Guido Bevilacqua, the affable and charismatic owner of La Locanda, began his search for the ideal spot in which to set up this small country hotel in 1996. In April 1999, what was once a collection of ruined farm buildings high up in the Chianti hills, opened as a charming country guesthouse, and you would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful setting. At 600m above sea level, views from the terraces, gardens, pool and some of the rooms are of layers of hills, striped with vines and shaded with woods; in the foreground is the mellow old fortified hamlet of Volpaia.
     The restoration of the pale stone buildings has been done with unerringly good taste. Interiors, while maintaining many of the rustic features, have a refreshingly contemporary look with an imaginative use of colour throughout to offset plenty of terracotta and wood. One end of the long, sunny living room is dominated by a massive stone fireplace, and filled with colourfully upholstered sofas and armchairs. There are also plenty of books to read in the communal areas, along with an honesty bar and an antique Maltese croquet set. The comfortable bedrooms have an uncluttered feel, and the bathrooms are spacious and gleaming. A selection of Tuscan chocolates awaits guests upon their arrival.
     Guido invites all his guests to join him for an aperitif and hors d'oeuvres at 7.00 on the terrace, which is surrounded by wild rosemary and lavender. There is a footpath that leads from the hotel to Volpaia, where there are a handful of fine restaurants that Guido will happily recommend and book on behalf of his guests. It takes around 20 minutes to walk to Volpaia: be sure to take a torch for the walk back.