I'm one of those terrible TripAdvisor users - savor and treasure all the advice and reviews, and then rarely if ever make time to post my own reviews, though I know better. That, and I almost don't want everyone else to know about this amazing place, god forbid I can't come back and get my room back. But I had to make time to write about La Bandita, because praise is so richly deserved.
Briefly about me: When it comes to travel, I'm relatively spoiled and like nice things (there, I said it). It not just about how much money one is willing to spend, b/c as we all know, you can book a room at the Four Seasons and it'll be nice...but maybe that's about it. As a hardworking professional, I treasure my time off and more than anything want to end up at a place that is gorgeous and will leave a long-lasting memory, a place that you're REALLY sad to leave, that you long to come back to. Well, if the Four Seasons was a stunningly-decorated old stone house on the top of a picturesque Tuscan Hill with an infinity pool, wine cellar, and pizza oven, then JACKPOT!
This property: My partner and I spent several days here as a mid-point in our travels from Rome to Florence. Pienza was advised my many as the perfect place to park in Tuscany, so we searched for a great place to stay and found La Bandita. Honestly and truly, there are only a handful of places in all my travels that I can say this about: PERFECTION. What you've read in the other posts is true -- magical, majestic, warm, cool, sleek, inviting, stunning, delicious...vacation. You'll wish you lived here. But you don't. So the best you can do is settle in, savor it, revel in how approachable, kind, caring, and smart the owners/staff are, and realize that you can come back.
From the moment we arrived, we knew we found something special. We stared, dumbfounded, at Elena, our gorgeous host, when she welcomed us in the golden afternoon Tuscan sun with two Spritz cocktails (Prosecco, Aperol, splash of Pellegrino and an orange slice) and led us to a hilltop bench overlooking all of Tuscany. She told us to take our time and enjoy! The infinity pool and slick orange bed-loungers off to our left, neighboring stone farmhouses and grazing cows across the hills in front of us, cypress tree trails and the beautiful inn to our right...it was a sight to behold.
Over the next few days, we slept like babies. We took lingering baths, we took long showers in the oversized rain shower. We had beautiful breakfasts outside, an espresso maker at our disposal. Personal concierge service. An all-day bike trip was arranged. One afternoon, we painted with watercolors under the poolside gazebo (graciously stocked with cold drinks). One evening, we dined with some of the other guests on delicious food prepared by the resident chef, David, and then all sat around the outdoor firepit. Another evening, owner Jon Voigtman led a mouthwatering education through a tasting of Brunellos that featured a huge selection of local gems, many quite expensive and not what you'd usually see at a tasting. Oh, that was good! Jon is so smart and well-versed in Brunellos; Italian wine in general. We live in San Francisco/Bay area with constant access to Napa/Sonoma wine-country, and we learned SO much from Jon that night. Reflective of his love of wine, he keeps a large selection of curated wines sitting in the Inn's living room, available for the taking on an honor-system: just write down what you took to your room or outside by the fire, and "enjoy!"
Then, there was our other host, Simone (who happens to be Elena's boyfriend) - an amazingly gracious, kind, and energetic guy who along with Elena dispensed priceless advice when helping us plan our days and drives around Tuscany. One night, Simone led pizza night, executed through the traditional brick pizza built just outside the kitchen. He prepared the dough the morning before and the smell of yeasty rising dough filled the Inn's main floor. He fired up the oven early in the day and by early evening's purple and orange sunset -- between the perfectly risen dough, the ashes flying through the chimney, the freshly uncorked bottles of Brunello breathing, and the Spritz aperitifs in our hand -- we realized that we had a problem. We could get used to this. We don't want to leave, ever.
Turns out Simone used to run an authentic pizzeria, and really knows what he's doing (and frankly, he could/should give a class). I was in heaven: Simone was willing to teach me, and before I knew it, I was kneading, flinging Semolina and discs of yeasty dough across the farm table and ripping up chunks of fresh cheese like a pro. He taught me the art of how to use the pizza peel to perfectly deposit and snatch up the squash blossom and ricotta pie in just 60 seconds of searing, wood-burning heat. Seriously...I couldn't have booked a better, more authentic cooking lesson if I tried -- and I'm a foodie, and I tried. We were in Tuscany, after all.
I'll wrap it up, because, really, I could go on and on, as this was one of the most magical and perfect places we've ever stayed. Thank you Elena and Simone, and owners Jon Voigtman and the fabulous Ondine Cohan (who, fittingly, is a brilliant travel writer) for making our stay truly amazing. Thank you for creating this place, for sharing it, and for continuing to expand your vision (the owners just opened an amazing-looking second place in the heart of town, La Bandita Townhouse, a former ancient nunnery). We feel so lucky to have found a place we find ourselves thinking about all year, that we know we'll come back tom and recommend without reservation. Just don't take my room! :-)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Stylish 8-room country retreat in the beautiful Tuscany countryside. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- La Bandita Hotel Pienza
- La Bandita Pienza, Tuscany, Italy