This was our third trip to Borgo Pretale, but the first in 10 years, and we wondered how it had held up. Perhaps it was a silly concern, as the buildings date from the 13th century! But it was much as we remembered it. We started to decompress on the familiar winding drive to the top of the hill through the woods---a step out of time. The car park is discreetly tucked away out of sight, but just a few yards from the hotel, and so does not interfere with the illusion that we were seeing Borgo Pretale as people have for so many centuries.
The tower room was just as we remembered it, with a big bathroom, comfortable, elegant bedroom, and an enormous living room shared by the two rooms on the tower's top floor. It offers three-sided views over the countryside, with nary a road or building in sight---just acres of fields, vineyards and woods. It is a hike up the stairs, however, so if you are faint of heart or limb, you may want to choose a lower floor or one of the cottages.
The staff were delightful, especially Davide on the desk and Sonia and Jane in the restaurant. If there has been any slippage, it's in the restaurant. Breakfast is still that peculiar Italian assortment of fruit, pastries, salami, cheese and cereals--we find that in most places. When it's warm enough, breakfast is served on the patio overlooking miles of hills, valleys and distant mountains. Lunch was not served in September, which surprised us, but was not a huge inconvenience as we were usually out and about during the day. And there's always the Jolly Cafe in Sovicille, about 15 minutes away.
Dinners were quite good, but not as exceptional as I remembered from earlier visits. One can, however, now order a la carte, rather than the half-board three full courses Borgo Pretale exclusively offered 10 years ago. (That is still available at Euros 32 per night, I think, if you let them know when booking.) As we often had pretty substantial lunches elsewhere, the option to have a lighter dinner was welcome.
The pool is beautiful and, like the car park, hidden among the trees so that it doesn't interfere with the medieval feel of this little cluster of buildings. Tennis and bacci ball courts, as well as a gym, are also available. In every direction there are fig trees, lavender, olive trees and rolling hillsides to delight the eyes. And, in the case of the fig trees, the palate.
We took day trips to the myriad hill towns in this part of Tuscany--most are within an hour's drive. Siena is just 25 minutes away, Monteriggioni a few minutes north, San Gimignano and Volterra off to the west. Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, Asciano and others are of similar distances.
Borgo Pretale offers excellent value, especially if you stay a week or more, as we did. It was not our goal to see every single sight in Tuscany, and we made no attempt to do so. Instead, we took each day as it came, infusing it with as much or little ambition as we felt after breakfast. One day we simply moved from the gardens to the pool to the living room upstairs--and read our books.
We can highly recommend this lovely hidden gem.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Borgo Pretale is a heavenly retreat in the lush green hills of Siena.34 rooms located both in the XIIc. Tower and in the lovely cottages spread in the 2h garden.Restaurant with tuscan specialities and terrace with breathtaking view over the valley. Sporting activities: Tennis court, gym with sauna, archery, trekking, mountain biking and swimming poolConference room -ideal location for team building and outdoor training.Wedding and banqueting facilities.Open seasonly from April to October ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Borgo Pretale Sovicille
- Borgo Pretale Hotel Sovicille
- Borgo Pretale Italy/Sovicille, Tuscany