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The top five ‘Italian hidden gems’ hand-picked by Chic Retreats

Lulu Townsend, founder and managing director of Chic Retreats; the website that’s passionate about boutique hotels and luxury villas, suggests her favourite selection of ‘Hidden Italian gems’.

Whether it’s for a quick weekend getaway or a lazy week in the sun, Italy has to be one of our favourite European holiday destinations. It well and truly has everything, from incredible beaches and countryside to its unbeatable cuisine, and, of course, the Italians aren’t afraid to embrace the finer things in life, as you’ll discover in our choice of these top 5 hidden gems. Each of our chosen boutique hotels in Italy has been hand-picked for its outstanding quality and charm.

Best for privacy: Asilo Masi

Asilo Masi
Asilo Masi

Asilo Masi offers a private and truly unique holiday experience in the heart of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside, nestled halfway between the charming towns of Pisa and Volterra. The owner, Countess Cristina Gotti Lega, will welcome you with exceptional hospitality to her beautiful historic house decorated in an inimitable style. There’s plenty for couples on a romantic break to enjoy, from a candlelit dinner in the garden, whipped up by the hotel’s resident chef, to sipping prosecco in the outdoor Jacuzzi and even cookery lessons focused on traditional Tuscan recipes.

Why we love it: This little gem is steeped in beauty and history, with the experience only enhanced further by the surrounding rolling countryside and range of relaxing extras on offer.


Best for romance: Hotel Villa Ducale

Hotel Villa Ducale
Hotel Villa Ducale

Hotel Villa Ducale has not only won numerous awards but also our hearts, as it enjoys one of the best locations in Taormina, in an enviable spot between the sparkling blue sea and the towering Mount Etna. It offers some of the most incredible views you’ll see in Sicily, whether you’re relaxing in the Jacuzzi in the Mediterranean garden or enjoying breakfast out on the terrace, overlooking the lush green gardens and the azure seas. There’s also a chance to enjoy watching the unforgettable sunset with some freshly mixed cocktails, served with complimentary Sicilian appetisers.

Why we love it: You simply can’t beat the views on offer here, with its prime location near Mount Etna making it the perfect spot if you’re after an exhilarating climb.


Best for relaxation: Locanda San Fantino

Locanda San Fantino
Locanda San Fantino

A charming estate found on the Tyrrhenian coast just south of Naples, within the borders of the Cilento National Park, Locando San Fantino is a completely self-sufficient and eco-friendly retreat. Boasting a backdrop of dramatic mountains, calm seas and rolling vineyards, orchards and olive groves, Locanda San Fantino is the perfect relaxation space, where animals also roam and graze freely. Nearby there are miles of coastline and riverside to explore, while there are many beautiful walks to enjoy on the estate itself, over the cliffs and through over 170 varieties of flowers and trees. If you’d rather not venture out too far, there are cooking and foraging courses held throughout the year, and Kundalini Yoga sessions are held twice a day.

Why we love it: The peacefulness of the vast estate itself offers not only relaxation but a way to rejuvenate and restore your wellbeing, while the surrounding area is as unspoilt as you can get.


Coastal magic: Casa Angelina

Casa Angelina
Casa Angelina

Situated right on the sea front of the Amalfi Coast, world-famous for its sun-kissed, sandy beaches, Casa Angelina, with its gleaming white exterior, stands out amongst the many more traditional hotels found in the area. Small, but perfect, the hotel boasts two swimming pools and pampering spa treatments as well as a Mediterranean restaurant looking out towards the glittering blue waters. Enjoying panoramic views across the coast, you’re just a stone’s throw from some of Italy’s finest beaches as well as the shops and restaurants of Positano. The award-winning restaurant has a terrace where you can watch the sun set on the shore.

Why we love it: Among the many hotels you’ll find on the Amalfi Coast, Casa Angelina stands out, not only because of its striking exterior and stunning views, but also because of its contemporary interiors, offering minimalistic furnishings and modern artworks. One of a kind.


Best for activities: Il Borro

Il Borro
Il Borro

Found in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, Il Borro is a wonderful collection of villas, farmhouses and boutique hotels suites decorated and furnished in classic Tuscan style. Owned by the Ferragamo family Il Borro promises not only exceptional service and a choice of luxury places to stay, but also an abundance of activities. Those seeking something more relaxed can enjoy a number of spa treatments, a round of golf or a dip in the infinity pool, while those after something more active or adventurous can enjoy a gym session with their own personal trainer, mountain biking, horse riding or a game of tennis. Foodies will also find Il Borro a delight, as wine tours, cooking courses and truffle hunting can all be arranged, and three restaurants can also be found on site.

Why we love it: There really is something on offer for everyone here, with a week here often not enough to appreciate this truly divine corner of Tuscany.

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