Q: What is it? A: An amazing place to stay where Philip, Paolo and Simon are making you feel very, very much at home, with the help of Paolo’s mother, Ines, who take charge of the kitchen a few days a week.
Five stars? Oh yes.
What can I say? This is one of the most pleasant places I’ve ever stayed at. Ever. It’s an old Padronale residence outside a sleepy little town in the Val di Chiana valley. It sure looks old but it is by no means an old-fashioned place. The owners will do anything to ensure that you won’t walk away with that impression.
And the owners are fantastic, Paolo, Philip and Simon are great guys; happy, friendly and cheerful but even more importantly – 100% committed to make you feel just right at home. They are the key factor in making this place what it is.
Only nine rooms and no restaurant and still it’s fantastic.
Breakfast is the only set meal. It’s a small buffet but a superb one. There’s no 24-hour room service but you can always sneak downstairs to treat yourself to a drink or a snack from the honesty bar. Twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) the owners will throw a little house party. It often means that Paolo’s mother will take charge of the kitchen, cooking a five-course meal. And of course it is fantastic. The best pasta I’ve ever had in Italy. No question. The dessert cake probably took a year or two of my life, but it was a chocolate cake to die for.
So who is this place for?
Life travels at a different pace at the Villa Fontelunga. Those who know me well also know that I’m not really fond of just sitting down, spending the day by the pool. At the Villa Fontelunga I did just that – and I enjoyed it at lot.
This is not a hotel. Nor is it an ordinary guest house. It is something else. It’s rather hard to find (GPS and maps will help, though). But when you do, you’ve arrived at a friendly, happy place where you may socialize with other guests (you will learn a lot about the hidden secrets of Tuscany that way) or just keep yourself to yourself. You have the choice of just being lazy or make the 35 minute trip to Montevarchi and go shopping crazy at Space, the rather secret Prada outlet.
Or go to The Mall (another outlet with Gucci and Armani among others). I think it’s the idea of having a choice that works just fine with me.
Bonus info: One of the owners, Philip Robinson, used to work as production designer and art director for movies. Among others ‘Howard’s End’ and ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ and ‘Miss Julie’ (yes, the Strindberg play). So it shouldn’t be a mystery why the Villa Fontelunga is a very stylish place.
Via Cunicchio No. 5
Foiano della Chiana