As a hustle-and-bustle girlie with a penchant for history and architecture (and no fear of crowds), I have long been obsessed with Italy's pretty cities. Rome, Venice, Palermo, and Milan have all been checked off my bucket list in the past few years—a couple more than once because they were just that good (try a Roman fried artichoke and you'll get it). But this winter, I decided it was time to veer a little off the big-city beaten path and give Italy's most relaxed region a go: Tuscany.
Yes, the countryside was calling—or maybe just the promise of delicious vino, olive oil, and fresh air by the gallon—and I answered, with my parents, fiancé, and soon-to-be mother-in-law in tow. (Trust me, we could all stand a little R&R.) There are dozens of adorable cities in Tuscany with the rolling hills we were after, so at first we weren't sure where we wanted to post up for our four-day trip. But that problem was solved when I was introduced to one of the chicest villas I've ever laid eyes on. Allow me to introduce you to Villa Velari.
The three-bedroom, four-bathroom rental home is one of several swanky villas and apartments on The Luxury Travel Book, a booking platform with mind-bogglingly beautiful properties all over the world, from Greece to Capetown and the South of France. (If you love Selling Sunset and glam getaways, believe me when I say you could spend hours scrolling through the site and looking at the luxury real estate.) Villa Velari had the perfect amount of bedrooms for our fam, appeared to be located near some cute towns, and also just looked goddamn spectacular in the photos (that pool!!!), so it was a no-brainer. The flights were booked and we were off to live our best lives under the Tuscan sun.
Spoiler alert: I highly recommend Villa Velari—and The Luxury Travel Book, obv—for your next group getaway. And you should keep reading for the deets.
THE QUICK HITS: VILLA VELARI EDITION
Name: Villa Velari
Location: Tuscany, Italy
Cost Per Night: Starting at €815 (approx. $905)
Best For: Group getaways where fresh air is a necessity
While You’re Here, Visit: One of the *many* nearby agriturismos (like Fattoria Poggio Alloro, in San Gimignano)
One-Word Vibe Check: Dreamy
Most Iconic Photo Spot: At the edge of the pool, overlooking the olive groves
Don’t Leave Without: Hosting a ping-pong competition (winner gets first dibs on the wine)
THE FIRST IMPRESSIONS
I knew this was going to be a good stay before we even arrived, because the host we were put in touch with was so kind and accommodating it was clear we weren't in Kansas (read: the U.S.) anymore. She welcomed us to the property after opening the massive swinging gates and promptly gave us a tour. To say we were gobsmacked would be an understatement. The home itself is chic and modern while still being a classic Tuscan villa, and you could tell a very well-trained interior designer had their way with the place. There was also a little charcuterie setup and wine waiting for us in the kitchen, which was more than lovely (dare I say necessary?) after our travels.
As I mentioned, the home has three bedrooms. Two are on the main floor, while the third, the main suite, is basically in a wing of its own, complete with a swanky sitting room. Every single bedroom has an ensuite bathroom, which is clutch when you're traveling with a group (IYKYK), with a rainshower and all the toiletries you could need. The bedrooms all have large windows with fabulous views, as well, so you get a flash of stunning scenery every time you wake up or go to bed.
In addition to the bedrooms, inside you'll find a state-of-the-art kitchen (no really, it has some of the most futuristic appliances I've ever seen), a gym overlooking the backyard (did not use, but it looked nice), a cozy living room with a fireplace, a dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows, an office nook (also did not use), and more. Outside, it's hard to miss the heated pool (with floaties!), a hot tub, ping-pong and foosball tables, a fire pit, and a gorgeous herb garden. Honestly, there was so much to see and do that I almost felt a little guilty when we left that I hadn't taken full advantage of the property. But the hot tub and ping-pong table definitely got some solid use, lemme tell ya.
Because we were so busy, we didn't try the concierge service the property offers, but you should know that they can book and send a private chef, massage therapist, yoga instructor, photographer, and more straight to your door. Luxe, no?
THE FOOD AND BEV
Of course, this isn't a typical hotel, so there's no on-site restaurant. But the kitchen is so nice even Uber Eats's number-one fan might be inspired to give the stove a whirl. (Not not speaking from experience.) The host left us a bevy of beverages (alc and non-alc), snacks, and ingredients to cook with—and I'm not just talking your standard salt, pepper, and olive oil. The fridge came stocked with fresh fruits, veggies, prosciutto, cheese, and eggs, and there were drawers full of dry goods like crackers, pasta, and pastries. We made a delish spaghetti dinner on our last night and ate in the dining room at sunset, and...it's a core memory.
If cooking really isn't your thing, though, you'll still be fine. There's a super cute and homey restaurant about a 20-minute walk or three-minute drive from the villa, called Borgo della Speranza. The staff is sweet, the pizza is 🔥, and the prices are great.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Villa Velari was the perfect place for me and my fam to relax, enjoy each other's company while feeling like royalty, and see what slow Tuscan living looks like (hint: it looks like a lot of empty wine bottles). It was so nice having the whole home to ourselves, and it was in an ideal location for visiting some of the most popular towns in the area, like San Gimignano, Volterra, and Montaione. (And FYI, it's only a 45-minute drive from Florence, if that's on your bucket list.)
We visited in November and it was a fab fall getaway with weather in the high 50s—meaning the hot tub got used more than the pool—but I imagine early autumn or spring would be even more beautiful. Long story short, already can't wait to go back!!!
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