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Two Tuscan Villa Hideaways: Vignamaggio and Locanda dell’ Amorosa

By Kathy McCabe, Editor and Publisher, Dream of Italy, The Insider’s Guide to Undiscovered Italy

Villa Vignamaggio

If you’ve watched the Kenneth Branagh film of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, then you’ve already seen Villa Vignamaggio, where the movie was filmed. Vignamaggio is also famous at the birthplace of Mona Lisa in 1479.

Two miles from the town of Greve in Chianti, Vignamaggio is centrally located among the local wineries producing Chianti Classico. In fact, Vignamaggio produces its own award-winning wine and olive oil and hosts tours and tastings for guests and visitors alike. Vignamaggio’s wine was actually the first red wine in the area to be referred to as “Chianti,” in 1404.

This agriturismo, or “tourism farm” is a particularly good choice for families as it offers two swimming pools, a tennis court, mountain bikes, fitness center, a playground and a pool table. Guests can choose among 20 rooms, suites and apartments housed in several old farm houses. The Tuscan villa itself, surrounded by a stunning Renaissance garden, has suites only. The room we stayed in was filled with antiques, but also had a kitchenette creatively built into an old wardrobe. Even the apartments have daily maid service.

Vignamaggio hosts special dinners twice a week, otherwise guests cook for themselves in their apartments or visit one of the many fine restaurants in Greve. It’s best to have a rental car when visiting the area. Driving the winding road up to Vignamaggio at night may be daunting for some, so the hotel can also arrange for taxi service.

Via Petriolo 5
Greve in Chianti
(39) 055 854661
www.vignamaggio.com
Open: Mid-March through the end of the year.
Rates: 180 to 285 euros per room, suite or apartment per night. Optional breakfast is 10 or 15 euros per day.

Locanda dell’ Amorosa

It’s no mistake that the name of this Tuscan villa means, “Lover’s Inn,” as this place exudes romance from the moment guests enter the impressive, cypress-lined drive. An hour-and-a-half by car from Florence, Locanda dell’Amorosa resembles the small town it once was, a 14th-century medieval village. The property has changed ownership only once in 700 years. In 1873, the Piccolomini family of Pienza (family of Pope Pius II) sold the property to Fiorella Favard, whose descendants still own the estate.

The town’s lovely old church, the site of occasional weddings, sits in the middle of the main square. Next door, an old farm building has been converted to a wine bar where breakfast is served as well. On the side, former lodging for the farmers has been converted into large guest rooms with equally spacious and airy bathrooms, a rarity in Italy.

The former stables are now home to Amorosa’s excellent restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, where guests can enjoy the estate’s tranquil setting while indulging in Tuscan specialties. Behind the main square are the rest of the converted farm buildings and accommodations. The hotel’s infinity pool sits in a quiet field overlooking the countryside.

The hotel offers small touches such as a computer with Internet access in the lobby and complimentary refreshments poolside. It makes it hard to leave to explore the surrounding towns, but at Amorosa it’s just fine to stay and enjoy the beauty at hand.

Localita’ l’Amorosa
Sinalunga
(39) 0577 677211
www.amorosa.it
Open: Early March to early January.
Rates: A standard room is 234 euros per night, including breakfast. A suite is 365 euros.

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