With seven generations of experience in the hotel business, the Sanoner family, who own Adler Thermae Spa & Relax Resort Tuscany in Italy, know a thing or two about running a high end luxury spa resort. The primary aim of the resort is for guests to relax, unwind and feel rejuvenated. Based on our experience, and the fact that 80 percent of their guests are habitual visitors returning two or three times a year, they do this very well.
For someone who loves spas as much as I do, Adler Spa felt like a playground of bliss. With approximately 100 treatment options aimed at pampering guests and ranging from signature Adler massages and facials, thermal water treatments unique to the region, to Ayurvedic and oriental treatments, I was initially overwhelmed by the many tempting choices. The knowledgeable staff helped me book three treatments over the phone a week before my arrival that best met my needs and interests. Based on the friendly service I received, I had high expectations of an outstanding spa experience. I was pleased with the treatments.
We arrived at the Relais Santa Croce from the Florence train station in the pouring rain. As soon as the taxi stopped at the hotel entrance, a helpful doorman took charge of our luggage and directed us up one flight of wide stairs (there was also an elevator) to reception. Once we dispensed with the check-in formalities someone showed us around the family friendly hotel and escorted us to our Junior Suite where we quickly shed our rain gear. Although we did not see much of the sun during our three night stay in the Renaissance city we enjoyed our visit, in great part, thanks to the quiet and comfort of our accommodations.
Tuscany is famous the world over for its rich history, its artistic status as the cradle of the Renaissance, its magnificent churches and palazzos filled with stunning art and its picturesque countryside of rolling hills dotted with sun-baked medieval villages. All have contributed to making this 8,880 square mile (23,000 square kilometer) triangle of land, barely the size of New Hampshire, one of travelers’ favorite places to visit in Italy, a country that is itself one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. While Tuscany’s regional capital, Florence, is said to lure close to ten million visitors a year, it is but one of six United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites in the region. The remaining five, also vastly popular destinations, are the historical centers of Siena, San Gimignano and Pienza as well as the square of the Cathedral of Pisa and the Val d’Orcia, a remote valley south of Siena.
Le Capanne was a short two-hour drive from Florence, and a world away. The magic began to unfold with the last mile of our journey, as we started up the narrow, intermittently paved country road to Camporsevoli. It meandered steeply upward, each turn revealing more spectacular views of the valley below, a rolling landscape of vineyards and olive groves punctuated by centuries-old farmhouses. Soon a discrete wooden sign announced Le Capanne; an unassuming name ( capanne is Italian for shacks) for this superb $2.5 million fieldstone villa perched on five acres (two hectares) of beautifully landscaped grounds. It turned out to be merely an allusion to the humble origins of the villa. Le Capanne was for centuries one of the many farmsteads on the 500-acre (200 hectare) hillside Camporsevoli Estate. It was only recently restored into a five-bedroom rustic beauty with an inviting country Tuscan décor and the latest comforts and conveniences, including satellite TV, WiFi and a large swimming pool. The housekeepers, Francisco and Maria, were on hand to welcome us and ensure we were happily settled in.