It’s been a couple of years since I returned from an amazing experience at Lisa Ravà’s panoramic agriturismo, Il Poderaccio. The beauty of the Sienese countryside was beyond words, a place where I could spend much of my time soaking up the gently rolling hills and neighboring farms. During my stay, Lisa invited me to meet with her early in the morning to feed the horses (all 15 of them). I came, but she did all the work while I chatted and observed.
You will not believe the beauty of this early Tuscan morning…..take a look!
The panoramic views of the Tuscan hills drenched in golden sunlight greeted us as we passed through the iron gate and down the long driveway of La Fattoria Il Poderaccio. Horses, long-legged and sleek, grazed in the pasture as two young foals frolicked nearby. One of the farm dogs greeted us with friendly eyes and wagging tail. We parked our car and inhaled the views once more before we met Lisa Ravà, our host.
The classic country architecture of the old stone buildings, some covered with flowering Bougainville, dates back to the 13th century. Read more →
Once more, I am filled to capacity with the most amazing experiences gathered in these last two weeks during my trip to Italy. Is it still bella Italia after all this time? Oh yes, in more ways than I could ever have imagined. This trip introduced me to a deeper understanding of the different amenities of both the north and south. Each is quite different from the other. But all together, they blend into a country that is richly diverse, resulting in a culture thousands of years in the making. People who, for the most part, are warm and hospitable, who care deeply for their land, and who live out their daily lives with dignity.
I’ve had the good fortune to stay at three different accommodations, each one quite distinct from the other. In comparison, they proved to be equally delightful. The proprietors who operate/own them are as wonderful as the amenities they have to offer. I am excited to share each one with you and plan to introduce them over the next few months. I feelstrongly that each one deserves its own spotlight.
I hope that you will check back and discover what I have… that there are beauty, warmth, and possibilities beyond your expectations. Come and meet the people who offer an authentic Italian experience. Find out what makes their hotels, agriturismos, and accommodations so unique. I am inspired to share each one with you.
Are you planning a trip to Italy but want to spend some time away from the maddening crowds? Did you know that many working farms, or agriturismos, that welcome visitors can be found in the country just beyond the bustling cities and towns? Here you will find peace, rest and serenity. After a day or two you will be ready to return to the many exciting sites and activities that Italy has to offer.
Recently, I spent some time at the Orsini farm, Azienda Agraria Orsini, in Umbria, near Lake Trasimeno. After an invigorating hike, we arrived and received warm welcomes from Flavio Orsini and his family. The farm, complete with a rustic stone villa, was alive with animal life. Puppies scampered about the doorway, geese honked in the background, and baby goats cavorted across the large front yard.
Lunch was served under a large pergola that offered lovely views of Lake Trasimeno. We enjoyed delicious varieties of crostini, pasta, wine and fresh bread with local olive oil. Afterward, we toured the farm and watched as the harvest of fagiolina beans were shelled by a free-standing machine.
Although I did not spend the night, it was the perfect outing to slow down and rejuvenate my spirit. Margot DeKruif offers many wonderful ideas for farm stays on her website My Italy Selection. If this sounds like something you would like to do, I encourage you to take a look at her list of informative selections. I found it a great resource to help one enjoy the varied culture of Italy.
Chianti in Tuscany is beautiful. But then, every region in Italy has its own splendor. Chianti’s charms lie in the rolling vineyards bedecked with castles and surrounded by quiet little villages.
September’s wanderings brought me to theCastello Verrazzanojust outside of Greve in Chianti. The long single-lane driveway up to the castle left the main road and wound up through rolling vineyards, past the renovated stone farmhouse where I lodged, then ending at this picturesque estate. The views of surrounding vineyards, olive groves and neighboring hilltop castles were stunningly beautiful. I imagined myself staying here for a very long time.
An old stone farmhouse provided several rooms for lodging with a small central courtyard. Stonework was everywhere, backed by red geraniums. All around me was quiet and very still, an atmosphere that I cherish.
Each morning I would hike up to the castle from my room and enjoy a sumptuous breakfast feast nicely laid out on a long table. Hearty breads and chunks of white cheeses, fresh yogurt, sliced meats, fresh-baked pastries, ceramic pots of hot brewed coffee and tea all found their place and disappeared quickly. The views from here were even more astounding. A deck ran around the outside where I could sit and gaze at castles on hilltops surrounded by long green rows of vines. Olive orchards brought a different green to the scenery and grew in groves dotted about the countryside.
Several of the castles and villas are not only wineries. Many contain shops selling the bounty of the land. Shelves of wine, honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil are plentiful. Colorful labels mark the items as products of Chianti, Tuscany. Many are cooking schools and hold classes in the art of Tuscan cuisine. I explored a couple of these estates.
Just a fifteen minute drive down the road is the Farm Querceto Castellina. Set on 117 acres of vineyards, the 16th century farmhouse has remained in its original condition. Architecturally intriguing and beautifully maintained, the farm also has a shop with winery products, cooking classes and a restaurant. I was welcomed with open arms and was greatly encouraged to ‘snoop’ about.
Surrounded in a natural environment of olive trees and vineyards, theFattoria La Loggiais another equally unique winery. Not only do they provide rooms to stay, but they are a contemporary art mecca. Thought workshops and a creativity laboratory of permanent exhibitions of sculptures by noted contemporary artists are charmingly displayed around the farm.
All of these explorations took up a good part of the day. I found myself famished, so I turned my little fiat toward town. I wasn’t disappointed.
Dinner in Greve was perfect. I decided to try this cantina for two reasons. First of all, it was very rustic Italian, and secondly it was full of locals which is usually a very good indication of a worthy stop. People here are friendly and enjoy chatting among tables. My choice was a seafood pasta accompanied by a glass of Chianti Classico that was all delicious. In fact, the next day at the Castello Verrazzano winery tour, I recommended this cantina to a small group of tourists that wanted superb authentic Tuscan food at an affordable price. The Cantina Pizzeria fit perfectly.
I found my perch at the old castle where I wrote my memoirs. Words came tumbling out while my senses were engaged in pastoral scenery. As I took in the lush green ambience, I was reminded of an old quote from years ago…”in the stillness is the dancing.” How true, I thought to myself, how very true.