As I drove down the gravel road I could see the cluster of buildings and the hills covered with trees beyond. This agriturismo, Antico Borgo di Tignano, was indeed remote – off the beaten path (I’m surprised I didn’t get lost finding it!). This is the type of accommodation I was looking for in Italy – a remote slice of paradise.
Located in the Val d’Elsa, to the north and west of Siena, Antico Borgo di Tignano sits between Casole d’Elsa and Volterra in Tuscany. The ever popular San Gimignano is close by too. But, I think you’ll want to simply spend some time walking around the grounds, sitting by the pool or sitting on LaTerrazza di Dante (Dante’s terrace) taking in the views, the tranquility, the peace. It’s a great place to turn off for a while.
Gabriella, your hostess, is a lover of nature. She speaks some English, although not great (but better than my Italian!) so you’ll be able to carry on a conversation with her and get some great advice for places to see and things to do. She will arrange for the yoga instructor to pay a visit so you can have a yoga class (even for those of you who are beginners) or for the massage therapist to come by so you can have a relaxing massage right in your apartment. You can also cook with her chef, Ezia, who is fabulous. Or simply sit by the pool and take in the Tuscan sun and the views of the Tuscan hills.
Each of the apartments, scattered about the buildings, is different, but each is spacious and clean, and above all, quiet. This place is definitely “out of the way”, but not so much so that you can’t get to a hill town and experience that piece of Toscana. It is enough “out of the way” to give you a feel of the nature of Toscana – “la natura”.
Dinners are scrumptious and served in the lovely restaurant, La Terrazza di Dante. Local ingredients make their way onto your plate. It’s all simple Tuscan fare, which means fresh, in season and delicious. In good weather, you will indeed be on that terrace and can watch the sun go down and the stars come out. The stars were so plentiful when I was there. It was amazing!
The restaurant also serves as the breakfast room so, again, if the weather is good, you’ll be out on Dante’s Terrace with the fantastic views. Breakfast is included in the price of your apartment and consists of a nice array of yogurt, cereal, breads, meat, cheese, fruit, juice, coffee and tea. Eggs are also an option upon request. I personally thought the coffee was some of the best I’ve had in Italy.
Antico Borgo di Tignano is a very unique place to stay. It’s not going to be for everyone. For those wanting to be right in town or real close to a town, this is not for you. But, for those wanting to experience “la natura di Toscana” – the nature of Tuscany – this is an amazing agriturismo. And I really can’t say enough about Gabriella. She has a wonderful energy about her – at once funny and witty, yet peaceful and zen-like. She enjoys her guests which is an important quality in a hostess running such an accommodation. I certainly heard some funny stories from her, in a wonderful mix of Italian and English. It is my hope to return again soon – and maybe arrange for some of you to experience the serenity of this wonderful agriturismo and its special hostess.