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Decanter’s Dream Destination: COMO Castello Del Nero, Tuscany, Italy

Every month Decanter selects a must-visit destination for wine travellers. At this Chianti wellness resort, you can relax into spa life and enjoy the great outdoors as well as some great wines. Alicia Miller pays a visit and recommends local highlights.

When COMO Hotels and Resorts opened its first location in continental Europe in 2019, it was a notable departure. For a company known primarily for wellness-focused stays on Indian Ocean shores, a move into the Tuscan countryside – heartland of carbs, cheese and, of course, Chianti – didn’t feel especially on-brand. But COMO has managed to strike just the right balance here, creating a resort that’s feel-good in every sense of the word.

The setting is pure Tuscan idyll. A 12th-century castle overlooks rolling vineyards, sun-drenched olive groves and distant purple hills cradling cobbled ancient towns. Pin-straight cypresses flank a sculpted fountain in the grounds, and pebble-strewn walking trails weave you past crumbling farmhouses and wind-rustled grasses.

The mood is quiet, unhurried, soporific. Geographically Castello Del Nero is a million miles away from COMO’s resorts in the Maldives, Thailand and Turks and Caicos. Yet it’s a paragon for the brand’s trademark focus on wellbeing. Perhaps because when you’re somewhere this beautiful, you just can’t help but feel well.

Designed for relaxation

A Heritage Suite bedroom

The rooms – either in the medieval castle itself or its redesigned outbuildings – subscribe to the signature COMO contemporary, minimalist aesthetic. Don’t expect heavy Italian drapery or dark woods here. Instead cream and slate hues, peachy tiling and fluid furniture create a light, airy mood that allow the original features of the property to shine.

In some cases, those features are remarkable: not just beamed ceilings but frescoes that date back to when the noble Del Nero family used the castle as a personal countryside escape from nearby Florence.

Then of course, there’s the Shambhala spa – no COMO resort comes without one. Mornings begin with complimentary yoga or pilates classes in the window-lined studio, shielded from the suntrap alfresco pool by a hedge of green.

After a soothing herbal tea, you can indulge in the hydrotherapy area, or go straight into a rebalancing COMO Shambhala Massage. A 90-minute evening treatment plus a few glasses of local Chianti practically guarantees you the sleep of your life.

Food and wine

Panzanella salad with green tomatoes

Speaking of wine, despite its wellness creds, COMO isn’t about austerity. Just ask the guests draining bottle after bottle of Sangiovese rosé at lunch on the alfresco terrace… In fact, both wine and food are put front and centre here.

At Michelin-starred restaurant La Torre, chef Giovanni Luca Di Pirro plates up colourful, edible art in a monastic-minimalist dining space. The panzanella salad with raw scampi, edible flowers and sun-ripened tomato is especially memorable.

In the cellars almost directly beneath the restaurant, staff run tutored wine tastings. They can walk you through the nuances of Chianti’s sub-regions (including Barbaerino Tavarnelle, where the hotel is based). You’ll try lesser-known organic producers and, if you’d like, even crack open a bottle of the hotel’s own Chianti. It’s made with grapes harvested from the vineyards just outside your bedroom window.

Out and about

When you are ready to explore the local wine regions, the hotel can also facilitate that. Antinori, makers of the celebrated Super Tuscan Tignanello, is a 12-minute drive away from Castello Del Nero, making a cellar tour practically obligatory. Other Chianti headliners such as Castello di Ama are not much further.

Meanwhile, daily free shuttles will whisk you to Florence or Siena if you’d like to break up the tastings with wanders around some of the world’s most treasure-packed museums.

When you return from the buzz of the towns or tasting rooms, you’ll be greeted by a sunset wash above the hotel’s broad terrace and total tranquillity. For dinner, choose a cheese-smothered wood-fired pizza under the stars – or, if you are feeling COMO-style virtuous, a salad. We know which one we’d pick…

For more information visit COMO Castello Del Nero

Four nights B&B from £1,629pp with flights, transfers and UK lounge passes with Elegant Resorts.

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