This large historic Tuscan farmhouse with a shared pool is a perfect place for relaxing family holidays. Once likely a feudal farm serving the nearby abbey of Badia a Agnano, today its owner has transformed into 2 beautiful apartments and a standalone villa, sleeping 14 overall. Each of the properties can be rented on its own - or you could take the whole place with a group of friends.
The buildings are set in the fertile landscape south of Florence and west of Arezzo, surrounded by beautiful medieval villages and towns. At the house there is a large shared swimming pool set against a backdrop of trees amongst which inviting hammocks are suspended. Each apartment has its own private space to relax, and there are plenty of shared spots to enjoy.
When you want to explore, there are wonderful villages, towns, restaurants and sights to see. The closest village, Badia a Agnano, was once a powerful Benedictiine Abbey that controlled the local area. Today it's a charming village with an excellent restaurant: "La Chiave dei Sapori" in Via Trento 26. The village and restaurant are just around 2 kms away so can be walked in around half an hour - or cycled in 5 minutes.
Pieve a Presciano is to the north of the house and is a 5 minute drive away. It also has a good restaurant, the "Perbacco", with excellent typical Tuscan cuisine on offer.
Civitella in Val di Chiana is a short drive to the south. It is a medieval hill top village with absolutely stunning views over the valley of the "Chiana" river (hence the Val di Chiana in its name). The village has several restaurants:
"Enoteca Il Vicolo" in Piazza Mazzini, 7, 52041 Civitella in Val di Chiana AR, Italy. It has no website but you can ring on +39 0575 448189 to book.
"Castello di Civitella" in Via Senese, 4, 52041 Civitella In Val di Chiana AR, Italy. The website was throwing an error last time we checked so best to ring on +39 0575 410343
Nearby cities, towns and museums
Beautiful Arezzo is barely a 30 minutes drive away. You can read more about the sights and museums of Arezzo here, and about Arezzo's famous Antiques fair here. The highlight of any visit to Arezzo are undoubtedly the famous frescoes by Piero della Francesca in the church of San Francesco. The local Bacci family originally commissioned Bicci di Lorenzo to paint the sanctuary but he died early having completed only four evangelists and the Final Judgement. Piero della Francesca took over in 1448 and produced what is one of the most astounding fresco cycles ever made. It was recently (around the year 2000) restored and is magnificent to see. It's worth knowing the story - the Legend of the True Cross - to understand the images. For tickets and opening times see the Arezzo museums page.
If you'd like to see more of the work of Piero della Francesca, I can highly recommend a visit to his fresco of the pregnant Madonna, now housed in a tiny museum in the village of Monterchi. - the village is around 45 minutes from your base in Valdambra. Where is Monterchi?.
If you'd like to base a trip on following his footsteps and his work, there is an excellent website dedicated entirely to his work: "Terre di Pietro: in the footsteps of the Travelling Master"
To the west, the famous city of Siena is a 40 minute drive away. For tips on what to see in Siena, have a look at our Siena page while for tips on getting here, including where best to park, have a look at this: How to get to Siena. Siena is a treasure trove of things to see and do, from having an ice-cream in the famous Piazza del Campo, visiting the amazing black and white striped Cathedral to more exotic and hidden trips, like visiting the hidden underground tunnels and the river that keep the city supplied with water. Remember that all our bookings come with free concierge service so we can help book tickets and restaurants - including for the famous Palio horse race, held twice a year in the Campo square.
Things to do with the children
The pool, woods, hammocks and icecreams should keep them busy for a good while! But when they want to do something more...
Parks and outdoors.
I Valle dell'Inferno. You might get more mileage out of the build up for this trip - the rather scarily name "Valley of Hell" is actually a very pleasant park around 20 minutes drive away from Valdambra. It is centred around a lake and the nearby wetlands. Before the valley was dammed the river Arno ran fast through gorges in this area, and the "foderai" were brave men who stand up on the logs and guide them through the narrows, on their way to the shipyards in distant Pisa.
Today you are more likely to see herons and egrets, as well as the cheeky moorhens. There are observation huts dotted around the lakes and long, well marked walks to enjoy. Directions to Valle dell'Inferno e Bandella
II. Lake Trasimeno: Less than an hour away the large inland lake of Trasimeno has delights for all ages - from beaches, swimming and icecreams to ferries, sailing boats and even kitesurfing. The lake has three islands of which only two may be visited - Maggiore and Polvese. With ruins to explore and beautiful picnic spots, ferry trips to the islands should provide plenty of excitement. To catch a ferry head for Passignano or for Tuoro Navaccia - or ask our excellent concierge service to help you.
III. Should more water and sea be in order, the Tuscan coast is no more than 90 minutes drive away, with the wild nature reserve beaches of the Parco dell'Alberese for nature lovers, or the restaurants of Castiglione della Pescaia for those who like a little more comfort with their seaside.
Tower climbing and exploration
I. Roman ruins. On the way to the sea (see paragraph above) you will drive past "Roselle", an ancient Etrusco/Roman port now stranded inland. It has been excavated and is a delight to explore, with the whole city floor plan easy to see, and an ancient amphitheatre to explore. It was one of the 12 important cities of Etruria and was conquered by the Romans around 294 B.C.E.
Where is Roselle?
II. If you're going to Siena there are somethings that the children will enjoy above others - we think. One of them is climbing the big tower that stands high above the Piazza del Campo. Known as the Torre del Mangia it is high, and narrow and the views from the top are fabulous. From the top of the tower you can look away from the square, over the Mercato Nuovo and to what looks like an empty valley within the city walls. This whole area had been planned as an urban expansion in the 14th century until the black death swept across Europe and halved the population. The city extension was never built and today the valley remains empty, with some beautiful allottments set up to provide food to a little cafe. It can be a great respite from city exploring to walk down here and have a meal at the cafe, looking back up at the medieval city. On the left is a sketch I made from this very spot.
III. Perugia's hidden city. More exploring, this time in Perugia, about an hour away from Valdambra. Park at the railway station (or take the train from Arezzo) and then get on the escalators that carry up towards the old city. Halfway up the hill the escalators, which are long and built in stages, head underground and come out into a medieval city that's underneath the actual city above! When a lord of the city wanted to expand his fortress he just ordered people out of their homes then built his fortress on top of them. Today you can explore these old medieval streets, left as the were save for the vaulted brick arches that hold the fortress above them. After walking through the underground alleyways you will pop out in the city centre - a wonderful way to arrive in a city!