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In this idyllic region of Italy, visionary entrepreneurs are transforming entire medieval villages—beautiful, abandoned, on the brink of extinction—into phenomenal places to sleep, eat and shop.
Just a few years ago, things were looking bleak for the medieval village Tenuta di Castelfalfi, whose residents had decamped to cities in search of work in the '60s. Then travel company TUI launched an ambitious project to convert the village's 2,700 acres into a resort. Now, set among ancient forests, vineyards and meandering paths are a casual restaurant from chef Francesco Ferretti (another, more ambitious one is set to open this month) and a 31-room hotel housed in an old stone tobacco factory, plus golf courses and swimming pools. At a cooking school (also set to open this month), guests can learn the finer points of Tuscan cuisine, such as how to turn the humble chickpea, a regional staple, into a luxurious puree for roast sea bass fillets. Doubles from $148; castelfalfi.co.uk.