Olivia Williams visits a spa retreat in the gorgeous hills of southern Tuscany.
High up in the hills between Siena and Montepulciano sits Fonteverde, a Medici mansion turned modern refuge. With nothing but the rolling acres of the Val d’Orcia to be seen from the grounds, it’s an unspoilt backdrop for getting away from it all.
Beyond its uplifting view, Fonteverde’s main jewel is its spa. Natural thermal springs at a relaxing 38 degrees bubble out of the mountainside and into a multitude of indoor and outdoor swimming pools. If you tire of the warm water, or want to get stuck into serious exercise, then there are two ordinary pools as well.
The waters themselves are rich in calcium and sulphur, known for their skin-calming circulation-boosting properties. These qualities are harnessed for many of the Fonteverde spa treatments too, so this is a chance to really immerse yourself in mineral goodness. The ‘Bioaquam’ circuit of various steam rooms, hammams and saunas makes liberal use of the waters, as does the extensive menu of luxurious massages and facials. An unusual highlight is the ‘salitorium’ treatment in which you can sleep in a warm, tight salt wrap, which is far more soothing than it sounds.
As for the rest of the hotel, the decor is timeless rather than fashionable, in keeping with the mansion’s heritage. A few of the 78 bedrooms are in the historic villa, with the rest in a modern annex. Front-facing bedrooms have a glorious view across the valley.
After a hard day of paddling in the water and walking between treatments, it is time to dress up for dinner at the restaurant Ferdinando I. The dress here is smart and the atmosphere formal. The food itself is rich and delicious, but there is also the diet ‘Equilibirum’ menu available. It includes light fish and inventive vegetable dishes so there is no need to undo your good work at the gym and swimming pool if you don’t want to.
Fellow guests are most likely to be fashionable young Romans who take the two-hour drive into southern Tuscany, mainly for weekends and short breaks. The hotel is probably better suited to couples and families with older children – there are activities including mountain biking, horse riding, and truffle hunting, but really the experience is geared towards the vast spa and fine dining.
Fonteverde, Località Terme 1, San Casciano dei Bagni, 53040, Tuscany, Italy.
firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +39 0578 5724. From 314 Euros/£228 per night based on two people sharing including breakfast.