|Subject: Tuscany villa|
By chance, I received an email today from someone from whom we rented an apartment in Paciano, near Orvieto, a few years ago.
When we were there, it was only the original farmhouse, used by the owners, and a selfcontained one bedroom apartment at the end of the main building. However, Lucia and Sandro have now expanded the accommodation and there is a website you could check out at: http://www.fontanaro.it
It seems that there are now three apartments or cottages, so that part of your specification would be met but it may be a little too rustic for you.
I have dredged up some notes that I wrote up for someone else who was looking for something in the area, back in 1999 and, although they are somewhat dated, I will copy them here, so that you have a little more information at your disposal. (I don't think that I have written on the Zine previously about this part of the world.)
We had a lovely couple of weeks in Italy in September, with the first days of acclimatisation being spent at Paciano - and a great start that gave us to the all too brief holiday.
The apartment is part of the main house but self contained. You share the grounds with the house but there is an attractive patio and terrace area, not enclosed but dedicated to the apartment. The Pinellis were there only for a day or so during our stay so we actually had the run of the place for part of the time and I gather that is mainly the case. As you may know, they live in Rome and use the place for weekends. Restoring, re-establishing and extending the farm and the buildings has obviously been a labour of love for Alessandro particularly.
The apartment is not huge: an open plan kitchen/dining/living area, bedroom and bathroom. Nor is it glitzy, so if you are into chrome, marble and velvet, then it is not for you. But it is clean, comfortable, light and airy and plenty big enough for two people. (I assume you like each other!) There is outdoor furniture and hammocks - and stunning sunsets to enjoy from your prone position if yo u happen to have made it back in time from your travels.
We spent little time indoors inevitably, because there is so much to see and do and even for the few hours each day we were there, eg for longer-than-intended, lingering breakfasts, we used the pretty terrace overlooking the valley, the olive groves, and with distant glimpses of the lake. The weather was kind to us in September and it was heavenly to breakfast in the sun and just soak up the atmosphere and revel in the tranquillity. The farm incorporates olive trees, apples, plums, walnuts, grape vines etc. There are pots of basil, hedges of rosemary, tomatoes by the score, their own olive oil - all of which were generously placed at our disposal by Lucia who was charming but not intrusive.
The farm is about a kilometre out of the village of Paciano down a wiggly dirt road, so you are off the beaten track. As with the lack of marble and chrome, there is a notable absence of bright lights but that's not what we wanted and I assume not what you want either if you are looking at farm houses in Umbria.
You are well placed for visits to the wonderful wine country of Montalcino and Montepulciano on the other side of the autostrada, if you share our interests in such things. Firenze, Roma and Sienna are within reach on the autostrada - if you can drag yourself away from the peace and tranquillity of Paciano, of course. We were particularly interested on this trip in 15th century art, so at a later stage in out trip, we were back just north of Lago di Trasimeno but the places we visited from there, we could have done just as easily from Paciano. There is easy access to the art and history treasures of Arezzo, Orvieto, Perugia and Assisi, for example, all of which you probably know from your previous visits. Pienza is well worth a visit if you've not been there and the Abbazzia at Monte Oliveto is also interesting for its frescoes.
.... I have stayed in a number of rented places in Italy over the years - they all have their own charms and their own drawbacks as you would know from your own experiences. This one had the delight of the location in that you were in countryside, not well touristed, far enough from the hurly burly but not so far that it was a bore to get anywhere you wanted to go. On the eastern side of the autostrada, it was more of a question of using back roads wherever we wanted to go but to the north, south and west you had more options.
The description of the specific accommodation is obviously now in need of update but the web page might help you to make a decision on whether it is worth pursuing or not. I should add two things: 1. You will certainly need transport in that part of Italy, although there are local buses and a train service not far away. 2. I have no connection with the owners, other than having rented from them once a few years ago. (Lucia has kept in touch with infrequent emails.)
Best of luck with the search and the planning. Lucky you!
Warm regards, Joan Melbourne, Australia