Osteria del Merlo in Cetona is a superb restaurant and serious competition to the long-time best, the Osteria da Nilo. It has carved out a solid reputation among Italian foodies. You find Osteria del Merlo at the south-east corner of Piazza Garibaldi, almost a dozen steps to the left from Nilo’s. You see a large stone tower with an outdoor seating on the front deck. While inside you take a few steps down to a spacious high vaulted dining room at the base of the tower. Air con was a welcome amenity on our lunch there in the hot days of August 2017. Professional waiters offer smooth service and an excellent wine list. However, the star here is the magnificent Chef Elisa in the kitchen! She skillfully prepares seasonal foods with rather sublime flavors, everything we had was delicious. Closed on Mondays. Via Sobborgo, 1, Cetona. Tel: 0578-238-299, www.osteriadelmerlo.it ($$)
Our favorite villas in this area are La Casella and Bartolo. Large groups would also enjoy Casa Bella and Casale il Torre. Inside Cetona you can join the rhythm life in town by staying at Torre San Domenico.