I love the visuals in movies like Under the Tuscan Sun and Stealing Beauty so when it came time for our stay in Tuscany, I really wanted to go native (or at least have an experience that was akin to what I was seeing in the movies). I wanted something in the countryside that felt like an authentic Italian inn or bed and breakfast as opposed to a corporate hotel that is a perfect facsimile of a hundred other hotels around the world. Part of the adventure is staying somewhere is that it feels genuine, even if that means that some of the amenities are not as up to date as they would be at a large chain. David and I did a lot of research and the cool thing about staying somewhere in Tuscany is that there is an abundance of old stately homes and estates that have been converted into small inns and B&Bs. For our stay, we found a great little place in the winding hills just outside of Siena.
San Lorenzo a Linari was once a medieval monastery for an order of Nuns (first built in the 1100s) located just five miles from Siena. Around 1735 it was converted into a noble country residence and in 1975 restoration started so that it could be converted into the guest house that it is today. It now boasts amenities such as tennis courts, pools, gardens, barbecue and picnic areas and a health spa among others. They have apartments large enough to accommodate 2-8 people and each morning they have a delicious Tuscan style breakfast complete with freshly baked croissants and pastries, five minute eggs, freshly squeezed juice and the best cappuccino we had in all of Italy (they used fresh milk – like from a freshly milked cow).
This was by far my favorite place that we stayed in Italy and I would love to go back and stay for a longer period of time. There aren’t a lot of restaurants or stores in the immediate vicinity, but since you are not far from Siena, it doesn’t take too long to get to large grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants. We actually had a bit of a scare when, after driving into town to stock up on supplies, we were headed back on a long winding road to our lodgings. We heard sirens approaching so David pulled over and we were passed by a large fire truck. We followed the fire truck for several miles and David was getting more and more concerned the longer we followed it and even said, “What if the hotel burned down with all of our luggage inside?” Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. There was just a small roadside fire about a mile from where we were staying (an outdoor trash receptacle had caught on fire) and the firefighters were able to put it out quickly. No one was hurt and, aside from the garbage container, no property was damaged.
The rest of our stay was relatively low key. We had a nice dinner of charcuterie, veggies, fruit and fresh bread before heading down for a relaxing late afternoon dip in the pool and a game of ping-pong while watching the sun set. The boys would have been perfectly content to never leave the property for the rest of our trip. If you like a vacation where you’re away from the hustle and bustle of things, then San Lorenzo a Linari might be just the place for you. They will actually arrange wine tasting tours, tours of the region and horseback riding if you’d like, so you can be as busy or as relaxed as you would like to be.