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La Sovana
Sarteano, Italy
Genuine Tuscan hospitality can be enjoyed in a beautiful rural setting at La Sovana, an old brick and stone farmhouse which has been converted by Mrs & Mr Olivi, with great care and love, into fifteen comfortable suites. La Sovana's carefully tended grounds are a pure delight, from the cypress and oleander lined drive to the rows of fragrant lavander, rosemary and sage bushes which attract an abundance of colourful butterflies. Terraces are dotted with huge terracotta posts full of cascading geraniums, fruit-laden lemon trees and bright yellow broom. With 22 hectares of land around the property is plenty of room to enjoy a secluded lunch (stone picnic tables and wooden benches are scattered through the grounds) or delightful walks in the oak woods. For the more active there are two excellent tennis courts, mountain bikes and a small carp lake for fishing. The Olivis, with their children Riccardo and Francesca, have made this beautiful place for their home and have created a friendly family atmosphere which permeates every aspect of life at La Sovana. Their thoughtful hospitality is especially appreciable in the evening over dinner; served on the covered terrace by the pool, with its views over wheat fields and vineyards, dinner is quite an event and offers particularly good value. Barbecued Florentine steaks - succulent and rodolent with herbs - are a speciality as are Giovannella own recipe, home-made pizzas cooked to perfection. Other delicious Tuscan dishes are prepared from the freshest of ingredients, many of which are produced at La Sovana, and if it is too chilly to eat outside, dinner is served in the family's own candlelit dining room. Located in the Chianti 'DOCG' region, La Sovana is excellently placed for wine tasting, with Montalcino and Montepulciano a short drive away. Medieval Sarteano, just 4 Kms. away, is a delight for its weekly market, its Renaissance palazzos, its picturesque streets, its shops and restaurants - and its refreshing lack of tourism. Siena, Arezzo, Perugia, Orvieto and Todi are also within an easy drive, while Florence and Rome are 1 hour only by train from nearby Chiusi.

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