The only thing out of place at Le Case del Borgo is the odd ruffled and muddied patch of otherwise manicured lawn evidence of the wild boars that roam in the surrounding countryside. And what countryside: the main building at del Borgo and its satellite villas and suites enjoy the kind of olive tree-framed perspective across the Ambra valley and the idyllic, rolling hills of Chianti that if the sunrise or sunset is just so, you might shed a tear. It's so handsome, it verges on the ridiculous.

Le Case del Borgo is more of a miniature village of renovated 18th-century workmen's cottages than a hotel. Vast sums have been spent on transforming a collection of farmers' dwellings with sloped terracotta roofs into seven state-of-the-art, self-catering-optional suites and seven self-contained houses.

This is the way to rent that Tuscan villa of your dreams if you want to do away with the inevitable dodgy decor and bad plumbing. It also appends all the mod cons of the best kind of five-star hotel: room service, heated pool, a rather fantastic spa and a stylish restaurant and wine bar. It's the "flashpacking" of Tuscan villa rental.

The overall look is bright and textural. While there's a slight touch of high-street store The Pier about some of the interiors, the marble-effect paintwork and the rough, muted colour-stained walls embrace the romance of rustic imperfection. The mod cons include flat-screen TVs, grand brass bathroom fixtures and kitchens that offer three different ways to make coffee, among other hi-tech jiggery-pokery.

Each in-suite open-plan kitchen/dining room is at the heart of the Case experience. You can eat in the restaurant, which has an open fire and views out across the pool, or you can get one of the hotel's 11 "mammas", all of them local cooks, each with a speciality, to come to you with a butler and cook up a four-course meal. They start off by scenting your dining room with garlic and tomato, sweating the ingredients in olive oil on the hob, and then take you by the hand to demonstrate definitively why pasta, done this well, in Italy, is in a different league from pasta done anywhere else.

Like all the best parts of Italian life, food is a focal point of life at Le Case del Borgo, and it's pretty much as good as you'll find anywhere the length and breadth of The Boot.

The diminutive scale of del Borgo means that the attention to detail and service is excellent; it feels like a family-run property. Want to hunt pheasant? They'll organise it. If you don't, then jog around the grounds, borrow a bicycle, or get them to arrange a trip to Space, the Prada warehouse outlet 15 minutes away in Montevarchi.


Le Case del Borgo, Duddova, Arezzo, Italy (00 39 055 991 871;

Time from international airport: the hotel is one hour and 40 minutes from Pisa airport by car; the nearest main rail station is Florence's Santa Maria Novella.


Le Case is the kind of swanky hotel that offers you a choice of firm or soft pillows. The beds aren't the biggest, but they're more than adequate and the linen is top-class. Bathrooms are at the more extravagant end of the spectrum, with monsoon showers, and outdoor Jacuzzis in the gardens of some of the self-contained villas. All suites have underfloor heating and air conditioning.

Freebies: Le Case del Borgo "wine therapy" bathroom goodies are lush and come in substantial sizes that make them well worth bunging in your suitcase.

Keeping in touch: Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout, as well as a business centre.


A suite for two starts at €320 (228) per night, including breakfast.

I'm not paying that: Villas and apartments at the nearby Fattoria I Tribbi (00 39 055 99 68 77;, which is also the farm where much of the food that the Tuscan mammas prepare at Le Case del Borgo comes from, are available from around €700 (500) per week.