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Getting away from it all in the Siena countryside

by Webmaster last modified 2008-08-01 10:47

When the wife (*) books a break on the Internet

It was late when we were leaving home and even later leaving the motorway (A1 - Chiusi-Chianciano). What harm? We husbands (or, should I say male partners) came armed with maps printed off one of those programmes that promise to guide you to even the remotest parts of the land. Strange then, that in just the shortest space of time, we are driving down a dirt track in the pitch black and to all appearances quite lost. We were to find out later that we should have headed into Chianciano and then towards La Foce and Cutignano . . . but right now my daughter is screaming in the back and my wife's navigational skills are somewhat hampered by her car-sickness

Three nights half-board sharing a triple room in an authentic 17th century farmhouse
Cash, all major and debit cards
Booked in February for the Easter weekend
How much
LIT 750,000.
Euros 387.35
Surfability : 5
Ease of use : 9
Quality/price: 8
Rating: 8/10

It's getting even darker and the only sign of life outside is a kamikaze pine marten who decides to cross the road just as we appear, allowing us to test the car's ABS. With no-one in sight and our mobile phones dead to the world we begin to get worried. Things are so bad that when we finally pass the signpost for Contignano, the mediaeval village where our hotel is located, I actually feel moved.

Later that night when I get into chat with the lady of the house, the delightful Enrica, I find out that the place where we are staying is an old farmhouse from 1631 that has been completed renovated and is now a hotel-cum-restaurant-cum bar. (For more information contact their site ).

Enrica tells me that we are in the Val d'Orcia, a natural park that is funded nowadays by the European community, but created thanks to years of relentless work by immigrant shepherds from Sardinia who farmed the land and are now worth millions. There they are at 9 the next morning, lined up at the bar with their sambucas, but only because they started their day at 4, tended to their flocks before lunch at 8 and are now ready for a well-earned liqueur.

Enrica explains that around these parts traffic is unheard of and that you worry if you hear an ambulance because someone you know must be sick. Indeed the only hold-ups on the road are when car commercials are being filmed.

(* Aka female partner and domestic power-sharing executive)

Tuscan cooking at its best. Look out for the Pici.


Cured ham, cheese, lard, wine and pottery.

Places to visit:

Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza and any other little village that takes your fancy.

You're sure to come back with a few extra pounds around your middle.

For the seemingly endless stretches of gently rolling hills with the soft ever-changing hues of their ploughed clay.
Or the classic cypress tress flanking hilltops and farmhouses, like giant thumbtacks arranged by some divine hand to remind us of his genius..


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