A Round in Tuscany - A secret I feel bound to share
Think of golf and where to play and I guarantee Italy and Tuscany is not the first destination that comes into your head, but you might want to change that.
To help you with your choice see below the special promotion offer the hotel has designed to attract visitors
This is really sad because the climate is very similar to the southern half of France, the countryside is beautiful, and its history is boundless. Here you are in the depths of Medici country with its castles, mansions and historic monuments
Oh yes and it has some really fine golf courses! Last weekend I had the opportunity to stay at the Hotel UNA Poggio dei Medici with the excellent Poggio dei Medici Golf Club a pitching wedge away from the hotel main entrance. Indeed there are some suites which actually open on to the course itself.
And what a course – Opened in 1993 and designed by Alvisse Rossi Fioravanti and former well known tour player Baldovino Dassu – this is a gem, hilly but fair and in immaculate condition.
The course is reviewed in the Peugeot Golf Guide with an excellent write up and can also be found at the GolfToday website and at Golfbreaks.com and YourGolfTravel (Details see below)
Open all the year round it is a hilly course and in hot weather I think a golf cart would not be chicken and would add to the overall enjoyment. It is fair although demanding and requires some accuracy, but unlike some courses I have played in America a miss-directed shot still leaves you in play, though struggling for par.
Used on the European Ladies Tour this does not have to be a course for tigers and there are at least 3 tee positions on each hole for men and 2 for ladies. The tees, fairways and greens were in absolutely first class order. The putting surfaces some of the very best I have experienced.
All golf course architects like to show their sadistic streak and the par 5 13th at 557 metres (over 600 yards ) from the back tee is Dei Medici's. With sand traps and trees to avoid it presents a stern challenge to even the least of faint hearted golfers.
From the back tees the course measures nearly 6,500 metres , the medal tees 6,300 and from the yellow tees just over 6000 metres . The ladies back tees measure 5,600 metres and 5,300 from the forward tees. Par for the course is 72, both for men and ladies.
Whilst at the course on Sunday I met 4 English men playing, who had found the course through the Peugeot Guide. They had played 3 other courses in the area but said the Dei Medici was the best and in fact one of the best laid out and maintained courses they had played.
I have checked with both Golfbreaks.com, and YourGolfTravel – leaders in the market for golf travel. Gareth Llewellyn of YourGolfTravel says "whilst demand is significantly less than for Spain and Portugal, we feel that the destination has enormous potential for British Golfers”.
Nick Liddle of Golfbreaks.com writes "I believe Italy has a few issues contributing to a low level of interest for Italian golf breaks. The most critical is the lack of knowledge by the British public on what Italy has to offer for a golfer, it needs promotion from the hotels and from the Italian Tourist Board promoting golf as an alternative reason to travel to Italy. Also I don't think the hotels and resorts are as proactive as they might be in promoting their product to foreign markets".
Now that's a great pity because this course and hotel are real gems.
It is certainly very difficult for a country which has so many beautiful places, such a distinctive culture and flourishing markets for ‘other' holidays like city breaks and beach holidays to make a strong case for golf breaks as well. If they would, I think they might be very surprised at the positive reaction they would receive.
Italy has some fine young amateur golfers - the R & A's Amateur Champion to name only one. When I promoted the Canon U21 European Golf Championships, the Italian Golf Federation always entered a very strong contingent of both young man and girls.
The Professional, and he speaks excellent English - is married to Fiona May who won the bronze medal for Italy in the last Olympics for the long jump. I found him a first rate teacher who managed to get me chipping and striking the ball better than I have done for some time.
So if your game needs a tune up have a lesson with Gianni Iapichino he has a simple method and an ability to not only see your faults but diagnose how to improve them, if not eradicate them altogether, and to explain to you what you are doing wrong.
The hotel itself is first rate, with excellent but friendly service throughout. The food is to be eaten with enjoyment and vegetarians and other dietary requirements seemed to present no problem at all
As well as its excellent guest rooms the hotel offers a fitness centre, massage from a trained masseuse, swimming pool, conference facilities and you can even get married in a lovingly restored old Medici hunting lodge.
The hotel will meet you from Florence and Pisa and transport you to and from the hotel. – We flew Meridiana from Gatwick to Florence but Ryanair fly to Pisa and Easyjet to Bologna . Florence is nearest about 45 kms away and Pisa some 60 kms distant.
The Tuscan countryside is beautiful, and the wine of the region, Chianti, slips down with no effort at all, so all in all a resort well worth putting on your list of places to visit and play golf.
Hotel and golf course rates vary throughout the year but official green fees are 60 euros mid week and 80 at weekends. A discount of 10% is on offer for Hotel guests – a handicap of 36 is required for ladies and men to play the course. Whereas in mainland Europe one has an official handicap from your national federation, they recognise a UK or Irish golf club official handicap certificate.
To encourage golfers how about this special promotion to stay in one of Europe's finest hotels a
UNA Poggio dei Medici Special Promotion
4 nights in Superior Double Room
Early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability)
Welcome Pack with information about the Mugello area
2 three-course dinners at the UNA restaurant (drinks not included)
Unlimited green fees for the Poggio dei Medici club course
Access to the Turkish Bath and Gym
10% discount on Spa treatments
€ 506.00 per person in double room including buffet breakfast
Please note that from the 16 th November 2009 until 28 th February 2010 guests will stay at the Villa le Maschere, the nearby 5-star hotel.
Now if you want total luxury then stay at the VILLA LE MASCHERE , part of the same chain and about 15 minutes drive away from the course. A restored mansion, 500 years old, that had fallen into disrepair for about 50 years, now lovingly and beautifully renovated.
The hotel opened earlier this year and is strikingly lovely with every amenity. Reassuringly five star luxurious service, and reassuringly expensive! But what a fabulous hotel, amenities and grounds.
Finally a view of one of the main guest bedrooms in the Villa de Maschere
The website for the Poggio dei Medici is:-
Details can also be found at GolfToday:-
Or at Golfbreaks.com:-
All suggest good value for money golf breaks at the stunning Poggio dei Medici - I thoroughly suggest you give it a try - you won't be disapointed. At the moment it's almost a secret between you and me but it's so worth while a visit I don't mind sharing the secret with you, and your friends.
I flew from my home in SW France Easyjet to London Gatwick and then on to Florence from Gatwick with Meridiana direct to Florence - There are also Air France flights direct from Paris to Florence
16th October 2009
If you are looking for Venice Hotels then take a look at the reviews of the Best Venice Hotels on SimonSeeks.com.