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Hotel Highlights

  • Hilltop seclusion in the stunning Tuscan countryside
  • Convivial atmosphere and homely communal dining
  • Vineyards all around – and a heck of a cellar at the hotel

Overview

La Bandita hotel in the rural Tuscan countryside is proof that is possible ditch-the-day-job and follow your wildest dreams. Owned by the former manager of Christina Aguilera, John Voigtmann, bought this hillside farm, his labour of love, and built a guesthouse remote enough for even the most high-strung to relax and feel a touch spoilt by the extensive wine cellar and John’s excellent vinyl collection.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking La Bandita with us:

A bottle of wine

Facilities

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La Bandita Hotel – Tuscany – Italy

Need To Know

Rooms

Eight, including one suite.

Check–out

12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability.

Rates

Double rooms from $396.83 (€295), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast and soft drinks.

Also

You can hop on one of La Bandita’s mountain bikes if you feel like exploring the Maremma region – and take one of the loaner hand-held GPS devices with you to ensure you find your way back.

At the hotel

Hammam, Shiatsu massage, fully fitted kitchen, library, DVD/CD selection, vast vinyl collection (the owner was a music manager). In rooms: free WiFi, Busatti textiles, organic toiletries. The suite has an iPod dock and flatscreen TV.

Our favourite rooms

No prizes for guessing what the Pig Sty Suite used to be – although now its name couldn’t be further from the reality. Opposite the main house, it offers more privacy, and an ingenious sliding wall can turn the open-plan room into a family-friendly two-bedroom suite. In the main building, the two smaller rooms offer soul-stirring sunset views, while the larger ones have sunken baths if you can’t muster the energy to stumble into the oversized shower.

Poolside

You can enjoy sweeping views of the inimitable Tuscan countryside (and its sheep) from the infinity pool or while luxuriating in the heated Jacuzzi that sits alongside.

Packing tips

Even the most cack-handed artists will be well served with a sketchbook and a box of watercolours: La Bandita’s hill overlooks rolling Tuscan farmland that’s just made to be framed. Bringing a camera would feel like cheating.

Also

Small pets are welcome at no extra charge. All rooms are non-smoking.

Children

Cribs and high chairs are free, and babysitting can be arranged for €20 an hour.

Read more

Pet‐friendly

Small pets are welcome at no extra charge.

Eco‐friendly

La Bandita is located in the Lucciola Bella Nature Reserve and is involved with its conservation activities. Almost all products used by the hotel are organic (including bathroom amenities) and locally sourced.

Food & Drink

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La Bandita Hotel – Tuscany – Italy

Hotel Restaurant

Dining here is a communal experience – meals are served sociably around one table. Chef David Mangan whips up tempting Tuscan dishes, including a to-die-for pea and Gorgonzola risotto. Private dinners can be arranged by appointment; La Bandita has a full kitchen so you can also implement your own culinary grand designs.

Hotel Bar

There's a fully stocked honesty bar on offer, and John has an extensive wine cellar ripe for the plunder.

Last orders

A private meal can be prepared for you by the chef at any time, by arrangement.

Room service

John, the owner, can arrange grocery deliveries; and other requests can usually be met if he's given sufficient notice.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Forget Armani and Versace; this part of Italy is a land of floaty kaftans and Havaianas.

Top table

By night, sit by the pool under a stretch of stars, and get to know your fellow guests; for breakfast, perch on the hilltop and watch the local shepherd bring in his flock.

Local Guide

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La Bandita Hotel – Tuscany – Italy
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

The area between Montalcino and Montepulciano is renowned for its wine, and only the most philistine palate should miss out on a visit to one of the many vineyards. Poggio Antico in Montalcino runs tasting sessions in English and also boasts a great formal restaurant – book a sampling session in the morning and follow it with a lingering lunch (+39 057 784 8044). Valdipiatta, in Montepulciano, is set on a beautiful hillside and produces some delicious Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (+39 057 875 7930).

If your tastes lean more towards shops than grapes, there are plenty designer outlets dotted around the region. Prada in Montevarchi offers discounts of up to 70 per cent (+39 055 91901) – go early in the day to snare the best bargains. The Mall in Regello is home to most designers, including McQueen, Balenciaga, Armani, Yohji Yamamoto and Stella McCartney. Call ahead for opening hours (+39 055 865 7775). 

Admire the magnificent San Antimo abbey in Montalcino, a still-functioning 12th-century Cistercian monastry, and listen to the soothing sounds of the monks singing at vespers (7pm). The Bagno Vignoni is home to natural hot springs and historic Roman baths – you can book treatments at Hotel Adler Thermae in Siena (+39 057 788 9000).

Local restaurants

Authentic Tuscan eateries abound in this region. The best of the bunch is Latte di Luna (+39 057 874 8606), a trattoria on the main street in Pienza that serves pici al Ragu  (spaghetti in wild boar sauce) worth making pilgrimages for – check out the photos of celebs who've done just that. Il Rosellino is an elegant couple-run eaterie with a great wine selection (+39 057 874 9064). Humbler, but no less flavoursome, is the fare at Buca delle Fate, where locals come in droves to savour the steak (+39 057 874 8272). Further afield, built into the village walls of Monticello, you'll find a warm welcome and a delightful menu at La Porta – the view from the terrace encompasses the entire valley (+39 057 875 5163). In Montepulciano, La Logge delle Vignole is modern and intimate and promises excellent service (+39 057 8717 7290), and La Grotta, in front of the towering San Biagio Church, boasts the most formal dining in the region (+39 057 875 7479).

Local bars

A two-minute walk down the Via Ricci from Montepulciano's main town square, Locanda San Francesco is a sweet little hostelry that opens late and offers a huge range of wines (+39 057 875 8725).

Local cafés

Sette di Vino in Pienza is well worth a lunch stop, as it serves a delectable selection of salads and soups, as well as a wide choice of the regional specialty, Pecorino cheese (+39 057 874 095).

+ Enlarge
Sheep-lined cypress hill

La Bandita

Localita Lucciola Bella, Pienza, Siena, Tuscany, 53026

An hour's drive from Siena in the heart of Tuscany, La Bandita's a rural retreat surrounded by undulating hills and sheep-grazing grounds, just 10 minutes from the Unesco World Heritage village of Pienza.

Planes

Perugia, a 90-minute drive away, is the closest airport, with regular flights to London Stansted, Brussels and domestic destinations. Rome’s two airports, Fiumicino and Ciampino, are a two-hour drive away, and is the better choice for flights to major UK airports and international destinations.

Trains

The nearest station, Chiusi Scalo, serves trains to Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice. From here, it's a 40-minute drive to the hotel; you can rent a car at the Avis office near the station. For information on train times, see Trenitalia.

Automobiles

La Bandita is only 20 minutes off the A1, Italy’s main North-South motorway connecting Rome to Florence. Take the Chiancino exit; from here, it’s largely signposted. Follow signs for S2 Cassia until you pass villa La Foce, then turn right after two kilometres and drive carefully down La Bandita’s three-kilometres dirt road. Several other important towns on the Grand Tour trail are within easy driving distance: Montepulciano (25 minutes); Arezzo and Cortona (one hour); Perugia and Florence (an hour and a half); and Pisa (two and a half hours).

Reviews

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La Bandita Hotel – Tuscany – Italy

Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

Can this really be it, we wonder, as we bump along a winding dirt track in the dead of the Tuscany night. And then, like the treasure at the end of the tunnel, La Bandita hits us: a silent monolith haloed by a tinsel tiara of lights on the horizon. Previously Christina Aguilera’s manager, John Voigtmann moved to World Heritage site Val d’Orcia to live the dream and open La Bandita …
Read more

La Bandita

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

Can this really be it, we wonder, as we bump along a winding dirt track in the dead of the Tuscany night. And then, like the treasure at the end of the tunnel, La Bandita hits us: a silent monolith haloed by a tinsel tiara of lights on the horizon.

Previously Christina Aguilera’s manager, John Voigtmann moved to World Heritage site Val d’Orcia to live the dream and open La Bandita with his wife Ondine, who works for Condé Nast Traveler. The pair worked with Richard Rogers’ bloodline to turn this derelict farmhouse into a luxurious Tuscan boutique hotel, incorporating terracotta from Impruneta, marble from Bagno Vignoni and linens from Busatti, in the nueva rustica style.

The chef has been cooking up a storm in the kitchen. There has been one of La Bandita’s signature banquets, and the elegantly wasted scene sets the tone: more like the open house party of long-lost friends (who just happen to be a rock star and supermodel) than the pomp and rigour of a five-star abode. The modern rustic design, with its gigantic beanbags and soothing interiors is as welcoming as the magnanimous approach, which extends to mountain bikes, cappuccinos and soft drinks on the house (plus, John mentions, he usually forgets to charge for the bottles of wine drawn from his cellar). Ondine serves us an exemplary three-course supper in the garden: cosseted by the stretching white canopy and twinkling stars, it’s immediately evident why the world’s style magazines hyped this hip bolthole to the hilt.

In our room, shadows stretch over the 17th-century Renaissance friezes and the freestanding four-poster beckons masterfully, the seductive centrepiece to the calming, minimalist schema and muted colours, and the rest... Well, that isn’t for us to share here.

I love arriving by nightfall and waking to be presented with a transformation – sunlight streaming through the shutters, a ‘breakfast in bed’ tray of wholesome delights waiting outside our door and an endless view of rolling Tuscan hills, cedar-lined roads and stone villages. The expansive grounds, set up high in a 2,000 acre nature reserve, could have been plucked straight from a compendium of ‘archetypal vistas to blow your mind’. The panorama is so epic you think you have seen it in your dreams – but it was on the big screen – La Bandita’s backdrop was the setting for The English Patient and Gladiator.

With only eight double rooms, the hotel is intimate and gloriously private. The rooms are large, light and airy while locally commissioned bold colour walls feature 300-year-old fresco painting techniques, which add a warm and welcoming texture to the sleek, minimal lines and contemporary edge.

Detached from the main building is the luxurious Pig Sty suite, which comes with a private kitchen and pergola, and two large shaded outdoor lounge areas that provide ample relaxation space to melt into a glass of Montepulciano while perusing a tome from the extensive library (John generously offers carte blanche on his extensive vinyl collection, too). There is also a steamy hammam in which to cleanse away your cares. But back in our room there was the freestanding, sunken bathtub and ‘party shower’ to investigate. Forgive me, but we didn’t emerge until lunchtime.

Then, under John’s advice, we head to Valdipiatta, a Montepulciano vineyard producing the magisterial Nobile di Montepulciano. The place breathes vitality as the valley stretches before us. All the tastings seem to go to Mrs Smith’s head and she manages to etch her white Nicole Farhi dress with the blue drops of our sensational claret. Or perhaps that was just a Machiavellian ploy to drag me to the feast of overdraft-inducing designer warehouses nearby – where I zone out over the bella donnas, and Mrs Smith adopts a worryingly glazed expression as she loses herself in Gucci, Prada, Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs and Luella, all discounted by up to 70 per cent.

We then make the short journey to Italy’s Pecorino-cheese capital Pienza – a Renaissance jewel designed by Pope Pius II – to Latti di Luna, where the parrot greeter caws ‘Ciao’, and we drown in aperitivi, life envy and the sinking red sunset, and finally voice the unspoken: perhaps we too could have a slice of the Tuscan idyll, living la dolce vita as outlaws from the industry in our ranch atop a hill.

The following morning we explore La Bandita’s spectacular hot tub and gigantic infinity pool – in which we feel as though we are floating above a verdant green amphitheatre of rolling valleys, chalk-cast hills, olive groves and the friendly flocks of sheep who are Val D’Orcia’s native citizens – a 360-degree snapshot of a vista that hasn’t changed much in the last two millennia.
 
For a hotel that was only opened in June 2007 after ‘one year of paperwork and one year of real work’, you can't help but be awed by John and Ondine's La Bandita – these style marauders are living a dream that, let’s face it, we’d all love to hijack. As the sun beamed over the horizon and the surrounding villages turned to the sacred ritual of lunch, we city bandits set off, and the head honchos prepared to rejuvenate their next urban cowboys.

The Guestbook

Reviews of La Bandita from Smith members

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