New York, New York
October 22, 2004
Fontelunga is no Tuscan cliché. Yes, the place waxes lyrical with a traditionally Tuscan, terracotta-pink exterior and pool with views over the olive groves. But head out back to find a modernist’s dream: slipcovered chairs; Moroccan lanterns; the clean, white lines of canvas umbrellas; and a Middle Eastern-inspired lounge area with a fireplace, billowing curtains, and fluffy pillows.
Set outside the town of Fioano, which is not particularly convenient (Cortona is a half hour away, Siena an hour, and the popular Prada and Gucci outlets about 45 minutes), this restored villa on a hill overlooking a delightful valley marries minimalist chic with old-world class in a surprisingly successful way.
The white-walled hallways, spiky gladiolas, black-and-white photos, in-room CD players, and sparkling bathrooms reminded me of Ian Schrager. But unlike many hotels boasting cutting-edge style, this one doesn’t do it at the expense of comfort.
The staff at Fontelunga simply can’t contain their love for the place—or their desire for you to love it—and, as a result, it offers a friendly, personal service that makes you feel as if they’re devoted friends rather than servants. Beyond the wildly entertaining Paolo (who runs the place), I could hardly tell the staff and guests apart. Conversation flows as freely as wine, especially at the "dinner party," a twice-weekly event involving good food, during which the villa’s guests mingle with the three affable owners. Simon, Philip, and the above-mentioned Paolo first met in London, and then each put forth their own skills in creating this magical place. Philip is the brain behind the interior design, Simon the lush landscapes. And Paolo left a career in investment banking to run Fontelunga, a position that allows him to take jogs around the olive groves and play tennis as the sun goes down.
Despite the almost too-hip surroundings, Fontelunga accomplishes the mission of a "home away from home" better than most. Little touches—like free Internet, pool bonuses like diving privileges and plenty of chairs for everyone, an "honor" bar, and spectacularly detailed driving directions to area attractions and authentic restaurants—reflect the significant thought the three founders put into every detail.
Simply put, this villa is close to perfect--perhaps the best place I've ever stayed in Tuscany.
From journal Small, Stunning Tuscan Hotels