A relaxing massage at Adler Thermae / Photo by Federica Purcaro
In Italy, the tradition of enjoying wine and pampering the body and soul stretches back to the Etruscans and Ancient Romans. And so, it’s no surprise Italy is at the cutting edge of today’s wine and wellness movement. Exclusive wine-country resorts offer amenities like pools filled with healing thermal waters hailing from the mountains or underground volcanic springs, while others feature onsite avant-garde spas, gourmet restaurants and luxurious suites stocked with the local nectar.
Here’s your guide to the best wine and wellness resorts in the Bel Paese.
Adler Thermae Bagno Vignoni
Val d’Orcia, Tuscany
The resort is in the ancient spa town of Bagno Vignoni, long known for the healing properties of its thermal waters. Supplied by hot springs originating from nearby Monte Amiata, an extinct volcano, Adler Thermae’s thermal water is naturally 124°F when it surfaces and has to be cooled down to 98.6°F to supply the resort’s pools.
A stone’s throw from the main square of Bagno Vignoni and its large 16th-century stone bath, Adler Thermae offers luxury digs and amenities. Its indoor/outdoor thermal pool, which can be enjoyed year round, has unparalleled views of the Tuscan hills and the symbolic Rocca d’Orcia.
The onsite restaurant and outdoor bistro serves savory Tuscan dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients while the hotel’s spa has avant-garde treatments for the face, body and well-being.
Besides organized hikes and bike tours in the iconic Tuscan hills, the hotel also organizes excursions to Montalcino and Montepulciano, where visitors can try some of Italy’s greatest wines made from local grape Sangiovese. Guests can also walk up the steep path to Tenuta Sanoner, owned by the hotel’s proprietors, to sample the estate’s organic and biodynamic wines and olive oils.
Villa Neri Resort & Spa
One of the most exciting wine regions in the world, Mount Etna turns out vibrant reds made with native grapes Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio as well as racy, mineral-driven whites from indigenous variety Carricante. A visit to the smoking volcano should be on every wine lover’s bucket list.
Situated on the northern slopes of Mount Etna in the township of Linguaglossa, the Villa Neri Resort, a modern hotel made according to Sicilian architectural traditions, pushes all the right buttons for wine and wellness fans.
Owned and built in 2012 by the Neri family, fourth-generation Etna entrepreneurs and wine producers, the exclusive hotel and resort has 24 rooms, including nine suites dedicated to wine and wellness. The latter are fitted out with hot tubs, loggias and terraces facing the volcano as well as private wine cellars stocked with a selection of wines made by the proprietors and other local wineries.
Inside Mount Etna National Park, the hotel features a large salt-water swimming pool immersed in a lush garden, an inviting and intimate spa and a gourmet restaurant. Activities include walking, hiking or biking, or just relaxing and sipping on the local nectar to soothe the spirit and the palate.
Castello di Velona
In the Brunello village of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, five miles south of Montalcino, the charming Castello di Velona is an oasis of luxury. Housed in a castle originally built as a medieval fortress in the 11th century, the property boasts incredible views of the Orcia Valley, hills and surrounding vineyards.
Lovingly restored in 1997 after falling into ruin and renovated again in 2003, the resort has onsite thermal pools, gourmet restaurants and a wellness center. Sitting in the heart of Tuscan wine country, it makes the perfect base for discerning wine lovers. Some of Italy’s most lauded wineries—think top Brunello estates Biondi-Santi, Le Chiuse, Il Marroneto and Castello Banfi in Montalcino, and Vino Nobile icons Contucci, Salcheto and Dei in nearby Montepulciano—are just a short car ride away.
The resort offers numerous tasting packages that showcase top Montalcino offerings and its own small Brunello production. It also organizes local winery visits and can arrange helicopter excursions and Ferrari rentals to tour wine country in iconic Italian style.
Besides housing three restaurants, the castle’s onsite wellness center, OLISPA, specializes in phytotherapy and aromatherapy. The wide array of treatments includes massages and facials based on natural herbs, essential oils, local wine and olive oil.
About an hour’s drive from Milan, the sumptuous five-star L’Albereta relais is nestled in the rolling hills of Lombardy’s Franciacorta denomination, known for its elegant, world-class sparkling wines made in the traditional method, or metodo classic.
The resort is home to the exclusive medical wellness spa Chenot Espace, where a staff of 52 trained professionals include doctors, nutritionists and physical therapists as well as beauticians who provide tailored treatments.
Catering to wine and food lovers, L’Albereta features three onsite restaurants. Their flagship, Leone Felice, with its lovely view of Lake Iseo and a large terrace, offers typical Italian and regional dishes. At the more informal La Filiale, diners can indulge in gourmet pizzas created by Franco Pepe, one of Italy’s most famous pizzaioli, that are great to pair with the local bubbles. The Ristorante Benessere, open only to Chenot Espace guests, offers a range of recipes including all vegetal cuisine as well as dishes that cater to detox and low-calorie diets while still boasting fulfillment and flavor.
Altarocca Wine Resort
Catering to adults and children over 14 years old, Altarocca Wine Resort is about four miles outside of the stunning hilltop town of Orvieto in Umbria. The upscale resort’s 26 rooms and 10 apartments offer mesmerizing views of the nearby medieval town perched on its volcanic bluff and the rolling green countryside carpeted with vineyards.
An active winemaking farm, the estate makes organically certified wines, including the local Orvieto white, as well as organic olive oil, which are often used in many of the onsite spa treatments. The estate’s gourmet Invinum restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients and their own organic produce to be paired with offerings from their extensive wine list, while the lighter bistrot menu is ideal for lunch.
Altarocca features two outdoor swimming pools and a heated indoor pool. There are numerous options for hiking and walking, and for cycling fans, it organizes guided bike tours through the dazzling countryside for all levels.
Bormio’s Thermal Springs
Surrounded by the Alps in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region, Valtellina is celebrated for its pristine ski slopes and world-class red wines made from native grape Nebbiolo. The valley is also a spa lover’s dream, boasting some of the greatest thermal springs in Europe.
Pliny the Elder not only praised Valtellina’s wines, but the ancient Roman chronicler also lauded the naturally warm, therapeutic waters in the town of Bormio, about a half-hour drive from wine country, that have long been known for soothing muscles and benefiting the skin.