Villa: 3 double bedrooms, 1 twin/double bedroom, 1ensuite bathroom, 3 shower rooms, 2 of which are ensuite, 1 extra WC. Cottage: 1 shower room with laundry facilities.
Location: Southern Tuscany
This property rents Saturday to Saturday
Perfect for a group or for a family reunion, this is a spacious country home in the hills of southern Tuscany. With a large garden, private pool and living areas dotted with family hierlooms, this converted farmhouse is the perfect base for a luxury holiday. The nearby town of Palazzone is within walking distance, making it easy to stroll to a restaurant for lunch or dinner and leave the car behind.
Wide gates and a short drive lead into the fenced grounds whose mature trees and well-trimmed shrubs add to the sense of an oasis harbouring the main house and small cottage which sit at its center. While the external stairway draws the eye, it is the arched doorway on the ground floor that is the main entrance. The door opens to a charming living area where a sofa and wing-back armchairs sit in front of an open ceramic-tiled fireplace. Also in this front room is a tantalizing glass-covered glimpse of the stairs to the vast cellar below where wine and harvested goods would have been stored. A wide arch leads into the main living room, again with sofas, a fireplace and satellite TV, as well as direct access to the back garden. There is easy flow from this room into the adjacent dining room whose original stone wall adds a dramatic counterpoint to the glass dining table and comfy armchairs surrounding it. The eat-in kitchen is conveniently close and both the dining room and kitchen have doors to the covered dining area at the side of the house. Contributing to meals ‘al fresco’ are the BBQ and pizza oven built into a large flagstone pit whose benches and terracotta table provide the perfect place for the cook to watch the grill in comfort.
From a corridor off the front living room a stairway winds up to the upper floor sleeping accommodations. There is a large double bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, which has direct access to the garden via the external staircase. There are two further double bedrooms, one with an ensuite shower room, the other utilizing an adjacent shower room, and a twin bedroom with an ensuite shower room. One of the double bedrooms has a loft on which it is possible on prior request to add a double bed. Furnishings in the house are in keeping with traditional Tuscan living, with attractive country antiques and soft fabrics harmonizing with chestnut beamed ceilings and terracotta or parquet flooring. Bath and shower rooms all include good quality fittings and travertine tiling.
Very popular with guests is the attractive covered patio; furnished with a table, chairs and outdoor sofas, it is the ideal place to relax with a good book, launch into a game of cards or watch children at play in the nearby pool, or perhaps even contemplate a shift to a poolside sunbed. Also handy is the small cottage opposite the villa entrance that includes laundry facilities and a shower room.
With the immediate area relatively flat and a restaurant only a kilometre away, your nearest pizza and the small shops in Palazzone is an easy walk away. Yet there are plenty of reasons to hop in the car. Closest is the medieval town of San Casciano dei Bagni; as its name refers to the many thermal springs in the area, you can choose between the free baths set in the open or the panoramic Forteverde spa with De Medici lineage. Equidistant are Tuscan Cetona and Umbrian Città della Pieve – the former, bearing the name of the nearby mountain that saw traces of human population more than 50,000 years ago, is a tiny hill town with wide piazzas and good restaurants. The latter, built primarily of brick thanks to its clay-rich soil and an absence of stones, is nestled in protective walls and, suitable as the home of Il Perugino’, is known for its art and beauty. Also popular are its two festivals – the ‘Infiorata’, around 21 June, which decorates its streets in flower petals, and the costumed ‘Palio dei Terzieri’, the penultimate weekend of August, featuring archery contests, music and regional delicacies.
Being only 15 km from the motorway entrance puts cities within an hour’s reach, cities such as Arezzo, the artisan and antiquarian city known for Piero della Francesca frescos and its magnificent medieval square, and the ancient Orvieto, perched high on a butte of volcano tufo, whose majestic cathedral and double helix well are musts in visitors’ handbooks. Of a similar distance are Pope Pius II’s ideal Rennaisance city Pienza or the highly esteemed wines of Montalcino and Montepulciano. But to know that you can roam wide, then return to the oasis of Villa Benessere and from comfy sofas and beautiful grounds look back at it all with pleasure – this is a holiday well placed.