Take your Tuscan vacation home.
Have you ever spent months booking a trip and, when you come to the end of your vacation, it went so fast you hate to leave? As we get older one or two weeks passes even more quickly… especially when we’re in Italy. There is so much to see and do (and eat, and drink) that I’ve been planning, most of my life, to spend at least a month each year settled into a central location somewhere in the rolling hills of Tuscany. Borgo di Vagli may be the perfect spot.
September’s trip was about looking for a retreat Jay and I can go back to annually and feel like we’re home in the most beautiful place on earth. Our search brought us to the Borgo di Vagli, a hamlet of authentically restored farmhouses near Cortona on the Umbrian border. We settled into our two-story residence, surveying the valley below, in what used to be the chestnut dryer, according to Daria, the congenial concierge. The first evening the kitchen delivered delicious lasagna and salad to our outdoor patio as the sun set gently over the hills among which we nestled for the next 5 days.
The absolute peace of this place is just what we seek.
About 20 well-equipped residences, designed in Italian country style, meander down the hillside. Antique cabinets, custom windows and stucco’d walls create an old-world ambience. The original beams support the rock roofs. Every corner, window, shutter and door is hand finished by local craftsmen. We spent some time over the next few days studying the architectural details. We marveled over the resolve it took to restore and authentically furnish these homes with local ceramics, copper cookware, regional furniture, amazing beds, feather-soft linens and high-end appliances. With all this you feel like you’ve traveled back 200 years to find this perfect Tuscan hideaway.
The people of the Borgo di Vagli hold the heart of Italy in their hands.
One morning I woke up to a landscaper roaming the gardens, pruning hedges, planting, trimming and cultivating the natural landscape around the dwellings. At breakfast and dinner, Dina and Tiziana planned and prepared our meals with the loving care and warmth of “la famiglia”. Their roots at the Borgo di Vagli make them part of the vistas, the olive trees and the breeze that floats over the hills. We discovered a sense of community with the other “owners” and we joined right in.
The trattoria and the farm store made it possible to stay and simply relax without leaving for a couple of lazy days. The pool, bocce ball court and hiking trails all around us offered quiet pursuits… the antithesis of our daily lives. Then, when we were ready to explore, there was an infinite number of hill towns to visit, local festivals to enjoy, wines to taste, culinary classes to attend and rolling landscapes to meander.
The Kitchens, the Castles, the Casks and the Car.
This is the itinerary we planned for our trip, the 6th time Jay and I have traveled in Italy together. More posts will follow sharing all our fun and fabulous experiences during our magical week at Borgo di Vagli.
Sunday: Arrive midday after three glorious days in Rome. Unpack, relax and explore. Sunset dinner on our private patio under the grapevine arbor.
Monday: Sleep in till 11. Visit the ceramic factories of Deruta. Check out Lago Trasimeno on the way back.
Tuesday: Drive an hour and a half to Montalcino in the Val d’Orcia and tour the Banfi Vineyards and Castle. Visit Montepulciano on the way back.
Wednesday: Get a late start. Attend a cooking class 20 minutes away at I Gustasapori di Donatella. We prepared 5 dishes and had a banquet afterwards. We share the day with 4 Australians.
Thursday: Spend the day at the Borgo with new friends. Enjoy a long, elaborate luncheon under the pergola on the hill overlooking the olive grove that Dina the Chef planted herself 20 years ago. Hike on the grounds and take a late dip in the large and scenic pool at the top of the Borgo.
Friday: Leave early for the Castello di Brolio. Take a beautiful drive through the hills of Chianti looking for photo opps and arrive for our tour of the castle at 10:30. Then a wine tasting and luncheon on the ancient estate. Swing by San Gimignano on the way back.
Saturday: Leave for Rome to spend our last night near the airport in Fiumicino at QC TermeRoma… a real “wow!” experience at a spa among the ruins, 5 minutes from our terminal. Amazing find!
To hear about our travels in more detail, please return for my next few posts over the coming weeks. Arrivederci!