A stylish inn and working farm in Tuscany

Relais Sant’Elena has 16 lovely rooms and kitchens that serve its own farm produce

The Relais Sant’Elena in Tuscany’s region
The Relais Sant’Elena in Tuscany’s region | Image: Davide Balduzzi

The Bolgheri region is a mash-up of everything that’s good about Tuscany. All the famous Tuscan signifiers are present and accounted for – cypresses and sea pines, sedate hill towns, silver-green olive groves, acres of vineyards (it’s the home of the venerable Super Tuscan reds); but unlike in  the Chianti or the Val d’Orcia, you’re never more than a few miles from the sea. I love Relais Sant’Elena (www.tenutagardini.it; from €190) because it is, similarly, a mini mash-up of all that’s appealing about Bolgheri. It’s the ongoing agriturismo project of Moira and Manoli Rossi Ciampolini, who turned a clapped-out contadino estate just outside the village of Bibbona into a stylish little inn and working farm. Its vast pool and bijou spa (converted from an old barn, the wisteria-shaded garden of which I can lounge in after a treatment) are beautifully unfussy; in its 16 lovely rooms, chintz and matelassé are deployed with admirable restraint. But best are the wildflower gardens – all rampant colour in May and June – and its excellent kitchens, full of the farm’s own products, from chianina beef to olive oil.


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