Villa San Giovanni is a splendid home inside the charming Tuscan hilltown of San Giovanni d'Asso. Located near a medieval castle, the villa was built in the 16th century. The property has been carefully renovated, and with eight bedrooms and seven bathrooms there's plenty of room for up to 16 guests. The beauty and old world charm of the original structure of the villa with its exposed beam ceilings and granite and tile floors is a gorgeous backdrop for the comfortable and authentic Tuscan furnishings.
The extensive property is u-shaped with a beautiful courtyard in the centre: Villa San Giovanni is the building with lots of windows, which extends along the length of the garden; the two side buildings are uninhabited (a church to the left/a lemon greenhouse and a former laundry house to the right). The courtyard offers a splendid private pool and breathtaking views of the vast rolling countryside. Flower beds, shrubs, lemon trees in vases and palm trees decorate the formally designed, upper part of the garden; the lower part comprises the lawn with the pool located on a large sun terrace. The garden overlooks the spectacular landscape of the Crete Senesi and faces towards south-east.
The small La Capannina house (also featured in our portfolio) borders on the garden of Villa San Giovanni and although they each rent separately, if you have a large party of up to 21 people they make an ideal combination.
About the village and the region
Villa San Giovanni is an ideal choice for those for those who wish to be close to shopping, restaurants and cafes, yet be in a private home. San Giovanni d'Asso has approximately 300 inhabitants. The villa is situated in the upper part of the village - the "Borghetto", near the ancient castle, which is now the seat of the municipal authorities and which hosts the famous White Truffle Market in the month of November. The white truffle is prized and famous throughout Italy, as well are the other agricultural products of the area: excellent wines, oil, savoury cheeses and honey. In this upper part of the village there is a fine restaurant just a short walk from the the house. The lower part of San Giovanni d'Asso has an 'osteria' (simple restaurant), a baker and butcher, a pharmacy, a post office, a supermarket and cafe/bar. There is no public transport in San Giovanni, therefore it is essential to have a car.
San Giovanni d'Asso is located in the Val d'Orcia, an enchanting and miraculously unspoilt valley in southern Tuscany, listed as UNESCO world heritage in 2004. Siena, Pienza, Cortona, Arezzo, Orvieto, San Gimignano, Volterra, Perugia, Viterbo and a wealth of sites and attractions are within easy reach. Montalcino, the classic Tuscan hill town topped by a fortress and famous for its Brunello wine (as well as the less pricey Rosso di Montalcino) is nearby. The famous Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore is only 7 km away, and also the Sant' Antimo Abbey, one of the finest Romanesque churches in Tuscany, is within easy daytrip distance.
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.
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. Have yourself thoroughly pampered!
In the nearby Rapolano Terme there are two wonderful thermal spas - particulary beautiful are the San Giovanni Terme. Just relax here!
Additional amenities include: lawn, 150 m from the house, electric kettle, italian mocha machines (not electrical like in a bar, cd-stereo/radio, iron and ironing board, cooker with oven, air conditioning in 5 double bedrooms/ceiling fans or standing fans in the other bedrooms, parking approx, hair dryer in each bathroom, formal garden, but the one you screw together and put on the stove)....Read more
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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