The art of the luxury villa break at Il Cortile Pratolino

Jan 01, 2015 Written by: Liam Feltham for
Glass magazine
Il Cortile Pratolino

In our day and age, it feels harder and harder to really take a break, to retreat from one's grindstone, to - well - truly holiday. If it's retreating you are after, it doesn't get much

more felicitous than a sprawling, remote villa nuzzled into the rolling and seemingly endless countryside that Tuscany flaunts. The untouched landscape of Tuscany happens to cover 23,000 square kilometers of central Italy all in all, which is just about enough to allow one to go off the map but not too much that you feel out of reach from the region's capital - Florence , the birthplace of high culture. Don't let yourself get swept up in all the pomp that is the consecrated land of the Italian Renaissance, however. Our trip to the Chianti area - yes, as in Chianti wine - introduced to us a land of leisure where the locals know more than a thing or two about quality of life and how to kick up one's feet.

Our homely home during Glass's time in Tuscany, Cortile Pratolino, an impressive nook-and-cranny laden 18th century farmhouse turned villa able to accommodate up tb 15, is one of the most recent properties to be restored by the Tuscany Now private villa rental group. Founded in 1990 with a portfolio of just one house, the rise of the private villa in Tuscany has to date been somewhat staggering, with the group now acting as a portal to over I 50 prime vacation properties across Tuscany. It's no shock then that they've decided to re-launch as Tuscany Now & More in 2016, and we say the more the merrier.

Nevertheless, not to beat around the Tuscan fig bush, to really take advantage of the wealth of services Tuscany Now offers, don't fly solo. Whilst they are exceptional in their range, they don't exactly stake claim to any proper ties you could conceivably visit on a jaunt by yourself, unless you're just plain greedy when it comes to surface area, that is. Instead, the villas flourish in their focus on being a communal holiday hub, catering for large families and substantial parties of friends. Naturally, when it comes to the classic self-catering setup there is a certain element of being self-sufficient, though at our villa this felt like a minor ask considering the services you have at your disposal. This includes, but is by no means limited to, a maid who pops up three times a week, a chef service and sourcing of local produce, babysitters, horseback riding, numerous vineyard tours with wine, cheese and you­ name-it tasting, yoga lessons, personal trainer, masseuse and even history of art lessons, all in villa. A blissful stay tone of Now Tuscany's properties can be as rambunctiously regimented or as sun­ drenched and lax as you please, it really is a home away from home, albeit an idealised one if ever there was.

As for Glass's experience, our in-villa chef filled us up with light pastas and courgette flower salads la Toscana way, and the courses just kept on coming. If you don't fancy eating in, though, there are many a tempting option, and only a stone's throw across theMediterranean meadows that cradle the villa. Local fine dining establishments like Ristorante di Badia a Coltibuono and II Canto di Maggio taught us about the finer and much fresher things the alfresco way of life brings, a life that we became very well adjusted to for the duration of our stay. On one of the radiant mornings that followed, when the sun had risen high and soaked our villa in soothing warmth, we were greeted by Irene, our expert host who would act as Sherpa on market day in Montevarchi, the nearest town in the picture- postcard province of Arezzo. A special occasion that has remained since the Middle Ages, the Thursday markets across Tuscany offer a wide choice of products typical to the province, from olive oil to " garments, with farmers and textile merchants still making deals with a handshake as they have done for centuries. This was the taste of tradition that we, the -London­ centric city dwellers, pined for.

If you really want to withdraw from your day to da stresses and treat yourself to a feel of the more traditional, wherein life moves at a reluctant pace,succumb to seclusion in the heartland of Tuscany.

Il Cortile Pratolino

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