By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: Staying in a picturesque hotel overlooking the Tuscan hillside has always been one of my dreams. My sister and I are planning a girl’s trip (our first) and we would like to consider some off-the-beaten path places to stay at while we are in Italy this fall. Could you offer some suggestions please?

A: When Roberto Bettoja’s great grandfather, Maurizio was busy making wine in the Piemonte countryside during the 1870s he would often make big city retreats to Rome where he would dine. While there, he would carefully ask the Maitre D whether the eatery stocked any vintages from his region. Often times the reply was no to which Mr. Bettoja quickly replied like a good salesman that he could help solve the dilemma. And so the birth of Bettoja wines began.

This business flourished and the Italian family decided to expand itself into the hotel industry. Today, the family-owned hotel company operates the Bettoja Hotels Group, five properties across Italy, making it also the largest family-owned chain in Italy.

In Fiesole, visitors can enjoy breathtaking scenery surrounded by picturesque mountainsides that are akin to the “Under the Tuscan Sun” movie made famous by Diane Ladd. Outside Florence amid the olive groves and cypress trees, Relais Certosa offers seclusion, heavenly cuisine and decent prices to match.

The quaint property is located in a former monastery that still produces honey and wines and the 65 rooms are exquisitely decorated yielding that Old World charm so many of us crave. The property is enroute to Siena (55 minute drive) and is 15 minutes drive from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

For more details on Relais Certosa, visit them online at or email inquiries to

For more details on the Bettoja Hotels Group, visit them online at

Once you reach Rome, you might consider accommodations near the train station. Constructed in 1939 for the Expo 1942 which was cancelled due to the war, the art deco building now known as the Mediterraneo Hotel towers near the train station and has a historic restaurant in the basement.


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