September 21 2011
The village of Capalbio, in Tuscany’s coastal Maremma region, has long been one of the summer resorts of choice of the Roman intelligentsia (is that senator and former Rome mayor Francesco Rutelli on that sun lounger? Chances are, yes it is). This season, two new arrivals have been well received by locals but may also have the knock-on effect of attracting discerning travellers and gastronomes from much further afield. On the lovely cypress-lined avenue into the medieval centre of town is Locanda Rossa (www.locandarossa.com, from €220), a rigorously chic country inn set amid acres of olives, which had its first season last summer (pictured: the pool, and a junior suite).
The avvocational folly of the wife of a Roman financier, the Locanda is all Indian block-cotton prints and linen slipcovers, Taschen coffee-table tomes in the living room and open-air tende by the pool. Those of a friend-making disposition, take note: the clientele, being in significant part made up of the aforementioned Roman power elite, hardly qualifies as warm and fuzzy, and non-Italians seem to be afforded special reserves of intimidation. But making up for this is the Locanda’s selection of apartments and villas, including The Suite (from €220 a night), an utterly charming one-bedroom cottage with a large garden, outdoor dining area, and a gorgeous kitchen-living room boasting all the mod cons. It’s perfect for two, very private.
Crucially for the social animals of the Italian summer, Locanda Rossa reserves a clutch of ombrelloni and sunbeds at Capalbio’s two most exclusive bagni, or beach clubs – Ultima Spiaggia (where people-watching and networking are elevated to high sport), and the slightly calmer and more discreet La Dogana.
As of April of this year, the latter is home to the excellent Rosso e Vino alla Dogana (+39056-489 0344, dinner for two €75), the new seaside outpost of one of southern Tuscany’s most venerated restaurants, whose owner, Andrea Marchionni, happens to be partnered in life and work with the winemaker Elisabetta Geppetti, of Fattoria Le Pupille fame. This makes for an excellent two- or three-hour lunch at one of the rusted-iron tables, set on bleached pine planks layered with Moroccan kilim, white muslin curtains tied back for a view of the goings-on on the sand and, beyond, the blue Tyrrhenian.