We like simple elegance, and the borghetto (or 'hamlet') of Pignano does it expertly.
The hub of the operation is an 18thC villa, with striking features left over from when there was a 12thC fortified tower on the site. A turret bell-tower, once used for lookout purposes, now offers exquisite views of the surrounding countryside.
Inside, limestone and marble bathrooms; high ceilings; large, shuttered windows and quality upholstery create a sense of luxurious - yet authentic - Tuscan living. For art lovers, original frescoes adorn the walls of many guest rooms, while a large collection of Italian etchings hang throughout the main house - replete with library, music room and an intimate ballroom.
But, with all of its grandeur, there's no pretence. You're on a 750-acre agricultural estate with a timeless lifestyle of its own. Olives, barley, fruit and vegetables, bread, honey, jams, wine, soaps and cold pressed olive oil are made on the spot, while heating and hot water is supplied by a solar panel system and wood-chip burner. Guests are invited to take part in the life of the hamlet - there is even a 'welcome' sign on the door of the kitchen.
True, natural elegance here - down to the salt-water swimming pool, carved from an impressive limestone quarry.