Escape to Tuscany:
A Spa on a Yacht,
and Plenty of Pasta
Most spas involve some lovely choices: Swedish or Thai massage? Manicure or Pilates session? At Borgo Santo Pietro, a sprawling wellness estate in Tuscany, the first decision to make is a big one: yacht or organic farm? The choices get easier after that, but not much. An Ayurvedic shirodhara (warm-oil) treatment or a microcurrent facial? Yoga alfresco or snorkeling in a lagoon?
The two locations are very different (some people choose to spend time at both—the farm is in Tuscany and the yacht, Satori, generally sails along the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre), but the level of luxury and the devotion to wellness, incredible fresh food, and clean organic beauty are the same at both.
At the farm, amble through fruit orchards, laze on a Moroccan daybed in the spa garden after an Ayurvedic facial, nuzzle one of the adorable alpacas grazing peacefully, and feast on sumptuously tossed-together salads and luscious pastas. (Okay, maybe squeeze in an ass-kicking yoga session, too.) At sunset, find a perch in the topiary garden, by the pool, or on one of the overstuffed sofas and enjoy a glass of Brunello di Montalcino.
If you go the yacht route, you’ll sail the Mediterranean and spend your days kayaking, wakeboarding, and free-diving as well as taking cooking classes and sailing lessons, plus of course having a few spa treatments. “For me, the real luxury of the yacht is la dolce fa niente—the sweetness of doing nothing: reading, gazing off, or snorkeling in the lagoons with no one else around,” says cofounder Jeanette Thottrup, who along with her husband, Claus, is behind the yacht and farm (the latter involved restoring a twelfth-century villa, hauling in 300,000 plants, and transforming ruins into enchanting gardens, rose-engulfed grottoes, and pastures over seven years).
The spa services at Borgo and on Satori include reflexology, holistic massages, and invigorating body scrubs as well as treatments that specifically target anxiety. One of our favorites was the Ayurvedic shirodhara, in which warm oil is streamed over your forehead and massaged into the scalp for a grounding effect. The facials are next-level, totally customized, and high-tech (there’s something called electroporification that’s designed to infuse nutrients and vitamins into skin as it lifts, smooths, and tightens with microcurrent).
Many of the treatments incorporate Borgo’s own Seed to Skin product line, which is bottled in a lab on the premises and made with deeply nourishing, detoxifying blends of pre- and probiotics, algae, thermal water, and honey and sheep’s milk sourced from the farm. On beautiful days, you can have your facial or massage outside in the gardens overhung with blooms or on the yacht’s deck, which is as amazing as it sounds.
Much of the food at Borgo and on Satori is grown on the farm—and it is incredible. The farm’s 300-plus sheep are responsible for the artisanal cheeses and creamy yogurt on the property. And Borgo also cultivates more than 200 species of vegetables, 50 different aromatic herbs, and fruits including quince, cherries, peaches, and watermelons. Its first wine vintage will be ready in 2022.
“Our chefs create the menu from the ingredients around us,” explains Jeanette. “Guests can see what we grow and then eat it.” They can also hone their skills at Borgo Cooking School, eat at the Michelin-starred restaurant Meo Modo, or relax at the more laid-back Trattoria sull’Albero, an airy, tree-house-esque spot built around a venerable oak. The Tuscan tomato and bread soup and the tortelli pasta filled with ricotta, butter, and sage are particularly sublime.
The villa rooms, casas, and suites are uniformly spectacular, with fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, French doors, claw-foot tubs, private saltwater pools, rustic porticos for reading/lingering over bottles of wine in the moonlight, walk-in wardrobes, and immense beds piled extravagantly with pillows. And while the staterooms on Satori might be slightly cozier, small they are not: The master suite looks like a penthouse apartment and accommodates up to ten, and the other four guest rooms are airy and modern. Either way, it’s one of the most luxurious ways to relax on land or sea.
To book: borgosantopietro.com
What to Pack
This is a vacation! In Italy! The easiest look is low-key elegance and gleamy skin. (Check out “The Italian-Girl Beauty Formula” for more ideas on what to pack.)
Active Botanical Serum
Active Treatment Essence
SEXY CHEEK AND LIP TINT
Baby Love Balm Lip + Cheek Tint
BELLA PRINTED SKIRT
INCREDIBLE TRAVEL-SIZE PERFUME
NOURISHING SPF CREAMS
Serum Crema SPF 20
The Organic Pharmacy
Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 30
PERFECT STRAPPY SANDALS
INSTANT HAIR RESCUE
Refresh Dry Shampoo
BATH SALTS FOR STEEPING
IN A CLAW-FOOT TUB
“The Martini” Emotional Detox Bath Soak
Worth Traveling For
While Tuscany will always be known for its wine and pasta—and with very good reason—its spas are plenty impressive in their own right. Here, a few that are moltissimo buono.
Imagine a hilltop in Tuscany—the kind with views so spectacular that UNESCO deemed it a World Heritage Site, the kind with charming centuries-old buildings, the kind you dream about in the movie version of your trip. And while we’re indulging this fantasy, let’s add that the interiors have giant bathtubs, high thread counts, and the kind of preternatural beauty that could be its own coffee-table book. This hilltop exists. It’s a hamlet of a town called Castiglioncello del Trinoro. Population: sixteen, give or take. And virtually every building in this hamlet comprises Monteverdi, a boutique hotel slash spa slash wine bar slash world-class restaurant. The place is so spectacular that we quickly run out of superlatives. But know this: The spa—which includes an underground heated pool based on ancient Roman baths, a sensory shower, a cold plunge pool, a heated room with treatments inspired by a hammam, and outdoor travertine soaking tubs with views of all the valley—will make you feel like Emperor Augustus.
The Val d’Orcia is what most of us think of when we think of Tuscany: The rolling hills and the haystacks and the uncannily golden light and the cypress-lined everything—those are the calling card of this valley. Underneath all of the rolling hills of the Val d’Orcia is thermal spring water. And that thermal water has amazing healing powers if you believe the locals—or the ancients, for that matter (the area was once populated by the Etruscans, and later Romans). Fonteverde has created ample ways to take advantage of all that body- and mind-nourishing water: hot springs, thermal pools, waterfalls, hydrojet treatments, the works. Oh, did we mention? You’re in Tuscany.
Hotel Adler Thermae Bagno Vignoni
Set aside the fact that it’s conveniently located somewhere between Rome and Florence. And that it boasts some of the most jaw-dropping panoramic views of the Val d’Orcia and Monte Amiata (an inactive volcano). And that it’s a mere stone’s throw from the best wine on the planet (hi, Montalcino!). You’ll fall in love with the Adler if only for its next-level Ayurvedic spa—where thermal-bath treatments are the name of the game, tailorable massages are the zuppa du jour, and private wellness consultations with on-demand Indian doctors are the stock-in-trade. Don’t misunderstand—we love great wine. But sometimes you need a sweat in a Finnish sauna, a dip in a travertine grotto, a steam in an herbal caldarium, or a soak in a Turkish bath to take you from rested to reinvigorated.