There are certain places—show-stopping hotels, Award-winning restaurants or local dive bars, incomparable vintage shops—that are worth planning your whole trip around. Locanda Rossa in the Capalbio municipality on the Tuscan countryside is one of those places.
“Did you arrive yesterday?” I asked the couple by the pool, whose children had befriended my daughter. “Oh, we’re not staying here. We ate at the restaurant last night and the manager invited us back for the day, as we don’t have a pool.”
Such is the way with a hotel built on the virtue of kindness. When Lorenza Jona Celesia opened Locanda Rossa, a converted farmhouse sitting atop 21 hectares of rolling Tuscan countryside, and within a short drive of the coast, she had a mission: to create a “kind place,” a community run by local people. “So I hired all the kind people from Capalbio!” says Barbara Valleggi, the general manager since the beginning (when Locanda Rossa was run exclusively by women).
Lorenza Jona Celesia delivered on her promise. Case in point: my daughter mingled with the Italian and French children, but her best friends were Luisa, Giulia and Arian – the waiters. Her parting gift was a drawing of all three. To stay at Locanda Rossa is to be invited to the best, most intimate house party, where the hostess is generous, the guests are friendly, the house is spacious and elegant, and the vibe is relaxed-Italian.
Why it’s worth traveling for:
It’s the perfect location. Flanked by Tuscan hills and long sandy beaches, and less than a 90-minute drive from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino airport, Locanda Rossa serves up laid-back luxury without the crowds.
Locanda Rossa’s mission of kindness is in harmony with its setting. In researching the area, I found articles referring to the Maremma—the coastal area of western central Italy—as Europe’s hidden coast. I baulked at such description. Where in Europe, let alone Tuscany, is anything “hidden” in 2018? I stand corrected. The crowds head to the glitz of Cinque Terre, Sorrento, and Puglia. Long may it last.
You’ll like it here if: Your definition of luxury is space, generosity, beauty, and warmth (literally and figuratively). If you love breakfast. And wine. If you appreciate luxury without ego.
Price breakdown: From €130 per night for a standard room.
The crowd: Local. Roman. Stylish.
What to bring or wear: Swimwear by day, something fancier by night. The locals are inherently stylish without looking like they’ve tried.
Pro-tip: Drive the winding, scenic road to Monte Argentario, and stop off at the secluded cove of Mar Morto. It’s a 15-minute walk from the tiny car park, next to a tinier food van. Once at the bottom, you’ll be rewarded with a rocky beach and natural lagoons that are perfect for snorkelling.
Also, don’t skip the thermal pool at the SPA.
What else should you do around the area? Hire bikes at di Grilli Alan and cycle along La Feniglia, a stretch of pine forest where you can peel off to the left for near-empty beaches. Take a picnic among washed-up driftwood and bring something to shield from the sun, if you like. No deckchairs, no café. Just heaven. In the evening, book a table on the terrace of Ristorante La Porta for sunset views of Capalbio and beyond.