Valdambra, the large farmhouse that now offers small families or a large multi-generational one a great place to holiday in Tuscany, in earlier centuries was quite likely home to those who fed the clerics of the mighty St. Mary's Abbey atop nearby Badia Agnano. In spaces that once would have held hay and the animals it fed, the current owners, in a 10-year restoration project, remained faithful to original layouts and created three generous apartments that now allow guests to stretch limbs and step away from the stresses of modern life. Each with an individual outdoor eating area, all apartments have easy access to the spacious pool area whose sun loungers, umbrellas, tables and night lighting make it a popular spot day and night. The surrounding hectares, once cultivated in grain, are now planted with olive and walnut trees, some strung with hammocks to make the most of a shaded afternoon snooze.
The two apartments in the farmhouse itself are both on the ground floor, whereas that in the former haybarn takes advantage of the building's natural height to stretch to two floors. All apartments are spacious for the number of guests they serve and furnished attractively and with good quality appliances and fixtures. The owner, who lives with her family on the top floor of the farmhouse, is an excellent resource. And at this property there are many 'extra' possibilities - horse stables you can walk to, cooking lessons and meals done by a lovely Italian, tours and transport to corners you've yet to discover, outlet shopping, and bike rentals for those who would tour Tuscany in a slower lane. You can even arrange for an intimate wedding that will remain in the hearts of guests long after the rice has fallen.
There are two apartments on the ground floor of the main farmhouse.
One has two entrances - one facing the pool and leading into the large kitchen/dining area and another from the side into the sitting room. The kitchen has attractive cupboards, a glass-topped table seating 8 in small armchairs and is likely the easiest place for all members of the group to eat together. Off the dining area is a small twin bedroom with a wardrobe that utilizes a WC off the sitting area. The sitting room, an extension of the dining area, has two sofas that can be used as single beds and an extra small sofa. Two steps up off this room is a roomy double bedroom with an en-suite bathroom. Just next door entrance to another apartment is through the arched entryway directly into a generous sitting room with sofa, armchairs, a wood stove and an extra double sofa bed. Up a couple of steps to the right is a double bedroom with wrought iron bedstead, desk, wardrobe and ensuite shower room and an independent access to the side garden down a short jasmine-covered staircase. Also off the sitting room is access to a 2nd shower room and a large eat-in kitchen with view to the pool.
The third living space sits across the drive from the main house and is entered through arched glass doors into a sitting room with two bright sofas, which can double as two single beds. A short corridor leads past a shower room into an eat-in kitchen with a glass topped table for 4 with wicker chairs. Up the wrought iron & glass staircase with natural wood steps is an additional shower room and two spacious double bedrooms where light filters through the original brickwork of haybarn windows.
Once the territory of powerful feudal lords, the fertile valley of the Ambra River lies central to the Florence, Siena and Arezzo triangle; not surprisingly, throughout the Middle Ages it was land to be fought over and frequently traded hands - until the formidable Medici family did away with its influence and relegated it to the role of Florentine breadbasket.
For this the modern tourist can be thankful; the protected land and buildings seen today are not that removed from the Tuscan countryside seen in ancient frescos. There are many good restaurants and lively festivals in the charming towns and villages nearby, and with the famous tips of the triangle - Siena, Arezzo, Florence - all within easy driving distance, Valdambra is easily one of the most comfortable and well placed holiday spots you could find.
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