Travel 3 minutes 07 May 2024

The Key Decision in Tuscany

The sublime magnificence of a castle or the simple charm of farmhouse? In the end, it comes down to the traveler.

The glorious castle hotels of Tuscany exude style and serenity. The Tuscan farmhouse is so iconic it's been emulated throughout the world. If you could only choose one: which would it be?

On May 7, 2024, the MICHELIN Guide announced its top honors for hotels in Italy, bestowing the most outstanding places in the country with One, Two, or Three Keys. In Tuscany, two iconic hotel types gained distinction after distinction.

Let's start with the castles. They come in all shapes and sizes, and can look like everything from a pristine Disney fairytale to Winterfell after the White Walkers. In between are all manner of manors, the only consistency being that they were all once private residences, built to house the handsomely titled, and fortified against attack.

They still feature towers and turrets, keeps and crenellations. But in true Tuscan fashion, the ones that have become hotels are quite a bit more livable than their medieval brethren, and just as concerned with comfort and aesthetics as they once were with obstructing an onrushing army.

Castello Banfi
Castello Banfi

Meanwhile, the motif of the Tuscan farmhouse has been emulated throughout the world. The aesthetic has been relentlessly replicated from California to Australia, at vineyards and pizza shops and in suburban kitchens. But there's nothing like the real thing — and in Tuscany, you get all of the authenticity with none of the cliché.

The appeal is understandable. The urge to go back to a simpler time and place has a powerful pull, and Tuscany’s top farmhouse hotels are happy to indulge your agrarian fantasies, minus some of the messier bits. They’ve replaced the roughest aspects of rural life with first-class service and amenities.


So, what kind of traveler are you? The one who revels in the sublime magnificence of a castle? Or in the simple charm of farmhouse? In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Maybe you already have your answer. If not, the hotels below — each a Key winner and among the best in its class — should help you make your choice.

The Castles

Castello di Casole


Hotel Castello di Casole stands on the site of a thousand-year-old aristocratic estate, the fruit of years of meticulous restoration by an army of architects and designers. It’s a restoration that was rigorously historical where it could afford to be, and yet wasn’t afraid to take some very welcome liberties — the atmosphere is timeless, classic Italian country living, which is only enhanced by the addition of modern marble baths and up-to-date electronic amenities.

Book Castello di Casole with The MICHELIN Guide →

COMO Castello del Nero

Tavarnelle Val di Pesa

The castle of Castello Del Nero comes with a prominent history: once the property of the Del Neros of Florence, it’s been owned by the Torrigiani family since 1825. Today, its fifty guest rooms and suites are filled with imposing architecture, Renaissance paintings, family crests, and perfectly proper furniture that all call to mind the historic Italian nobility, and the olive groves covering the sprawling estate grounds set the perfect scene.

Book COMO Castello del Nero with The MICHELIN Guide →

Castello di Vicarello


It’s a testament to what’s special about Tuscany that it’s still even possible to find a part of it that’s not saturated with tourism. Perched on a hilltop surrounded by gently rolling hills, the Castello di Vicarello is one of these places — an authentic 12th-century castle, converted into a charming country house boutique by a couple of fashion types who moved down from Milan in search of the quiet life.

Book Castello di Vicarello with the MICHELIN Guide →

Castello Banfi Wine Resort


At Castello Banfi Wine Resort, the 14-room boutique hotel is only the keep to this Tuscan castle-on-a-hill — the castello is the headquarters of the working wine estate, while the borgo is the boutique hotel that’s been fashioned from the adjoining village buildings. If the property ended at the sandstone walls, it would still be a must-visit for anyone passing through the countryside near Siena. Thankfully, there’s also the small matter of a seven-thousand-acre vineyard.

Book Castello Banfi Wine Resort with The MICHELIN Guide →

The Authentic Tuscan Farmhouses

Locanda al Colle


Not only are the Italians experts at living the good life, they’re also quite well versed in extracting maximum luxury from relatively humble means. Locanda al Colle is little more than a restored farmhouse in a village in coastal Tuscany, a short distance from Pisa and Lucca, whose nine rooms look out over forested hillsides through huge picture windows — but despite the lack of big-resort bells and whistles, you’d be hard pressed to catch guests wishing for much more than this.

Book Locanda al Colle with The MICHELIN Guide →

Locanda Rossa


Locanda Rossa’s original structure has undergone a modern expansion, but the seams don’t show a bit. Contemporary interiors meet farmhouse architecture in the rooms and suites, which, if not for the half-timbered ceilings and the views of the farm, could easily pass for modern urban apartments. Then again those views of the olive groves, not to mention the gardens and the pool deck, are why you’re here and not in a modern urban apartment in the first place.

Book Locanda Rossa with the MICHELIN Guide  →

Conti di San Bonifacio

Gavorrano GR

Conti di San Bonifacio is a beautifully renovated seven-room farmhouse on a hill, surrounded by several hundred acres of vineyards, olive groves and rolling woods. Anywhere but Tuscany, that might be enough, the hotelier’s work done and the guests lining up to take their heavy doses of endorphins. Here amidst one of the world’s great concentrations of impossibly pleasurable hotels, however, it takes something more — like bathrooms carved from marble and bedrooms draped in furs, say.

Book Conti di San Bonifacio with the MICHELIN Guide →

Follonico Suite B&B

Torrita di Siena

Although the Tuscan farmhouse that Follonico’s owners have converted into this six-room bed-and-breakfast dates back to the ninth century, any residual medieval gloom has long since been excised, making room for contemporary minimalist décor and spacious rooms awash in natural light. Surrounded by a Tuscan countryside of cypresses, sheep pastures, and olive groves, Follonico offers a subdued, pastoral alternative to the vineyard boutiques and touristy guesthouses that dot the region.

Book Follonico Suite B&B with the MICHELIN Guide →


Torrita di Siena

The farmhouse charm is cranked up to eleven at Lupaia, especially in its open kitchen, where a daily four-course dinner is made out of produce from the hotel’s own organic garden. And it’s in plentiful supply in the rooms as well, carefully adapted from five painstakingly renovated historical structures, each of which is an architectural mosaic of Tuscan styles, with contemporary comforts under centuries-old roof beams and rough-hewn textures alongside finely wrought furnishings.

Book Lupaia with The MICHELIN Guide →


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