Very close to Siena, yet completely surrounded by classic Tuscan lanscapes, this large luxury villa for ten is perfect for family reunions and groups of friends. Villa Cipressi is a large old farmhouse that has been converted with a light touch, leaving enough original features to remind you of the building's humble origins while adding modern touches that make this a very elegant villa. Surrounded by olive groves and cypress lined roads this is an archetypal Tuscan experience - even the swimming pool is reached by walking down a pathway through an olive grove.
From Cipressi’s private drive an iron gate opens to a charming courtyard who stone walls are covered with flowering jasmine and climbing roses. Immediately to the left a door leads to a wide entry hall with a stairway tucked under a wide brick arch leading to the top floor bedrooms and living areas. A short hallway past the stairs opens to a room which spans the breadth of the house and is composed of both living and dining areas under a vaulted brick ceiling. The dining area to the left has a beautiful travertine table for 14 and doors to both the front garden as well as the large country kitchen. Long cupboards over marble countertops run along both sides of this particularly well-equipped kitchen and its wooden trestle table for 10 is ideal for breakfasts, meal preparation or an easily arranged cooking lesson.
The other end of the main room is a bright living area furnished with a long sofa, cane armchairs, and covered stools that parallel the restored manger. Wide arched glass doors on the ground floor lead to either the inner court or two separate outdoor dining areas. To one side of the house an umbrella-shaded table and chairs sit within an olive grove, while at the back wicker-cushioned armchairs and an adjacent stone-topped dining table rest on a flagstone patio and overlook quintessential Tuscany.
On the first floor there are four bedrooms accessed off the upper landing and a fifth just off the hallway leading to the living rooms. Though the gentle tone of the walls may differ, all of the spacious bedrooms are beautifully furnished with country antiques and quality spreads. There are two double bedrooms and three twin bedrooms, which can be set up as double on prior request. Two bedrooms, a large double with a single day bed and a twin bedroom share the large bathroom which has both a bathtub as well as a separate shower. The other bedrooms have shower rooms, either en-suite or adjacent.
The living room on this floor provides two sitting areas separated by a wide arch and a few steps – the upper area has sofas, satellite TV and sweeping views; the lower has wine-colored armchairs and a long sofa in front of an open fireplace. A glass door from this room opens to a furnished loggia whose arched openings frame vistas seen in Renaissance paintings. An external stone stairway lead back down to the courtyard.
Villa Cipressi is ideally placed for visiting Siena, as well as exploring Chianti, the Val d'Orcia and the classical sights of Central Tuscany. While back country roads lead to nearby towns that provide all the essential services, they also head to the beautiful Crete Senese, the gentle clay hills south of Siena and some of its most photographed landscape. Not far to the north, instead, are Chianti wineries of note where nurtured vines and oak barrels work their magic; the owners of Cipressi can easily arrange a wine tour that permits one to go tasting both the wine and the Tuscan cuisine that best accompanies it.
Quite likely the call of Siena, the medieval city seen on the horizon, will be irresistable. This medieval city, now famed for its beautiful shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, site of the Palio horse race, rests on three hills enclosed by ancient walls. It is a lively city, full of meandering streets, good shopping and popular restaurants, yet it has maintained an old-world charm that favours an evening stroll over a hurried errand.
Siena sits at the heart of classic Tuscany and in under an hour there are a variety of destinations that promise a good day out. Pienza, Pope Pius II’s ‘ideal Renaissance city’ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a window on the beautiful Val d’Orcia; it is also a centre for production of delicious percorino cheese. Montalcino and Montepulciano, each sitting high above spectacular vistas, are known for prestige wines such as their Brunello and Vino Nobile respectively. And when museums and ancient stones begin to blur, the thermal waters in spas in Rapolano Terme and Bagno Vignoni are an antidote for the travel-weary. Of course the peace and comfort of Cipressi may easily argue for a day at home, and perhaps another.
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