Consider yourself blessed if you get to experience a stay here! You will feel immersed in real Italian culture and international friendship. Note the podere is actually in the little village of Brollo (about 4 km out of Figline Valdarno). If the sign is not up, ;-) coming out of Figline it's the turn off right after what appears to be an abandoned large building (actually historic mission). You can also turn at the lane by the mission and get to the podere. Your host gives great directions, but a missing sign can cause consternation!
Firstly, your host, Michaelangelo speaks English beautifully. He's eager to teach and to learn. He is great at emailing promptly and thoroughly. (Internet may be available on site.)
Secondy, this is a real farm with a real farmer who works hard to make good, organic food. It's also a real farm family. You will sense family everywhere: from the pictures on the wall drawn by the children to mom dropping in to assist her son in the kitchen to the neighbor--great-uncle across the street harvesting his eggs and fresh basil, carrying his treasure home in his bike basket. All the pictures you have of Tuscany in your mind come to life here.
We took dinner (as well as breakfast) at the farm. Rounding the corner into this Tuscan kitchen was purely magical. The tiled and wooden beam kitchen was just what you'd see in Bon Appetit. Bread was toasting over an open fire, the same fire that later cooked our pork for main course, and the same fireplace that provided countless meals for earlier generations. Baskets of eggs, onions, and herbs scattered over counters. Later fresh cherries were to be picked and zucchini flowers to be fried. And there was homemade wine, olive oil, and grappa to taste. This farmer who had worked hard all day provided a fantastic dinner for his guests.
And then there are the animals...Orlando the donkey is probably the star of the show. He was such a handsome donkey! There were chickens roosting in the trees and piles of geese and kittens. Two little pigs hear your footsteps from yards away and come eagerly to greet you--well, greet what you may be toting!
Nearby there are historical sights to behold. A 1944 memorial to local Italian residents who lost their lives resisting Musollini is within hiking distance and well worth the sweaty climb to walk along hallowed ground. Down the lane from the podere there is an abandoned mission dating back to the 12th century. You will find yourself whispering as you discover these significant sights.
Our room was dark and cool for sleeping, but be warned the rooster awakes at 4 a.m. and then impatiently reminds you of the approaching day again at 6 a.m. Orlando may bray too. The bed was a customary European full/queen/king bed, i.e., two twins pushed together, which leaves a gap between the beds by morning. And it was "hilly" in the middle. I imagine if you are a bone-tired farmer, you take no notice of such nuisances! Nevertheless, if you are needing a plush Marriott-style bed, you won't be happy. We slept well under a comforter retrieved from the antique armoire and our window open to the quiet night air. One of the rooms has a private terrace; that would have been wonderful!
The bathroom was roomy with good lighting and ventilation. The plumbing is a bit cantankerous: prolonged toilet noise and a limited supply of hot water. It's an old farmhouse, mind you. It was not an issue while we were there, but may require some patience. There were plenty of clean, absorbent towels, and hair dryer, shampoo, and soap were also provided.
The breakfast at a communal table consisted of yogurt, bread, jams (homemade fig!), cereal, milk, tea, and espresso--typical and quite sufficient.
This is a foodie and naturalist's paradise. It is also conveniently located for drives to other town sites including Siena, Volterra, and Florence. The only thing we'd do differently when we go back is stay a third night!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- With the joviality and the warmth of peasant culture, we offer our hospitality with care and discretion, trying to satisfy all needs. All our guests, longing for rest and for being in touch with nature, enjoy the slow rhythm of the country. We have transformed the hayloft and the stables into three comfortable bedrooms with bathrooms. We still live in the four hundred years old farmhouse where guests can enjoy a full breakfast, with fresh eggs, homemade jams and cakes, and meals based on products coming from our fields like oil, wine and vegetables. The food is typical Tuscan and goes according to the seasons and our grandmother's recipes. Our family have been living here since 1936, when the local church handed over this podere to our grandparents, after their wedding, under a form of contract called mezzadria (sharecropping). In the years many people have come over to enjoy the atmosphere of this place and now, in order to keep the tradition of this rich and beautiful land, we would love to hand it down on all our guests. For those who would not join us with working the fields, you can either go for walks through the farm, enjoy an old-style picnic in the vineyard or in the olive grove, or simply walk through the wonderful wood paths, picking chestnuts and precious wild mushrooms. The area is also ideal for trekking, biking and horse riding. And eventually you can visit Florence, only 18kms away, and Arezzo, San Gimignano and Siena, within an hour drive. Tuscany is waiting for you and we will be delighted for you to stay with us! ... more less