Borgo Finocchieto is an 800-year-old hamlet that has been restored by a former US ambassador to Italy. CREDIT: DAVE YODER/NEW YORK TIMES
Barack Obama arrived in Tuscany on Friday for a six-day holiday at a luxury Tuscan estate, but Italian authorities were taking no chances with security and imposed a ban on wild boar hunting lest the former President be accidentally shot.
Mr Obama’s relaxed sojourn amid the Tuscan hills with his wife Michelle stood in stark contrast to the agenda of his scandal-plagued successor, Donald Trump, who embarked on a grueling international tour of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and the Vatican.
The former President and his wife touched down in a private jet at a military airport in Grosseto, Tuscany.
On its approach, the aircraft was escorted by six Eurofighter military jets from the Italian air force.
The Obamas were then whisked to an imposing country estate owned by John Phillips, a former US ambassador to Rome and an Obama appointee.
Mr Phillips bought an entire hamlet and turned it into a sumptuous luxury resort called Borgo Finocchieto.
On the eve of the Obamas’ arrival at the retreat, south of Siena, local authorities announced a ban on the hunting of boar and other wild animals within a five kilometre, or three mile, radius of the estate. The ban will be in place from today until May 24, when the Obamas are expected to leave.
There is speculation that they could visit Florence and Siena during their holiday, the latest in a series of vacations that they have taken since departing the White House.
Mr Obama has had several holidays since leaving the White House, including a stay with Richard Branson in the British Virgin Islands. CREDIT: AFP
Mr Obama will reportedly meet Matteo Renzi, the former centre-Left prime minister, who had to step down in December after losing a referendum on constitutional reform. The meeting could happen in Florence, where Mr Renzi was once mayor.
The estate where the Obamas are staying comprises a grand manor house with 22 suites, with several villas clustered around a central piazza.
The five-star facilities include a 60ft-long oval swimming pool, a library, tennis court, wine-tasting room, cellar and even a basketball court, likely to be a hit with the hoop-shooting former President.
The original village of Finocchieto dates back more than 800 years and commands views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Its name is derived from the Italian word for fennel, which grows wild in the local countryside.
It is located on the route of the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrimage route that connected Canterbury with Rome.
The hamlet has been extensively restored by Mr Phillips, who is of Italian ancestry and served as US ambassador in Rome from 2013 until earlier this year, after he bought it in 2001.
The estate lies not far from the wine-making town of Montalcino, famous for its Brunello reds, and about an hour’s drive from Florence.
Marco mariotti the mayor of Buonconvento, the nearest town i, said gifts had been prepared for the presidential couple, including a book written and illustrated by local schoolchildren and jars of truffles in oil.