David Cameron will soon leave Britain to spend a fortnight in a luxury villa in Tuscany, until recently the favourite holiday destination of Tony Blair and New Labour.
The Prime Minister has rented an 18th century villa near the town of Mercatale Valdarno in the Chianti region, where his neighbours will include the pop star Sting.
Mr Cameron, his wife and three children will share their holiday with two other families. They are paying £5,800 as their share of the 11,000 euro a week villa.
The estate is owned by winemaker Lucia Sanjust Bazzocchi, who with her son Luca produces Sangiovese and Merlot grapes from 77 acres of vines.
The rural area of Italy became known as “Chiantishire” after the regular visits by New Labour acolytes and Mr Blair, who was nicknamed “Tuscan Tony”.
Mr Blair drew criticism after accepting free stays in villas owned by a Tuscan aristocrat and his former ministerial colleague, Geoffrey Robinson.
Downing Street aides were yesterday keen to stress that Mr Cameron was paying the market rate for his villa. He is expected to travel to Italy via a budget airline in the coming days.
The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the Camerons are staying on the “Petrolo estate” in a villa which comes with a swimming pool, tennis court and billiards room. There is also a vineyard and olive mill at the property and several lakes in which guests are invited to fish.
According to the villa’s website: “The Petrolo Estate is situated among the green olive groves, active vineyards and beautiful oak woods. A place full of charm and history.
“The estate has as its landmark, the Tower of Galatrona. The Tower’s foundation dates back to the Etruscan and Romans and the Estate’s best wines are named ‘Torrione’ (big tower) and ‘Galatrona’.”
The villa was built between 1700 and 1750 and is surrounded by a large private garden.
The interior is full of antiques and the walls decorated with both old masters and modern paintings. There is also an imposing chandelier in the property.
The estate is located in the Arno Valley, close to the town of Figline Valdarno, where Sting and his wife Trudie Styler own a luxurious former hunting lodge and an estate that produces organic wine, olive oil, salami and honey.
It is on the opposite side of the Chianti region from Cusona, where Mr Blair and his family spent summer holidays as guests of Prince Girolamo Strozzi and his wife, Italian aristocrats.
The fortnight stay in Tuscany is the first proper foreign holiday the Camerons will enjoy since the election more than a year ago. Last year, they holidayed in Cornwall as Samantha Cameron was heavily pregnant.
She gave birth early to the couple’s fourth child, Florence, during the holiday who was given the middle name Endellion, after the village St Endellion where they were staying. The family are expected to return to Cornwall for a second holiday at some point this summer.
The Camerons were forced to abandon another holiday to Thailand last Christmas because of violent uprisings in thecountry.
The Prime Minister treated his wife to a weekend in Granada in April to celebrate her 40th birthday, but the trip was largely overshadowed after the couple were followed by Spanish paparazzi.
Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, is understood to have already left Britain for a holiday in Spain with his family. There is expected to be a period in August when both the most senior figures in the Government are on holiday, and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, will effectively be in charge.
However, Mr Cameron has repeatedly stressed that he is still running the country wherever he is in the world.