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How to Choose the Right Villa

5 Tips for Picking the Perfect Villa in Tuscany

By: Donald Strachan Writer & Journalist | Specialist in Italy & European travel

Picture yourself in a luxury Tuscan villa, enjoying an alfresco lunch by the pool, or perhaps admiring the rosy glow of a Tuscan sunset with a glass of fine red wine in your hand. Breathe in, just a little. A gentle breeze is blowing the faint aroma of lavender and juniper your way.

The estate of Petroio

The Estate Of Petroio, Rufina is 7km/4 miles away, near Florence. Tuscany.

But hold on a minute! There are a few stages you should complete first. Weigh up factors before making your decision. Everyone’s different, after all. To start with: there is no such thing as the “best” villa in Tuscany; only the best Tuscan villa rental for you. Maybe a villa with a pool is an essential, or a villa with air conditioning, or even one of our fully staffed villas in Tuscany.

Ask yourself these five important questions below. Or contact us directly, and we can help you come to the best decision tailor-made for you.

Are you a first-time visitor to Tuscany?

If it’s your first time in Tuscany, you may have a different set of criteria to an old hand who has visited this region many times. Florence, Tuscany’s capital, has the largest concentration of sights and variety of things to see and do. The Chianti, hills to the south of Florence and within easy reach of the city, is one of the most famous wine zones in the world. It makes sense to base yourself around here. You can easily mix city with countryside.

If you have an idea of “classic Tuscany” already embedded in your mind, you will find it in the Chianti.

Podere Celli, Chianti

Podere Celli . A picture-perfect Tuscan farmhouse

Do you need a big dose of culture?

If you want to visit museums and other cultural spots, you may want to be within easy range of Florence or Siena (or between them, in the Chianti hills). Florence has the Uffizi Gallery, Michelangelo’s “David”, Medici palaces and tombs, Renaissance gardens, countless painted chapels and more. Siena’s heyday was during the Gothic period. It hit its height of power in the first half of the 1300s, and sights like the Campo, Palazzo Pubblico and Duomo remain almost unchanged since medieval times.

Other cities for culture vultures are Lucca (the birthplace of Puccini, with a museum and summer opera festival dedicated to him); Pisa (for its Leaning Tower and sublime Romanesque architecture around the Campo dei Miracoli); and Arezzo (with Piero della Francesca’s “Legend of the True Cross” frescoes and a famous antiques market).

If you favour a rural Tuscan escape, you don’t need to abandon the idea of culture altogether. Montepulciano, Montalcino and San Gimignano all have fine art and architecture to admire. It’s just a little more thinly spread than in the cities.

Il Granaio

Il Granaio. Wonderful views of Tuscany.

Do you want to be close to a village?

A selection of Tuscany Now rentals are within walking distance of a village or town centre. Staying in one of our Tuscany villas near villages gives you a chance to integrate yourself into the rhythms of local life. Stroll to the weekly produce market, attend a church service, or just drink till late and enjoy the to-and-fro at a local bar.

On the other hand, if your Tuscan idyll requires being marooned amid a sea of grape vines, with nothing but an occasional swallow to disturb the silence, this option isn’t for you. Note: you will definitely need to rent a car. Not even Tuscans rely on rural Tuscany’s bus services!

Are you a returning visitor looking for a new angle on Tuscany?

You’ve seen a Chianti sunset, met David’s inscrutable gaze at the Accademia, climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and walked Siena till your feet are sore. But you still haven’t seen all Tuscany has to offer — not even close.

At a villa in the Maremma, you can explore the rolling hills of the Morellino winelands and archaeological sites of the ancient Etruscans. Sights here are a little more spread out than farther north — you’ll definitely need to rent a car — but they are also far less busy, even in high season. 

North of Florence, the Mugello was the original home of the Medici family, who rose to power in medieval and Renaissance Florence. A villa near Borgo San Lorenzo puts you right at the heart of this very different part of Tuscany.

Or consider a villa near Rome or villas in Umbria. We offer those, too.

Spini Bianchi

Spini Bianchi. Enjoying incredibly beautiful views of the coast line and facing the island of Giglio.

Do you have special interests you want to pursue?

Different areas of Tuscany will appeal to travellers with specific interests. If you are a wine lover, it makes sense to be based in the Chianti, or near Montalcino or Montepulciano. Photographers will appreciate the technicolor majesty and vast skies of the Val d’Orcia. Many classic images of Tuscany — cypress stands huddled around lonely chapels or roads snaking along almost lunar clay ridges — were shot here or in the Crete Senesi (south-west of Siena, on the road to Asciano).

If you have a passion for ancient history, the Maremma was the heartland of the Etruscan world (aka “Etruria”). This fascinating pre-Roman culture has left important remains (Vetulonia, Populonia, Roselle) and museums stuffed with artifacts (Grosseto, Volterra, Chiusi). Outside Pitigliano, the Etruscans carved a network of vie cave (open-air passages) into the soft tufa rock. Their use? That — like much of Etruscan culture — remains a mystery.

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