The Tuscan dream is characterised by rolling hills, Chianti Classico vineyards, art galleries of Florence, cobbled streets of Siena, and the large, luxurious villas that the region is known for. It’s no wonder why this area of central Italy is one of the most popular in the country for tourism. However, smaller towns outside of Florence such as Lucca and San Giminiano have become overwhelmed by tourism over the years. Although beautiful to visit, if you’re seeking an escape from souvenir stores and tour busses it may be time to venture further afield. In Val di Cornia lies B&B Tenuta San Ottaviano.
Tuscany has an abundance of large villa rentals that can typically house 12-30 people. This kind of accommodation is perfect for events, family reunions and group retreats. However, too large for a couple or pair of friends. Tenuta San Ottaviano has converted its large property into a B&B agriturismo and self-serviced apartments. They offer the atmosphere of a traditional Tuscan experience, without having to fully book the entire premises. The rooms may be simple but they are designed to honour the original integrity of the humble country villa. Expect exposed stone work, terracotta tiles and fireplaces.
Hire a car from Florence and enjoy the scenery on the 2hr and 15-minute drive to the property. Expanding over 400 hectares in the tranquil Cornia Valley, the fertile land allows them to produce their own olive oil, honey, free range meat, homemade jams and even brew their own artisanal beer onsite. The location allows for exploration of both the countryside and the coast. Follonica beach is just a 35 minute drive away.
Things to do
You can taste the house Birra de’Neri in a guided tour of the boutique brewery. Additionally, there are also many important vineyards in the area worth visiting for a cellar door tour and wine tasting experience. Petra, Rocca di Frassinello, Argentiera, and Gualdo al Tasso are just a few. After a few glasses of wine, spend your afternoon lazing by one of the two expansive swimming pools right at your doorstep. Afterward, you could also venture out on a walking trail. The B&B even offers guided tour of the area on horseback.
Finally, there’s no better way to end the day than on the intimate outdoor terrace at the San Ottaviano restaurant. Overlooking the swimming pool and the hills beyond, the sky turns pink and the crickets sing. The peace and quiet is a reflection of the real Tuscan countryside. The restaurant serves traditional cuisine of the area with home grown produce and ingredients sourced from local farms.
The menu is seasonal and changes depending on availability of ingredients. A typical menu in Spring would consist of a range of antipasti, Tuscan risotto with wild asparagus and pecorino, ravioli with potato and artichoke, pappardelle with wild boar ragu, traditional Florentine steak cooked on an open fire, and the house ‘birramisu’– a twist on the traditional Tiramisu using house brewed beer to finish. Summertime even brings communal barbeques where guests are invited to share a family style dinner with the owners.
This is a homey, down to earth and authentic way to stay in Tuscany.