I received a bunch of questions about where we stayed in Tuscany, how I found the villa, etc. so I wanted to share all the details here! This was such an incredible trip and is an awesome option for families or a group of friends traveling together (and a whole lot more cost effective than staying at the beautiful but insanely expensive resorts in the region like this one and this one). I booked our villa through HomeAway (aka. VRBO), and found it by doing a lot of searches all over Tuscany (which was fun in and of itself – there are so many incredible places you can rent!). I knew the general area I wanted to be in (south of Florence, west of Siena), but within easy driving distance to those towns, San Gimignano, the coast, etc. I ended up choosing this villa near the town of Radicondoli. It was perfect for what we needed, as there were actually 2 houses, so we stayed in one with the kids and my parents were able to have their own little house (and some occasional peace and quiet) which worked out great. The owner, Gerardo, is the NICEST man (and most incredible chef) and was so helpful to us during our stay, it was honestly kind of like we were in a hotel. He met us when we arrived, showed us around and how everything worked, cooked us dinner that night (which was so good we asked him to do it 2 more times for us), and spent the night in his own little apt downstairs just to make sure we were totally settled and comfortable with the house before heading back to his family in Florence. He also was an amazing concierge! He had wonderful recommendations for towns to visit, restaurants, vineyards, etc. and was so helpful in setting us up with reservations at different places and making sure we had good directions. GPS worked pretty well for us there but sometimes you would hit spots with no reception so it was good to have backup directions just in case. Gerardo paid attention to all the details to make sure we had a perfect stay. His attention to detail is also evident in the house, which he spent the decade from 2000-2010 restoring from an old mill into a beautiful Tuscan retreat for him and his family – the care and attention he put into the place really showed.
When you arrive at the villa (which really was in the middle of nowhere) you get off the paved road and drive on a dirt road for another couple of miles. You then enter this little oasis through a private remote-controlled gate (the whole property was surrounded by an electric fence to keep out wild boar – this place was pretty deep in the forest), which leads you down this lovely Cyprus tree-lined driveway to the houses.
The two houses were situated around this lovely stone courtyard, and there was even an outdoor pizza oven! We ate all of our meals at that outdoor table (below) under the most gorgeous wisteria arbor. During daylight hours, the flowers attracted a fair number of bumble bees which totally freaked Declan out (OK fine and me too) but they never bothered us as they were much happier up in their flowers.
We stayed in the main house with the kids (above and below, left) and my parents stayed in the guest house (below, right). It was a perfect set up for us.
This was the master bedroom ⇓ which was huge and beautifully decorated (and air conditioned!). Gerardo put a crib in there for Bella which worked out great.
Right next door was this little room which was perfect for Declan. He loved sleeping in such a big bed and has not looked at his bunk bed at home the same since. 🙂 This was our shared bathroom (below, right) – the kids loved this bathtub with the windows around it on two sides.
Every morning we would wake up and have our breakfast and coffee outside under the wisteria arbor.
Then it was pool time! The pool set up was great – temps got really hot during the day (~90 F) so it was a wonderful way to relax and cool down. Gerardo even had some pool toys (from his kids) that he brought out of the garage for Declan and Bella to use. Bella was obsessed with this little red watering can and just wanted to pour water on everyone’s head. 🙂 I love these pics my mom snapped of us below – we don’t often get pics of the 4 of us all in the same frame!
The red watering can provided hours of entertainment.
There was also the most amazing outdoor shower situation, along with a steam room and sauna (that we sadly never used – not the most kid-friendly of activities and by the time they went to bed each night we were to tired to try to figure out how to work them in the dark).
Below the kids were helping set the table for dinner (read: stealing breadsticks). We ate so many delicious meals around this table together and had so much fun over the course of the week. After we put the kids to bed, Chris and I would sit out here in the courtyard, listening to music, drinking wine, and watching the fireflies come out from the forest behind the house. The whole place felt truly magical and I was so sad to leave! I actually started crying as we drove out of the gates to head back to Rome – a testament to the wonderful time we had together in this beautiful place. I really hope we get to visit again one day. (We may or may not still have a What’s App chat going with Gerardo – I just can’t let go haha.)