This large stone house, carefully restored and furnished with exceptional taste and sensitivity to the comforts of modern travellers, began its life as a place of refuge. You can read the owner's account of bring Eremo back to life here: Restoring Eremo. Now, coming full circle to its late 12th century convent origins, there is an air of protected peace and gentle retreat about this ancient residence. Set in a wildlife reserve in the hills overlooking the Arno valley, L'Eremo is positioned to enjoy long vistas to rising horizons and close-up glimpses of the shy animals that are part of the Tuscan tapestry. Yet it is the house itself that will be savoured by its guests, and it is to it and to them that the owners have dedicated their efforts.
In a lengthy labour of love, the owners laid gentle hands on the original structure and layout, the result of which has preserved spacious rooms and features not often found in a Tuscan home. One is seen as soon as you enter the arched door on the eastern facade, for no sooner are you in the house than you can see out of it - into the lovely inner courtyard at the heart of the house. In the living area another delight - a central stone pillar supporting four wide arches under which comfortable sofas and chairs afford the perfect place to recount the day's discoveries.
And so it goes throughout the house, everywhere there is something to appreciate. The kitchen areas would please any chef, both the spacious two-stationed professional kitchen as well as the handy kitchen next to the dining room, for they are nicely furnished to give the sense of home, yet equipped with everything necessary to cook for a crowd, including a high-speed dishwasher and a pasta boiler. Off the main kitchen is another living area perfect for younger guests, for with toys, TV and video equipment, a table for eight, an open fireplace and access to a furnished terrace outdoors, it can entertain for many hours running.
Beyond the dining room, which seats 16 comfortably, is the only ground floor bedroom, with ensuite shower room and a door to a small, furnished terrace. The last room on this floor is the studio, a restful place to read, play the electronic keyboard, write an overdue postcard or simply marvel at the treasure in the floor, the remnants of a foundation wall that stood 1,000 years ago - a humbling memento.
On the upper floor there are two additional living areas and seven charming bedrooms, each distinctive in look, but all beautiful places in which to wake up. In all the bedroom suites in this large house, in addition to the beamed ceilings and terracotta flooring, there is a lovely mix of well-selected country antiques, lovely fabrics and the whimsy of ceramics. Most bedrooms have ensuite bath or shower rooms, though two share a nearby bathroom and one has a lovely shower room just across the large Hall containing a beautiful pietra serena fireplace. One final suite remains; accessed off the wide enclosed loggia, it includes a sitting room with sofa bed, a shower room and a lovely bedroom under the eaves.
Despite the great comfort of the interiors, guests will probably want to head out into the six landscaped acres that surround the property - perhaps to gather around the pizza oven on a night someone comes to reveal a pizzaiolo's secrets, or else under the vine-covered pergola that will seat the whole group for al fresco dining. Across the wide lawn is a large swimming pool connected to a children's wading pool by a cascading waterfall, and a shaded furnished pergola and a poolhouse with shower room, changing room, and refrigerator to save the trek back to the house.
Add the fact that a charming Caretaker stands ready to help you realize all the excursions and in-house activities you may wish to build into your Tuscan holiday, and L'Eremo is just about perfect. A highlight for many guests is having a chef come to the property and prepare a delicious catered meal for you after a hard day's sightseeing. Eremo's chefs offer fabulous four course Tuscan meals - and can even teach you to cook the very same dishes if you would like a cooking course. For a more simple fare we can have a Pizzaiolo come to fire up the villa's traditional Pizza oven and show you how to bake perfect Pizzas on a woodfire.
If you'd prefer to eat out there are a number of excellent local restaurants. For a luxury experience and an excellent wine list we recommend Osteria del Borro on the Ferragamo estate, 20 minutes drive away. For something more intimate - and for a chance to see the fabulous views from the hilltop town of Civitella in Val di Chiana, try Osteria Antico Borgo just 10 minutes away.
Meat eaters will enjoy Ristorante Neda, a typical simple Tuscan restaurant that makes an excellent "Bistecca alla Fiorentina", a thick tender steak (3" thick!) that is served "blue" as the French might say, or very rare. If you're visiting Arezzo, you should try the Lancia d'Oro in the city's Piazza Grande - go in the evening and enjoy the city's evening walk up the Corso where everybody strolls to admire and to be admired.
And if you want to enjoy the restaurants' wine list without guilt we can arrange a car and driver for you.
Whether for large family reunions, festive events or a business retreat, this house can accommodate it all.
Villa Eremo is in Chianti, giving plenty of scope for wine-tasting trips. We can help you book these - but here are our main tips on local wine-tasting venues:
Il Borro is a large estate once owned by the Savoy dynasty, the Italian ex-royal family. Today it is owned and run by the Ferragamo family and is home to boutique and artisan shops, a fine restaurant and excellent cellars. Book a wine tour and stay for lunch or dinner.
In nearby Montepulciano you could visit the Tenuta Valdipiatta known for its excellent Vino Nobile. If you'd prefer the Classic area of Chianti, you could visit Brolio Castle near the village of Gaiole or nearby Badia a Coltibuono.
Beyond the famous art cities many of the local villages and towns have their own festivals - sometimes medieval re-enactments like the Giostra del Saracino in Arezzo, normally held twice, once at the end of June and then again in early September. Or the famous Palio of Siena, held on July 2nd and August the 16th.
Or celebrations of local foods, like the Sheep's Cheese Festival in Pienza Pecorino Festival or even the Frog festival in Brozzi, close to Florence. For more usual foods, try the Pasta Sagra in Fratta, close to Cortona.
Eremo is well placed to get to Siena - you could stay here to go and the famous Palio race around Piazza del Campo. And famous Florence is close by too, and can be easily and conveniently reached by train from Arezzo.
The fact that its location makes it a great base for exploring local hills on horseback or reaching medieval city festivals and antique markets in less than half an hour can only make it better.
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