Hotel Review: Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa, Italy
Words by Kirsty McCormack
Everyone loves a long weekend in Italy, but next time you’re considering a spontaneous getaway, why not head to the charming town of Barga?
A medieval town in the province of Lucca, Barga is home to around 10,000 people and some of the most beautiful Tuscan views. And tucked away in the mountains is the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa, the perfect base for those looking to explore this beautiful part of Italy.
My visit to the five-star hotel was a wonderful weekend of food and fitness al fresco, and included a chef’s masterclass, a relaxing yoga lesson and a day of water sports along the spectacular Fiume Serchio.
But first, I was to get acquainted with my surroundings at the stunning Marriott resort. The rooms at Il Ciocco offer breathtaking views of the Serchio Valley and Apuan Alps, as well as Barga’s old town. Spacious and simplistic, all rooms come complete with crisp, white bed linen, elegant marble bathrooms, and the deluxe options include your very own private balcony.
As the name suggests, the hotel is also home to a luxury spa where you can rejuvenate your senses with an array of massage, beauty and wellness therapies.
I was lucky enough to experience one of their signature treatments, the 50-minute Herbal Pindas full body massage, which uses sweet almond and essential lavender oil with pindas, which contains Tuscan herbs soaked in warm oil. Following your treatment, you can unwind further in the spa’s relaxation rooms and enjoy a cup of green tea or even enjoy a nap.
I’d worked up quite an appetite after my trip to the spa, so it’s a good thing I spent the next few hours learning how to make my very own pasta with the hotel’s Head Chef. An unforgettable experience – that not many hotels offer – guests at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa have the chance to fully immerse themselves in Tuscan culture with this super fun activity.
Costing €170 per person, the activity includes a cooking experience based on a three-course menu proposed by the Chef, and afterwards sitting down to dinner and tasting the dishes you have prepared, along with some local wine. Guests are also given their very own chef’s hat and apron, along with a diploma and photos of the experience.
Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa have three restaurants: La Veranda, Le Salette, and Nour Lounge, so whether you’re keen for an Italian feast, or just a quick bite to eat, you’re sure to find something to tickle your tastebuds at one of these.
And when you’ve enjoyed all the pizza, pasta and fine wine that Tuscany has to offer, why not work it off with an adrenaline pumping activity at E20 Adventure? Based just a short drive away in Bagni di Lucca, E20 is a 25 year old company and the first to offer water rafting in the region. As well as rafting, they also offer a variety of activities that span the three elements of water, earth and air, including Acqua Trekking.
If you’re not afraid to depart the raft and explore the water, then I would highly recommend going Acqua Trekking. Not only is it highly amusing as you tackle the cold temperatures and nature at it’s best, but you will see some of the best views that Tuscany has to offer, as well as the most crystal clear, blue waters. Prices start at €40.00 per person and you’re sure to finish the trek feeling a little damp, but with the biggest smile on your face.
And if you find yourself feeling peckish again (who doesn’t when in Italy?!) then Agriturismo Pian di Fiume is the perfect place to pop to for lunch. Located in the centre of the medieval village, the restaurant certainly feels rustic with it’s exposed stone walls, wooden tables and cosy fireplace.
The traditional Tuscan cuisines served here is not only delicious, but also very affordable with a large bowl of pasta costing just €7. And to top it off, there’s the option to accompany your meal with local wines from the hills of Lucca.
But if that’s not enough for vino lovers, then I highly recommend taking a trip to the Podere Concori vineyard, which is also a short drive away from the hotel. Here you can learn all there is to know about this biodynamic vineyard and the exact process that occurs in order to make a tasty bottle of red or white wine. We were lucky enough to enjoy a wine tasting session alongside a delicious lunch, which included a bowl of homemade pasta and tasty Italian bread.
And what better way to relax back at the hotel after an afternoon of eating and drinking? A nap by the swimming pool, of course. Il Ciocco’s outdoor space boasts a large terrace where guests can sunbathe and take a dip whilst overlooking the pristine Serchio Valley, also a perfect spot to grab that Instagram-worthy holiday snap.
So whether you’re stopping by for a spot of lunch al fresco, or keen to enjoy a long weekend in this stunning part of Italy, the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa has something for everyone and is sure to make your visit to Toscana an unforgettable one.
Rates at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa start at £250 per night.
Address: Via Giovanni Pascoli, 55051 Castelvecchio Pascoli LU, Italy
Phone: +39 0583 7691