is a fascinating place, with a history dating back to the Etruscan era, when it was a centre of alabaster extraction. The warren of streets are dotted with restaurants and lead up to the Piazza dei Priori at the heart of the town, dominated by the impressive Palazzo dei Priori which serves as a town hall.
...a beautiful UNESCO recognised town that originally had over 70 towers, ostensibly constructed to defend the inhabitants but also somewhat of a competition to build the highest one! Only a few remain but they still make a striking skyline. There are many fine examples of medieval and Renaissance art to see, or the Torture Museum is a slightly gruesome alternative.
The weekly market is a vital part of Italian life - somewhere to buy fresh veggies and locally reared meat, but also somewhere to meet friends and catch up on the news. It is not just a practical but a cultural experience to join the bustling crowds and pick out some lovely produce to cook back at the villa. Go to San Gimignano on Thursday or Volterra's on Saturday morning. A handicrafts market is also held in Volterra on the third Sunday of every month.
Siena's historic centre has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and deservedly so - narrow streets lined with cafes and shops lead to the heart of the town - the unique Piazza del Campo, the shell shaped slanting square. Enjoy a coffee or a relaxed lunch before heading off for some sightseeing. Many of the city's churches have beautiful frescoes and sculptures, particularly the Duomo (cathedral). Please note that the Palio horse race takes place on July 2 and August 16 - they are either days to avoid or days to visit depending on what you want to experience!
Volterra by night
A fascinating guided tour to the most wonderful corners of Volterra. Experience the charm of the Etruscan city, then known as Velathri, at the most magical time of day. Tour every Thursday between 7th July and 25th August.
Cook up a storm, or let someone else do it for you!
Villa Giovannini is well equipped for preparing and serving a large meal, and there is plenty of space for all the group to sit together to enjoy it, either in the formal dining room or outside in front of the breathtaking view. Or you may prefer to hire a caterer to do the hard work for you - as the owners run a catering firm, this couldn't be easier to arrange!
Try out the pizza oven!
Guests always enjoy cooking their own pizzas in the pizza oven... It may take a little practice, but the authentic flavour of a wood fired pizza is absolutely delicious!
The villa is surrounded by the Monte Nero nature reserve. The terrain is characterised by steep slopes, rocky outcrops and deep gorges made in the basalt rock by the Strolla river. The area is largely wooded and there are many walking trails through stunning scenery, including to the ‘cascatelle della nera’ waterfalls.
Treks from one hour to full day available from ‘Maneggio Area 52 Park’ at Prato d’Era, just a short drive from the villa.
Go out for an ice-cream
Children will love the 'gelateria' or Italian ice cream shop. Watch their eyes pop out on stalks when they see the rainbow-coloured display and so many different flavours to choose from!
to a spa day or massage at Spa San Lorenzo in Colle Val d’Elsa. Facilities include hydro-massage pool, sauna, steam room and sensory showers. A perfect way to totally unwind on holiday!
Play a round of golf
at Castelfalfi, approx. 25km from the villa. Castelfalfi is the largest golf course in Tuscany, with 27 holes altogether, comprising the challenging ‘Mountain Course’ (Par 72, 6351 meters, 18 holes) and the more manageable Lake Course (Par 37, 3171 meters, 9 holes). There is also a driving range with grass teeing grounds, and a clubhouse. Tee-times need to be pre-booked.
Have a lazy day
This villa is well suited to getting away from it all, and putting aside a day or two where the most strenuous activity is deciding whereabouts to relax. Choose from sunning yourself beside the pool, cooling down in the shade, wallowing in the hot tub or playing social games together in one of the living areas.
Colle di Val d'Elsa
A town of two parts: the working town at the bottom of the hill, and the old walled village on the hillside. The old village has beautiful stone houses and cobbled streets, and is famous for its crystal glass production.
Enjoy the pool
- it is one of the largest pools in our programme (16m x 5m), so there is plenty of space to swim and splash around. And what a view!
Chianti is almost certainly the most recognised wine producing region in Italy, and one of the most known globally. This region can be reached in about an hour from the villa. If you are holidaying here between 30th May and 6th June, you may like to join in the Chianti wine festival which is held in the small village of Montespertoli, with the first opportunity to try the year's vintage.
Hunting castles in Chianti
There are lots of castles, towers and fortified abbeys in the Chianti region. Go exploring and get the kids imagining who used to live in these impressive (sometimes ruined!) places. Pick up a leaflet in Gaiole in Chianti; there are six different itineraries to choose from.
Family day at the coast
It takes about an hour a quarter in the car to reach the coast at Cecina Mare. You might like to combine a morning at the beach with an afternoon splashing down water slides at the Cecina Waterpark.
A little further afield but well worth getting up early for
The major cities of Pisa (1h15) and Florence (1h30) are within reach for a day trip, and of course are jam packed with points of interest, iconic landmarks and cultural, artistic and architectural masterpieces. The smaller city of Lucca (1h30) is also a real gem, very well preserved and picturesque, and a manageable size to walk around and get to know.
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