With its rich medieval and Rennaissance history, priceless cultural patrimony, delicious gastronomic traditions and enchanting countryside of gently rolling hills lined with olive trees or grape vines, it’s no surprise that Tuscany is one of Europe’s most popular vacation spots. However, there’s much more to discover beyond the classic destinations of Florence, Siena, Arrezzo or San Gimigniano. We explore some of the loveliest hidden treasures of Tuscany thanks to these recommendations from our Italian villa experts.
Halfway between Siena and Arezzo, Katharina Allès Trauttmansdorff of Trust&Travel and excellence.villas takes us to Lucignano, a remarkably well conserved medieval, walled hill-top village.
“Its altitude and strategic position meant that between 1200 and 1500 it was continually the subject of battles between these cities,” reveals Katharina. “Its walls, with three gates, were constructed by the Sienese in 1371. Lucignano is famous for its elliptical shape, the streets are arranged in a circle, a rare example of intact medieval town planning.”
Where to Stay near Lucignano
The refined and rustic Il Mulino villa, available through Trust&Travel and excellence.villas, is located on an organic farm overlooking the picturesque Tuscan landscape, the ideal and relaxing base for exploring this charming corner of the region.
Mulino means mill in Italian and thus the building still retains some of the features of its original purpose including the two long stone walls which used to channel the water from a nearby stream towards the mill. Today these two walls form a natural enclosure for the pool.
The farm was purchased by the Mozzoni Paravicini Crespi family in the 1960’s who carefully restored the farm and its buildings to create a bucolic ideal of a simple lifestyle in harmony with nature and the local farmers who still produces olive oil and raises the local white wide-horned cattle.
The beautiful and charming house has evolved over the centuries. It began as a tower and then expanded with the needs of each new generation. On the ground floor is a large living and dining room with a fireplace and French windows leading onto a terrace covered in vines for al fresco meals. The well-equipped kitchen has a marble-topped table for informal breakfasts as well as an adjacent larder; as well as a single bedroom with shower, and a laundry room.
The first floor has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. A further double and single bedroom with bath are at the end of an outdoor passage. The garden has many inviting corners for reading, writing or dozing in the shade, all fully equipped with outdoor furniture.
Meet the owners, and have a virtual tour of the house and the surrounding estate on this VIDEO, or find out more about booking this beautiful holiday rental in Tuscany by reaching out to Trust&Travel and excellence.villas here.
The delightful town of Pienza nestled in the gorgeous Val d’Orcia is the perfect base for those seeking to combine history and cuisine. A UNESCO World Heritage city, it’s filled with stunning Renaissance architecture. Wandering its charming streets, without the crowds of Florence or Pisa, gives you the true essence of Tuscany, in addition, our expert Laura Blair of In Villas Veritas tempts us further:
“Pienza is a great town and apart from incredible architecture and history, Pienza has wonderful restaurants, food and wine shops showcasing the areas wines and products from cheese to pasta and a variety of foods but the Pecorino cheese is the local culinary star,” describes Laura.
“The valley produces the amazing sheep cheese called Pecorino, which is made in that area and comes in many forms from very aged to fresh and soft and is delicious! One can go to a pecorino farm and see how it’s made. There are sheep grazing all over this landscape. While you’re in the area, don’t miss out on tasting some of their famed Brunello di Montalcino wines.”
Where to Stay Near Pienza
In Villas Veritas has an amazing beautifully restored Il Sogno villa ideally located in the hills outside of Pienza. The 360 degree views over the hills and to the town of Pienza are spectacular.
The house has been refurbished with state of the art technology including individual thermostat controlled air and heat, radiant heat floors, new bathrooms, Wifi and Sat TV.
In addition they have clevely and elegantly organized several outdoor dining and lounging areas to take full advantage of the breathtaking views. An outdoor kitchen and grill at pool level as well, insure a relaxing day in an extraordinary location. Plus, Il Sogno’s chef is a retired restaurant owner. He makes delicious Tuscan meals from simple to more fancy as one wishes, all with the freshest ingredients.
Savor the best of Pienza and the Val D’Orcia by contacting Laura at In Villas Veritas here.
Patrice Salezze of Papavero Villas takes us to the quaint medieval hilltop town of Barga, one of her favorites in this region.
“It’s located north of Lucca in the Garfagnana Valley,” precises Patrice. It’s untouched by mass tourism, it is a little gem. Hidden in the valley the town has charming narrow cobbled streets, tiny squares all topped by a 12th century cathedral. From this vantage point you look out onto the green valley of and the Serchio reiver and up to the Apuan Alps. The original historical center remails with houses going back before over 1000 years.
“British and American painters have been coming here for centuries for inspiration. Wonderful local restaurants where you will be sitting side by side with the natives. This is ideal for mountain biking, canoeing and horseback riding.”
Where to Stay Near Barga
Not far from Barga is the exquisite Villa Ave Maria, a quintessential and refined Tuscan villa by Papavero.
Built in the 15th century as a summer home by a noble Luchesse family, it remained in the same family until the 19th century when it was given to an order of monks left homeless when Napoleon sequestered all church property. The monks divided the large rooms to smaller simpler ones and added a secondary school that was attached to the villa.
Fourteen years of restoration and dedication of the friendly couple have brought this villa to its original glory. The villa is decorated in a charming, sophisticated style and sleeps 22 (plus five) in elegantly furnished suites featuring delicately hand-painted ceilings in soft relaxing colors.
The house offers beautiful views over its formal Italian gardens and there is a large pool with a compfortable terrace area. Its location offers a rural setting where you can walk to the neighboring village to experience la dolce vita and warm Italian hospitality.
Reserve your memorable and luxurious villa stay with Papavero Villas here.
One of the favorite parts of the region of world traveler Marina Gratsos of Carpe Diem Luxury Travel is the picturesque town of Montalcino, clinging to a hilltop in the Val d’Orcia west of Pienza.
Protected by thick fortifications, the town is practically frozen in time and is an amazing example of Medieval architecture. In your wanders along its narrow streets and neighborhood piazzas, be sure to visit the imposing 13th-century fortress and the Duomo Cathedral. The town is also situated near the regional highlights of the Crete Senesi and Mount Amiata. Due to its strategic location, it offers awe-inspiring views of the olive groves and vineyards where the grapes of the famous Brunello di Montalcino wine grow which Marina insists that anyone visiting the town must sample.
Where to Stay Near Montalcino
Luxury living in the real Tuscany can be had at the Villa Gattopardo, a privately owned and managed historical property in the Orcia Valley, available through Carpe Diem Luxury Travel.
This exclusive and aristocratic 16th century castle has just undergone an extensive renovation project that lasted over two years. The Estate of the Villa Gattopardo encompasses over 600 hectares/2500 acres of the surrounding hillside of Montalcino in the region of Siena, dominating over the Orcia Valley, a UNESCO recognized historical landmark site. Many illustrious Italian families had previously owned this property such as the Guglieschi, the Borghese, and the Tancredi families, prior to the acquisition of the estate by the current owners, the Venturini Del Greco family. Priority has always been to uphold the flavour and tradition of the estate itself while making modern improvements where necessary.
The interior feautres a gorgeous marble fireplace and a painted beam ceiling dating back to the 1500’s. There are three ensuite master bedroom suites and five other bedrooms available in the main villa. In the Tower there is an additional double bedroom..
Guests can enjoy the lovely grounds which include an Italian rose garden, a swimming pool (14 X 5 meters), a sunken tennis court as well as numerous outdoor terraces and seating areas with the backdrop of the castle walls and tower.
There are plenty of activities in the area, besides touring the historic towns, guests can go wine tasting, trekking and biking in the countryside or even take a hot air ballon ride to view the spectacular scenery from above.
Learn more about this magical historic villa through Carpe Diem Travel here.