1 double bedroom, 1 twin bedroom and 1 shower room
Location: Chianti Villas Tuscany
This property rents Saturday to Saturday
Set high on a Chianti hillside with views of vineyards, a rolling landscape and the largest cypress woods in Europe, Bacco/Gioconda is a charming apartment for a couple or small family interested in exploring the region so valued by tourist and wine-lover alike. Located in an ancient hamlet once surrounding a Roman villa, Gioconda is in one of the stone farmhouses that, along with a watchtower, a small church, a well and a bakery, formed a community that withstood the centuries. During the Middle Ages this area was hotly contested real estate fought over by Florence and Siena and it is not surprising that castles and fortresses sat atop many of its hills. As warfare ceased and valleys were cleared and cultivated, vineyards and olive groves produced the red and gold liquids that have become prized the world over.
The restored houses in the hamlet now belong to various Italian and English owners and with its beautifully maintained grounds and quiet lanes, the hamlet has less a sense of bustling village than an air of respectful relaxation. With a shared swimming pool and tennis court set among the olive groves on the terraced hillside, guests may encounter others, but happily the houses are sheltered by shrubbery encircling their private garden spaces, wide paths separating them or with uninterrupted views of the wide valley below.
In a break in the encircling hedge, a terracotta walkway leads to the door on the left side of the large converted farmhouse nearest the estate chapel. Entry is directly into the large main room that encompasses both a sitting area with two sofas and satellite TV and a spacious kitchen area that runs the width of the room. While a guest cook is provided with a microwave oven in lieu of the traditional option, the kitchen is otherwise well equipped for meals served at its marble-topped table for 6. In the far corner of the room a wooden staircase winds up to the top floor sleeping accommodations. There is a double and a twin bedroom, the latter which can be set up as a double with prior request. Guests in both bedrooms utilize the shower room on this floor. Furnishings in the house utilize attractive country antiques suitable to its farmhouse origins.
The living area extends to the outdoors on the flagstone patio on both sides of the front door. To one side a gazebo furnished for dining provides both shade and a measure of privacy, while on the other side, sun loungers can be set to follow the sun, be it under the branches of the olive tree or around the side facing the cypress woods.
Located in the heart of the Chianti and surrounded by vine-covered hills, quite understandably an early excursion might be to tasting rooms in nearby vineyards. Turning either west towards Poggibonsi or east towards Castellina in Chianti, the nearest are only 3 km in either direction. Sampling the renowned Chianti Classico can mean easy drives to the picturesque towns that populate this area: Radda in Chianti, considered the unofficial capital of the region and host to the “Radda nel Bicchiere” festival in early June; Greve in Chianti, whose wine fair in early September and famous Antica Macelleria Falorni butcher are only part of the reason to visit this ancient market town; Panzano in Chianti, whose autumnal Vino al Vino tasting event in mid-September allows visitors to sample olive oil and live jazz alongside their glass of red. Yet Castellina in Chianti is not to be overlooked – so prized by the Medici that they commissioned a fortress to protect it, this lively market town is full of shops and worthy restaurants.
For an extra dose of culture and a few more kilometres, consider the famed ‘City of Towers’ San Gimignano. Whether for its medieval stone skyscrapers, its world famous gelateria (Dondoli’s), or evenings of outdoor music enjoyed from the cathedral steps, this UNESCO city is on many a visitor’s itinerary. The winding stone-cobbled streets of medieval Siena is only an hour away. Its beautiful shell-shaped piazza, Romanesque-Gothic art and architecture or Palio horse race are reasons to visit, but simply wandering around a city whose status as a hospital city protected it from wartime damage, allows you to slip back through the centuries and savour life in one of Tuscany’s most ancient and beloved cities. To take all this in and then return to the quiet of a green hillside is indeed a holiday worth the trip.