This is a very special villa for a very special holiday experience! Downton Abbey is all the rage and Villa Petrolo is exactly the villa the aristocratic Crawley family would have chosen as their own Tuscan retreat - and naturally, it's handy for trips into Siena and Florence should you be intent on organising your own mini "Grand Tour". You can rent the main part of this handsome 17th century villa - the lower floor and the Piano Nobile above - to sleep up to 17 people in full Downton style, or you can choose to add the more basic bedrooms on the top floor and sleep up to 33 people. The choice is yours: for 17 guests or up to 33 as you require.
Set in 80 acres of olive groves and vineyards, with its own private park with a small formal garden, an ancient fountain, pristine tennis courts and private swimming pool, Villa Petrolo is deep down "genuine" Downton-esque Toscana, with 21st century mod cons. It's a gem, and perfect for that special celebration. It's hardly to be wondered at that this villa has hosted the prime ministers of Britain and France as well as food guru Jamie Oliver. It would be hard to get better references for a holiday home!
As you can see, Villa Petrolo comes in two flavours: the ground floor and the Piano Nobile (literally the noble floor) upstairs make a fine setting for up to 17 guests, while adding the much simpler ex-servants accommodation on the villa's top floor, means even the largest group (up to 33!) fits very comfortably. The top floor accommodation is split into two apartments, one for 7 and the other for 9.
There are two kitchens on the ground floor - a "normal" one and a professional, stainless steel kitchen with all the facilities one could need for serving large groups. There's also an old brick bread oven in the grounds, the perfect focus for an outdoor pizza party. The ever helpful staff in the estate's office have two excellent local ladies on call who will cook for you at any time - one cook for smaller occasions, otherwise the two of them together. From informal pizza to light lunches or elegant suppers, they can handle it all, they'll even lay out breakfast if required! You just pay for the ingredients and their time - and you'll find out for yourself that it's not only a wonderfully economical way to live-the-life, it also gives you the kind of authentic Tuscan experience rarely available to ordinary folk.
The ground floor reception rooms open directly on to the gardens and one can choose to eat under the shady pergola by day, under the stars by night, or in the villa's dining room. There's ample space to find a quiet nook or spend time all together. Between the ballroom upstairs (with its elegant Venetian chandelier), three sitting rooms downstairs and the large games room with pool table, space just isn't an issue - well, of course it wouldn't be in the country retreat of landed gentry! Down by the pool, there's a shady pool house where the fit can enjoy endless ping pong matches if they've had to abandon the tennis courts for the hottest part of the Tuscan day.
Luca Sanjust, Petrolo's owner, produces superlative organic olive oil from the estate's olive groves, but above all, he and his staff make some of the most sensually pleasurable wines in Tuscany. Naturally you can take an escorted tour of the estate's ancient olive mill as well as taste your way around the estate's well stocked wine cellars during your stay. There are also 3 small, private lakes on the estate if fishing takes your fancy. The picture-book-perfect parish church of Galatrona is just a short stroll through an olive grove (very "Room with a View"!) if you want to check out the fine ceramics of Giovanni della Robbia (1469-1529). Go a little further into the hills and you'll come to a local landmark, the ancient stone watch tower of Galatrona, built to dominate the area over 2,000 years ago.
Live like a genuine Tuscan noble, dine on local produce cooked in your own professional kitchen, served by candlelight in your own garden or dining room, accompanied by your own estate's wines. In other words, this really is the Tuscan version of life at Downton Abbey!
Glance at any map and you'll find Villa Petrolo is nicely situated in Tuscany's "golden triangle" between Arezzo, Siena and Florence. Nothing worth visiting is more than an hour's drive - or let the train take take you to Rome. Or you could lounge by the pool in peaceful seclusion and use the wi-fi internet to see the sights if traveling is just too much...? For the fashion conscious, there's an excellent vintage clothes shop to discover in the narrow back streets of nearby Montevarchi, where David Cameron wasn't served that cappuccino, while the Prada outlet is a mere 10 minute drive away. Whatever your passion - fine leather, sparkling jewels and high fashion, great art, history and antiques, fine old architecture, bustling markets, patiently waiting for the fish to bite - you'll have it all, at exceptional Petrolo!