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View of Villa Maddalena from the air in a balloon
View of Villa Maddalena from a balloon

Welcome to Settled in Tuscany. The name for this website came about because the most frequent comment from people who visit our home is, "We just settled in...." In part this may be because it is a "family home" with hand-painted dishes, games, books (60 Italian cookbooks!) candles and toys left out and available for our guests. Mind the soccer ball under daughter Maddalena's bed! But read on to learn what really will make this an experience like no other....

Look carefully at the photo to the right. The Villa is a large, family home, with a pool and a garden in the center of a Tuscan hill town. Perhaps this is the important difference that sets Villa Maddalena apart. There are large houses dotted all over the hills of Tuscany, but Villa Maddalena may be the only house of its size and amenity in the center of a village, in the heart of Tuscan wine country. Freedom from your car -- village strolling anytime. An early morning walk to the bakery, or a moon-lit stroll to the top of Castello, to look out through the gate, to the lights of Siena. A rare chance to settle in, not just into a house, but into a way of life.

This home is a combination of 5 structures, the Villa Maddalena itself, part of the adjoining villa, a full-scale 19th century olive mill, the village forge and a barn. Parts of the building date from the 11th century, with other parts built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. They came together as a single home in 2002 with the restoration completed by the architect-owner in 2004.

Four other things make The Villa different from other self-catering houses in central Tuscany.

First, its location in Montisi is choice -- lively on its own, central to everywhere else.

It is in the center of Montisi, a vibrant small medieval hill town that has a music school that specializes in harpsichord, a noted summer classical concert series, 4 active medieval contrade with all their festivities, 3 restaurants, a small community theater, 6 churches, a bakery, two grocery stores, many artists, a flower shop, 2 olive mills, a bank and the all-important cafe. Morning cappuccino and a warm pastry are literally just steps from the front door!

There are chefs available to come and prepare lovely meals and give cooking lessons, a hot air ballooning company to take you up to see the entire countryside and a masseuse to ease out any leftover travel-kinks. Montisi is part of a cluster of 4 hill towns, each with different character, a restaurant or two, and things to do. It is also in the heart of Tuscan wine country, ringed by the DOCG's for Brunello, Chianti and Vino Nobile. And now the new DOC for Val d'Orcia!! Montisi is within half an hour of Montalcino, Pienza, Bagno Vignoni and Montepulciano, just an hour from Siena and Perugia and an hour and a half from the center of Florence. All this and just over 2 hours north of Rome!! www.montisi.com

Great for families and groups -- large, yet intimate....

Second, the house is large -- 9 bedrooms and 8.5 baths, but doesn't feel too big. No two bedrooms are alike. For example one room revealed elaborate hand-painted frescos during the renovation and has a private terrace overlooking the valley with steps down to the garden. This room is getting a canopy bed for 2009!

Another bedroom has a lovely, covered view loggia. The floor plan camouflages the size of the house, so even for smaller groups the house feels intimate. There is even one bedroom and a 1/2 bath on the ground floor for people who don?t want to climb stairs. It is a great house for family groups as it has large gathering spots both inside and out under the trellises on the terraces in the garden, but also great for traveling couples who like privacy.

There are 8 double beds and a pair of twin beds plus three extra "trundle beds" and a portacrib for kids. The house is furnished with antiques, Oriental carpets, new comfortable beds (mattresses made by hand in a near-by village) and 4 fireplaces. There is a good music system (with speakers on the terrace) and even a guitar and an antique Viennese piano which is kept tuned.

Garden Dining Terrace
Garden Dining Terrace

The garden -- a place to settle into the shade or bask in the sun....

Third, it has a leafy green private south-facing garden that overlooks a valley dotted with woods, olive trees and vineyards -- to Castelmuzio, the next hill town beyond. From the edge of the garden wall you can even glimpse Montalcino and from the upper terrace, the skyline of Pienza!!

There is a small swimming pool for sunny summer days, too. The garden still has its original fruit trees, lots of little nooks, pergolas, a fish pond and a little vegetable and herb garden; all in the informal style of a country village. This is a family garden, not a "landscape." One terrace is long enough to seat 25 for dinner. We've had some lovely weddings, too!

This is the "spell" of Villa Maddalena -- once you "settle in" in the garden, many of your planned excursions seem to become much less compelling. Find a ripe strawberry, plum or fig, pull a weed or two and just take in the vista across the valley to Pieve Santo Stefano and Mount Amiata, beyond....

Gourmet Kitchen with authentic Italian wood burning grill
Gourmet Kitchen with authentic Italian wood burning grill

Cook Italian!!

Finally, it has a large, fun kitchen created by a committed and passionate cook. With a central island, a wood-burning grill, 5 burner gas cooker with oven, 2 refrigerators and 2 dishwashers, the kitchen is ready for any culinary ambition. Good quality knives, Cuisinart cookware, 5 sizes of wine, vin santo and grappa glasses -- create meals that make memories! The kitchen adjoins both a breakfast room that seats 12 and the dining room that seats 24 plus.

"Settling..."

This is not a "mint-on-the-pillow", luxury house, but a real home lovingly brought to life, in which to settle in and enjoy the pleasures of life in a small Italian village, the gastronomic pleasures of local wines, truffles, cheeses and olive oils and of course, your family and friends. All without getting into your car, for days at a time, if you so choose!!



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Montisi, Italy