Il Bottaccio, an 18th century mill converted into an elegant country house, nestles at the foot of the lush green slopes of Forte dei Marmi, in Tuscany. The luxury maison, member of Relais & Châteaux since 1988, is the result of a careful and expert restoration of the ancient water mill of the seventeenth century, transformed into the most exclusive 5 star luxury hotels with SPA of Forte dei Marmi and Versilia.

Water and marble. The spirit of Il Bottaccio is nourished by these two elements. The water of the Versilian Sea, the streams of the Apuan mountains, the watercourse that turned the great wheel of the olive press that used to stand here. The marble of the caves of white gold, above Carrara, where Michelangelo chose the stone for his David and Pietà. Today, water has replaced the oil that once filled the great pool, now the centerpiece of the restaurant. The marble, though, has flourished, in the shape of works of art collected by the hosts, D’Anna. Art dealers, patrons, owners of an exclusive English college, at Il Bottaccio they have created a family home. A drawing room for friends. An intimate retreat for lovers of art and nature.

Not far from the worldliness of Forte dei Marmi, this is the most strategic point in the region to satisfy both a desire for tranquillity and a hunger for culture. Lucca and Pisa are nearby, as are the Cinque Terre, Lunigiana and Torre del Lago with its Puccini Festival. Only a short distance away lies Pietrasanta, a city of art with ancient marbles, and more recently host to artists like Moore and Botero.

But it is among the cool foliage of Il Bottaccio’s garden, crossed by a stream, that the luxury of tranquillity reaches its highest expression. Especially when complemented by Nino Mosca’s modern, inspired cuisine, where the Tyrrhenian Sea meets the Apuan woodland, where the freshest fish meets mushrooms, forest fruits, the lardo of Colonnata, goats’ cheese and the vegetables of Camaiore. As at all the relais, the philosophy can be summed up by the name of the scampi and porcini risotto: “we are where we are so this is what we do”.