The trouble with Tuscany is that it’s Italy’s Cotswolds - a rural idyll that’s so perfect it has become iconic and the whole world wants to be there.
The immaculate villages and lavishly-restored farmhouses are populated by beautiful people with beautiful cars dining in beautifully expensive local restaurants.
Tuscany has become more of a theme park for wealthy incomers than a place to immerse in anything like a genuine Italian escape.
Which is why Maremma and Fontenuova are such a wonderful discovery.
Maremma is wild Tuscany, a beautiful area in the south west of the region with stunning scenery peppered with delightful medieval hilltop towns and villages - so far untainted by excessive tourism or second-homing.
Fontenuova is an agro-tourism, working farmstead of around 70 acres, hidden down a rough track on a hillside beneath the beautiful thermal village of Saturnia in the heart of Maremma.
It is an absolute delight and a wonderful escape from the stresses of Northern European life.
Based around a tastefully restored and equipped (but not lavishly overdone) farmhouse, it combines local heritage with great style and rustic charm - embellished with an eclectic, if dusty, mix of art and furnishings.
It offers peace, tranquility, gobsmacking views, colourful gardens, private adventures by the riverside - and swimming in clean cool rock pools and its own warm thermal, waterfall-fed lagoon.
Conquer the bumpy track - where the old Roman cobbles still show through in places - and there’s easy access up a short but steep hill to the bars, restaurants, shops, square and cobbled streets of Saturnia village.
Here visitors are very welcome and well catered for - but in early June they were pleasingly in the minority.
I fell in love with Fontenuova - and Maremma - from the moment I arrived.
Across the world I’ve found many amazing places to escape and explore, where you can be comfortable but still enjoy an experience that is different and unspoiled and memorable.
This ranks high in my top ten. It really is very nice - so catch it while you can!
This property has the best of both worlds: Old stone Tuscan villa, but remodeled and expanded to be comfy and has everything you could want in the kitchen, etc. The property includes outdoor eating and cooking space, a pool and the caretakers, Matt & Sara, are the absolutely most warm and hospitable hosts you could ever want. We miss them already! If we could afford it, we'd be back every year!
We have traveled to some beautiful places in the world, but none of them can compare to this beautiful place which really is Home from Home, in an idilicic rustic setting, managed by Matt and Sarah, with out their hard work the place would not be the same.
We spent 1 week with 2 families in Il Casale - 4 adults and our 7 children between 10 and 18. The house, the garden and the pool area very much lived up to our expectations of finding a completely renovated, charming and fully equipped vacation home. The panoramic views from the house, the patio and the pool area are fantastic, and the pool, table-tennis, badminton court, the lawn and a nearby soccer court (for rent) provide plenty of opportunity to have fun with kids. Also, there are many places to sit or lie down and simply relax in and around the house. All rooms and the kitchen are fully equipped, and cooking and eating with 11 people works well. Airconditioning is available for hot days (which we had) and does its job.
The house is somewhat remote at the end of a gravel road so that we were completely undisturbed and could not disturb anyone. Saturnia is close by - 5 minutes by car, 20 minutes of a somewhat strenuous uphill walk. There are a handful of restaurants and a small store to buy bread, milk etc., but the next supermarket is about 25min away in Manciano, so grocery shopping should be done with some planning.
We were welcomed with the words that "nature is welcome and present in Agriturismo Fontenuova", and we did in fact live with the cats, saw foxes, porcupine, snakes (one being killed by the cats with us watching), and had to accept (unwelcome) wasps when eating outside. We loved the experience, but if you are not ready for this kind of narure, this place probably is not for you. If you are, you can stroll around the farm and even enjoy a private thermal pool down at the river.
Matt and Sarah as our hosts were very responsive and helpful when we asked for support. We had easy access to them as they live on the other side of the gravel road while being completely undisturbed for the rest of the time. They helped us finding a doctor when we needed one and booking the soccer court which had just opened and required some research to make reservations.
All in all a terrific vacation experience!