Wherever you are coming from, they all lead here
As I was driving out to any appointment in Tuscany, it has just become second nature to scan all of the road signs to see what else is available to explore. And along the delightful road out to visit Villa i Leoni in the Montespertoli area I quickly came to one very simple conclusion: All roads seem to lead to Villa I Leoni. There is the road of wine, the road of ceramics, the “via Francigena”...and of course the road to Castello Montefugone….it just seemed like everything was pointing me in the direction of the town Montanara and Villa i Leoni.
My appointment was planned right after lunch, so I decided to case out the town where Sergio had promised good restaurants only minutes away - and much to my delight I followed my nose to a local town festival and “Grigliata” - or Tuscan style BBQ. The town is so small, you will probably drive out of it before you realize you are in it - except for the large (way large) parking lot next to the gas station. I made my way to the circolo - which translates into cultural activities center (so much faster to say cheer-co-lo) and asked where I should pay - - “oh you don’t have time for that, grab a plate and start eating before it all goes cold.” All righty!
All of your Senses are on Alert
When I finally returned to my car and made the less than 1 km trip up to Villa i Leoni, I must admit that all my senses were in heaven - my taste buds had just been dazzled, the silence in the olive grove was delicious, the shades of green contrasting with the rather dreary gray sky were mesmerizing and I could smell the calming scent of fresh cut grass. I didn’t even need to tour the villa to know that a vacation in this paradise would be full of great memories.
Why stay here?
I loved: the proximity to a small town while still being in the Tuscan countryside.
Ideal for: groups looking for a central position, quiet and lots of Tuscan countryside
As I walked through the garden in front of the villa I was greeted with a wide array of plants, flowers and the ever present lemon trees and then I saw Sergio. Though I had already spoken with him several times on the phone, I could see by his smile that he was just the kind of person you want to have greet you after navigating airports, train stations, car rental agencies and Tuscan country roads. His warm smile just seems to emanate calm and encourages you to relax. We strolled all around the exterior of the villa, and though the yard is contained, it is definitely a place where adults and children can hang out together. The pool is set off to the side, away from the tall shade trees which protect the villa from the summer sun. The olive trees whisper around with the slight breeze, and the panorama is a constant reminder that you are vacationing in one of the more representative areas of Tuscany.
The villa is divided into three different apartments, which fit together like a large jigsaw puzzle with interlocking rooms. However, they are always rented as one large block for large groups. The architectural layout is perfect for housing several families and groups of friends and ensure some necessary private time as well. The largest apartment on the ground floor opens to the gazebos and BBQ. There is a super large dining room area in this apartment which will accommodate up to 37 persons - and the large industrial style kitchen is just the place to be doing the cooking - either on your own or with a professional chef….why not plan on a few cooking lessons while you're there?
Villa I Leoni, a Family Passion
Between the olive groves, the vineyards and the landmark castle down the road this scenic vacation villa is a harmonic part of the scenery. “My father grew-up here, but when they closed the farm and he was forced to look for work elsewhere he headed to Florence:” Sergio speaks of his father and his growing up as a sharecropper for the Castello Montefugone,”but his heart always remained here and when he had the incredible opportunity to buy the villa, he went for it right away.” His father’s passion may have been returning to the place of his childhood but it is easy to see that Sergio has quite a bit of passion for the area as he filled me in on where the name of the villa came from and the history of the castle...neither of which I will share so that when you stay here you can have him tell the story himself - with a glass of wine and a bit fresh baked foccacia dipped in some extra virgin olive oil for which this area is famous.
Highlights of my Visit:
Highlight: Stumbling into the local town spring festival and BBQ. The community was friendly and welcoming. I can just imagine while staying in the villa, that an evening stroll into town for some gelato and an espresso would be a pleasant way to experience the culture.
Surprise: The silence. Sergio was cautious in telling me “there is some traffic on the road” - like the occasional tractor. It is a country road and will have some country traffic, but when you’re in the garden or poolside, it all seems to melt away.
Favorite: The history (OK, I will give you a hint) this area played a special part in saving some of the famous artwork from Florence … but I am NOT going to say another word - you are going to have to get the full story out of Sergio!
After we toured the Villa and the “in-law-suite”, we headed over to the two independent villas which can be rented either together, separate from the main villa or even individually between themselves. As we strolled the 70 meters, Sergio pointed out where they have organized weddings and “benedizione” (wedding blessings) among the well tended olive groves. Absolutely dreamy, with this naturally green backdrop, any event or celebration is sure to memorable. He has quite a bit of experience assisting in the organization of these events including catering, a person to give the blessings and even a few vineyards where you can go and taste test your way to the perfect party wine.
Sergio explained that these two villas were designed specifically to offer comfort, space and a relaxing Tuscan experience. The floorplan consists of lots of open space on the ground floor with direct access to the garden area where you will find table, chairs and even a large BBQ for enjoying the landscape. There is one double bedroom on the ground floor with bathroom and the other three bedrooms are on the first floor. The ground floor boasts a large kitchen which incoporates a dining area and over looks the dining room - everyone will always be apart of the holiday fun.
The two brand new villas are nestled into the community but both have an uninhibited view of the family's farm, surrounded with a supersized green garden that blends seamlessly into the vineyards and olives. Restyled barns, they are two free standing self catering holiday accommodations with 4 bedrooms each. One on the ground floor with its own bathroom and three upstairs with two large modern bathrooms. The ground floor has an open layout which takes advantage of the french doors opening into the garden or courtyard area. These can be rented separately from the villa because they have their own pool and are completely independent or they are rented together with the main villa. Their proximity to the villa and the private road that connects them makes them perfect for persons coming for the party but are looking for some private time as well.
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