carter.
25 Sep 2020

Most Popular

The Bank of England should create a "Bitpound" digital currency and take the world by storm
Bitcoin

The Bank of England should create a "Bitpound" digital currency and take the world by storm

The Bank of England could win the race to create a respectable digital currency if it moves quickly, says Matthew Lynn.
18 Oct 2020
Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts
Bank accounts

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts

Negative interest rates are likely to mean the introduction of fees for current accounts and other banking products. But that might make the UK bankin…
19 Oct 2020
What would negative interest rates mean for your money?
UK Economy

What would negative interest rates mean for your money?

There has been much talk of the Bank of England introducing negative interest rates. John Stepek explains why they might do that, and what it would me…
15 Oct 2020