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A sustainable holiday in Tuscany

Ellen Tout finds tranquility, sustainable food and beautiful landscapes in Tuscany

by Ellen Tout

Toes hovering above the ground, I gingerly lift one foot and then the other onto the pedals of the e-bike. I haven’t cycled since childhood, but with the rolling Tuscan hills beckoning, here’s to hoping you really never do forget.

Formerly a Medieval farming village, Toscana Resort Castelfalfi is an oasis of over 2,000 hectares of sustainably managed land. Gripping the handles of the bike, I meander along the cobbled streets, through ancient olive groves and vineyards. As my confidence grows, I whiz down the undulating hills, passing restored cottages and fields of sunflowers; and taking a break to taste the sweet tomatoes and aromatic herbs grown in the estate’s organic gardens.

That lunchtime, the estate’s head chef teaches me to prepare a traditional caponata – a sweet dish made with pine nuts and vegetables sourced that morning from the allotment. Following his technique, I carefully chop the produce and can’t help but blush when he exclaims that I have excellent knife skills. High praise indeed!

From every point on the estate, its namesake castle is visible. Towering over the landscape, in 2002 its basement was used as the set of the Pinocchio movie. Beautifully restored, it now houses a restaurant and terrace where that evening I enjoy aperitifs. Somewhat of an art form to the locals, we start with olives, bread and oil – all produced onsite, followed by delicious reimaginings of Italian dishes.

There is also art here in the truffles. The next day I join a local truffle hunter and his dog Bianca on a walk. In the woods, the dog happily runs and plays, snuffling through the leaves and mud as she goes. Abruptly, she stops and begins to bark. We run over and the hunter digs down to find our first truffle. I’m amazed by the way the hunter and hound work in sync with each other.

After a yoga class, quiet walks and time spent reading in the sun, I head home from my short break feeling refreshed and – my confidence on two wheels restored – keen to get back on my bike.

More information:

Rates at Il Castelfalfi, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, start from £277 per room per night. For further information or to book visit castelfalfi.com

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