La Francigena (pronounced fran-chee-gin-ah) is a large high-specification Tuscan farmhouse sleeping up to 15 that's just had a fabulous makeover. If you look at the indoor pictures, we think you'll see what we mean. Set on an organic farm covering 240 acres, the farmhouse is 50 minutes drive from Siena and 15 minutes from Pienza.
This fine farmhouse sits in delicious tranquility just off the ancient Pilgrim Way, which begins at Canterbury cathedral in England and ends at the Basilica di San Pietro in Rome. The Pilgrim Way was first mentioned in 876 AD and it's still in use today. Those walking the 1,900 kilometre route might decide to pause (meet up with friends and family?), for a couple of weeks R&R at La Francigena before embarking on the final leg of their pilgrimage. The more sybaritic sorts may simply decide this is a perfect spot for a fine holiday far from the hurley burley of our noisy modern lives.
La Francigena is ideal for a special family celebration or for a bunch of friends to chill in picture-book-perfect Tuscany in a farmhouse offering heaps of space for togetherness and pleasant privacy as required. The young (and not!) will find ping pong, table football and mountain bikes (4) for entertainment, as well as the 50 foot swimming pool with its collection of pool inflatables. Peggy, the "house dog" lives year round at La Francigena. She loves visitors and is especially good with children - she's a mixed-breed, sort-of-labrador-ish kind of dog. If you'd rather not have Peggy around, she has her own quarters down by the shaded parking area. She's no bother at all and is fed each day when the pool is cleaned, so she's pure pleasure and no responsibility. You can choose to let her join you or, if you'd prefer, she can stay in her own spacious accommodation.
The farmhouse is beautifully located: for garden lovers the famous gardens of La Foce are only 15 minutes drive away, stunning Siena is an hours' drive away and the thermal springs at Bagno Vignoni are just 11 kms away (Saint Catherine of Siena and Florence's Medici family enjoyed taking the waters here). Pienza, another Renaissance stunner of a town, is 15 minutes drive away and admired not only for its illustrious history, but also for its flavoursome ewe's milk cheeses and its fine wrought iron work. Small, picturesque villages abound in this area, offering eateries from the most basic to the most elegant. Gallina is almost too small to call a village, but it has an excellent trattoria and the owner will be happy to drive you the 5 km home if your legs won't carry you after one of his excellent meals!
A lot of villas and farmhouses for large groups do well with their bathrooms and bedrooms, but fall flat on their faces when it comes to cooking facilities. Summer's Leases chooses only the best, so we can assure you La Francigena offers excellent kitchen facilites! The enthusiastic cook will find all the heart could desire, including a pizza oven. This old farmhouse was once 4 large apartments, but the friendly and capable owner, Antonella, decided to change all that quite recently. Her clever changes have ensured that catering for large groups is a delight. Nowadays, the farmhouse has one large, well equipped main kitchen with a huge dining table, where large-scale cookery is easy. But the really clever trick was to keep the other 4 kitchen-cum-sitting-rooms too. Now guests have a wonderful set of choices - join everyone in the main kitchen or, just round the corner from your bedroom, there'll be a small scale kitchen with all you need to make a midnight feast, get an early morning cupa or relax with a book in comfy peace. Togetherness, as well as discreetly private relaxation away from the others is easy at La Francigena!
Antonella has set up a huge BBQ on a shady terrace by the house together with an equally huge outdoor wood burning oven for large scale cookery that doesn't heat up the house in the midst of summer. There's a 2nd barbecue and large dining table in a shady gazebo by the pool. Sprinkled around the farmhouse and its large pool there are lots of tables and chairs so you can eat under the stars by night or in the shade by day. There's furniture enough for the young to create their own private outdoor dining location if required. In short, catering for a large group here is a pleasure. However, if you'd prefer to eat at home but without the effort of cooking, Antonella will deliver delicious breakfast hampers or call in a local cook to prepare authentic Tuscan dishes for dinner any time you whistle (15 euro an hour for the cook plus the cost of the shopping and it's 10 euro an hour for a helper to clean up the kitchen afterwards if you really want to spoil yourselves).
La Francigena is a delightful house with so much space both outdoors and indoors that even the largest group will never feel squeezed. Smaller groups who'd nevertheless like to enjoy the excellent facilities and the great location at La Francigena will also feel entirely at ease in the intimacy of this exceptionally well managed farmhouse. If you are looking for an outstanding property at a great price - you've just found it!