Evening sunlight weaves its golden threads through the lace curtains as wood pigeons coo their contentment from a branch opposite my second floor window at Villa Fontelunga.
Nestled on a hill overlooking the Chiana Valley, the scene seems one created straight from a painter’s palate, making it easy to imagine author Frances Mayes’ spontaneous enthusiasm in ‘Under The Tuscan Sun,’ a book focusing on Cortona, a town nearby and barely an hour from Florence.
Villa Fontelunga (meaning ‘eternal spring’) is a nine-room plus two villa, sienna-colored, blue-shuttered padronale, best described as a countryside boutique hotel with informal luxury and a casual manner. Each of the rooms is named after a precious stone, ours being turquoise. Others include ‘Avorio’ (Ivory) and ‘Ametista’ (Amethyst), with the colors reflected in the styling of the bedrooms.
Arrival is along a winding rural road leading to a secluded, gravel parking lot bordered by leafy trees. Beyond a walk-through electronic gate set amidst a tall privacy hedgerow is a spacious terrace with large terracotta pots scattered about filled with jasmine, lavender and roses, overlooking sloping hills dotted with around two hundred olive trees.
Here also is what can best be described as a ‘cozy corner,’ an open, outdoor, canvas-covered structure reminiscent of an exotic Bedouin tent, with cane chairs and soft, comfortable seats beneath. The only element missing is an argula. It was here after our ritual light-hearted morning banter with ever-helpful co-owner Briton Philip, that we mischievously nicknamed him ‘Mediskos,’ a legendary (meaning non-existent) Greek hero, as he’d recently undergone a surgical procedure to fix a wonky knee.
While emanating classic Tuscany characteristics, Villa Fontelunga also reflects a modern interior featuring an open kitchen, intriguing paintings, a comprehensive library and a 24-hour honesty bar. One of the highlights of a stay here is the joy of breakfasts on its sunny open terrace overlooking the olive grove, with a selection of cheeses, hams, eggs and delicious local honey and breads.
While lunches are served periodically upon request, Philip, the property’s interior designer, and his Italian partner, Paulo, host three-course dinner parties for guests. Knowing the immediate area extremely well, Philip and Paulo can advise well on local places to dine. Being the kind of laid-back place you go to for a thorough chill-out away from the normal routine of life, there’s no TV in sight here. For the sporty, however, there’s a small outdoor swimming pool (complete with sweeping swallows in season), a tennis court, an outdoor Jacuzzi, complimentary mountain bikes and delightful countryside pathways providing attractive jogging trails.
Paulo, a former investment banker, and Philip, a set designer, also own a second property consisting of several villas in a tranquil location a few miles away in Borgo 69 (meaning small hamlet or village), a two-bedroom, two-bathroom Villa Gallo and a one-bedroom, Villa Galletto, with a swimming pool in the walled herb garden between them. They hope to have twelve apartments there for sale and rent within two years. The pair also host special events such as weddings and birthday parties at their property.
There is much to see and do in the vicinity of Villa Fontelunga, with the historic city of Arezzo to the north; the wine region of Montepulciano to the south; Cortona to the east; and Siena, famous for its ‘Palio’ horserace, and the villages of Lucignano and San Gimignano in the Chianti hills, to the west. For shopaholics, the Outlets, a spacious shopping center 45 minutes from the property, hosts many of the world’s leading brands.
For a relaxing vacation amidst the beauty and serenity of the Tuscany countryside and diverse sightseeing options within a short drive, Villa Fontelunga is a fine choice.