Woodland cottage with sea view in northern Sicily
Terre di Bea is a traditional Sicilian cottage in a secluded forest reserve in the Madonie natural park. It has recently been restored with local stone, chestnut beams and ancient clay tiles, and decorated with pieces by Sicilian artists and craftspeople. The focus is on outdoor living: there is a pool and terrace with hammock and sun loungers, an outdoor lounge, a covered outdoor kitchen and a dining area (there is an indoor kitchen and living room, too). Inside, the cute, colourful cottage has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Guests can go hiking in the park, drive 10 minutes to the beach or visit the nearby medieval town of Cefalù.
From €399 a night, sleeps five, coolstays.com
Villa with pool in southern Sicily
Casa d’Eraclea is a modern villa in a serene corner of the island. The highlight is the beautiful infinity pool overlooking the Bay of Eraclea (the sandy beach is 500 metres away). There is a terraced garden and a decked area around the pool with sun loungers and hammocks. The covered veranda has a dining table and a barbecue, and there is a first-floor terrace with sweeping sea views. The villa is open-plan and has two double rooms, two singles and two bathrooms. The archaeological site of Heraclea Minoa is nearby, and the Unesco world heritage site Valley of the Temples at Agrigento is just 15 miles away.
From £2,484 for five nights, sleeps six, villatravellers.com
Villa with pool and mountain views in Sardinia
Casa Querce is in an unspoilt area of southern Sardinia, near the town of Pula and half an hour’s drive from Cagliari. One of the villa’s standout features is its extensive, beautifully kept grounds, with swimming pool, pond, lawns, rock garden, mature shrubs and trees – and mountain views. The single-storey house sleeps four and has a split-level lounge, a kitchen that opens on to the terrace, a double room with en suite, and a twin room and bathroom. There is a barbecue and a welcome pack of Sardinian wine, beer and snacks. Nearby attractions include the Roman ruins at Nora and three sandy beaches.
From £1,320 for seven nights for four sharing, sardinianplaces.co.uk
Waterfront hostel in Sardinia
MuMa, on the island of Sant’Antioco off southern Sardinia (reached by a causeway), calls itself a hostel but is really a bright budget hotel. There are 16 triple and quad rooms and 16 doubles – some with sea views. All have private bathrooms, minimalist decor and sea-themed murals by local artists. The waterfront building is shared with the Museum of the Sea and Shipwrights. Breakfast – eaten in the cafe or garden – is a big deal, with cakes, muffins and pies baked every morning, served with local jam, honey and yoghurt. Guests can explore the Santa Caterina lagoon and Sant’Antioco salt pans on foot, or hire bikes, book a canoe trip or go with a birdwatching guide.
Doubles from €59 B&B, quads from €94, mumahostel.it
Atmospheric stone-built B&B in Basilicata
La Voce del Fiume (the voice of the river) is a luxury B&B near the rushing waters of the Melandro in the medieval village of Brienza. There are six rooms and a suite, all with exposed rock walls, antique furniture and vintage prints. The suite has original beams, shutters and a bread oven, plus a terrace. Breakfast can be eaten in the garden, overlooking the valley, and includes lots of homemade and regional produce. This is a ski area in the winter, and guests can book excursions on foot or bike (with a packed lunch) and open-air massages. Caracciolo Castle is a five-minute walk away, and the B&B is right by the entrance to the Appennino Lucano-Val d’Agri-Lagonegrese national park.
Doubles from €110 B&B, lavocedelfiume.it
Romantic cottage in Puglia
Casa Rosanna is a recently restored one-bedroom cottage with plenty of outdoor space spread across garden, pool, terrace and balcony. The garden has an olive grove, sun loungers and a hammock by the pool, and the terrace and balcony each have dining tables and sea views. The cottage is light and calm, with stone floors and carved wooden furniture. The ground floor is open-plan and the bedroom and en suite shower room are upstairs. The house is in a peaceful part of the Valle d’Itria, a short drive from characterful towns Cisternino, Alberobello and Locorotondo.
From €1,208 a week, simpsontravel.com
Glamping among vineyards in Puglia
Scandi-style glampsite Nordisk Village is within the walled grounds of the historic Masseria Cuturi wine estate, near Manduria and Puglia’s Ionian coast. Six spacious cotton tents, each with a double bed and two singles, sit in a clearing in an ancient oak forest. Campers share a pool, shower block, bar and relaxation room. A breakfast of local produce is served on the terrace of the 17th-century farmhouse, overlooking the olive groves and vineyards. Guests can book guided wine tastings, foraging and cycling tours, and it is a 10-minute drive to the nearest white-sand beaches.
From €173 a night B&B for four, hostunusual.com
Mountain hut above the Amalfi coast
This stretch of coast south of Naples is among the most touristy in Italy, but only a fraction of the visitors to its towns and beaches venture into the mountains nearby. The Alta Via dei Monti Lattari is a six-day, 55-mile trek along the ridge of the Lattari mountains, with views of the coast, Vesuvius and Naples. Walkers stay in mountain huts, including Rifugio di Santa Maria dei Monti, which dates from the 1800s, has 13 beds and overlooks Amalfi, Ravello and Atrani. For a shorter walk, drive to Agerola, a half-hour walk from the hut; from Ravello or Scala it’s a 90-minute walk.
Dorm beds from €30, breakfast and dinner available, rifugiosantamaria.com. A week’s trek with Much Better Adventures (muchbetteradventures.com) from £1,086pp
Cabin with pool in Abruzzo
The Pool House is on an olive farm in hills above Pescara. As the name suggests, this dinky cabin has its own pool, with views of the rolling Maiella mountains. The open-plan space has big windows facing on to the pool, plus a woodburner and a freestanding bath. There is a shady terrace with a dining table and sun loungers. The owner, Tom, who is from Somerset and moved to Italy in the mid-1990s, produces biodynamic olive oil. Guests can help with pruning in early spring, harvesting in late October and other tasks on the farm. Tom can also suggest excellent hiking and cycling routes (there are two bikes at the cabin), and local tours and tastings. The nearest restaurant is half a mile away, and it is about 30 minutes to beaches on the Adriatic coast.
From €262 a night, sleeps four, canopyandstars.co.uk
Glamping on an organic farm in Abruzzo
The recently opened Cirelli Wine Glamping site sits in the middle of an organic, family-run farm. Two lodges, made from pine with canvas roofs, are surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Each lodge has a terrace, kitchenette and en suite shower room; both have double beds and mezzanines with one or two singles. Breakfast is brought to the door, and there is a “pay as you use” fridge with wine and snacks. Guests can take wine tours and tastings, visit a nearby nature reserve or the historic town of Atri, or drive nine miles to the coast.
From €165 a night, sleeps four, hostunusual.com
Convent turned ecoresort in Umbria
This ancient convent turned farmhouse was abandoned after the second world war, but is now an ecoresort, Il Cantico della Natura. The 17th-century stone building has been restored and furnished with antiques and Umbrian fabrics. The six rooms and six suites are named after the months of the year and inspired by the phases of rural life that characterise each month. The house is in an olive grove, surrounded by forest, overlooking Lake Trasimeno. There is a pool with panoramic views, a vaulted restaurant, a spa and a meditation trail through the gardens. It is a half-hour drive to Perugia.
Doubles from €99 B&B, ecobnb.com
Organic agriturismo in Umbria
Agriturismo Podere le Olle offers B&B accommodation in two restored country houses on a farm in Montegabbione in Umbria. There is a large garden, a swimming pool and a wood. The farm produces organic olive oil, cereals, fruit and vegetables, many of which are served at breakfast. The spacious rooms either have views over the valley or out to the garden. The owners also run cooking holidays, which include all meals with wine, lessons, truffle hunting and trips to wineries and foodie towns. It is a 40-minute drive to Orvieto.
Doubles from €79 B&B, cooking holidays from £1,079pp for five days, responsibletravel.com
Period property in southern Tuscany
This semi-detached house is in Vivo d’Orcia, a hilltop village with a castle in southern Tuscany. The house is on a private estate; it opens on to a small square and has its own garden. A walled saltwater swimming pool at the end of a path through an orchard is shared with three other holiday homes. The old house has been sensitively restored and has a farmhouse kitchen, a living room with huge fireplace and a terracotta staircase. There is a twin bedroom and bathroom downstairs, and an en suite master bedroom and a single room upstairs. It is about half a mile from the village shop, bar and trattoria, and close to the hilltop towns of Pienza, Montalcino and Montepulciano.
From €1,190 a week, sleeps five, theluxurytravelbook.italy
Country pad for a crowd, Le Marche
Il Melograno is an ideal villa for big celebrations, sleeping 28 people over three properties: the listed farmhouse sleeps 18, a cottage and a barn five each. There is a large pool, panoramic roof terrace and a patio and barbecue area with seating for everyone, and the barn also has a large function room. There are two main kitchens and two additional ones, and 10 bathrooms. The hilltop villa is 15 minutes’ drive from the nearest Adriatic beaches, and 1½ miles from restaurants and shops. The owners can also cater, on request, and arrange yoga and pilates classes.
From €4,500 a week, groupaccommodation.com
15 | Hillside agriturismo in Le Marche
Truffle hunter Paolo has restored his grandparents’ farm north of Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche, and turned it into Agriturismo Ramusè. The grounds have stepped, vine-clad terraces, an oval pool and a stream – and lots of nesting boxes for birds. It is also home to donkeys, rabbits, hens, dogs and cats. Inside, there are stone floors, original beams, an open fire and traditional furniture. Paolo cooks dinner, which might include homemade tagliatelle and truffles from the hills, and serves it on long tables outside. Ascoli Piceno is between the Sibillini mountains and the Adriatic coast. Marche is generally quieter than neighbouring Tuscany and Umbria.
Doubles from €80 B&B, sawdays.co.uk
Medieval tower house in Emilia-Romagna
Intrepid guests can escape the modern world at this 15th-century Tower House in the Apennine foothills. According to the owners, it is on the site of a Celtic village, at the foot of an ancient necropolis, and is a “magical and wild place”. The tower is reached on foot or in an off-road vehicle, and has few mod cons. There is a woodburner, an outdoor tap and composting toilet; the shower is solar-powered and lighting is by lantern. It sleeps four, and guests have sole use of the tower and garden, which is surrounded by forest. Days can be spent trekking to castles and nights star-gazing; the nearest village, Polinago, is two miles away.
From €115 a night, two-night minimum, sleeps five, towerhousegombola.it
Country house in Piedmont wine country
The elegant, 18th-century Langhe Country House, near truffle capital Alba, has been restored by its architect owner, who lives in one wing. There are six spacious guest suites in the other wing, four with fireplaces, one with a Turkish bath. Most of the furniture has been sourced from local house sales, antique shops and markets. A high-end buffet breakfast is served in a converted barn. The house is in three hectares of vines and walnut and hazel groves, and has a pool. Bike hire is included, and the house is within cycling distance of the Unesco-listed medieval village of Neive. Transfers can be arranged from Asti or Turin stations.
Doubles from €160 B&B, coolstays.com
Social enterprise castle in Trentino
Castel Pergine, an imposing sight on top of a hill in the upper Sugana valley, began as a Roman settlement, became a castle in the 13th century and was turned into a hotel by a Swiss owner in the 1950s. Today, it is owned by a not-for-profit foundation that runs it as a hotel, restaurant and cultural venue. There are 14 rooms – most conserved as they were in 1910, with wood panelling and four-poster beds – plus three tower suites, a bistro, a fine-dining restaurant and grounds with walled gardens. The castle is within walking (about an hour) or cycling distance of Lakes Caldonazzo and Levico, which have beaches, and offer watersports and thermal spas.
Doubles from £1,180 B&B for seven nights, castelpergine.i
Boutique hotel with restaurant on the Ligurian coast
Moneglia is a quiet seaside town on the Italian riviera, halfway between the popular Cinque Terre and Portofino, and about 30 miles from Genoa. Villa Edera, has been run by the same family for 60 years, has a tranquil setting in the hills, but is only a five-minute walk from the town and beach. The 21-room, adults-only hotel is in Mediterranean grounds with an olive grove, orchard and kitchen garden, and has an outdoor pool. Breakfast is eaten on suspended gazebos overlooking the pool. Its Michelin-starred restaurant serves reimagined Ligurian dishes, while a bistro offers a family-style local menu as well as wine-tasting evenings with Ligurian tapas.
Doubles from €140, inntravel.co.uk
Art nouveau hotel with spa in South Tirol
Hotel Monte Sella is in the village of San Vigilio di Marebbe, up in the Dolomites. The 40 rooms all have mountain views and some have balconies. The restaurant serves local, organic food; there is free tea and cake daily, and a free weekly lunchtime barbecue. The spa has an indoor pool with garden views, plus a sauna and steam room. The hotel is 50 metres from lifts that, outside ski season, carry walkers and bikers to the higher mountain trails. Owners Cristina and Norbert take guests on strolls around the local area to learn about the wild herbs, or on walks in the Fanes-Sennes-Braies natural park.
Doubles from €234 B&B, monte-sella.com