A Family Vacation to the Tuscan Countryside

Writer Katy Hill got married at Villa Fontelunga, a 19th-century hotel in Italy, then returned with her kids to soak up the Tuscan sun. Would it be just as magical?

I've always adored travel, but now, as a parent, there’s nothing like being able to open my kids’ imaginations to the world around them, inspiring them to embrace diff erent cultures and live life with their eyes wide open.

Italy has held a special place in our hearts ever since my husband, Trey, surprised me with an engagement ring on a gondola in Venice. We visited Tuscany later that summer and happened upon Villa Fontelunga, a stunning boutique hotel in the quaint hamlet of Pozzo, not far from the medieval town of Cortona, of Under the Tuscan Sun fame.

When we saw the panoramic views across the countryside, we instantly fell in love and booked the entire place for our forthcoming wedding in the summer of 2004.

You go on some trips that are about forging new paths off the beaten track, then sometimes you visit a place that just feels like home, and you want to go back, time and again. For us, that place is Villa Fontelunga. Returning over a dozen years and two kids later, we loved it as much as our first time around.

One of Villa Fontelunga’s owners has a background in film set design. At first glance, the lavish interior — a blend of traditional Tuscan style and contemporary design — and stunning gardens could fill any parent with that familiar “Don’t touch that!” panic. But I’ve never encountered such luxury combined with such a relaxed atmosphere. Children and furry friends are not only catered for at Fontelunga, they’re treated as a key part of the experience. And if you feel like a night off , the staff can arrange a nanny.

The main hotel sleeps 18, but there are two additional private villas, including Villa Gallo, where we stayed. We split our time between the villa and the main hotel, where we dined alfresco on the terrace and the kids made friends at the pool. We alternated lazy days devouring homemade affogato, sipping wine from Fontelunga’s vineyards (mom and dad did, that is) and munching on olives from the hotel’s groves with busy days out exploring the region.

Read on for the best places to check out in Tuscany with your kids in tow.