World's Best Hotels >> Podere Dionora

Podere Dionora

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Anyone lucky enough to have traveled along the cypress-lined country roads—past medieval monasteries, verdant woodlands, olive groves and vine-covered hillsides—of the Val d'Orcia, in southern Tuscany, knows it's a memorable destination.

Podere Dionora is a magical hideaway located just outside historic Montepulciano, best known for its red wine: Nobile di Montepulciano. The hotel's owner, Mrs. Maria Teresa Cesarini, lovingly transformed this enchanting, old-stone farmhouse—with old-world arched doorways and windows, beamed ceilings, wooden doors, brick floors, tiled window sills and fireplaces—in the '90s. Six delightfully appointed accommodations- three in the farmhouse and three in the adjacent guest house—are individually decorated and furnished with antiques and wrought-iron headboards (some are four-poster beds).

Outside, there are manicured lawns, flower-filled pots and a lovely swimming pool adjacent to a light-filled stone greenhouse where breakfast is served overlooking a 100-acre estate that produces extra-virgin olive oil and a superior Rosso di Montepulciano Dionora DOC wine for its guests. As an idyllic, intimate vacation getaway, Podere Dionora is so appealing that families reserve the entire property time and again rather than assume the obligations of buying their own private "Under the Tuscan Sun" escapes.

On vacation, guests can walk a pathway on the estate, smell flowers, meander by the wisteria arbor, admire sunflowers and watch sheep graze. Or, Giulio, the innkeeper/manager, will give directions (or call a taxi) into Montepulciano to visit the San Biagio, its Renaissance church, shop at the Thursday market, climb the clock tower of the Palazzo Comunale, do a wine tasting at the Contucci Palace and dine at family-owned trattorias. Want a poolside dinner with a private chef? A string quartet? A visit to a local dairy? Lunch near the ancient thermal baths in nearby Bagno Vignoni? Just ask Giulio.

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