A cosy farmhouse apartment near an historic abbey and Tuscan villages
1 double/twin bedroom, 1 single sofa bed and 1 shower room
Location: South of Siena
This property rents Saturday to Saturday
Between Siena and the sea there are tree-clad hills rich in history, minerals and all the edible bounty the woods have to offer. No surprise then that in the northwest corner of Tuscany's 'Maremma', a region newly appreciated for its unspoiled beauty and crystalline coasts, the young owners of a centuries old farmhouse have prepared space to welcome their guests. Visitors are invited to share in the produce of the organic garden and try the golden olive oil of nearby trees. And if asked, Lucia may well share a secret or two that good Tuscan cooks are raised with. While this is not a place of golden-tapped baths and satellite TVs, it is an invitation to savour the land and the Tuscan way of life. Your hosts will help you arrange for bikes or horse-trekking to discover the environs at a slower pace and, depending on the season, guide you in the harvest of mushrooms, chestnuts or wild asparagus. And in nearby villages perched on their hilltops there are weekly markets and coffee shops and summer festivals in wide piazzas - all reasons to make this hilltop your home.
On the ground floor of the main farmhouse and on the corner nearest the lawn leading to the pool, Quercia's large main room is entered through a glass door off a stone walkway at the back of the house. The door, curtained for privacy, allows light to flood into the large room in which there are kitchen facilities, a wood stove, a dining table for 4 and a sofa that can be used as a single bed when desired. Off a short corridor at the back of this room there is a shower room and a large bedroom, which can be set up as a double or a twin with prior request. While guests staying in Quercia have use of all shared areas of the property, they also have a furnished area on the lawn to the left of the entrance reserved for them. Here there are lounge chairs, an umbrella and a dining area for meals al fresco.
While at first glance it may seem that the woods go on forever, the property is not far from the quintessential spots one has come in search of. Bocccheggiano, seen on an opposite hillside, thrived for its silver and copper mines for over six centuries; yet today people make its way to the town for a much praised restaurant and for the 'Garden of Sounds' sculpture garden which gives wind a voice. Other sounds are found just down the road at the historic Abbey of San Galgano; this Gothic church is now roofless but nonetheless a marvellous venue for concerts throughout the summer and stands near the frescoed rotonda tomb of the saint who had planted a sword in a stone to mark the end of his association with warfare. Less than a half hour away is the beautiful medieval city of Massa Marittima, where opera is performed in the cathedral square and people flock to see the 13th c. fresco of the Fertility Tree. The beaches of the Tyrrhenian coast near Follonica can be reached in under an hour and only slightly more and you could catch the ferry for a day's trip to the island of Elba. Heading in the other direction brings you to the heart of Tuscany in the ancient city of Siena and its famed shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. And at the end of the day out, how pleasing to return to a hilltop home and relax, recharge and simply think back on the day.
Quercia was something special. The whole complex is beautifully laid out, in a stunning position in the hills, and has the best pool I've experienced. Lucia, the owner, is friendly, helpful and generous. Our initial journey was considerably longer than it should have been because of an accident on the motorway, but she waited up till midnight to welcome us. Fresh tomatoes, eggs, and onions just for us to help ourselves. Local wine at 4 euros a litre. Everything is quite simple, but having been to Montestigliano in 2000, that seems to be the Tuscan style. We didn't lack for anything. The only drawback for some might be the hill track to get there (1 km driving from the main road), but it's OK as long as you take everything slowly!
Service rating : After a number of years booking holidays online through big brand travel agencies (i.e. Booking.com, Expedia etc), what a refreshing experience booking through 'Invitation to Tuscany' was! As this trip to Italy was for my first wedding anniversary, I wanted to ensure that this trip was extra special for my wife and I.
From the outset, the booking process was very clear. Moreover Lyn was always on hand to respond promptly to any questions I had about the area plus any additional queries I had in advance of my trip.
The personal touches were the bits that really stood out over previous experiences booking through more recognised, but less personable providers. The information pack received before our trip was fantastic and proved to be a very handy guide on our day trips. All of the information we had received both before and to take with us on our trip meant that it wasn't necessary to contact Lyn or our designated contact provided in advance during our stay in Italy. No doubt the level of service would have still been great though had we needed to.
What more can I say other than it was a pleasure to book with you. The villa and our hosts were brilliant. Thanks also for all of your tips which helped me to plan our activities. We wouldn't hesitate to book again with Invitation to Tuscany when looking at our next stay in Italy.
Product: A very picturesque drive down from Bologna to Southern Tuscany where we had coordinates in our Sat Nav, allowing us to find our villa in Quercia with ease.
We were greeted upon arrival by our host Lucia. After unloading the luggage from our car, Lucia showed us around the property. Not only were we impressed by our villa with complimentary touches (bread, olive oil, coffee etc) we were blown away by the infinity pool, with incredible picture postcard views overlooking the sprawling woods. Couldn't wait to jump in...and we did, a number of times during our stay.
For my wife and I, the villa was situated in a great area for us to drive to various areas of Tuscany (such as Siena) in good time, and certainly to have quick access to purchase essentials, typically from Coop in nearby Ciciano. I must stress though that we barely needed much food as Lucia and her husband were happy for us to pick at their homegrown produce of garlic, butternut squash, onions, tomatoes etc at any time, which we did! We both enjoy throwing meals together so it was great to use local Italian produce for this purpose.
Being young and adventurous, we often didn't return to the Villa from our day trips until fairly late. When we did, there was a communal area where we sat down with Lucia, her husband and some German guests staying at another villa on the estate to share stories (in GCSE German and broken Italian) over a bottle (or two) of tuscan wine and nibbles. This was lots of fun.
We couldn't have asked for a more idyllic, authentically rustic Italian villa with nicer hosts. The location was also great. If ever in Southern Tuscany again, I will definitely head back.
Note: the only thing I would say would be to take or purchase some insect repellant in Italy for your stay if you are susceptible to being bitten, especially if venturing into far flung regions away from any of the cities.