Santa Maria -- An Agriturismo Resort In Chianti
Although I am basically a very organized person who generally likes to plan ahead, I find that a good many of my choices are based on instinct, intuition, or just gut feeling. So although I did a fair amount of research before planning our Italian vacation, my final selecton of a place to stay and sights to see was something that just happened.
Thank God, I didn't fight my instincts or I would have overlooked the treasure of Santa Maria.
"Agriturismo" (agricultural tourism) is very popular in Tuscany and there are many centuries old farms and vineyards being converted into mini tourist resorts. Santa Maria in Chianti is one of the newer conversions and it is enchanting.
The property has a very "rustica" look which is very charming but slightly deceiving. The interior of each apartment, while maintaining some of the original wood beam structure, is entirely refurbished with all the modern conveniences. These apartments are on various levels and some are even two story. Ours had two generous bedrooms, one bath, a small kitchen and a very large "great room" consisting of a living and dining area. There is a huge fire place which would be heaven for fall and winter stays. Almost every apartment has some sort of outdoor area--a garden, patio or terrace for al fresco dining. There are laundry facilities, plenty of parking, phone and TV. In other words, all the practical bodily comforts are available. But they are only the beginning!
On the grounds there is vegetation scattered here and there, in pots, in the ground, on hillsides. There are climbing roses, geraniums, and poppies. There are peach trees, olive trees and mulberry bushes. There are herbs and a vegetable garden.
Follow the steps up the hillside to the pool and patio area. Take a deep breath and look around, all the way around, as far as the eye can see. This panoramic view of the Tuscan hillsides is breathtaking.
The location of Santa Maria is between Florence and Sienna. Most places of interest both in Tuscany and nearby Umbria are within the limits of a day trip. So too are numerous vineyards and some "off the beaten path" Medieval treasures.
The management of Santa Maria consists of Marco and Gabriella, who "met" Santa Maria by coincidence in May 2002 end fell in love with this hidden wonder at first sight. They are both Florentine and have a wealth of knowledge about the area including the easiest traffic routes to all the local points of interest. They are most willing to assist in making your stay enjoyable and unforgettable. Gabriella has been working in luxury hotels in Florence, Siena , Rome and New York for 12 years and Marco, as well, has been with the Orient Express Company deluxe hotel Villa San Michele, for 6 years. They are at Santa Maria to follow their passion for the Chianti countryside and for their job, to take good care of Santa Maria as such a rustic little treasure deserves and to be, together with their dog Betty, your tuscan neighbors.
On the property, there is also a centuries old church which is open on some Sundays for services with a traveling priest and a handful of locals. But just imagine what a perfect setting Santa Maria would be for a wedding or an anniversary.
Although we visited in June, I would love to be there in the fall or winter for the grape harvest, or the crushing of the olives for oil. Or perhaps I have already begun to miss it, and am just looking for a reason to return to Santa Maria.
For more information about Santa Maria contact Gabriella at firstname.lastname@example.org