The hotel scene in Pienza has changed very little for years, so La Bandita Townhouse, a modern converted ex-nunnery, is a discovery. It’s worth going out of your way for – though, of course, Pienza is on the south Tuscany tourist trail. Owner John Voigtmann built La Bandita Townhouse out of the success of his nearby country house La Bandita: he wanted to offer a comforting refuge in Pienza - and he does. La Bandita Townhouse has a charming old-and-new style with an innovative sense of space: fitting 12 rustic-modern rooms into a classic Renaissance building with great sympathy. Exposed brick compliments the use of soft, muted colours - creams, whites and browns - that create a relaxed atmosphere. The extensive use of wood - mirror frames, beams, floors - gives a rustic feel that attractively contrasts the modern touches, like the seemingly floating cuboid four-poster-bed, and the egg shaped free-standing bathtubs. John has managed to create an atmosphere inside that reflects the lifestyle of Pienza outside; laidback, comfortable and welcoming.
The food in La Bandita Cafe is good, not typical Italian fare, which makes a pleasant change from another pici al ragu - the popular local dish served everywhere - though this may disappoint some. The best seating is in the medieval walled garden, but we also liked sitting at the bar and watching the chefs in the open plan kitchen. Though Mr Voigtmann says there’s no ‘global expansion plan’ we’d be surprised not to see La Bandita expand; growth through demand, not greed – just how we like it.