A charming private home, nestled in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, Il Vallone is a mere 4 km. from the medieval village of Lucignano. A glassed-in loggia overlooks the distant fields, the garden and small pond, teeming with goldfish. The house is cozy enough for two but can sleep up to 5. From my point of view, for comfort, 4 to 5 is the ideal number. Almost all rooms have high ceilings, exposed beams and tile floors. Though we remodeled after purchasing the house, we have respected the original architecture of this 650-year old farmhouse that boasts a windmill and solar panels.
The house has a lower floor with a king size bed, small bathroom with shower, living room dining room with piano, fireplace, original travertine sink and manger used for our large collection of books.
There is a small room on the mezzanine with a half bath, and upstairs two bedrooms [one with a double 4 poster bed, the other with an antique 3/4 bed for one person]. The upstairs living room runs the entire length of the house and is divided by a wide arch. The round travertine topped dining table is at one end of the living room. Books cases filled with an eclectic choice give a homey feel to all rooms.
Just repainted the entire house at the end of May, so it is pristine.
Rina is an excellent cook and is willing to share her secrets for the perfect lasagna or tiramisu upon request. She treats all guests as family. [She cooks upon request and cleans the house once during your stay unless you wish more frequent cleanings for an additional fee]. Due to its age, the house can become quite dusty. I normally sweep every other day, especially the kitchen.
Though no other houses are in sight, Il Vallone is centrally located and the perfect pied-a'-terre for avid sightseers, as well as the ideal refuge for musicians, writers, artists. Rental period: from April 15 through October 15th, one week minimum stay. I prorate for longer rentals, even if less than two weeks, but there is additional charge for this. I am flexible in terms of day of arrival as it costs less to fly on a week day.
Fun fact: In the summer of 2009, Juliette Binoche (best actress at Cannes Festival, 2010), starred in 'Certified Copy,' mostly shot in Lucignano.
Keywords: House, 650-year-old renovated Farmhouse, Unique Private Country Home
Brought up in Italy, I taught Italian literature and film in Boston area universities for 30 years. Since retiring from teaching, I have turned to writing, social activism, and photography. I am working on two memoirs and serve on several boards, including Chinese Adoptees Links International. Am a Resident Scholar at the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center. Co-Founder of Gender and International Development Initiatives at Brandeis WSRC, and Director Emerita of Polaris Project [leading national and international anti-human trafficking organization based in Washington, DC. In 2013 I co-founded the An-Ya Project , a series of anthologies written by adult adopted individuals for the younger generations and their parents.
I spend three to four months a year at Il Vallone, between the spring and fall, both because I adore being there, and to check on upkeep. It is always wrenching to leave the peace, beauty and access to fresh fruit and vegetables that taste 100 times better than even organic equivalents in the States.
Mei-Mei Ellerman purchased this farmhouse in 1970
When my mother bought Il Vallone in 1970 she lived there year round. After many years in Florence, she was seeking tranquillity and an idyllic setting in the countryside. Yet, given her age, she wanted a location within easy driving distance of the hilltop villages and major cities. [For the first 5 years, she attended weekly concerts at La Pergola in Florence during the winter months]. Due to my professional commitments I cannot live in Italy full time, much as I would like to. However each week spent there is steeped in beauty. One cannot help but change one's life rhythm, slow down and savor the privilege of being immersed in the Tuscan countryside.
Delectable food, great wines and cheeses, prosciutto crudo, beauty both within the house and surrounding area, privacy without being too isolated. and the invaluable service of Rina.
Shelves upon shelves of books, a lovely piano, television set and a boom box with a small collection of CDs (mostly classical music) offer entertainment for those who wish to just spend a day or two relaxing.
The last 2 Sundays in May, Lucignano puts on the "Maggiolata" to welcome summer, a unique festival with floats decorated with thousands of carnations, flag throwers, a colorful procession of local inhabitants dressed in Renaissance costumes all made to order by a local seamstress. The last weekend in September, during Le Memorie del Passato, the village steps back into the past (19th century), adopting sumptuous costumes of the time and opening up workshops for the numerous artisans who represent a whole variety of trades. Both celebrations are colorful and culturally fascinating. There are also smaller monthly or bi-weekly festivals, featuring local crafts, olive oil tasting, local foods, truffles, wines, cheeses, and pageantry. Other surrounding villages also hold an increasing number of small fairs, festivals, 'degustationi' of locally produced products. Each one is unique and helps one to delve deeper into the heart of Tuscan life.
What a lovely place to spend our vacation. The flowers, the birds, the peace! We loved exploring Lucignano and the surrounding villages and then coming "home" to enjoy a glass of wine and the solitude of Il Vallone. Assunta took good care of us throughout, for which we are most grateful. Hopefully our future travels will bring us back to Tuscany, and this idyllic retreat.
Ann and Bob Schapiro
I happened to pick a great week for my stay. The weather was beautiful. The fireflies lite up the wooded property and looked as if we were truly in a fairyland. My daughter went out to pick some basil for our dinner one night and was greeted by a family of wild boar. An experience she will NEVER forget!! The property is very secluded and peaceful. I look forward to staying here again very soon!
Marvellous authentic farmhouse reflecting the old way of life but with all mod cons. Peaceful but so much to see nearby. Lucignano is amazing.
Il Vallone is the perfect place to relax and soak up the warm Tuscan sun. We spent a lot of time just reading and eating on the shaded terrace, looking out into the beautiful landscape. The charming rustic house had tons of amazing flowers in full bloom with gorgeous scents, which meant we would wake up and go to sleep with the scent wafting through our bedroom. It's also perfectly situated to go on short 30-45 min drives to many interesting cities and small medieval towns - from Siena, Cortona, to nearby Lucignano. The best part of being in Italy for us was going to the local markets and getting fresh fruits and vegetables, which are far tastier (and cheaper) than the ones in the US. The kitchen has everything you could want so we were able to feast regularly at home and spend less money that expected on the trip. Overall, Il Vallone proved to the be perfect place for us to unwind, re-ground ourselves in what's important (food!), get re-charged to return to our normal life with new vigor.
We had a wonderful time at Il Vallone. It is the Tuscan farmhouse where we felt completely at home--authentically preserved, tastefully decorated, with the comforts of our own country house, but bathed in glorious Tuscan sun.
From the moment we first opened the door to Il Vallone, we felt like we walked into a personalized Tuscan retreat. It's both rural, (literally off our google map) and yet located in a part of Italy that made day trips possible to Pisa, Florence, Cortona, Siena, and a host of other lovely places.
Hidden away in total privacy down a winding dirt road past olive groves, Cyprus trees and vineyards, Il Vallone is surrounded by lavender, rosemary and a small vineyard out back. The loggia and gazebo were perfect places to read and share our adventures in cooking truffle dishes. The charming nearby town of Lucignano doesn't make the tourist books, which is all the more reason we loved it.
It's a little gem of a place, we will hold tight to our memories of Il Valone.
We stayed here in July 2012. The days are warm but the nights are nice and cool. We loved sitting around the house after a full day of sightseeing and wonderful Italian food and wine. The house is in a very quiet location about 5 mins drive from Lucignano. Lucignano is a wonderful old walled hilltop town with a few great restaurants and cafes. The house is a great place from which to explore Tuscany. There are great little villages nearby and it is about 1 hours drive from almost every Tuscan city you can think of.
In summer the house did get warm in the afternoon but it cools off nicely as soon as the sun goes down. It is situated in a quiet part of the countryside so it is a perfect place to relax in. It is like stepping back in time a little. The house has been modernized where necessary but it still retains the ambiance of an old comfortable farmhouse. The furniture is mostly antiques but yet is still very comfortable. There are several wood burning fireplaces that would be great to enjoy in the cool weather. If you want to experience a true taste of Tuscany, Il Vallone is the perfect place.
You know a house is special when it has a name and a personality!
We had wonderful adventures to Siena to meet friends, to Arezzo to see the Piero frescoes, Montalcino to drink wine at the fortezza, just to name a few. We loved Orvieto and the wild Signiorelli frescoes in the duomo. We relaxed at the warm baths at Rapolano Terme. In Lucignano, we dined twice on La Tavernetta's beautiful terrace and went frequently to Cafe Bio for wifi and organic coffee.
But we were also just content to spend a lazy morning on Il Vallone's terrace watching salamanders. We read endlessly! Even in hot July most of the days were like perfect ripe plums--clear blue skies and gorgeous breezes. The quiet of Il Vallone made a perfect setting for our honeymoon.
Il Vallone and Lucignano itself are ideally situated for sightseeing, both to famed Tuscan hilltop towns, renowned wineries, outlet shopping, as well as to Florence, Perugia, Assisi, Rome. Innumerable activities including hot air ballooning, hiking, golf [30-60min. away], museums, churches, the Palio in Siena, wine tours, spas, and of course any number of restaurants.
During the month of July, there is a series of gorgeous concerts offered by the Origo family at various venues near Pienza. Incontri in Terra di Siena.
|Tip for Rina||$48|
|Refundable damage deposit||$265|
Normally renters request dinner for the evening of their arrival. Rina will also shop for basics, including bread, butter, milk [soy/ rice milk], jams, coffee, tea, mineral water, fruit, cereal or croissants and of course wine! If you are interested in renting and obtaining further information, please get in touch with me. I will send you the menu from which to choose plus additional information.
Weekly quotes are in euros. You may pay in full upon arrival in euros, or in 2 installments. For 1 week in Spring $250. when locking in dates, + balance of 755. euros, payable in cash to Rina or Carlo, my caretakers.
For 1 week in High Season, $350. when locking in dates, + balance of 1,240. euros, payable in cash.
For one week in Fall $250. when locking in, + balance of 1020. euros in cash.