High up in the Tuscan Hills, in the picture perfect surroundings of olive groves and idyllic farmhouse chic is Podere Conti.
With dreams of relaxation and great food, my partner and I, with our 4 year old boy headed into the hills to meet Cornelia (we went as guests of Podere Conti). Instantly charming and engaging, Cornelia makes you feel like you have arrived home. Only home has a 2 metre wide bed, with balcony views of the kind of Italian landscape you cannot help but fall in love with. Usually, holidays with kids can be tricky, but with 5 boys of her own, you could tell this was somewhere where families were welcome and we were instantly put at ease.
We stayed in the large, one-bed apartment with kitchen/sitting room. There was ample space in our bedroom to sleep one or two extra people, but we chose to put our son on the large and very comfortable sofa bed in the sitting room. The kitchen had everything one might need for cooking…apart from sharp knives. Although I'm sure had I asked; they would have provided me with one! That being said, once you eat in Podere Conti's restaurant…you probably won't want to cook your own food. We tried everything on the menu (some things more than once) and the food really was exceptional. I strongly recommend the Fiorentina steak, baked trout and chocolate fondant! The children's menu was also very popular with my son (who is an incredibly fussy eater) and beside the restaurant was a trampoline and sandpit which kept him entertained whilst we finished our dinner. It's this attention to detail that made our week at Podere Conti a luxury.
I was quite impressed with Cornelia's knowledge of the area and relationship with local farmers. Podere Conti make their own olive oil, have their own bees for honey, and own chickens for eggs. All this produce ends up in restaurant. Their cut grass becomes hay to offer local farmers, and the entire place is heated by wood taken from the surrounding forest. Agritourism isn't something I was familiar with before my stay, but I think it's a wonderful concept - anything that supports local agriculture can only be a good thing!
Despite some unpredictable weather, we were all kept entertained. The nearest town Pontremoli (15 minutes' drive away) is great place to visit with its cobbled streets, cute boutiques, coffee shops and stunning cathedral. Farmers market is on Sunday's and Wednesday's, where we stocked up on local cheese, ham, porchini mushrooms and acacia honey and the tastiest rotisserie chicken – I was in heaven. We also visited the famous Cinque Terre; five coastal towns along the mountain edge. It's definitely a tourist hot spot, but worth visiting for its picturesque fishing towns and seafood restaurants.
On the sunnier days, we lounged around the pool and soaked up the sun. It really was blissful, and the perfect way to unwind after the more action-packed days spent in Cinque Terre and Palma (an hour away by train).
I've already recommended Podere Conti to all my busy London friends in search of a holiday where they can chill and gorge on yummy food and wine. Two have booked already! Highly recommend it. Book it and you won't be disappointed
Room rates start at €90 in low season up to €290 for a deluxe apartment in high season.