Searching for vacation villa rentals in Tuscany can be a tricky proposition. As much as I like the idea of the quiet seclusion of a free standing villa with a private pool, the thought of being totally self-sufficient for an entire vacation isn’t quite ideal for us. At the same time, being in a hotel with kids for a week feels cramped.
Borgo Iesolana, a remote yet refined agriturismo centrally located in Bucine (pronounced BOO-chee-nay), provides the perfect compromise. Guests can be self-sufficient in their fully appointed apartments with private outdoor spaces while still being able to rely on Iesolana’s hospitality for meals, housekeeping and travel planning assistance as needed.
The most appealing aspect of Borgo Iesolana, aside from its manicured setting and breathtaking views, is how it provides day-to-day flexibility for guests. If you want to cook in your own apartment and enjoy dinner on your private patio you can. But if you’re tired after a day of sightseeing your family can eat dinner at Iesolana’s own wine bar/restaurant. We find grocery shopping to be a ton of fun in Italy, but until we got a chance to stock our kitchen we took in a of couple meals at the on-site restaurant.
The restaurant menu features local produce, artisanal meats and cheeses and shows them off in simple preparations. Our children are accustomed to Italian cuisine and loved tasting a bit of everything but to pickier eaters, there may be fewer options.
Each villa is assigned a table for each breakfast or dinner they choose to eat at the restaurant. Guests can either sit inside or outside. Families quickly and naturally get to know each other. In fact, within 1 hour of sitting down for dinner our first night there our kids joined in an impromptu soccer game at a brilliant fenced-in kids soccer pitch adjacent to the restaurant.
Our boys (9 and 7) were looking to get some energy out after a day of travel and seeing them interact naturally with the other children while we were enjoying the rest of our meal was priceless. By the end of the week the kids would naturally excuse themselves from the table between courses to get in a little soccer or table tennis. This, for me, was a novel change from the typical scenario back home where electronic devices provide entertainment during slower-paced meals.
Although the grounds are impeccably maintained, Borgo Iesolana is technically an agritourismo. Grapes and olives harvested from the property produce a traditional Tuscan red wine (labeled as Iesolana “Folco” IGT) and delicious olive oil. They have their own honey as well. Each of these are served in the restaurant and can be purchased to take home at reasonable prices.
During the day about half of the families staying there will visit nearby towns while the other half will relax by one of two salt water pools perfectly situated to provide amazing views of the surrounding area. Each villa is assigned a covered cabana with two chairs and a lounge chair. Unfortunately, for little ones not yet comfortable with the deep end, neither of the pools have a shallow end which could limit enjoyment for some children. But rest assured: The pools are just as beautiful as they are in pictures.
Borgo Iesolana is situated roughly between Siena and Arezzo, about an hour south of Florence. That being the case, it’s very well positioned as a launching point for day trips to some amazing Tuscan towns.
We focused on hill town visits and wine tasting visiting Cortona and tasting at Tenuta Sette Ponte (near Arezzo) one day. Then Montalcino the next day, visiting Casanova di Neri and La Gerla. Then a visit up north past Florence to the Ferrari Museum and Castelnuova Emilia — tortellini’s birthplace. Then a tasting at Fattoria di Felsina and a visit to San Gimignano. Many of these are 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes away through mostly beautiful back roads.
We’d typically get back to the villa around 5 or 6 pm in time for a beautiful dinner on our private patio or at the restaurant. The weather when we visited in July was perfect for dining al fresco most evenings. It’s these relaxed meals I’ll remember most.
In addition to offering day-to-day flexibility in vacation style, Borgo Iesolana has a number of sizes of accommodations to choose from. We stayed in Lecci, a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment since it wasn’t much more expensive than a two-bedroom apartment and provided flexibility to invite additional family members.
It occurred to me while visiting that Iesolana would also make for a terrific spot for multiple families to concurrently rent nearby units, as opposed to co-habitating for the week in one massive villa with no on-site services.
The apartments were mostly renovated in the ’90s. We found Lecci to be inviting, clean and functional.
>> The pool, soccer field, and table tennis are popular with children.
>> Complimentary WiFi with simple setup is handy and covers most of the property, most of the time.
>> Cable television and a flat panel TV is provided that can be configured to broadcast in English if the original content was in English.
>> Light daily housekeeping is provided.
>> Linens and towels (including large pool-sized towels) are provided but are not changed during the week without supplemental charges. The use of on-site laundry was steep by our standards.
>> Our unit had a well-appointed kitchen with a refrigerator, gas range, oven, dishwasher and microwave. All the basic cookware, dishware and utensils provided helped make meal prep on our eat-in days easy.
>> Unlike previous stays elsewhere in Tuscany, the windows in our unit could be opened to allow fresh air in and unwelcome bugs out.
>> Each of our two bathrooms was furnished with a blowdryer so we didn’t have to be concerned about converters.
>> Other things like bike rentals can be arranged with local vendors.
Ask the friendly, helpful, and responsive Louise for information on things like this prior to your arrival via email. There is no kids club so consider which day trips would suit your family. We found rotating who would stay home for a pool/villa day with one or both of our kids worked well. Feedback from family members who stayed back with the kids was that they would have found more complimentary kid-friendly activities to be helpful.
Plan accordingly and your time at Borgo Iesolana will be amazing and unforgettable. Our kids thanked us for taking them there multiple times during the week and we all had an absolutely wonderful time. A perfect relaxing Tuscan vacation.
Borgo Iesolana is about an hour south of Florence and 2.5 hours north of Rome. Although it’s just 15 minutes from the Bucine train station, a rental car is a must for at least one party in your group because Tuscan visits tend to revolve around day trips. And Bucine is a very small town. The nearest taxis need to be called from 25 minutes away making them quite expensive (around €30) A car service to/from Florence costs around €150.
The property is a couple of kilometers up a well-signed but bumpy dirt road about 20 minutes off the A1 Autostrada. GPS directions reliably got us there without incident. I find driving a rental car in Tuscany to be low-stress when compared to driving in the cities. But beware that cars with automatic transmission are hard to come by.
Ciao Bambino’s Family Travel Consultants can help book rooms at Borgo Iesolana. Check Availability from Borgo Iesolana’s family-friendly hotel review page and a consultant will follow up to ensure your needs are meet. Ciao Bambino’s consultants also offer comprehensive trip planning services that include itinerary development, activity/guide recommendations, and logistics advice. Request assistance on our Connect with a Travel Advisor page.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.