How to pick a great villa in Tuscany
It occurred to me that a lot of people that are looking to find a luxury villa in Tuscany, are probably going through the same motions I’ve been in the past, IE how to determine that your villa really is a luxury villa or not. Here are a few things that, in my opinion, class a villa in Tuscany as one having that luxurious quality!
First: the view has to be mind-blowing
Tuscany isn’t like any other region in Italy, sure there are those unique places found everywhere that will leave an indelible impression on the mind when seen for the first time, for example Lake Garda, or the Island of Capri are two that come to mind immediately. Tuscany is different because wherever there is an historic centre of a city, it has been preserved, and whenever there are amazing countryside panoramas these have been preserved by the transformation of the countryside into holiday villa apartments. This is not an exaggeration, literally the advent of holiday accommodation in Tuscany saved the countryside from complete and utter decay into nothingness. This was because as major food distribution marched forward, crop and farm income was diminished, and it was only thanks to generous EU grants that farmhouses were able to be transformed into amazing holiday accommodation. It’s one of the rare situations where the increase in tourism has not impacted negatively, but positively on the Tuscan countryside. Sorry I deviated there…back to the point. A luxury villa has to have an amazing view, so you should demand it when booking!
The villa has to be independent
Luxury means exclusivity and it also means independence. However, because some of the villa properties have been resurrected from farmhouses it’s very possible that you could book a villa and end up sharing this with other people within the grounds that could mean….a shared pool! (oh horror!) Because these buildings are independent and websites have photos showing these villas on their own, you could get caught out by thinking that it was a an independent luxury villa, only to turn up and find yourself in the company of others. If you’re looking for something romantic and have a family with 3 small children then that’s not a desirable outcome. Equally if you’re a family of 3 and have a romantic couple next door, that not what you want either! So, to avoid getting caught in this situation, just ask for clarification that the villa is on it’s own in its own grounds if a luxury villa in what you seek!
It simply has to be near Florence or Siena
Historically both Florence and Siena have occupied strong ties with Tuscany over the centuries, and therefore the last point I think that has to be a feature of a luxury villa. Frankly if you’re staying at a luxury villa in the middle of nowhere, then it’s going to be more a luxury refurbishment, because if the villa was truly luxurious it would have been occupied by wealthy people over its lifetime, and these people would have lived near to Tuscany’s primary cities.
Additional “comfort “ services
These are a few of the comfort services I’ve seen being offered to people staying in luxurious Tuscany villas, which I think are worthy of noting here:
• Horse-riding (day out on the “Colli Senesi” amazing!)
• Private Chef (you visit the sites and then come back to your villa with food ready prepared, and explanations of the history of the dishes!)
• Shopping Trips to Fashion Malls (Gucci and Prada are made in Tuscany, and the Mall at Lecce is just one of the most popular places to buy fashion at a discount)
• Tuscan Cookery Courses (rosemary, salt, olive oil. Learning how to use these ingredients properly is how you uncover the Tuscan dishes)
• Child-minders (mum and dad go off for the day, leaving kids to play by the pool!)
• Wine-tasting (IGT, DOC,DOCG, Sangiovese, Morellino di Scansano. Understanding the different wines of Tuscany is made easier with a helpful guide)
• Hot air-balloon rides (it’s a landscape unmatched in Italy, and what better way to see it than from the air!)
That’s my personal guide to choose a special villa. Clearly the one thing that I did leave out was the price tag, but as the best holiday in my life was not the most expensive, I hope that these slightly deeper reflections inform where you decide to book a villa in Tuscany.