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Description from the manager
This house belongs to a a large property which extends over the hills overlooking the Val d'Orcia, an enchanting and miraculously unspoilt valley in southern Tuscany, listed as UNESCO world heritage in 2004. Midway between Florence and Rome, the estate is also within easy reach of Siena, Arezzo, Perugia, Assisi and Orvieto. Renaissance and medieval gems such as Pienza, Montepulciano, Monticchiello and Montalcino and the Abbey of Sant'Antimo are only a few miles away from the houses you can rent at the property.
The countryside around the estate abounds in lovely walks in the woods and the typical "crete senesi" (clay hills) of the regio...n. The food is considered the best in Tuscany and famous wines such as the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino can be sampled in the local cellars.
La Fonte enjoys a privileged position in Tuscany - just in front of the famous cypress road that winds up to the crete on the opposite hill. Readers might be interested to learn that this is one ot the most photographed views of Tuscany. The road was build by the property owner while reclaiming this barren land, and resembles the medieval landscapes pictured by Lorenzetti in his well-known senese frescoes. You can enjoy this breathtaking view from several windows and of course from the garden of the house.
The house itself was built after a model designed by Cecil Pinsent in the 1920s - the well-known British architect, who had already worked for the lord of the manor on the nearby Renaissance villa and the garden of the estate (1 km). Pinsent was asked to rebuild several farms, adopting the traditional features of Tuscan farmhouses, with stables and strorerooms on the ground floor and living quarters upstairs.
For centuries, and up to the 1960s, estates in Tuscany were run on the sharecropping system, or 'mezzadria', by which tenant farmers and owners shared all the farm produce. La Fonte, in particular, produced excellent ricotta and pecorino, the cheese made of sheeps' milk, for which the Val d'Orcia has now become famous. After the war its fields became orchards, producing peaches and plums which were sold to the hotles of the nearby health resort Chianciano Terme.
The house is still surrounded by trees which produce a plum locally called coscia di monaca (nuns' thighs, in English). La Fonte has now been completely restored. The house stands on its own, surrounded by olive groves, wheat fields and cypresses. It is linked to the main Villa of the property - a beautiful Renaissance villa - by just over 1 km of gravel road. A semicircular grove of cypresses surrounds a stone table and benches, perfect for a shady noonday meal. The pool, 11 x 4 meters large and sheltered by an old dry-stone wall, is bordered by a pergola.
A country restaurant where you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner is in walking distance (1.5 km), if you feel like a stroll.
Places of interest
The property's location makes excursions to Siena, Assisi, Orvieto, Perugia, Arezzo and Florence an easy day trip. But the area below Siena, stretching from the monastery of Monte Oliveto to Montalcino and Montepulciano offers some rewarding sites that are well worth a visit.
In San Quirico d'Orcia make sure you see the Horti Leonini, an early Renaissance garden, as well as the western door in the city wall and the Collegiata (main church).
Montalcino is beautifully situated on a hill inhabited since Etruscan times, swathed in vineyards and olive groves. It is a quiet, affluent, attractive town with pretty buildings and flower-filled squares, and many shops selling the Brunello di Montalcino.
Montepulcino is a graceful Tuscan hill town, best known for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which was being praised by connoisseurs over 200 years ago and can certainly contend with Italy's best today.
Pienza, the unfinished 'utopian' city, was commissioned by Pope Pius II in 1459.
Chiusi is one of our favourites because of its unpretentious liveliness. Compared to Montepulciano it is uncontaminated by tourism. Chiusi has a railway station - from here it is a quick ride to the city center of Rome.
Monticchiello is a pleasant walled village, whose crooked watch-tower is visible from afar. Next to the church is a small shop which sells local linens (towels, bedspreads) and materials in pure linen. They use traditional methods and patterns and the results are extremely attractive.
Visit the abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and the semi-derelict monastery of Sant'Anna in Camprena - a very romantic setting which served as location for the film The English Patient.
Sant'Antimo is surely one of the loveliest Romanesque buildings in all of Italy. It is hard to imagine a more sympathetic combination of architectural grace and natural setting.
Sarteano fits our picture of an unspoilt Italian village. The main square has a nice bar where you can sit outside. On the square below, in the afternoon a different bar serves excellent take away pizza.
And last but not least the landscape in this region of Tuscany is spectacular: The Crete Senesi are the eroded clay hills in the Orcia valley. These strange, pale, barren looking slopes, with their bare cliffs, broken gullies and white Jurassic limestone, look altogehter more lunar than terrestial.
Pool in winter?
Tuscany is famous for its Hot springs, belonging to a geothermical system that more or less encircles Monte Amiata, the most spectacular being Saturnia in the south west of the region. Steaming water collects in a number of white limestone basins - a rare natural spectacle and great fun to bathe in! Swimming possible both in the natural basins and in smart thermal baths. Saturnia offers a wide range of comforts and even a sauna.
Close to the property is Bagno Vignoni which has been popular since Etruscan times. St. Catherine of Siena is said to have appreciated its thearpeutic qualities, as is Lorenzo the Magnificent, whose family built the splendid arcaded pool - a kind of flooded, bubbling piazza, famously used by Tarkowsky for some of the more surreal passages of his film Nolstalgia. Not far from this antique piazza there is a hotel with a lovely open air swimming pool, fed from hot springs. This is also available to external guests.
Bagni San Filippo may go into the books as the world's smallest thermal spa - a telephone booth, a few old houses, outdoor spring in the middle of the woods with glistening limestone formations and one small hotel with a public pool.
The Montepulciano thermal springs can also be enjoyed in an indoor thermal swimming pool.
Just 10 km from the property you will find the thermal spa Terme di Chianciano with a highly modern health and thermal centre. Those wanting to combine holidays with a wellness break can enjoy fango baths, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments, solarium, massages and hydromassages. Have yourself thoroughly pampered! Just relax here!Read more
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