Imagine living on rustic luxury, atop a narrow ridge, on a farm estate of nearly 2500 acres. Olive trees spill down the slopes. On a clear day, if you take a stroll to the little view point, you can see the bell towers of Siena, 15 minutes away by car.
The little cluster of 18th century houses exhibits that warm, rustic weathering that makes Tuscan style so appealing. You can rent an apartment or a whole villa and imagine yourself living the rural version of la dolce vita, the sweet life. You can even get married on the property.
This is Montestigliano. Once a farm estate, it was populated with all the labor a very large Tuscan farm needed. Today those many 18th century building been restored and turned into an agriturismo, a farm producing foods like the famous Montestigliano olive oil in the midst of visitors eager to get close to the production of the things they put into their mouths.
The buildings, including the requisite oratorio, a private religious chapel, retain their rustic charm, depite being outfitted inside with all the modern conveniences, including free wi-fi.
Pictured on the right is one of the buildings, named Casa Virginia (yes, Tuscans have a habit of naming their houses). There are two apartments upstairs (in the farm days animals inhabited the lower areas and provided warmth, today provided by less aromatic means). It sleeps four and the rental rates are quite reasonable, becoming less in the off season, a time when you really should go, as you'll experience the "real" Tuscany then, with all the food and harvest festivals Italians have been enjoying for years.
The property around Montestigliano is webbed with trails. Folks who've stayed here year after year have helped map and clear them, so a scenic jaunt to make you hungry for that famous Tuscan cuisine is easy.
What do people do here? They write books, they hike, they go to the market and cook. The setting is rural. There is no work for you except for that which you heap upon yourself. You can arrange a tour or just relax.
If you are really into cooking, a short walk on a tree-lined lane down the hill to the lower town of Stigliano offers the La Bottega di Stigliano, where you can buy local organic food, take cooking classes, and eat dinner (they've recently started opening at lunch).
If you manage to put together a rather large group, Villa Pipistrelli offers an extensively remodeled Villa a ten minute stroll from the cluster of buildings at Montestigliano that sleeps 10. It has a pizza oven, and you can arrange a pizza night if you wish.
Is there a downside to a stay at Montestigliano? Well, if you're looking to exchange cultural viewpoints with Tuscans staying on the property, you'll not have much of a chance. When we stayed the clientele was largely English speaking, which many travelers find a plus.
Otherwise, imagine floating in that infinity pool just outside Villa Pipistrelli.
Fattoria Montestigliano, Rosia , Sovicille 53018 Siena, Province of Siena, Italy 0577 342189
Disclaimer: lodging was provided by Fattoria Montestigliano to journalists for the purposes of review.