We stayed at Sant'Alberto (called Villa Enrico and several other names here) for a big family get-together with 10 adults and 7 kids. Short version: it was perfect for a large group including several toddlers, and served our little dream of touring Tuscany's food, farms and art without getting overwhelmed by the kids. We were a short (bendy) drive from lots of interesting places in many directions, and the house and grounds were kid-friendly enough to let them run off their energy when we got home. We had a really nice time.
The house is split into separate accommodations so each family grouping had a little away-space: a few bedrooms with bathrooms and balconies and some in-room kitchenettes, each grouped around 4 small kitchens with fireplaces. There's also a large, open central kitchen, communal dining table, fireplace and couches. The house has the feeling of a very old working house that has been respectfully, tastefully and solidly restored to work again, not to be a paeon to olden days. It worked perfectly for our five-family stay.
This part of Tuscany is dotted with vineyards, olive trees, sheep, tiny hilltop medieval towns stuffed with art and architecture, and... that's it. You can either immerse yourself in the history of religion and states without treading the same beaten path as every other tourist in Italy, or just breathe fresh air. We checked out towns (Montalcino, Montepulciano, Siena, Pienza, Campiglia D'Orcia, Chiusi) for about half of each day, and then walked the farmland and the rural roads, or sat around eating the super fresh and delicious pecorino and ricotta cheeses we'd gotten at the farm up the road.
Luckily for us, Antonetta, the very gracious and able owner of Sant'Alberto, spent a lot of time helpful us figure out the poorly-mapped maze of roads in the Val D'Orcia region so we could get around. She also helped us figure out where to get groceries (the Co-op in San Quirico D'Orcia) and wi-fi (some access cards that she kept in stock.)
Some of our favorite spots:
- Bagni San Fillippo (Fosso Bianco) - maybe the only local hot springs that are in a free-and-public park?
- Montalcino - just a really nice town to walk in, with good gelato at the store called Why Not?
- The Cheese Farm - obviously not called "the cheese farm," but ask Antonetta! It's on the road to Campiglia D'Orcia. The farmers are friendly, the milk is all from the sheep on the farm, the sheep are fed only from the farm's fields... the cheese a big creamy white bite of Val D'Orcia.
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