During the month of April,my wife and I and I stayed at the ancient stone-clad Prato farmhouse on the grounds of the beautiful Villa Calcinaia agriturismo located within easy walking distance from the charming village of Greve in Chianti. We had vacationed in the Chianti region of Tuscany many times in the past so we had some idea of what to expect. Our three friends who joined us for part of the month had not experienced rural Tuscany, so for them, it was a completely new adventure. At the end, we all agreed that Prato had provided us with a five star experience. Here are some of the reasons:
To begin with, Prato is well-located within the heart of Chianti. By automobile it is easy to reach Florence to the north, Siena to the south, and a multitude of hill towns in between.
The property sits on a rise and has wonderful views of the adjacent vineyards and woods, and the rolling hills as far as the eye can see. It has four large bedrooms and three baths, and a very large kitchen which is well equipped. As one might expect, the kitchen table tends to be the center of things in the house, and what makes this kitchen exceptional is that it has a working fireplace, and a door to close it off from the living room (which also has a fireplace.) It's a great feature for chilly spring mornings and cozy evenings sitting around the table enjoying wine from grapes grown a few feet from the front door.
Vincenzo is the agent for the property, and he is a gregarious and knowledgeable young man who speaks English quite well, a major benefit for those of us whose Italian is less than fluent. He is a real asset. We loved the included tour of the Villa and wine tasting, and the delicious antipasti that complimented Villa Calcinaia's excellent wines.
For my part, I especially enjoyed hiking in the woodlands that are criss-crossed with trails only a few hundred feet from the house.We did not see any wild boar this time, but there were deer aplenty and jack rabbits the size of Rhode Island. On the mornings I didn't hike the woods, or accompany the gang on excursions to the hill towns, I walked into Greve for coffee. On Saturdays, there is a large market in the square which has good meats, cheeses and produce, and a lot of not so great "stuff" for sale.
A word of caution:
For those who have not experienced a farm rental in Tuscany, it is important to understand that properties are usually very modestly furnished, and although most of the several hundred year old houses have gone through extensive renovation, they still have their quirks such as sometimes unpredictable water temperatures and or pressure in the showers.It's not unique to Prato, and it's just part of the adventure.
One day, during the last week of our stay, I had a chance encounter with Villa Calcinaia's managing owner, Count Capponi. He was approachable, gracious, and appreciative of our enjoyment of the land that has been in his family for over 500 years.
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