It’s just past 7 a.m. and our nature guide, Giulia Ghinassi, is pointing out fresh roe deer and wild boar hoof prints in the thick mud beside the trail. Crisp mountain air fills our lungs as sweeping oak, beech and chestnut trees shade us from the rising sun. We carry on hiking through the thicket and spy another print, this one a giant paw. As our guide reaches down to see if the mark is fresh, we hear a howl. Ghinassi shoots her up head and her eyes widen. “We’re not supposed to see the wolves this morning,” she says. We all pivot and scan the woods, knowing we’re surrounded.
Deep in the Apennine mountains about an hour northwest of Florence, in an area long bypassed by Italy’s tourist hordes, a steep drive through hairpin turns conjures images of Lake Tahoe or the Rocky Mountains. The destination: Oasyhotel, in the heart of Tuscany, which opened this past spring in a pristine forest brimming with wildlife—something of an oasis, as the name suggests. Set in what was once a hunting ground now transformed into a protected sanctuary in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, the luxury eco-lodge combine unspoiled views with a safari experience unlike any in Italy.
“Welcome to Jurassic Park,” says general manager Federico Galligani. We’ve arrived a world away from the crowded canals of Venice and the glitzy resorts of the Amalfi Coast.
Once you make the journey to Oasy, the idea is to stay at Oasy. “Oasyhotel does not behave like any other hotel,” says Galligani. “We aim to receive guests into an exclusive and secluded natural oasis, and follow them through.” There are countless ways to while away a stay on the 2,500-acre expanse, from leisurely kayaking outings to more active horseback riding pursuits. Guests are encouraged to take one of the property’s ebikes out for a spin, gliding alongside a pristine lake, through valleys littered with ferns and across hills overlooking all of Tuscany—often passing wildlife that’s more curious of humans than humans are of them.
And it’s not just guests that stay closeby: The lush grounds are brimming with fresh produce that the resort’s two restaurants rely on. The casual trattoria Casa Luigi, where seating spills out onto an open field, serves house-made cheese and desserts that incorporate honey and berries sourced on site; at Le Felci, set in a stone farmhouse, the seasonal tasting menu often includes artfully presented dishes like soup made with mushrooms foraged that very morning, or rabbit from the property that comes served with a decadent cream sauce.
Millions of stars light the way as you walk back to your lodge after a busy day—there’s virtually no light pollution in these parts—and amid the all-encompassing silence, all you can hear is the wind whistling through the trees and the wolves howling somewhere in the distance. The 16 standalone lodges, done up with minimalist flair, promise complete privacy, along with sweeping forest and mountain views. Don’t look for club sandwiches and soggy French fries on the room service menu—instead, an elaborate picnic box arrives at your door overflowing with hearty provisions like locally made mortadella, cheese produced at the property’s dairy, and unsalted Tuscan bread to soak up the rich local butter and olive oil.
Oasyhotel is not necessarily what many people associate with an Italian escape. But taking a night hike deep into the woods to arrive at a small cabin with a roaring fireplace, where wine, bourbon and chocolate await you by candlelight—it’s enough to make you never want to leave.
Rates for Oasyhotel start from $420 per night.