While on our road trip through Italy last summer – from South Tyrol to Bologna – we decided that we would spend at least three days in a luxury hotel. Sometimes, a vacation can become quite stressful. Especially a road trip can be quite the project that needs to be managed. In order to make sure we were pampered enough, we decided to stay at the amazing and secret escape hotel Borgo Pignano while traveling through Tuscany.
What luxury in Tuscany looks like
The Borgo Pignano is a farm estate, right near the tourist magnet Volterra and Castle San Gimignano in the provenance of Pisa.
Borgo Pignano is surrounded by grass, forest, waterfalls, small lakes and farmland. Borgo Pignano isn’t just a hotel, though, but also a real farm that puts a lot of thought into their biodynamic agriculture. Most produce from Tuscany is famous for a reason, as everybody who does business here does it mostly with a sense for the environment and sustainability.
We chose this hotel because not only did it look like a beautiful castle – with the esprit of grandeur, towering over the hills of Tuscany – but because of what we saw on the pictures. The design of the rooms – antic furniture, marble and a lot of high value aesthetics – had us fall in love with the prospect of Borgo Pignano.
With its historical walls and set at the border of a forest, the villa Borgo Pignano looks like a perfect romance escape. In fact, it is advertised to honeymooners. The 11 rooms and the 3 honeymoon suits, as well as the apartments and ateliers in the surrounding cottages will prove to be as beautiful and charming as the pictures promise. Couples and large group of friends could have a wonderful retreat here, except I later found out that there’s not a lot of privacy at the shared common rooms (i.e. at breakfast, dinner or at the pool), and many guests come with their children.
Once we figured out where we had to go – the estate can be confusing -, we were greeted with smiles – and were generously upgraded to a junior suite! This spacious and large room was beautiful.
A master and junior bedroom were separated by a shared and extra-large bathroom. The interior was traditional, and beautiful. In Italy, it can be a bit hard to find a great hotel without the typically tiled bedroom floors, so I was happy to find a cozy and carpeted bedroom. Other than a perfect taste in furniture and design, there was not much more to the room (apart from the complimentary fruit basket and a bottle of wine). Needless to say – the bed was really cozy.
Activities at Borgo Pignano
The region of Tuscany is quite known for its various activity opportunities – such as hiking, horse riding and wine tasting. Tuscany is therefore also known to be the stiffest, most pretentious region to vacation in Europe. I have to say: it’s true. And the more expensive the hotels are, the more you have to deal with wealthy people and service staff that always garnish their smiles with a little bit of salt.
So one of my favorite activities at Borgo Pignano was listening to a bunch of pretentious, American trust fund babies talk about their activities. At breakfast – a very simple ordeal of home-made cereal and some spreads, or a choice of egg dishes for at least 8 Euro per egg – they’d arrive all sweaty from their jogging routine and talk about participating in a Yoga class, then only eat two or three pieces of fruit before discarding their buffet breakfast, then reserve all of the space at the infinity pool. During the course of my stay, I found out that all of them were here for a wedding that was going to take place at Borgo Pignano. I kept asking myself if those people were having any fun at all.
To keep it short: there’s a lot of stuff to do in and around Borgo Pignano. We drove to Volterra and San Gimignano when we got a little bit bored, and we wandered around the estate and picked flowers when we had a bit more time. But mostly we just lounged around the great infinity pool. Albeit small, it’s a really beautiful setting to read and indulge in the beauty of life.
Eating out at Borgo Pignano
I understand that most hotels, luxury or not, live from their restaurant service. But Borgo Pignano is at least a 20 minute car drive from the next restaurant. Considering that, I’d expect the prices of the meals to be somewhat according to this fact. But alas, you’re in fact paying a lot of money for food here. If you’re already booking the room, you might want to pay for full boarding too. It won’t be any cheaper if you aren’t going to travel back and forth all day for lunch and dinner.
I was honestly a little bit disappointed. Fine dining is one thing, but paying 8 Euro for an egg (literally ONE hard boiled egg) at breakfast, or 6 Euro for a bottle of coke at the pool seems a bit steep to me, even for luxury hotel price standards. And yes, the restaurant dinner was great, but it wasn’t outstanding either.
I have also taken into account that the produce, the eggs and most of what is served at Borgo Pignano comes from its own sustainable farmland and the olive plantage. But while I always prefer to eat Bio, I was still grumpy.
So my verdict on that one is clear: while the pricing matches the estate’s general atmosphere and clientele, I find it awful to hold your guests hostage like that. Even on pizza night – an event centered around another, family-feeling restaurant on the terrace – we paid around 100 Euro for two people. We both had each around 3-4 slices of pizza and two drinks, and we had to wait at least 20 minutes between slices (I didn’t understand the concept of pizza night at all).
Borgo Pignano: Old-School and true to the Tuscan values
The Borgo Pignano is a perfect getaway for small families and couples who don’t want to be completely isolated (you won’t have a lot of privacy on the estate, even though it’s very large).
It’s also nothing for Berliners who want to feel like they have deserved a time-out in a posh environment. Although the service was always nice and formal, we didn’t feel a 100% at home. We’re tough cookies, though, so nothing about that bothered us much. It just left a sour aftertaste that shouldn’t have been necessary.
Would I go back to Borgo Pignano? I’d probably love to stay there with more of my own friends and not on a romantic holiday. Our mission to unwind was definitely fulfilled, though, which made it a top destination for wellness and peace of mind. So yes, I would go back on a different premise, and I would go with the right expectations of “mostly white, stiff old-school Tuscany ruling”. If you’re looking for that kind of conventional luxury, then Borgo Pignano is the right thing for you! Despite ours not feeling exactly like home, I also think the beauty of the estate makes up for most of my critic! The carefully restored estate of the 18th century, the frescos on the walls, the sophisticated interior design – everything is just so on point that it’s worth the price (literally and figuratively).
So yes, I’d recommend Borgo Pignano for a most luxurious hotel stay in Tuscany!