By Charmaine Hibbert
The journey from Pisa airport to the Il Pelagona Hotel & Golf Resort takes about an hour, and 2 hours if you fly into Rome. Unfortunately, there was a delay on our easyJet flight, I was looking forward to the drive through the beautiful Tuscan countryside but as the sun has already set I decided to catch up on some sleep.
James gives me a nudge as we pull off the motorway which is a short drive from the entrance to the resort. It is hard to make anything out but I do know the road has taken us through the golf course as James has his face stuck up against the window of our minibus!!
A quick check-in and our bags are whisked away to the rooms as we head up a subtly lit path to the restaurant. I am hungry and parched but the waiter couldnít be more attentive and drinks are soon on their way with some wonderful light dishes consisting of cheese and meats with some delicious bread to munch on while we decide our main courses which of course has to be pasta on our first night in Tuscany.
Itís been a long day so after dinner we head to our rooms for a good nightís rest. Itís a strange experience heading to my room after I have eaten. I normally like to freshen up after a flight before eating but we just didnít have time. The rooms turn out to not be rooms but small villas, and as I open my door I am surprised how large it is and heading out to check out the balcony I am stunned - it is big enough to play tennis on.
Unfortunately, the plastic table and chairs are slightly underwhelming but I am told the resort has just come under new ownership and these will soon be upgraded. My bed is a king size and the face dive into the fresh linen pillows tells me all I need to know and with a firm mattress I know I am going to be in for a good nightís rest.
I head to the large bathroom; it has a single vanity and a large plastic corner shower and the wooden wardrobe and cupboards in the hallway give you plenty of storage. After a good nightís sleep, I canít wait to get out on to the balcony and take in the views. I am greeted by a clear blue sky, umbrella pine trees and rolling hills and I canít get over how big this balcony is.
Heading back to into my room it is certainly very large plenty of room, there is a sofa to relax on and a desk to work at, but I think I will be spending plenty of time around the pool that I have just spotted.
I meet James and we head to the restaurant, which we are told doubles as the breakfast room. Again, the service is wonderful with tea, coffee and fresh juice being offered as we take our seats., Itís a buffet style breakfast with the usual hot and cold food, with plenty of fresh fruit and patisseries available. After several courses James is off to play golf and I am off to explore and head to the pool.
If you are looking for activities apart from the golf course at Il Pelagone, on the property they have tennis courts and offer child and adult golf lessons for beginners as well as for more experienced golfers. The resort can also arrange surf and sailing courses in nearby Follonica, day trips to neighbouring islands, hiking tours in the national park ďParco dellí UccellinaĒ, Cavallo Maremma horse centre in Marina di Grosseto, Cavallino Matto fun park in Donoratico, Follonica waterpark in Follonica and Tarot garden by Niki de Saint Phalle in Capalbio.
At this moment in time there are no spa facilities; again, something that the new owners are working on and I have heard they will be building a dedicated wellness centre, which I will certainly be looking forward to visiting once it is up and running.
The countryside around the resort looks beautiful and Ė unlike me Ė I have decided to take a bike and go exploring. Now I can feel your shock and horror at the thought of little old me undertaking some of these hills, but this beauty does have brains and my secret weapon is an electric bike. Within 5 mins I am off the beaten track heading through vineyards and along deserted paths. Fortunately, there are no obstacles or small children to manoeuvre round and with my sturdy cycle helmet and the wind whistling past my ears I feel totally free. It is a wonderful feeling and experience and one I highly recommend.
The Tuscan countryside is truly stunning and surprisingly flat in parts, making my ride along deserted roads that take me past several farms, forgotten old barns that would make wonderful homes if they were ever restored. There is still plenty of charge on my bike but I have to say I am pleased with myself as I have been doing some actual cycling on the flatter parts of my sojourn and as I make my way back to the resort I have to say I have had a wonderful day and now canít wait to have a nap and then eat!
As most of you will know I do love the nectar from the vine. If itís good enough for the gods then who am I to argue and how can you not visit a vineyard when youíre in Tuscany.
Now to be totally honest all vineyards are pretty much the same these days with stainless still tanks and automated bottling. Grape selection is the true secret to a good wine and with the fertile Tuscan land they have an abundant choice.
After the tour around the winery we sit round a large table, plates of cheese, meats, different breads and olive oil are being passed around and the first bottle appears, we are starting with the only white wine the winery produces named Vermentino, we move onto the rose Rosata and now slowly moving through the red wines Sangiovese, Monteregio Rosso, Vivoli, Atunis and Crebesco. I have to say it was a tough call between the Atunis and Crebesco, but I will leave it for you to decide between them.
I have a slightly cheeky question for our guide and ask what happens to the remaining wine and before I know it I am walking out of the tasting room with the Monteregio Rosso, Atunis and Crebesco. Well if you donít askÖ
As we arrive back at the resort and head down to the pool bar, we are served some wonderful kebabs - the perfect accompaniment for the wines and with the moonlight dancing across the pool. Itís the perfect end to a wonderful day and trip.
Il Pelagone Hotel & Golf Resort
Localitŗ il Pelagone, 28
58023 Gavorrano GR, Italy
T: +39 0566 820111