Former Sony music exec John Voigtmann (once manager of Christina Aguilera and The Strokes) gave up working with demanding A listers a few years back in order to open La Bandita, an eight-room luxury bolthole in Pienza, Tuscany, with 360-degree views of the scorched Tuscan hills. It features an infinity pool, honesty bar, canopied outdoor dining and unforgettable menu. And we can only thank our lucky stars that he decided to make that career move!
La Bandita is a remote, traditional Tuscan farmhouse (reached only by driving up a long and pothole-riddled, Cypress-lined dirt track - shhh don't tell the rental car company!) that has had an urban-chic makeover to convert it into the ultimate destination for laidback luxury, personal service and contemporary design. Formerly a derelict farm, surrounded by a postcard-perfect Tuscan landscape, complete with herds of sheep and very little civilisation, La Bandita is now truly unique in the way the British and Florentine designers collaborated to reinvent the 'rustic' aesthetic, creating an open, light-filled modern villa using beautiful, traditional materials.
The huge infinity pool is reached through a grove of olive trees, and faces west across the wide valley; the hot tub and honesty bar are close at hand to facilitate laidback quaffing aka a cheeky glass of Champoo. The covered dining pergola is the perfect setting for enjoying the many courses of local Tuscan cuisine, whipped up by the supremely talented in-house Michelin-trained chef (be sure to request the deep-fried, ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers - heavenly!). And the nearest neighbours are miles away, so late night parties and long lie-ins can both be indulged in.
Inside, the eight guest rooms have stone floors, giant mattresses, luxury Bussati linens, massive showers and indulgent skincare products. The living spaces feature huge, white, squashy sofas and the walls are lined with John's many music accolades - there's even an MTV award by the pool!
And if you can tear yourself away from the villa, the nearby sites are plentiful: visit the vineyards of Montalcino and Montepulciano for wine tasting and tours, hear sung vespers by the monks of a 10th Century abbey, take walks through wildflower fields, or get a culture fix in nearby Sienna (time it right and you can watch the Palio horse race, or visit the Duomo). Massages, yoga classes and Tuscan cooking instruction can be arranged on request (we took part in a pizza making evening, cooking our creations in the villa's own wood-fired pizza oven and washing it all down with homemade Limoncello).
Although certainly not the easiest hotel you will ever have to find, the remoteness of La Bandita is certainly a reason to go there. Get away from it all and gorge yourself on the panoramic views, local delicacies and wines, and enjoy the sense of complete tranquility that I ensure will overcome you....
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Nina Fitton, Writer, ACHICA
View all posts by Nina Fitton, Writer, ACHICA