Luchino Visconti knew a spectacular set when he saw one, and in the 1960s, at the height of his film-making fame, he choose this 10th-century hilltop Tuscan estate as his country retreat. In a land of sublime views, the 360-degree prospect over the countryside between San Gimignano and Siena is unparalleled. Four years ago, the castle and the cluster of buildings around it were converted into a hotel, while the old farmhouses scattered around the surrounding vineyards, olive groves and flower meadows have been restored as luxury villas. The owners – Timbers Resorts – have done a superb job: the 50-odd bedrooms retain their original beamed ceilings, terracotta floors and exposed stonework, while antique furniture is combined with sumptuous Italian fabrics and topnotch facilities. Ristorante Tosca – which spills into the central courtyard – hits the right note with outstanding regionally inspired dishes, homemade pastas, local meats and estate-produced olive oils and wine. An Essere Spa and a lavish pool top the list of facilities in this idyllic, immaculately run hotel.