Having just returned from a wonderful Tuscan Press Trip with a group of female writers you may think I would be already dreaming of my next grownup getaway!
We were lucky enough to be guests of luxury villa company Bookings For You in the small village of Monte San Savino. We stayed at their property Villa La Tornaie and were hosted by the welcoming Mansalto Vineyard group.
It was an unforgettable experience for us as adults but my main thought was how well Tuscany suits family holidays and here’s why.
There is a general feeling of being hidden away in the vast, beautiful countryside miles from anywhere. In most cases, you are always close to a village, town or local restaurants. But the views of the rolling hills go far into the distance and are so stunning that you get the impression you have finally escaped the hustle and bustle.
For families, of course, this is perfect as there are so many places to explore and run around. Children can be immersed in nature and marvel at real grapes growing in front of their eyes. Olives on the trees in the garden and unusual creatures you don’t see at home.
The most popular photo I sent my children was of a praying mantis, not the view! However, I will share the view with you as it’s much prettier!
If you’re looking for a heatwave you can definitely find one here in July/ August most years and if you have a pool, as our accommodation did, there’s no problem with little ones overheating.
We visited in September and each day had 25-degree sun, warm enough to swim, tan and sightsee but without feeling it was overpowering. In the evenings we needed a light cardigan but pleasantly so after a day in the sun. We wrapped up and drank wine watching the sunset.
You could either be very British in this instance and put the children to bed on time. After lots of fresh air, swimming and sun they will be exhausted. Or be very Italian and let them stay up and running around as you have the property to yourself!
We stayed in the pretty Villa La Tornaie. The perfect option for extended families, group holidays, wedding accommodation and much more.
The Villa has 7 bedrooms and sleeps up to 16 people. There are a mixture of double and twin rooms, some with four-poster beds. The property is set back in its own gardens with a traditional cypress tree-lined drive.
The buildings of the villa surround an ancient courtyard with lots of seating to eat outside, relax, read and take in the countryside. The gardens are filled with olive trees, lots of rosemary and everything you imagine a wonderful Tuscan villa to provide.
There is a large swimming pool outdoors and inside a sauna, Turkish bath and whirlpool. Should you wish to keep trim after eating all the local dishes there is a gym indoors with plenty of equipment for several people.
I was struck by how easily the property can take large numbers and not appear crowded. It would really suit extended family holidays as you could easily have a section of the villa to yourselves and meet up in the communal areas for eating or going down to the pool together. You also have the peace of mind that the children can run around safely and explore as the villa is exclusively yours.
This particular villa was in a great location and had easy routes to some great destinations in Tuscany.
Places I would visit on this type of trip would be of course Pisa and Florence. However, Siena is just 30 minutes drive away, has fantastic architecture and the main square Piazza del Campo is brilliant for children to burn off some energy.
Arezzo a much overlooked beautiful hilltop city is also half an hour away. Generally, people head to Florence and miss Arezzo but it deserves so much more attention. If you love to travel sustainably take an afternoon stroll here and support some local businesses.
Montepulciano famous for its wine Vino Nobile is a very sweet town with a thriving community and lots of events on throughout the year.
San Gimignano is a bit closer to Pisa but worth a visit, known for its stunning Medieval towers and 12th-century church with incredible frescoes.
Italy and kids
Lastly, you should bring your family to Italy because they are very welcome there! You won’t find issues with eating in restaurants. Children are tolerated very well and it’s excepted that they will travel with you and eat out with you.
Restaurants often won’t have a children’s menu, you just ask for a smaller version of adult dishes. This helps in that they aren’t just eating ‘something with chips’ but much more wholesome options. My children often share a pasta and eat most of our olives and aperitivo snacks so everyone is happy!
If you’re looking for a healthy holiday with lots of space, access to nature and somewhere you can bring the family together. A holiday where you as parents also feel you relaxed, had a break and visited somewhere you wanted to explore pre-kids. This Italian villa holiday has a bit of romance about it and can combine fun and awe (at those sunsets and vineyards) for all of you.