AMONG PINE TREES AND OLIVE GROVES
In May, we spent two beautiful weeks in Liguria and Tuscany, Italy. A holiday that we had dreamed of since years back. Finally the right time came. To kick off our trip, we were looking to find an authentic Italian, and uniquely decorated boutique hotel on the countryside for some peace of mind. We were lucky, and found just that! When doing our research on where to stay, what to see, do and eat in the area, we found our first true gem - Locanda al Colle. This place had received stellar reviews, looked like a million dollars and had a beautiful hillside location in close proximity to the Appennine Mountains. Still, just a 30 minute drive from Pisa Airport.
We flew into Pisa and were picked up by a car that took us to Locanda al Colle. Our drive there was beautiful. Throughout the drive we could see the breathtaking Appennines and old, red bricked Italian houses. At the end of the journey we drove through a small peaceful town and continued up a narrow, hilly road. Finally, we were at the gates of Locanda al Calle.
This secluded location felt like a green oasis. The hotel was surrounded by colorful flowers, olive trees and beautiful sculptures. The atmosphere was stylish and peaceful. A perfect place to recharge. We got out of our cab and walked into the wonderful guest house. This is where we met Ricardo - the owner and founder of Locanda al Colle. Words cannot properly explain the warmth and charisma that Ricardo has. He welcomed us as if we were staying in his own house, not at a hotel. Ricardo made us feel at home immediately by offering us a glass of Prosecco and giving us a quick tour of his wonderful country house turned into an artist's dream. We walked up the stairs to our room - a dreamy terrace suite on the 1st floor.
OUR TERRACE SUITE
Our room was like a dream. We had a small living room, 2 beautiful bathrooms, a large bedroom full of flowers and a beautiful canopy bed. The colorscale was soul soothing and every piece of furniture and decoration in the room had been handpicked by Ricardo, who in his previous career was a designer. It was pretty clear that Ricardo had good taste. Our room also had a private terrace overlooking the Appennine mountains and the luscious landscape surrounding Locanda al Colle. The beautiful canopy bed was heavenly soft and the white roses spread a therapeuticscent. All the decor had been sourced globally by Ricardo, but the feel of the place was still very much Italian. The linens and towels felt new and very soft, just emphasizing the luxury of the place.
A DINNER WE WILL NEVER FORGET
After having packed out our suitcases we walked down to the front garden, where guests were enjoying a drink and Italian charcuterie beneath the garden’s olive trees. We ended up sitting outside for a couple of hours enjoying wine from Ricardo’s wonderful wine collection, available to all the guests, and chatting to some of the other guests visiting Locanda al Colle.
Once a week Ricardo has his unbelievably skilled house chef prepare a dinner for his guests (which you have to sign-up for in advance) and this was luckily happening on the day of our arrival. We got ready and walked entered the kitchen where the communal table had been set up. We were probably about 16 people at the dinner table - people from all around the world with different backgrounds and stories to tell. Ricardo bid us welcome and poured up the first glass of Prosecco. The house chef was cooking right in front of us and served us incredible Italian courses that we’ll never forget. We had the most amazing clam pasta (home made whole-grain pasta), unbelievable white, fresh fish, a beautiful chocolate dessert and to it - several (too many!) glasses of local high quality wine. The best part of the evening was that we got to interact with so many other guests at the table and hear about their travels and life stories. A truly unique evening that we will always remember.
MORNING SWIM AND BREAKFAST IN THE GARDEN
Locanda's beautiful garden perfectly complemented the stylish hotel interior. The lush trees and flowers created an oasis of relaxation - luxury for city dwellers like ourselves who furthest in dream about living life on the countryside. Maybe one day we'll take the leap, but until then, we can't get enough of green, fresh aired and relaxing get aways like these.
Locanda has a beautiful heated pool in the garden, so we decided to go for a swim before breakfast to work up an appetite. As Locanda is a small hotel we didn’t need to worry about the pool area being overcrowded and there weren’t any kids staying at the hotel while we were there. After a good morning swim we were ready for some breakfast. The house chef was cooking up eggs right as we came down and asked us how we wanted ours. There was a vast buffet full of fruit, homemade pastry, locally produced meats and freshly squeezed juices. We enjoyed our breakfast in the front garden overlooking the sea and mountains. The breakfast was to die for!
After breakfast we decided to go hiking in the Appennine mountains. We drove 15 minutes to the mountain village of Metato, and from there hiked up Ricardo’s favurite hiking trail. This is a must do! We hiked up a couple of hours, which eventually led to the most glorious views of the local landscape and the sea. On our way down we we stopped by the very romantic little town Metato, where Ricardo had recommended that we had lunch. After having tried all of the yummy, local pasta delicacies we headed back to Locanda al Colle.
Did we mention that Ricardo is a true fashionista and hence has the most brilliant taste? I think we did. But if you are anything like us, you don't just want to read it, but also see it. So below are some snapshots of the interior of the hotel. Beautiful, one of a kind items fill the entire hotel, and the different colors match in the most perfect, unexpected way to create that unique look and feel. Locanda al Colle is an interior and art enthusiasts dream. We were truly inspired, and hope you are too.
To conclude our review of Locanda I think the most important thing to say is that after the stay we felt relaxed. Very relaxed. Locanda had offered us a home away from home and the host and owner, Ricardo, had taken such good care of us. The food we had at Locanda al Colle was unbelievable and truly extraordinary compared to most hotels that you would normally stay at. By being up in the mountains you also felt more secluded than if you had stayed in an inner city hotel. There are nice hiking trails close to Locanda and if you have a car with you, you can drive to quite a lot of lovely towns within 1-2 hours, including the popular Cinque Terre. Our stay at Locanda al Colle was absolutely perfect and it seemed evident that the other guests staying at the hotel felt the same way. We can't wait to go back some day. Thank you Ricardo and all of the hotel staff for a magnificent stay.