The wild boar is fresh and the cheese is rich. Truffles and mushrooms and chestnuts abound. Even in the cool temperatures of winter, when the rainy days are not uncommon, Tuscany comes alive with bright colors that put every other winter destination to shame. And, when the tourists all but disappear between the ancient cities of Florence, Pisa, Lucca and Siena – it’s then that locals come out of the woodwork, unhindered by throngs of wine-hungry crowds and restaurants serve up the season’s finest ragùs.
The star of that meaty pasta sauce is the wild boar, or il cinghiale, as its known locally. Hunting season is between November and January throughout Tuscany, and locals take this season very seriously, especially when it comes to wild boar who wreak havoc on wine and other crops before harvest time is through. As an animal that is known for eating pretty much anything, the boar has few natural predators anymore, which means that Tuscans have no qualms about making sport of taking them down and cooking them up. Birds and rabbit are also hunted at this time of year.
Via di Mezzo, Castiglioncello del Trinoro, 53047 Sarteano
Hotel Monteverdi is a haven on a hilltop. Its three buildings maintain their original 12th century authenticity, while the interiors (including each artistically adorned guestroom) blend modern sophistication and ancient charm. Almost exactly halfway between Rome and Florence, this may be one of the best small luxury hotels of the world. (rooms from 375 €)
Hunting is a region-wide tradition that doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. For travelers who are lucky enough to plan a winter visit to Tuscany, hunting is a distinct possibility, complete with traditional dress, dogs and a final feast to celebrate the hunt. And for those who opt out of the hunting and want to move straight to the eating, winter is when the dishes of the region come to life. Tuscans eat what’s in season, which means you won’t be disappointed.
Conti di San Bonifacio Wine Resort
Localita’ Casteani 1, 58023 Ribolla
Built in the traditional Tuscan style, this luxury boutique hotel and its authenticity are steeped in 1,000 years of history, with roots in the Counts of San Bonifacio – a group who later were depicted as the warring subjects of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The hotel encapsulates a true Tuscan getaway with breathtaking landscapes and the quiet charm of tradition married with the ease and comfort of modern amenities. (rooms from 240 €)
But vegans beware: while the rich late harvest olives, truffles and mushrooms do make their way into Tuscany’s hearty dishes, in the winter, the cuisine caters to meat lovers. Cinghiale, of course, is available in abundance and makes the perfect ragù. And pecorino is even said to be creamier this time of year, since sheep are munching on green pastures. Whether you’re hunting wild boar, truffles or simply great wine, Tuscany in the winter is a paradise for travelers looking to avoid crowds and understand local life at its purest. Though you won’t need to escape from snow during the winter months in Tuscany, you may still want to cozy up by the fire and sip a bold red or huddle around an aromatic dinner table with your travel companions once the days turn to dark.
Poggio Ai Santi
Via San Bartolo 100, 57027 San Vincenzo
Complete with three houses that separate the few number of guest rooms, this boutique hotel stands quietly above the seaside with a landscape of olive trees. As an adult-only escape, Poggio Ai Santi focuses on tranquility and comfort. (rooms from 149 €)
Although the countryside is filled with agrotourism accommodations as well as B&Bs and plenty of Italian Palazzi-Style luxury hotels (similar to the french Louis XIV kitsch), your chances are slim if you’re looking for a unique escape at a boutique hotel.
Località San Martino a Bocena 359, 52044, Cortona, Arezzo
Rustic ambiance and a warm, welcoming atmosphere make Casa Soleluna one of our top picks in the region. Located in the Tuscan countryside of Arezzo, this boutique hotel exudes natural tranquility and allows guests to become connected in many ways with the local terroir. (rooms from 80 €)
What is your favorite boutique hotel in Italy? We are curious!