Sant’Antonio Country Resort In Tuscany, Italy: The Vacation Dreams Are Made Of
My husband and I had travelled to Italy often but had never been to Tuscany. Our daughter, Robyn had vacationed in Tuscany with her husband and young daughter and raved about their wonderful experience staying at Sant’Antonio near Montepulciano. Since Robyn is an experienced traveller we knew that her recommendation carried much weight and therefore we decided to go there for a week-long vacation.
Our information about what to expect was comprised of what we read online and anecdotes provided by Robyn. We noticed that travelers wrote about Sant’Antonio, an 800-year old monastery that has been converted into a country resort, in glowing terms. Many visitors to Sant’Antonio returned for repeat visits, the surest sign of a quality satisfying experience so Jody and I decided to give it a shot.
We arrived around noon after landing in Rome 3 hours earlier. We were taken aback by the beauty and pure tranquility of the location nestled in the Tuscan hills – looking out for miles at the mix of cultivated fields, orchards, vineyards and mountainous forest immediately told us we had made a great holiday choice. We were welcomed by two lovely people with honest smiles and cheery personalities. Those were Nico and Elena, people have grown very fond of. Nico and Elena speak 6 languages between them and both are perfectly fluent in English, so communication was never an issue.
They immediately showed us to our cottage, which was clean, bright and cheery – with the most amazing views from the large windows that one could hope for. The apartments are remodeled and maintained regularly, so the rooms are always comfortable and furnished with a genuine decor representative of the region. We stayed at Piero Della Francesca, a suite bearing the number 7. It is a spacious cottage for 2 with 1 large bedroom, a living room-dining area, fully functional kitchen, large bathroom, and a fireplace. It was everything we had hoped for.
Sant’Antonio is well-known among smart travellers as a country resort which has all the amenities you could ask for. Comfortable orthopedic mattresses, satellite TV, wireless internet, cookware, and cutlery. Everything was available for us to use as we liked including an abundance of outdoor areas with bar-b-ques where one can cook and dine ‘al fresco.’
Most accommodations have their own semi-private garden or patio so all guests can enjoy as much privacy as they desire even when the resort is fully occupied. Piero Della Francesca has a terrace with a clear view to the refreshing in-ground pool, olive orchard and forested mountain to the north as well as a manicured grassy lawn with comfortable sun chairs, umbrella, and hammock with a stunning eastern view clear to the horizon. We spent several evenings, enjoying the chirping of the birds and the enchanting fragrance of the Tuscan fields and forest.
For the health and fitness conscious there is serious cross-country 3 km trail contained entirely on the property. This well-groomed trail will provide anyone with a serious workout since you can walk, jog or run.
When we weren’t sitting on our terrace, we spent time at the beautiful pool overlooking the fields and orchards. Jody especially loved spending time with the other guests, talking about our travel experiences. It’s always a pleasure to get to know people from all over the world who share a love of travel. The whole atmosphere at Sant’Antonio was so friendly and relaxed that you felt right at home. Nico and Elena have turned what were the monastery’s stables into the main building including dining and wine tasting rooms. They organize traditional Tuscan dinners when there are enough guests present (for a nominal cost donated to the staff.) We were lucky to be here at such a time so we had a chance to enjoy this unique experience. There were 18 of us at a dinner every single person loved. It was a 4-course extravaganza consisting of various Tuscan specialties, served with abundant local red and white wine followed by grappa (a traditional Tuscan brandy made of the fermented residue of grapes after they have been pressed in winemaking) and ice-cold limoncello.
We started our dinner with Papa al Pomodoro with basil and olive oil from Sant’Antonio, which is a tomato soup prepared according to a traditional Tuscan recipe. Elena then presented a delicious Risotto with asparagus and thyme.
Following was the main course, roasted pork with wild berry sauce served with fresh local vegetables. It makes my mouth water just by thinking of it. Our dessert was Apple cake with vanilla ice cream. With the limoncello and grappa, we were served Vin Santo with biscotti for dipping. We spent the night talking and drinking wine, learning the local history from Nico. A truly wonderful experience we talk about to this day.
Nico and Elena were always happy to give us advice on where we can visit in the area when we wished to leave the resort for a drive. People take day trips to Florence, Rome, Perugia, and Siena or enjoy exploring the many smaller towns within an hour’s drive of Sant’Antonio. These towns have great shopping and phenomenal moderately priced restaurants serving Tuscan cuisine and wine. Wineries, natural spas, and hiking are also available nearby. We visited the winery Le Chiuse in Montalcino and had a lovely wine tasting experience and actually bought a case of wine. There are many cafes right close to the resort and one of our favorite places to have coffee and a cake is Cafe Stella.
The staff at the resort is completely perfect – Susanna and Yuri have the rare combination of being unobtrusive while making sure everything a guest could require is completely and expeditiously handled. Nico, Elena, and the entire staff always make certain every guest’s needs are met with satisfaction.
We left the same way we arrived – with a beautiful sunny day and warm smiles from our hosts. Jody and I loved it there and have returned several times, both in Summer and Fall – we have even brought friends with us who also loved the experience. If you are considering visiting Italy and want an amazing Tuscan experience enjoying a holiday with world-renowned scenery, dozens of villages and larger towns within easy driving distance, the best Italian cuisine and wine, then we recommend Sant’Antonio for a great vacation.
We are deeply grateful to Nico and Elena for our lovely, unforgettable experiences that we always enjoy.