The Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort and Spa is known for its striking location on a mountaintop overlooking the Serchio Valley in Tuscany. The resort is part of Marriott’s Renaissance family of hotels, providing comfortable, modern-style rooms in this off-the-beaten-path valley in Tuscany. The resort features indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, and is 10 minutes from the medieval village of Barga, which regularly ranks as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
The resort, built in the 1950s, is well-located for day trips to some of Tuscany’s top destinations while offering a base with amenities that some more historical lodgings don’t reliably offer. The resort fills an important gap in Tuscan properties. I often find when visiting a new corner that the choice of accommodations is either fairly humble—traditional, individually-owned small inns in historic buildings that can be charming but often lack a crucial element or two, like a comfortable bed, dependable air conditioning, a good shower or a quiet room. The other extreme is high-end resorts in castles in Tuscany that are pricey and can be impossible to get into. Il Ciocco provides an experience that is very comfortable in an exceptional setting.
I’ve lived in Tuscany for over a decade and am always on the lookout for places that aren’t overwhelmed by tourists and spots that offer a more authentic Italian experience. The Serchio Valley is like a world away and the hotel is well-positioned to immerse yourself in nature, explore nearby 1,000-year-old villages, and adventure further afield.
Things to Know About Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa
- The resort is located in a beautiful, mountainous, less-visited valley in Tuscany but is still close enough to major Tuscan destinations for day trips to spots like Pisa, Florence, or Cinque Terre.
- The architectural vibe is 1950s mid-century modern, and the building extends over the crest of a mountain in a way that never makes you feel like you are in a large, vertical hotel.
- The Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco is located in a park of nearly 1,500 acres with views of nature and medieval villages in all directions. There are plenty of paths for walks through fields and forests, plus other outdoor adventures ranging from the easy to the very challenging.
- In addition to the two pools, there’s a full-service spa on site and a small gym.
- Il Ciocco has created several ways to get deeper into Italian food sourcing and cooking with trips to local food producers and classes with a chef.
- The resort offers daily excursions and guided tours to nearby villages, as well as daytrips to to popular spots in the region.
- A big plus is the resort’s proximity to Lucca, a charming, walled town that offers a wide range of good restaurants as well as adventures like biking along the 2.6 mile, well-paved bicycle path on top of the defensive walls circling the town. The Renaissance Il Ciocco’s sister property, the Grand Universe Lucca, is located 50 minutes away in Lucca’s historical center.
- Bringing a car to the resort is strongly advised.
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What Families Need to Know about Renaissance Il Ciocco Resort and Spa
The property does not offer a wide range of kid-specific activities, or a dedicated kid’s club, so it wouldn’t be ideal for a family who is looking to drop younger kids off for structured activities while they take advantage of the break to lounge by the pool. However, for families with slightly older kids looking for a comfortable base from which to explore Tuscany, the Renaissance Il Ciocco is a good fit. Note that there are no connecting rooms, which might be an issue for parents traveling with younger children. Some of the suites, though, do offer pull-out sofa beds.
Renaissance Il Ciocco Resort and Spa Reviews
TripAdvisor gives a rating of 4.5/5 with over 1500 reviews, and the hotel was a 2021 Trip Advisor Travelers Choice Hotel. Hotels.com reviewers rate it at 8.6/10, and reviewers on Booking.com rate it a 8.4/10. On Kayak, guests rate it 8.4/10.
Reviewers frequently mention the stunning views, attentive staff, comfortable beds, and “entertaining Barmacists” mixing the perfect cocktail. Couples on romantic getaways rated the hotel slightly higher than the average. The restaurant is also highly rated. One caution is that a car is a necessity to thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Important Details about Renaissance Il Ciocco Resort and Spa
The resort is in a rural area but still can be used as a base for day trips to Florence (one hour by car), Lucca (50 minutes), Pisa (1 hour 20 minutes), and the Mediterranean coast, including the resort town of Forte Dei Marmi, (1 hour 30 minutes) and the Cinque Terre region (2 hours 30 minutes).
Barga, a charming medieval village with pedestrian streets that often become steep stone staircases leading straight up to the Duomo (built in the year 1,000), which graces the top of the hill. The village has some intriguing restaurants and wine bars and is only a 10-minute drive from the resort. Castelvecchio Pascoli is another nearby medieval village.
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Activities abound near the resort—there are several family adventure parks, a golf course, mountain bike rentals, river rafting, paragliding, hang gliding, and wild-trout fishing.
Nearby attractions include an ancient bridge, the Ponte del Diavolo; a medieval castle, the Fortezza delle Verrucole; a large cave, the Grotta del Vento; and the Hermitage of Calomini. It’s even possible to visit the smallest theater in the world. The composer Puccini’s house is located nearby and open for visitors.
The Florence airport is 65 miles away and located right on the Autostrada leading to Lucca so there is no in-town driving required if you pick up a rental car at the airport. Pisa airport, which is 43 miles away, is also right near a higway. The hotel offers 24-hour airport pickup for a fee of €45 a person.
Another way to easily get around is to go to the train station in Barga (4 miles) or Lucca (28 miles) and connect from there to area destinations.
For a more dramatic way to arrive at the resort, there is a heliport that offers helicopter services and transfers.
The Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco is located on over 1,500 acres with 180 rooms on seven different levels. It was built in the 1950s so does not incorporate any historic buildings, but was designed to take advantage of the stunning views of the valley and the neighboring village of Barga.
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Free parking for guests is available, but the parking lot you first encounter is a bit of a trek from registration. Several guests noted in online reviews that they were unsure what to do upon arrival and ended up walking uphill with bags to get to reception. It is possible to drive right up to the door of the lobby and leave luggage and then to move the car to parking, which makes checking in and navigating luggage much easier.
There are several different types of rooms—suites, Junior Suites, Renaissance Chic, and standard rooms—many with small balconies. Rooms on the valley side offer expansive views, while rooms on the other side of the building generally face uphill toward the other resort buildings. Rooms are offered with either with a king-sized bed or two separate smaller beds. There are no connecting rooms, which might be an issue for parents traveling with their children. Some of the suites offer sofa beds.
Rooms are well-outfitted with a pillowtop mattress, duvets, and luxurious Frette linens. The bathrooms are not huge but do have marble bathrooms and rain showers. Included are all the amenities you’d expect: air conditioning (bonus that windows open for some fresh air); safe, flat screen TV with CNN, cable, and pay movies; a mini fridge; coffee maker; and internet, both wireless and wired.
The rooms also seemed to be quiet—I heard a door closing once or twice but other than that the room was blissfully silent.
The rooms were renovated in 2012.
The hotel offers a wide range of activities to add fun, adventure, and memorable Tuscan food to your stay.
I took a pasta making class with the chef, and even though I am no stranger to cooking classes in Italy, I learned a lot and was inspired to make one of the dishes at home with my family the following week.
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Beyond a cooking class you can spend the day with the chef, a day that starts with shopping at the nearby outdoor market, then preparing traditional Tuscan recipes, and culminating in a meal that you’ve taken from raw ingredients to a feast in a private dining room. Seasonal ingredients that can be worked into tempting menus include porcini mushrooms, locally-made prosciutto, forest chestnuts, wild game, sausage, cheeses, and local jams and honey.
There are day trips ranging from a visit to a local cheese producer to tours of destinations further afield like Lucca, Pisa, Cinque Terre, and Carrara, where Michelangelo sourced the marble for his statues and a place that still remains one of the most important marble quarries in the world. The resort offers its Navigators by Renaissance service to help you plan the adventure that it right for you.
Picnics, packed by Il Ciocco, are available to take on adventures. The hotel has several recommended hikes through the nature that surrounds the hotel.
The hotel has one main restaurant, La Veranda. In summer, a wide terrace accommodates tables to take full advantage of the valley view. The menu is quite large and ranges from traditional Tuscan dishes to more continental fare. During my visit, a section of the restaurant was reserved for individual guests while the larger part of the open room had a buffet reserved for conference attendees. Breakfast was a buffet offering a good range of choices.
In the lobby is the Nour Lounge, which features wine tastings as well as cocktails. The lounge also offers a small menu.
I treated myself to two of the Beauty Spa’s offerings, a pedicure and a massage. The pedicure was one of the best I’ve had anywhere, and the massage was also fantastic. The spa offers a range of treatments beyond manicures and pedicures— purifying facials, massages, body scrubs as well as custom packages like the resort’s Wine Ritual treatment for couples or the Grape Tasting Treatment that uses products made from grape skin and seeds. The spa has a sauna, sensory showers with color therapy and aromatherapy, and ice baths and Turkish baths, as well as a private couple’s with a steam bath. The private treatment rooms were immaculate and pampering, and there was a small relaxation area with complementary teas and lounge chairs.
The spa features products from Lajatica, a locally produced range of soaps, lotions, oils, and scrubs that incorporate pomace, a byproduct of wine-production. In addition to incorporating the antioxidant power of this material, the production is zero-kilometer and natural.