Looking down the hill through the humid haze, across a Tuscan valley of vineyards and olive groves, while sipping cold "aqua minerale con gasso" and wine next to pom-pom heaps of multi-colored geraniums and hydrangeas on the outdoor front portico-restaurant of Hotel Le Renaie -- is my favorite memory of our recent trip to Italy. (July 2013) We only stayed two days, but should have stayed a week to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and the kindness of the helpful staff.
We loved meeting the neat, non-English-speaking owner who might have been a little over five feet tall with his clipped, gray-pearl hair. He tended the bar, recommended wines, walked the beautiful grounds, and kindly tried to answer questions from non-Italian-speaking tourists. Their waiters were very accommodating and spoke English quite well. The front desk manager was very kind, efficient and helpful when we arrived to check-in and eat, just as their kitchen was closing. (Andrea Bocelli's benefit concert at a country villa venue had clogged the two-lane black top roads we were on for hours outside the small Northwestern town of Lajatico, Tuscany, where he was born). Le Renaie's kitchen staff fed us, even when we arrived at 9PM. Their meals were very good, but their wild boar dishes were excellent, especially when served with smiles, hand-made pasta, and such lovely views!
On our second day, after touring San Gimignano and climbing its tallest defensive bell tower on a very hot afternoon, we were too tired for a dip in the lovely, hedge-and-flower-surrounded pool behind the hotel, privately perched on a raised terrace. We would've liked to have stayed longer to relax and enjoy a wine & food tour of the countryside or perhaps use it as a base from which to tour Volterre, but we already had pre-paid reservations in Sienna.
Hotel Le Renaie is located several miles from San Gimignano, outside the community of Pancole, and can be somewhat difficult to for non-locals to find. From San Gimignano, take the right fork at the roundabout (watch for Pancole), proceed up hill for a mile or two, take a right when the road dead-ends, then follow it through the one-lane underpass under the Pancole church (stop and honk if it is dark to make sure no one is coming the other way), and continue beyond the tight little village another mile or so past other B&Bs and agriturismos until you see the small sign or lion pedestals on the left. It is not advisable to try to find it after dark. Most locals we encountered do not speak English, are not very good with directions (pointing in the opposite direction?), but are friendly.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- "Le Renaie Hotel" is located in the little village of Pancole, just about 5 kilometres from San Gimignano. The hotel approaches the road named “via Francigena”, the ancient famous way that linked Italy to North Europe, for a long time. Very tranquil position, familial atmosphere in a simple ambience, of the country side.Simple, easy interiors where wooden furnishing stand out and all over Florentine terracotta. Pastel colours, flowered tissues decorate the lodge, the dining room and all the accommodations. All of them are fixed with modern equipment in order to grant the needed comfort during the stay. Superior rooms with a large terrace over the garden or the pool. Our guests can enjoy a splendid flowered garden, an open-air swimming-pool, a playground for kids, a private parking and the renowned “Leonetto restaurant”, the owners themselves manage the kitchen with a century of experience and knowledge of the real Tuscan cuisine. Free internet point and free WI-FI access are available in the lodge. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Le Renaie Hotel
- Le Renaie San Gimignano