When thinking of Tuscany, what springs to mind? Is it the iconic Cypress trees that you’ll find majestically lining the sprawling landscape made up of olive trees and vineyards – so famous to this Italian region? Or would it be the medieval hilltop towns, full of wondrous history and colourful cobbled streets that lead off into a maze of discovery? Perhaps it’s the exquisite art – Tuscany is a powerhouse and home to priceless pieces from the Renaissance period and beyond. Meanwhile, the rich and fertile lands provide fresh and seasonal produce which makes the area a gastronomic destination full of mind-blowing food and wine.
Well, as I recently discovered on a trip to this beautiful part of the world, it was all of the above and much more. Organised by holiday rental specialists Bookings For You, I, along with 12 other family travel bloggers, were guests of the Giovannini family who welcomed us into their truly authentic Tuscan home, Villa Le Capanne – nestled in the foothills of Volterra, some 50 minutes from Pisa airport.
Villa Le Capanne
What makes Villa Le Capanne so special is its location. The views from the 100-year converted farmhouse are spectacular – and on clear days you can spot Florence in the distance.
And, while we weren’t able to use the pool (it was far too cold), plans to build an outdoor entertaining area are currently underway, so for guests coming this summer – they’re in for a treat lazing under the Tuscan sun with cold drinks and a panorama to die for.
Although we couldn’t swim outside, we did make use of the indoor jacuzzi room which was the perfect remedy after spending hours walking around the city.
Villa Le Capanne has been lovingly converted to fit in with modern times with Wi-Fi throughout, Bose stereos, and a satellite TV, as well as nine attractively appointed rooms, all with en-suite facilities.
The ground floor of the villa is a huge space split into three main components, that take into consideration the need to seat over 20 people around a dinner table. And that’s the distinct characteristic of this rustic home – it’s set up solely for the purpose of larger groups of family and friends to comfortably relax, eat, drink and be merry.
The quintessential ingredient to what made our long weekend at Villa Le Capanne so enjoyable was the hospitality we encountered from the Gionvanninis – Vera, Dario, and Dario’s mother, Fabiola. Nothing was too much for them. And their passion for the villa, Tuscany and their business was infectious. They genuinely believe in what they are doing and it’s not by chance that Villa Le Capanne already has 35 weddings booked for this year alone. Of course, Tuscany is well worth a visit at any time, but repeat visitors come back to the house because of the Giovannini family’s welcoming hospitality and enthusiasm to please.
They not only offer a 24-hour concierge service, where tours, babysitters, outings and even grocery shops can be organised, but guests have a choice of being catered for, partly catered for or being completely left alone.
We were all very happy to have them around, so interesting and great company they all are!
When I look back to the food we ate during our four days at Villa Le Capanne, my mouth is watering at the memory. Italian food does not get more authentic than the veritable feasts that are offered and cooked on site. Fabiola is a fine chef and she introduced to us Tuscan recipes that have been in her family for generations – dishes such as Cinghiale in Salmi (stuffed wild boar with black olives), Caprese (layered slices of mozzarella cheese and tomatoes, topped with olive oil, basil and oregano) and Risotto allo Zafferano (Risotto with Saffron from San Gimignano).
My absolute favourite dish, however, was the Pappa al Pomodoro – a thick soup served with bread, tomatoes, olive oil and garlic. It was so delicious and moreish I went in for three helpings! And the pizza party we had, saw Dario working hard at the stone pizza oven outside, producing an amazing array of different toppings including a dessert dough covered in chocolate sauce and strawberries. I really did eat far too much.
All the produce is from the local vicinity and from local suppliers and this is apparent when you taste the cold meats, cheeses, pastries and wines that are served. It’s the freshness and seasonality that make dining at Villa Le Capanne an utter joy.
The villa also has 400 olive trees, and the family produce their own extra virgin olive oil, as well as owning Dolceria del Corso – the oldest bakery in Volterra. Good food really is in their blood.
Exploration, laughter and fun
The key to having a memorable weekend with friends is plenty of laughter and fun. And our time at Villa Le Capanne certainly gave that to us in spades. While the villa is an excellent base to explore Tuscany (Siena and Florence are only a short drive away), we really enjoyed hanging out in our Tuscan home, devouring the excellent food, drink and views.
What struck me was that even though we were short on time, we still managed to get a true taste of Tuscany and that’s mostly due to the Giovannini family, who certainly did their utmost to ensure we had a genuine Tuscan experience. And, accompanied by the beautiful surroundings, we all left wanting to come back for more…
* I was invited as a guest of Bookings For You and Country Relais & Spa Le Capanne, but as always my thoughts are my own. Bookings For You are rental specialists that offer villa holidays around Italy and France.
For different perspectives on Villa Le Capanne please do read my fellow bloggers’ articles, too:
Review of Country Relais & Spa Le Capanne – A Luxury Villa in Tuscany – Flying With A Baby
A Luxury Villa Foodie Holiday With Friends in Tuscany – Travel Loving Family
A Luxury Villa Holiday in Tuscany With Bookings For You – Tin Box Traveller
Villa Le Capanne, Tuscany With Bookings For You – Mini Travellers