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'Samson the Jack Russell was sunning himself contentedly by the door at  La Corte dei Papi when we arrived – and it wasn’t hard to see why.

A couple of miles from Cortona, this 18th century country house is just the place to recharge and  relax in idyllic Tuscan surrounds. Tucked behind a drive lined with cypress trees, it sits amid leafy gardens and courtyards. Honeymooners not surprisingly love it here, and so did we.

The setting may be a treat, but it’s food that really makes this place tick. With its silver candlesticks, murals and linen tablecloths, La Corte dei Papi’s restaurant is an elegant and intimate affair – and you’re in for some top dining. Seasonal menus major on what’s fresh and local, and the kitchen brigade are clearly keen to make their mark with an inventive take on classical Tuscan cuisine.

Bread is baked each morning and hunks of springy, herby foccaccia went down a treat with our chilled glass of prosecco. A pre-starter of cauliflower mousse topped with truffles  was followed by a pecorino cheese flan with orange sauce. After a plate of historic wild boar papardelle, we barely had room for dessert – but changed our mind when a warm roasted apple stuffed with apple ice cream arrived, begging to be devoured.  We didn’t take much persuasion to polish off the crisp Montalcino wine from the hotel’s own estate.

It’s al fresco dining around the pool in summer, when sightseeing plans can easily give way to the temptations of an afternoon lounging by the water on the gorgeous terrace or in the shade of the gazebo.  If you can tear yourself away, historic Cortona is just ten minutes away.

Rooms – some more flamboyant than others – are charm-laden and spotless with ornate Piantana lamps, baroque-style or canopied bedheads, pretty bedside furniture, painted beamed ceilings and swagged curtains. Suites have big sofas and plenty of space to chill.   

La Corte dei Papi’s owner David Papi, who has masterminded the renovation of his former family home, clearly likes looking after his guests. Even Samson does his bit, with a tail-wagging welcome for arriving guests. '

Relais La Corte dei Papi, Via la Dogana 12, 52044 Cortona (AR)

T +39 0575 614109
F +39 0575 614963

Rooms & Rates: 8 rooms and suites. 195-290 Euros

Contact: David Papi

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hotel website

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