Touring in the area
Typical Tuscan countryside, picturesque villages, a beautiful medieval city and the Manhattan of Italy, make for another full days touring in the Italian countryside!
Touring to the North of Villa Fontelunga
Described in the lonely planet guide book as "Tuscany's hidden gem", Arezzo has a wealth of elegant renaissance and medieval architecture, art, shopping and restaurants. Ostensibly a commercial city, the capital of the province and one of the biggest gold manufacturing centres in the world, seems on its out skirts to be less than beautiful, but its historic walled centre is definitely worth a visit. On the first weekend of every month this historic centre plays host to Italy's largest antique fair where literally all the towns streets are clogged with clutter and more! The Piero della Francesca frescoes in the church of San Francesco are world famous for the development of fresco painting in Italy, whilst the pizza outside the church was made famous by the Benigni film "life is beautiful". Now you even enjoy a café in the bar of the same name! The annual jousting tournament is quite an event taking over the whole main square and allowing a lot grown men to run around in stockings and funny hats, very colourful! Parking is advised in the station car park just outside the city walls and a leisurely stroll around the centre can take in the Duomo and castle, Piazza Grande (antique shops) Basilica di San Francesco and the Piero della Francesca frescoes (booking advised ask Paolo). Arezzo is a good shopping centre and Corso Italia is the main shopping Street(see Retail Therapy on the web page)
Monte San Savino
One of the more beautiful hill top towns of the Val di Chiana region, a town well known in Italy for its antique dealers and shops, it also has several good restaurants and a stunning town hall, which if open should be explored al the way through to its garden beyond. The town is worth a visit if only to sample the delights of its ice cream parlour "Chocolato di carlo" !
Civitella in Val di Chiana
Beautiful little hill top town just the other side of the autostrada from Arezzo. There are a couple of bars/restaurants one of which commands an amazing view from its terrace over the northern part of the Val di Chiana. The views from the other side of the town are over pristine, protected chestnut woods, all the way into Chianti.
Well the out visits have taken Villa Fontelunga by storm as have the post shopping impromptu cat walk shows in the living area by our guests, always best to shop before one of the dinner parties and then ware your wares!!
The outlets are three separate locations;
Prada Nr Montevarchi, which is a glorified warehouse on an industrial estate hosting the companies other brands as well like Miu Miu & Jill Sanders –
You can never be entirely sure what may be in at the time of your visit but a trip rarely come back empty handed. Tips; good for suits, shoes and accessories.
The Mall Nr Incisa, now developed into a shopping centre hosting Gucci, Armani, Sergio Rossi, Ermenegildo Zegna, Todds & Hogan around a lovely bar – " my favourite spot"!!
D&G near to the above.
*One of the best reasons to go to the outlets is the need to have lunch in one of the best restaurants in the area, if there's nothing in your size then this saves the day every time!
Osteria di Rendola Tel. 055 9707491 Loc. Rendola From Montevarchi follow the directions to Mercatale until you will see the sign for Rendola.
Touring to the East of Villa Fontelunga
It is believed to be one or if not the oldest known settlements on the Italian peninsular, predating roman civilization by several hundred years this town was one of the main centres of the Etruscan civilization. The Etruscans established themselves though a series of "city type" states/settlements, a tradition which existed in the Italian peninsular until 140 ago when the country of Italy was finally created. Cortona, like all of the Etruscan city settlements, was created in well defendable position, with dramatic views over the Val di Chiana and at 650 metres not easily scaled! Constructed out of the local stone, its medieval defensive walls with their Etruscan foundations, the city is an impressive site as you arrive from the Valley floor. Laid out around two linked squares the "lower" and "upper" the town has always commanded a position of responsibility over the Val di Chiana. Today it is probably one of the most visited cities in the area, so beware of those terrible tourists, however once out of the main squares although a tough walk up the steep streets, the upper part of the town is quiet, well looked after and stunningly beautiful. There is an upper gate to the town which, once found, leads out on to a road that has incredibly sunset views towards us here on our side of the Valley, and a nice stone bench for comfort! It is for this reason we do recommend our guests to try the city out in the afternoon when the sun is setting directly into its narrow streets. The tourist industry has encouraged the development of several good restaurants which are listed on our direction sheet one of which "Il teatro" has the famous " lady with the laugh" one of the owners which, if you go you will know what we mean! ( Please ask anyone of the team for reservations). Also over the week ends this is the one town that is buzzing in the Valley and well worth a "passeggiata"!
There is something about this town, in the Valley, which makes it very special. Sitting next to its big and historically impressive brother Cortona, it seems irrelevant, however all these things work to its advantage in this very working farm town, its generally empty of those terrible tourists! Built mainly in brick, with some stone, and set on a small hill slightly in front of the mountains behind, it is aesthetically incredibly pleasing with its main via providing the artery to discover several well proportioned piazzas and many rustic alleys dotted with several fine pieces of architecture. This artery culminates in the main town square, a delightful mix of medieval and domestic architecture, with its renaissance arcade covering one whole side, offering a wonderful window towards the tree clad mountains. And just when you thought it was all over, above this piazza opposite the arcade, is the deserted fort / keep of the town all well preserved and ready for town functions, offering spectacular views over the whole of the Val di Chiana. Its main restaurant "Muzzicone" is renowned for its tagliata and "like it or lump it" staff and owner! A nonsense must!
Have a look at the "walk around Isola Maggiore" for info on Italy's 4th largest lake.
Perugia and Assisi
Consult your guide books and watch out for the jazz festival in Perugia. They are together a day out in themselves, Perugia being one of the most beautiful provincial capitals in Italy!
Touring to the West of Villa Fontelunga
A beautiful medieval city with a stunning duomo and unique main square "Il Campo", which is the setting, twice a year, for "Il Palio" the famous horse race in July and August. Visit the weeks prior and after to savour the atmosphere and the rivalry of the various quarters of the city. After the battle of Scannagallo in 1530 when Siena finally succumbed to the power of the medicis in Florence, the city was deprived of its main source of income during those times, banking! Since then, up until the recent boom in tourism, Siena remained a back water which preserved its character as a medieval city! The duomo is one of the most individual in Italy, with its white and black striped facade and the museum next to the Duomo is worth visiting if only for its breathtaking views over the rooftops of Siena and the surrounding countryside! The piazza to the side of the Duomo was actually planned as the nave of an enlarged Duomo until the population was decimated by the plague in the 1300's. However if you are all churched out, just pull up a chair in the Campo, order a Campari and watch all the other tourists do the work!!
Approximately half an hour the other side of Siena, San Gimignano is worth a visit just for the medieval towers which have been described as Italy's medieval answer to Manhattan. For those who don't like crowds San Gimignano may be best viewed from afar to take best advantage of its skyline or early in the morning.
One of the most beautiful villages we know in Tuscany! Situated 15mins east of Villa Fontelunga on the way to Siena, this beautifully kept village is an almost perfect oval, a gate on either side, with the streets running in concentric circles parallel to its outer wall, topped off with and enormous church! There are several great restaurants but its worth getting there early to take in the charm of this special village.
Either on the way to or back from Siena take a drive through the Chianti countryside and stop off at any number of idyllic small towns. Radda in Chianti, Greve, Castellina in Chianti, to name but a few. Alternatively set aside a whole day to explore this delightful area at a more leisurely pace. You can always visit again if you don't have time on this occasion!
Two Cyprus's, a ruined farm house and rolling fields of corn, yes, the idyllic picture of Tuscany, well this can be found in "the Creta"! The road between Asciano and Siena has some of the most unique countryside in the world, a must scenic drive!!! In the same area, and a good place to stop for a light supper on the way home from Siena is a pretty town called Castelnuovo Beradenga where there is a simple but nice restaurant in its fab refurbished town square, Osteria Al Prato 05771355411.
Pozzo della Chiana
Our local village, although "blink and you miss it" it is on the site of one of the old known settlements in the Italian peninsula. Pozzo means well in Italian and the town supplied the fresh water for all the surrounding area. Now it has two mini markets, a bank, butchers, bakers and the best pizzeria / bar in the area!
Touring to the South – West of Villa Fontelunga
This is a full days itinerary visiting some of the prettiest walled towns in Tuscany all no more than an hours drive from the Villa.
An incredibly elegant walled town, spectacular views, a wonderful renaissance medieval main square and well know for its "Vino Nobile" wine. It has an old school Italian café called "Caffe Poliziano" which holds many memories for us of past visits with friends. Take a coffee, light lunch or tea, Enotecas just inside the gates are great for purchasing local wines if you don't have time to visit the winery itself. Avignonesi our favourite is just 100 metres on the right hand side, alternatively we can book a tour of the winery with lunch near Cortona, a treat not to be missed! At the top of town is a beautiful square and the S. Biagio church outside the city walls are both worth a visit. Near to Montepulciano, producing one the better Vino Nobile's, is the winery of Avigionese where you can tour the vineyard and take lunch, however you will need a reservation.
Area around Montepulciano
The rolling hills around Montepulciano are home to many stunning hill top towns such as Trequanda, Montisi, Castelmuzio and Monte Follonico, to name but a few, which, if you are passing, all have great watering hole for either Lunch, dinner, an aperitivo or even just a coffee. Another, Montecchiello is where you'll find the famous winding avenue of the Cyprus trees that you see on all the post cards of Tuscany.
Sitting on the edge of the World heritage Val d' Orcia, Pienza, a gorgeous little walled town, owes its appearance to Pope Pius II who patronized his small home town in the 14th century, bestowing it with the most fabulous collection of early renaissance palazzi and one of the only renaissance wells in its town sq. Due to its position on the edge of the Val D'orca it offers spectacular views across the valley to the extinct volcano of Mont Amiata, Tuscany's highest mountain. It is well known for the local pecorino cheeses and there is an un pretentious little trattoria in Piazza di Spagna called "Sette di Vino" ( they will not serve food after 2.00 pm and it is closed on wend) for lunch. However if you fancy a lighter more casual lunch walk to the side of the town with the view where there is a wine bar called Il Casello offering a great selection of local wines, sandwiches and some benches where you can take in the dramatic view!
If you have the time, visit this unique little town south of Montepulciano. Situated by the "Via Cassia" the old north - south Roman road, the town functioned as a place to wash and freshen up in roman times with the main square of the town being one large hot spring. There are many small restaurants and bars where you can lunch very comfortably and also a spa where you can take the waters if you are not already hot enough!
Another very elegant stone walled town with spectacular views of its surrounding vineyards and well know for its Brunello Wine. The environs of Montalcino contain many well know wineries, tours must be booked in advance. (let us know and we can make a reservation)1 Km outside the town there is a lovely restaurant called "Boccon Divino".