Surround yourself with the serenity of nature at Tuscany’s Lupaia
By Emma Oxley
Close your eyes and imagine your idyllic Tuscan scene. There’ll be rolling hills, rows of vineyards, olive groves fringed by Italian pines and at the centre of the horizon, the silhouette of a medieval hill town. This is your view from Lupaia, and it absolutely catches your breath, as you drift through the rosemary-fringed paths with a beatific smile on your face.
This private hilltop escape is a life passion for owners Christopher and Heidi Mueller. Sharing a vision to jump off the corporate track and create a small, albeit perfect hotel, over the course of two years they spent their weekends driving through Italy searching for their ideal property. Ultimately Lupaia ‘‘found’’ them, and they set about building this romantic retreat with meticulous professionalism.
As inquisitive travellers, they have cherry-picked the very best in hospitality from all around the world – and they’re very clever; somehow every luxury you expect is there but it never intrudes and you’re completely entranced by the surrounding nature.
There are 12 suites full of character, in a series of stone farm buildings where goats once nestled. They are authentically rustic and supremely tasteful. Tapestry rugs soften the terracotta tiled floors. Beams in the sloped ceilings are finished in white, reflecting the Tuscan sunlight. Shutters open in all directions to views over Montepulciano and the undulating valleys. Waffle gowns, pool bags, crisp linens and lotions all go without saying. Most have delightful private gardens so that you can simply lie back and admire the view.
The stylish infinity pool spills serenely over the lip of a hill into the Montefollonico valley. Adjacent is a warm jacuzzi where you float above this heavenly scene surrounded by eye-level bushes of juniper and rosemary. Lupaia is all about slowing down to the rhythm of nature and the sensuous pleasures of Tuscany.
The chefs prepare a daily set menu in their open plan country kitchen, and dishes revolve around fresh Tuscan ingredients such as wood pigeon, porcini, truffles and the odd turbot, when in season. Vegetables come from the kitchen garden. Mulberries, plums and pomegranates drop off the trees month by month. The dining room is an extension of this country kitchen, creating a homely atmosphere, paired with white linen and excellent service.
Lupaia offers the usual Tuscan experiences, but they have a natural authenticity. During my stay, cookery classes were taking place in the kitchen, but I preferred to spend an afternoon with Lupaia’s local truffle hunter, Pierpaolo, who had that clear twinkle in his eyes from being out in nature all day. He shared his fascinating methods for selecting a hunting dog, but smiled as he admitted he can just fall in love with a puppy, no matter how useless they are at sniffing out ‘‘white gold.’’
If you can bear to tear yourself away from the serenity of Lupaia, the neighbouring town Montepulciano can be reached by e-bike in 20 minutes. Once there, you can meander through the historic, cobbled streets and pause for a taste of the prestigious Vino Nobile.
The views are famously majestic, but honestly, the views from Lupaia are better. If you’re looking for peace and beauty in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, this hilltop gem is the answer you’ve been looking for.