Farmhouse lovingly restored by the Freddi family to recreate a rustic, Tuscan countryside experience
Coming from northern Italy, the Freddis came to visit Tuscany and, like many of us, fell in love with the region. They were lucky and bold enough to take on the challenge of restoring this farmhouse to the south of Siena from ruin, since it was pretty much just walls when they found it.
We were invited by the Freddi family to come and visit this April and have a chat over lunch. As we drove up the long dirt road with a few potholes here and there (nothing our own DT-mobile, a Toyota Prius, wasn't able to handle), we concurred that it was worth it! Anyone arriving here cannot be left untouched by the stupendous views of the surrounding hills.
While the photos on their website are quite spectacular, the estate is so much better in person. To be told of the views is one thing, but to actually be there and be surrounded by them and see the medieval hilltop village of Montalcino just beyond the house is certainly another. I stopped and imagined enjoying the sunset by the pool, carved out on the hill just below the house, with a glass of wine and the view: what dreams are made of!
A loving restoration
Over a delicious lunch prepared by son Marcello, who is a trained chef and thus offers guests private cooking lessons, we heard the passion and love that Silvana, Piergiorgio and their children have put into the estate. Piergiorgio explained how the restoration took years, as they recuperated as much of the original materials as possible and then went on the search for original pieces to decorate their new home.
The restoration is high quality, with beautiful fixtures and furnishings blending in perfectly with the feel of an old farmhouse: the authentic hand-painted walls were done by Piergiorgio himself and the heavy wooden shutters on the windows, wrought-iron beds and tiles in the apartments combine perfectly with every modern convenience (including TVs which I imagine I would never even turn on if I stayed here).
A home away from home
Our thoughts on Podere Cunina
We loved: the location, but most of all, the warmth and hospitality of the Freddi family.
Ideal for: from couples to families or groups, perfect for exploring southern Tuscany, from the Val d'Orcia to Siena and Chianti.
We saw two of the seven apartments, the Vitis and Hedera; both were very spacious and had all that one could need to enjoy a relaxing stay as well as offering great views of the Tuscan countryside, spectacularly green at this time of the year. As mentioned above, the furnishings are rustic but high-quality, with many special pieces restored for the house (such as a carpenter's worktable now being used as a living room table in Hedera). As we walked around the farmhouse, we enjoyed the scents of the blooming flowers and of the many herbs planted all around the house. We soon learned that both the herbs and vegetable garden (all organic!) nearby are for guests to use in their kitchen during their stay.
Great, central location
Podere Cunina At-a-Glance:
Type: 7 self catering holiday apartment
Location: Buonconvento, 5 km (15 minutes)
Distance: Montepulciano (50 min) & Siena (50 min)
Transport: a car is necessary
Type of board: No meals provided
Just 10 minutes from Buonconvento, you are close enough to make convenient trips down for groceries or dinner out as well as far enough to feel well removed from the rest of the world. From Buonconvento, one can quickly head just a few kilometers south to explore the Val d'Orcia, discovering the landscapes and fine wines & food of the area: the Brunello wine of Montalcino, the pecorino cheese in Pienza and more great red wines in Montepulciano. To the north lies Siena, about 30 minutes away, San Gimignano an hour away and Florence can be visited for a day (drive is about an hour and 45 minutes). Podere Cunina definitely makes a great base from which to explore all of the main sights in Tuscany, but also just a place to stay at and relax.
Labor of love
While we admired the farmhouse and its beauty, both inside and outside, I was particularly caught by the labor of love the family puts into the estate every single day, year round. Welcoming guests to their home is only part of what they do, they also take care of, harvest and produce high-quality extra virgin olive oil as well as plant, care for and hand-pick the flowers from which precious Italian saffron comes from (which we tasted in the delicious risotto Marcello prepared for us) AND care for honey bees to create the sweet nectar we know as honey. Guests can take advantage of all of their work, from picking fresh herbs and vegetables in the garden to enjoying the final olive oil, honey and saffron sold by the family and enjoy everything in their own apartment kitchen... as well as participate in the cooking classes offered by Marcello.
We brought home one of each of their products and are loving the olive oil and the honey, while I've yet to find the right recipe for the saffron (Marcello recommends using it in delicate dishes where the scent and color can shine through)
As I read over other reviews of Podere Cunina on the web, I could not agree more with the one thing that stands out the most for past guests and for me as well: no matter how beautiful and breathtaking the farmhouse and views are, the main reason why anyone should stay here is for the people you'll meet. Piergiorgio, Silvana and Marcello are the real treasures of Podere Cunina, welcoming us into their world as part of the family in just one afternoon, working hard everyday to share their home, the fruit of their labors and their love of this small corner of Tuscany with all who decide to set foot here. Our only regret was not being able to stay here longer, something we will most certainly do the next time we come back to continue exploring this part of Tuscany.
In the meantime, I definitely recommend Podere Cunina for a great memorable stay in Tuscany!
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