Close to Florence, on the slopes of the apennines, a skilled architect has transformed farm buildings into beautiful and elegant dwellings.
Pilastri is the queen of them, with an independent garden and private swimming pool.
The interiors are spacious and airy, wih great attention paid to every detail. Next door the estate has its own private restaurant and private concierge, making you feel very well looked after indeed.
Getting to Florence is very easy from the villa, whether you drive, are driven or decide to use the train.
Entrance to the property is via a gate into the large private garden with wide lawns which enjoys a wonderful panorama and curves around two sides of the house. While in one area there is a stone-topped table suitable for meals al fresco, at the heart of the garden is Pilastri’s private swimming pool with a columned portico at one end furnished with sun beds that can be moved to take in more or less of the sun’s rays.
Looking onto the pool area are five sets of French doors that provide entrance and light into the whole of the ground floor. There is access to an eat-in kitchen with a table for 8 and a large room with a beautifully coffered ceiling whose living and dining areas are separated by a painted screen. The dining area has a table for 8, while the living area has sofas, armchairs and a round table for cards or board games all set near easy access to the garden.
Also on the ground floor is a twin bedroom with an ensuite travertine-dressed bathroom and independent access to the garden, making this an ideal suite for those needing or wishing to avoid the stairs. At one end of the long living area is a door to the laundry room and at the other a stairway leading up to further sleeping accommodations. On this level there are three double bedrooms; while all are under the eaves, they do not feel restrictive, for there are windows facing the garden and pool area. Each has an ensuite bathroom and in two cases also a separate shower.
Borgo Rinnovato is perfectly located to discover why Tuscany has been and remains a destination of choice. Being in the Valdarno, the wide valley through which the Arno River meanders, Florence, the famed city that straddles it immediately comes to mind. Leaving your car at the Figline or San Giovanni Valdarno free station lots, hourly direct trains will easily bring you to the heart of this Renaissance treasure chest where world-famous museums, frescoed churches, graceful bridges and historic piazzas are all accessible on foot, with sustaining gelato stops along the way of course.
The road south arrives at another major Tuscan city, Arezzo. Believed to have been one of the 12 most important Etruscan cities and always a center of commerce, still today Arezzo’s artisans and merchants enliven its medieval center, especially on the first Sunday of the month and the previous Saturday when its Antiquarian Fairs fill the streets with ‘treasures’. June and September visitors delight in Piazza Grande’s costumed Saracen Joust, while visitors the year round seek out the splendid frescoes of Piero della Francesca.
If bustling historic cities and a church too many begin to fatigue, there are other options. Designer outlets are half an hour away for those whose preferences lean to Italian styling and a good bargain. And in less than an hour winding cypress-lined roads through the Chianti region lead to small towns such as Gaiole-, Greve- or Radda in Chianti, known world-wide for what fills a wine glass and the delicious food that accompanies it.
Should small-scale exploration suit you best, head to nearby Loro Ciuffenna, a delightful medieval town built around a Romanesque bridge spanning the mountain torrent that powered the many water mills producing chestnut flour. Though the mills have ceased to flow, there are charming restaurants, an art museum dedicated to a native son Venturino Venturi and only 1 km out of town in Gropina the impressive Pieve di San Pietro, the oldest (774 A.D.), best preserved Romanesque parish church in Tuscany.
Yet even before hopping into the car to go exploring, the estate’s wooded panorama, reaching as high as the Pratomagno mountains, may well inspire guests to follow paths through their 800 hectares. Or perhaps join a guided hike and wine tasting tour through the nearby village of Castelfranco whose dramatic landscape and colourful eroded shapes, the ‘Balze’, featured in the background of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’. Certainly, with stables nearby and bikes easily arranged, life in the slow lane is a wonderful way to discover your surroundings, and with a beautiful house as your base and a restorative pool at hand, a Tuscan holiday will soon find its rightful rhythm.
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