The Big Six: Chic retreats in Italy


Villa Armena, Tuscany

Cypress trees and twisting olive groves lead up to this 16th-century Tuscan house turned 10-room hotel. Opened in April near the cultural charms of Siena, it offers a modern take on old Italian opulence with walnut chests, marble tables and draped fabrics – all lifted by polished, modern bathrooms. The restaurant serves local delicacies such as white truffles and wild boar, with vegetables from the gardens. The wine cellar stocks brunello and chianti.

Villa Armena, Buonconvento, Tuscany (00 39 057 78 08 433; Doubles from €295, B&B.

Casa Orlandi, Tuscany

In the commune of Prato – just north of Florence – architect Sabrina Bignami has turned an 18th-century palazzo into a stunning home, with just one double upstairs that she rents out to guests. The main house marries faded frescos and chandeliers with modern furniture, while those sleeping in La Camera Rosa will step into a fuchsia scene with chubby cherubs painted overhead. Creative guests can also share Sabrina's studio space.

Casa Orlandi, Via Giozzelmi 9, Prato, Tuscany (Reservations by email: The Pink Double room from €150, B&B.


Borgo Egnazia, Puglia

This five-star, food lovers' favourite is in located between Bari and Brindisi. Modelled on a traditional Puglian borgo (village), it opened last year with a cluster of creamy white villas and suites, joined by cobbled streets, a church and a piazza. Gourmets can enjoy four restaurants, while golfers can drive the fairways of the adjoining San Domenico Golf course. The glittering waters of the Adriatic are accessible via the resort's beach club.

Borgo Egnazia, Savelletri di Fasano, Brindisi, Puglia (00 39 080 22 55 000; Doubles start from €220, including breakfast.


Monastero Santa Rosa, Campania

This 17th-century monastery stands in serene seclusion on the Amalfi Coast close to the romantic hill-top towns of Ravello and Positano. Opened as a hotel in May, it has 20 rooms – each with views of the Bay of Salerno, breezy white-and-blue hues and a dash of dark-wood furniture. Go underground to the cavernous spa; peer down from the precariously perched infinity pool, or sample creamy buffalo mozzarella at the restaurant.

Monastero Santa Rosa, Via Roma 2, Conca dei Marini, Salerno, Campania (00 39 089 83 21 199; Doubles from €375, B&B.


Atelier Sul Mare, Sicily

If it's an authentic slice of Sicily you're after, then Atelier Sul Mare probably isn't for you. Each eccentric room here was designed by a different artist. There's the "Energy" room, complete with lashings of red neon and lacquered, geometric furniture; the dark and mysterious "Tower of Sigismondo", designed by Chilean film director Raúl Ruiz; or the dreamlike deep-blue "Lunaria" room, themed around the work of author Vincenzo Consolo.

Atelier Sul Mare, Cesare Battisti 4, Castel di Tusa, Messina, Sicily (00 39 092 13 34 295; Doubles from €70, including breakfast.


Petrella Guidi, Emilia-Romagna

The stone hamlet of Petrella Guidi dates back to 1225, when its medieval tower and castle emerged from the resplendent countryside near Rimini. Today, it still has sweeping views of the Valmarecchia valley, but now also has four self-contained suites. Some have exposed stone walls and leather chairs; others feature sheepskin rugs and artwork by Antonio Saliola. Modern touches include iPod docks and Bose speakers, an on-site barbecue, pool and spa.

Petrella Guidi, Sant'Agata Feltria, Rimini (00 39 0541 92 98 61; Suites from €1,200, room only.