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 region. 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 Valle lies in the middle of open farmland, surrounded by fields of wheat and sunflowers on one side and a small wood and the strange shapes of the distinctive clay hillocks and scrub which characterize the local landscape on the other. A winding gravel road (1 km) lined with oak trees running along a little stream anticipates the peaceful bucolic spirit that pervades the house. La Valle is is a large sunny house built in the local stone, overgrown with rambling roses, honeysuckle and ivy, and surrounded by a garden where Mediterranean aromatic plants such as rosemary, sage, lavender and thyme flourish. The pool is set against a backdrop of the typical Siena clay hillocks; wild rose and broom bushes growing in the garden blend into the surrounding countryside. On one side of the house lies the pool house, which also contains a garden kitchen for outdoor meals. A pergola covered in vines and wisteria provides shade over a large table.
The closest village is Contignano which lies at the other side of the Orcia river at a distance of 4 km from the house. Here you will find an alimentary food shop, a bar, a butcher and a fruit and vegetable shop. For a larger choice of shops or a supermarket Chianciano Terme is at a distance of 10 km.
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!
Additional amenities include: ping pong table, security system, these will be served in the evenings from monday to friday in the shade of the linden tree in the courtyard, pergola, mobile fans for the bedrooms, electric kettle, shared tennis court (7 km), iron and ironing board, or in the large dining room with a fireplace during the colder months on guests' request (the day before for the dinners during the week), the la chiara restaurant provides healthy gourmet dinners with home-made pasta, seasonal ingredients from the vegetable garden, but the one you screw together and put on the stove) and a french press coffee maker, italian mocha machine (not electrical like in a bar, as well as fruit from the trees in the garden, there is a small family restaurant 7 km from the house, fully equipped summer kitchen near the pergola, the countryside and woods, private drive with gate to property....Read more
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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