24-Hour Room Service: L'Andana Massa Marittima, Italy

What do you get when Alain Ducasse falls for an empty Tuscan farmhouse? Answer: the first Italian address in the superchef-turned-entrepreneur's brand of discreet, luxurious inns - and an incentive to discover a part of Tuscany most Brits fail to reach. La Maremma is a land of nature reserves, wild beaches and the "butteri" cowboys who still round up cattle here.

L'Andana, the result of an encounter between Ducasse and the Italian magnate and wine producer Vittorio Moretti, has a place in local history as the former residence of Leopold II, the last Archduke of Tuscany.

The hotel is spread over two buildings, the Villa (Leopold's stone hunting lodge), and the Fattoria, or farmhouse, linked to it by a conservatory.

LOCATION, LOCATION

L'Andana, Tenuta la Badiola, Castiglione della Pescaia, Italy (00 39 05 64 944 800; www.andana.it). La Maremma thrived in Etruscan times and the inland hill town of Massa Marittima is a medieval gem, but its main draws are the wildlife and a largely undeveloped coast (although many prosperous Romans and Florentines have holiday homes here). The nearest town is Castiglione della Pescaia, where there is a marina, a sandy beach and an old town with castle. Close by are the wetlands of the Diaccia Botrona; further south, the Parco Naturale della Maremma or Parco dell'Uccellina.

Time from international airport: L'Andana is 145km (about 90 minutes' drive) from Pisa airport, and 184km from Rome Fiumicino. The nearest train station is Grosetto, 23km away. You need a car to appreciate the area.

COMFORTABLE?

Very. Beds are king-size, with carved bedheads. Our suite spanned one end of the Villa, with windows on three sides looking over vines, olive trees and the lagoon. A comfortable chaise-longue in the bathroom added a dash of decadence, although we liked one of the Fattoria suites with a balustraded mezzanine and mosaic Jacuzzi. Decorated by Ettore Mocchetti (editor of Italian Architectural Digest) and Stefano Dorata, all 33 suites and bedrooms have stone fireplaces, antique chests of drawers, oak floors and russet taffeta curtains. It oozes calm refinement and, while there is plenty of service, the mood is relaxed and low-key.

Keeping up the casual atmosphere, you help yourself to breakfast from the spread of cakes and breads in the old kitchen, where cookery classes are also held. Guests can eat in the Villa or, in the evening (weekends only in low season), at the smarter Trattoria Toscana, in a converted barn; both are in the hands of the chef Christophe Martin, formerly at Ducasse's Louis XV restaurant in Monaco. Local wild boar, octopus and beef all feature on the menu.

The outdoor swimming pool is to be joined by an underground spa and gym later this month, and a nine-hole golf course will open next year.

Freebies: Own-brand toiletries made by Bottega dell'Albergo and Herbarorium; fresh fruit and little cakes in the rooms.

Keeping in touch: There were three flat-screen satellite TVs in our suite, one of them in the bathroom, plus CD-DVD player, direct-dial phone and modem link.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Doubles from €325 (£232), with breakfast.

I'm not paying that: Antica Fattoria La Parrina (00 39 05 64 865 586; www.parrina.it), near Orbetello, a working farm, has doubles from €95 (£68), with breakfast.

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