This “Happy Island” in Tuscany
Ah, to be marooned in a sea of Chianti vineyards at Villa le Barone
At first blush, it sounds odd when our friends Corso and Jacqueline—the Count and Countess who invite Classic Journeys guests to stay at their home, Villa le Barone—refer to their hilltop in Tuscany as “our happy island.” Sitting in their rose garden, you’re a hundred kilometers or so from the nearest sea. The only waves are the swells of silvery green Chianti hills that surge off to the horizon.
“But it’s true,” insists Corso. “When the people in our village of Panzano look at the newspaper or watch the television, we see too much difficulty. Then we look at our home and know that we have our families, a little wine, a small orchard, and we are content. The world out there is easy to forget here on our happy island.” After your first 10 minutes at Villa le Barone, the Count’s metaphor makes perfect sense. Lucky you: there are still three luxurious Villa-based days to come as you begin your week in Tuscany and the Cinque Terre.
This is where your Tuscan dreams come true here. The Count and Countess are the latest members of the della Robbia family to have owned the Villa since the 16th century. For a few hundred of those years, it was a wine and olive oil estate. Today, it’s a luxury hotel, but don’t tell Jacqueline you heard us say that. “We are not mere hoteliers,” she’s proud to say. “It is more like a house open to friends.” And couldn’t we all use more friends like this! Your gracious room overlooks vast gardens and chestnut trees. In the distance rows of pencil-thin cypress mark the site of a remote farmhouse. Even if you are selfie-averse, you’ll be hard-pressed to resist stretching out on a chaise by the pool to capture an is-this-really-me pic. Your hosts—infinitely cordial and totally lacking in pretense—are likely to pop up at any moment of your day, maybe with an armload of just-cut flowers or an offer to crack open a bottle of Chianti.
Tempted as you will be to never leave the property, one of the Villa’s greatest charms is its proximity to all you came to see in Tuscany. San Gimignano is nearby, with its soaring ranks of medieval towers. An easy stroll through poppy fields and vineyards leads you to our friend Massimo who welcomes you to his 15th-century cast with a home-cooked lunch. You’ll chat up a local shepherd who gives you a look at how he makes his traditional pecorino cheese and pay a private visit to a 15th-century monastery.
And always, always, always Villa le Barone is there for you… with cool shade for an afternoon rest or a ringside seat for dinner on the terrace. (There is no more flattering light than the glow of a Tuscan sunset!) If you’re tempted to chain yourself to the nearest olive tree and refuse to leave, you won’t be the first. Villa le Barone instills the deep contentment you always imagined you’d feel in Tuscany. Corso says it best: “We are not misers with our good fortune. We like to share this happiness with you.”