Tuscany/The Veneto, Italy
Best wine destination in 2013: Tuscany.
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Stay: In Florence, the carefully restored villa Il Salviatino is an ideal pick. While summers in the bottom of the Florentine bowl can get stifling, this retreat in the hill town of Fiesole offers gardens, breezes, and a stunning pool. (The hotel offers a shuttle for the short ride into town.) Much of Il Salviatino remains from its days as a 15th-century private estate. Look for hand-restored ceilings and historic architectural elements joined with modern WiFi, sit-down rain showers, and luxurious Italian linens. In addition, Il Salviatino’s kitchen is run by Carmine Calò, a Michelin-starred chef, and guests can opt for full- or half-board meal service during their stay. Also look for Il Salviatino’s full-service spa, which is overseen by Vranges, one of Florence’s top perfume houses. Rooms start at 485 Euros, about $630 US. (Via del Salviatino, 21, Fiesole, Province of Florence, 50137; salviatino.com)
In the center of Verona, Il Salviatino’s sister hotel, Palazzo Victoria, offers many of the same amenities, including historical architectural elements—some dating to the start of the 14th century. When the hotel was created, archeologists uncovered Roman ruins—some of these are on display in the hotel’s below-ground meeting rooms. Palazzo Victoria is ideally located within the old Roman city walls and steps from the Roman Corso di Porta Borsari and Arena di Verona. It’s also close to the Via Mazzini, Verona’s swank shopping drag. (Via Adua, 37121, Verona; palazzovictoria.com)
Taste: In Tuscany, don’t miss Fattoria Vitticio, specialists in Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, and Bolgheri Rosso. Fattoria Vitticio includes a full-service agriturismo—ideally suited to vacationing families. (Fattoria Viticcio S.r.l., Via San Cresci, 12/A, Greve in Chinati, Florence; fattoriavitticio.com)
Located about one and half hours from Florence, the ancient town of Bolgheri in Liguria makes a perfect day trip for dedicated lovers of Italian wine. While in Bolgheri, visit Tenuta San Guido, the winery that is credited with giving birth to what some claim to be the best super-Tuscan, the Sassicaia. At the Tenuta San Guido estate, Marchese Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta continues the 44-year-old tradition of making elite Tuscan wines with Cabernet grapes. The Marchese is admired for bucking the vocal market to create some of the most elegant super-Tuscans around. The gorgeous estate includes a stable and cypress-lined walks. In the area, you’ll find stone structures that date back to the 8th century. (Le Capanne 27, 57022 Bolgheri, Livorno; tenutasanguido.com)