by Christine Mathers
Way back in January, Christine Mathers was the lucky winner of our Flippin' Awesome Vacation Giveaway. She and her husband won a weeklong vacation at Villa Ferraia in Tuscany, which they enjoyed this fall. Here's Christine's review of the experience...
First of all, I would like to thank Flipkey for the amazing opportunity to travel to Italy and stay at Villa Ferraia. I was totally surprised when I found out I had won and, to be honest, had completely forgotten about the contest and where I had chosen to go! After speaking with Kelly at Flipkey, I was referred to Tami, the property manager for Villa Ferraia. She and I went back and forth over email to arrange our visit and anything special we would like while we were there. The planning process went smoothly.
When we arrived in Italy, we spent a few days in Rome to get acclimated before heading to Villa Ferraia. We then rented a car in Siena and made the drive to the villa. I had read in one review that the road to get up to the property was not paved so we didn’t know what to expect. The drive was very nice: we passed through a small town set on the hillside, then passed through the village of Tocchi, where everything was so quaint. Just after going through Tocchi, the road changed to gravel and packed dirt. It was very bumpy but that was all part of the adventure. We followed the wooden signs on the tree trunks and came to the gate in about two miles.
As soon as we drove through the gate, our jaws just hit the floor. No picture we had seen had done Villa Ferraia justice. It is a breath-takingly beautiful property.
Vittorio, the owner, and Carolina, one of his staff met us at the door. They showed us every room in the villa and told us we could stay in whichever one we wanted. They joked with us that we could change every other day if we wanted to. We settled on a little two-story building detached from the main house. We had a small living room area, off that was a table and chairs, and upstairs the guesthouse had a bedroom and very big bathroom. Once we were settled, the staff informed us we were going to be the only two people at the Villa for the week. We couldn’t believe we had the entire place to ourselves.
We spent most of that afternoon exploring the property and napping on the patio. It was such a beautiful day that you couldn’t help but relax and take a catnap in the warm sun. We had arranged to have dinner at the Villa that night. As we were relaxing, Carolina came out with Patrizia, Vittorio’s wife, who would be cooking that evening. She wanted to know what we would like for dinner and if there was anything we couldn’t or didn’t want to eat. We still felt we should pinch ourselves because this was not something we are used to.
Dinner was amazing. Tatiana met us at the door and told us the menu. The table was set with wine and everything else we would need. The meal started with spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce. Unbelievable. It was so good, we finished the entire platter, forgetting there was more to come. Next Tatiana came out with roasted chicken, eggplant parmesan and a salad. Desert was a nut ice cream slice with chocolate sauce. No other meal that week compared to Patrizia’s.
Vittorio came by as we were finishing dinner to talk to us about the things we wanted to see and do. We had asked if it would be possible to get a tour of the whole property and We also mentioned the observatory and an excursion to a shepherd’s farm. Vittorio helped us to arrange these activities for later in the week.
Tatiana greeted us the next morning. The breakfast table was set with more than we could possibly eat. She offered coffee, tea, and cappuccino. We thought there was plenty on the table, but then she offered eggs cooked to order. Breakfast went this way every morning, and on a few days she also made pancakes. We never left for the day’s adventure without a full stomach.
On Monday, Vittorio showed us where he keeps his animals and also his garden. We were able to meet the chef, Stefano. He had us eating green beans and tomatoes right from the plants - Again, not something we get to do at home. Vittorio also showed us the observatory, his horse farm and the cooking school where guests can participate in a cooking class. I wish we could go back to do that. I would love to learn how to make homemade pasta and Tatiana’s incredible sauce.
We had one clear night to go to the observatory. The astronomer spoke very little English, so Vittorio translated for us. He pointed out several different constellations, and We were able to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. The most amazing, though, was getting to see Jupiter through the telescope; you could even see the shadow of one of Jupiter’s moons on the planet.
There were about 15 people at dinner, including Giovanni’s family. The other guests came from Washington State, Norway, Russia and Italy. I think I heard four different languages spoken that evening. It was a very neat experience.
On our final night, Vittorio took us to his friend Giovanni’s home. Giovanni is a shepherd and makes various kinds of cheeses. We were able to taste some different cheeses and then had dinner at his home. They run an agritourismo so they had guests of their own. There were about 15 people at dinner, including Giovanni’s family. The other guests came from Washington State, Norway, Russia and Italy. I think I heard four different languages spoken that evening. It was a very neat experience. Giovanni’s wife is an amazing cook. We were able to watch her making dinner and she made four different kinds of ravioli for three different courses of the meal. Again, we ate too much but enjoyed every bite.
We had such a nice week that we really didn’t want to leave! We were fortunate that everyone, except Carolina was there to say goodbye. We had gotten to know everyone so well over the week, especially Tatiana. I still can’t believe we had this opportunity all because I clicked a button on Facebook.
Thank you again, Flipkey. This is definitely a trip we won’t forget.