A visit with Federica and her parents, the owners Casa Podere Monti, gave me an opportunity to experience the casual and friendly atmosphere that will surely be the source of your best memories while on vacation in Tuscany. The self-catering apartments and independent villa rentals snug in the Siena countryside were the perfect complement to the incredible surrounding landscape; they go together like bread and olive oil, like pecorino cheese and honey, or like Tuscan wine and homemade pasta!
Their warm smiles and gentle manners greeted me as I pulled into the fenced-in property, and I could feel the immediate welcome. Not only was I in love with the landscape, and the impressive views of San Gimignano, Volterra, and Larderello, but I was in love with the picturesque gardens, the pool and the quaint Tuscan-styled villas on the family-run farm.
Federica has a bubbly personality when she begins to talk about the estate. It practically sparkles when she starts to talk of the town of Casole d’Elsa, which is within an easy walking distance of the vacation accommodations. Her parents work together with Federica to keep Casa Podere Monti in tip-top shape, but it is evident that they are slowly handing the reigns over to her (under a watchful eye). The self-catering apartments and villas feature a simple yet elegant decor and are complete with modern accessories for a relaxing and tranquil holiday in Tuscany.
Two Types of Accommodations
The family started off with just two apartments. The idea was to open their home - and not just the family farm, but also a geographical area east of Siena in Tuscany that is often left out of travel itineraries. The apartments were carved out of the main farmhouse and provided the base for what is now a collection 3 self catering apartments and 3 independent villas with private gardens.
After trolling the archives and the local government office, and listening to the stories of an older generation and neighbors, the family has surmised that their home is actually a jigsaw with the base originating in the late 1600’s. As time passed, it was then reorganized when the residing families grew and expanded.
”Officially, we can date the structure back to 1680 - but word of mouth tells us that it is very possible that it existed even before that time period...”
The apartment Ciliegio is named after the cherry tree that stands guard out front. Between its position on the ground floor and it’s more than 90 square meters of space make it one of the most requested apartments. Federica confided it is also one of the coolest in the summer, a pure center of relaxation after a couple of hours sunning by the pool that overlooks the San Gimignano skyline.
The other two apartments are located upstairs on the first floor and feature panoramic views of the valley, the apartment Mandorlo features three double bedrooms and the other for 4 persons. Neither were available when I stopped by because they were doing some renovation and modernization...I am sure they will turn out fabulous.
A Review of Casa Podere Monti
We loved: the cozy decor, the modern bathrooms and the friendly atmosphere between the family-run estate and the small Tuscan town
Ideal for: couples or families who like the idea of walking into town for breakfast, a gelato or evening entertainment
Close to the main house, not even 50 meters away, there are three independent vacation villa rentals. Casa Podere Monti offers two villas, Olivo and Noce, with fenced in yards - great for kids and pets. I especially loved the way the family had organized each with secluded and private picnic areas.
Noce, had a view that just amazed me overlooking the Valle del Diavolo...the Devil’s Valley. This area of Tuscany is rich with geothermal energy, and from the patio of this two story, two bedroom/two bathroom villa you can see the steam puffing out of the Earth’s crust. Mesmerizing!
A Decor that Speaks of Quality
Even in the chilly winter months, when daylight hours are short, I noticed that the apartments and villas were filled with natural light. When restructuring a farmhouse or barn from the 1600’s this is not necessarily an easy feat. However, each villa is designed to allow the sunshine to filter in and warm the interiors. The floors, with the unique ceramic tiles, and the color selection for the kitchens in white and neutral colors work together to highlight space and the simple yet contemporary decor.
”We took our time selecting styles, colors and accessories. We really wanted the rooms and bathrooms to feel comfortable, clean and cosy.”
I especially fell in love with the newly renovated bathrooms in several of the apartments. Not only did each have a unique style and design but they were spotlessly clean and easy to navigate. The choice of colors and quality tiles gave them a bit of personality that had them feeling homey and practical. Featuring showers in all of the apartments, my personal favorite was the patchwork design in the villa Olivo.
Casa Podere Monti in a Glance:
Type: self catering holiday apartments & vacation villas
Location: Casole d’Elsa
Distance: San Gimignano (30 min) or Siena (40 minutes)
Transport: a car is useful, however, there is a bus service 10 meters from the front gate of the accommodations
Apartments: 3 apartments & 3 villas
Type of board: self catering
The idea of a family environment is actually threefold. Casa Podere Monti is family run, and it is their personal commitment to care for the property, the gardens and their guests that make this vacation accommodation so special. It is their choice not to have an “official” reception office when you arrive. Need assistance? or have a question? You can just knock at the front door of their home. There is always someone available to help out.
But the idea of a family environment doesn’t stop there. Their holiday accommodations were made to be family friendly. The garden space is contained and well kept, just the kind of place that invites you to sit outside and read a book, play games or take in some sun. The large pool area is set just a short distance from the apartments and villas, so it is close enough to reach by foot, but not too close that the fun and laughter will spill over into the private garden areas. The apartments are designed to appeal to adults, couples, and kids. A particular favorite is the attic bedroom in Olivo, where the kids have their own private space upstairs and the parents have a spacious master bedroom with direct access to a secluded patio.
The area lends itself to a fun-filled family holiday, especially when you are curious about the local culture, traditions and meeting the Tuscans. Casole d’Elsa is a great little town with an exceptionally packed social calendar. You will constantly find concerts, activities, and events that will draw you out and throw you into the action. Federica and her parents mentioned the Welcome Day activity, where two times a year the town government arranges for local families to open their homes for a meal and conversation to guests staying at the nearby agriturismo, hotels, b&b and vacation apartments. A "meet the people" that has had great success.
Walking into Town
How much fun is that!?
Not only is it a well-maintained path that connects the picturesque town of Casole d’Elsa to the Casa Podere Monti, but it is also illuminated at night. This means after dinner, you can stroll into town, catch a live concert, mix and mingle with the locals, eat a gelato and after it all, when the stars have come out, you can safely walk home.
Just outside the main gates of the accommodations is a bus stop for those who prefer not to always walk the 2 km into town. Federica and her parents admit, it is not as frequent as some would like, but if you know your calendar you can use it to get to the town of Colle Val d’Elsa where you will find connecting buses to many of the more popular sites like Siena, San Gimignano, and Poggibonsi.
Since many of their guests come back and visit them over the years, Federica revises their guest information book every winter to include new itineraries. She realizes as beautiful as Siena and Florence are if you have already been here several times you might want to discover something new. For example, the town of Bolgheri, only 60 km away, along the Tuscan coast - and featuring some of Tuscany’s most prized wines!
A Great New Opportunity
The family is now holding a cooking class in a room in the main farmhouse where wine was once produced and stored. The family joins in the fun and spends time cooking the meal together with you! They have chosen traditional recipes for a real Tuscan lunch. Each step is explained and then completed together so that guests can easily replicate these wonderful flavors once at home for family and friends.
They dedicate about 4 hours to showing you the "family secrets" to these much-loved recipes, like handmade pasta with spinach and ricotta cheese fillings and the classic Tiramisù dessert, creamy mascarpone cheese with a hint of espresso. Best of all, with favorable weather conditions, lunch will be served in the beautiful garden in front of the farmhouse together with a selection of local wines.The cooking class will be held with a minimum of 2 participants for a maximum of 4.
In conclusion, Casa Podere Monti is a fun and relaxing combination of comfort, location, and coziness. The apartments and villas are decorated with good taste, offering a relaxing and inviting atmosphere. The family-run estate is close to many major attractions while managing to capture the charm of existing in the Tuscan countryside. Especially nice is that the number of apartments is contained, meaning that it is a small group of people sharing the panoramic gardens and pools.
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