If away from it all is where you want to get while retaining the possibility of doing some serious sightseeing, Tenuta di Ricavo is hard to beat. The hotel occupies an entire hamlet near Castellina in Chianti, which was deserted in the 1950s when people left the land for the cities in search of work.
The grouping of houses along a wooded ridge in the depth of the countryside might have been conceived as a film-set replica of a medieval hamlet. The main house, facing a little square of other mellow stone cottages, contains some of the bedrooms, and the several sitting rooms, which are comfortably furnished with a pleasant jumble of antique chairs and sofas (one of them with a small library of English, Italian, French and German books). The hotel's restaurant, La Pecora Nera (The Black Sheep), is open to non-residents, so advance booking is essential.
Breakfast can be taken out-of-doors, on a little piazzetta at the front, weather permitting. At the right time of the year the gardens are bright with flowers, and there are plenty of secluded corners, which make the place seem calm and quiet even when the hotel is full. The small garden pool is ideal for quiet cooling off, the larger one is on a lower terrace.
A visitor pronounces the hotel 'expensive, but professional and worth it', and the food 'very satisfactory'.