Tuscany rightfully gets much attention for its accessibility and broad appeal, no matter what’s on your interest list or how much is in your wallet. But truth be told, it’s also a premier destination for top-tier luxury travelers—when money is no object, sometimes a five-star hotel might be preferable to a rustic farmstay, despite the latter’s charms. Long a land beloved by VIPs and the international jet set, Tuscany is sure to win over even the most discerning travelers—seekers of luxury just need to know where to look.
The classic barometer for gourmet dining is, of course, the Michelin star. Using that as the measurement, you’ll find Tuscany’s culinary clout is close to unmatched: the 2018 edition of the Michelin guide highlights 36 starred restaurants around the region (1 three-star, 4 two-star and 31 one-star, to be specific). Maintaining its supreme reign as the region’s only three-star establishment is Florence’s Enoteca Pinchiorri, renowned for its wine list and out-of-this-world cuisine, with a kitchen managed by the legendary Annie Féolde. Also among the “cream of the crop” are the two-star spots Bracali, hidden in Ghirlanda, a humble hamlet in the Maremma; Caino, offering local fare with gourmet flair in Montemerano; Piccolo Principe in the heart of the resort town of Viareggio in the always-luxe Versilia region; and Arnolfo, creative yet rustic cuisine just a stone’s throw from Siena in Colle Val D’Elsa.
Comfort is central to most successful vacations, but Tuscany’s finest hospitality establishments take the dolce vita to a new level. International tastemaking outlets from Telegraph Travel to Conde Nast Traveler have highlighted some of the region’s most luxurious lodging options, from elegant rural retreats like Borgo Santo Pietro (near San Galgano) to downtown city digs like the posh, right-on-the-piazza JK Place in Florence.
When it comes to name brands, notoriety and status symbols, no Tuscan shopping destination quite tops the Versilia. Viareggio is home to two branches of the iconic Fiacchini boutique, which stocks exclusive pieces from international fashion labels and has outposts in Forte dei Marmi as well. Forte dei Marmi, long a key landing point for well-heeled Italians and international travelers, is even more of a luxury shopping mecca, home to all the household name fashion labels as well as more “niche” boutiques. Its Pontile is also prime territory to put on your finest purchases and take a passeggiata (stroll) after sunset.
If self-care is the only thing on your to-do list this holiday, you’re in the right place. Pamper yourself with a spa day or long stay in one of the region’s many historic spas and wellness centers, such as the Terme di Montecatini. A day in the lavish complex is not just a marathon of massages, facials, hot tub soaks and “me time”: it’s full immersion in a 600-year tradition of wellness, against an extravagant backdrop of ornate Art Nouveau architecture and Roman-era waters. The complex’s offerings go beyond just basking in luxury at the spas: they regularly play host to destination weddings and glamorous events. (Montecatini is far from the only spa town in Tuscany, however; you’ll also find unabashed, uninterrupted R&R time in spots such as San Casciano dei Bagni, Bagno Vignoni, Saturnia and others are all worth considering for a stay).