There are so many hilltop castles in Tuscany it’s hard to keep count. What sets this one apart is that it was the one-time residence of the noble Del Neros, a 12th-century Florentine family who knew more than a thing or two about beautiful residences. Since then, it’s been passed to design-conscious New Yorker Robert Trotta who has restored it to its former glory. The location Sitting 35km south of Florence, (flying into Milan) in glorious Tuscan countryside, Castello del Nero is within striking distance of San Gimignano, the province’s medieval darling and home – some say – to the best gelato on Earth.
Italian honeymooners, Serie A footballers and anyone hoping to capture some of that Under the Tuscan Sun movie magic over a bottle of delicious Chianti.
The dreamy terrace views of pointy cypress trees, traditional tile roofs, and patchwork olive groves are textbook Tuscany, but, even so, the luxury spa trumps it with its super-cool subterranean treatment area.
The Michelin-starred La Torre restaurant demands your attention, particularly because chef Giovanni Luca di Pirro is a stickler for seasonality. Truffles, porcini and wild boar are his forest pickings in the hunting season, while summer and winter harvests bring out buxom purple aubergines and polished artichokes. If that impresses you, join one of Di Pirro’s morning cooking classes.
It’s taken 900 years for the Castello to look this good. A series of refits over the years have preserved the exquisite frescos in the Marchesa Anna Suite and family crests in the Sala Gran Camino. Further highlights are the atmospheric wine cellars and the extraordinary 17th-century Chapel San Michele.