Podere di Santa Maria is a beautiful estate situated in a prominent position on the verdant hills overlooking the Merse Valley, between the Chianti region and the Maremma area, just a few kilometres away from the small village of Ciciano. In spite of its many picturesque medieval towns and natural attractions, this corner of Tuscany is still almost completely undiscovered by tourists. A mere 8 km away is the exquisite Cistercian Abbey of San Galgano, where the famous sword in the stone is kept and which also featured in the film “The English Patient”. Approximately an hour’s drive from Podere di Santa Maria are the splendid cities and towns of Siena, Grosseto, Volterra and San Gimignano; however there are many more itineraries to explore on foot, on horseback or by bike.
Podere di Santa Maria resembles a miniature hamlet of three stone houses that have been renovated and converted into as many independent apartments by Signora Gianna, the young proprietor with a strong attachment to her land. The edifices of Podere di Santa Maria have a long history, their 14th-century foundations predating the rest of the building by 300 years. One of them was the farmer’s house to begin with, while the other two were used as stables and barn; the 2008 renovation has turned them into perfect specimens of the traditional country style of Tuscany. The original layout of the hamlet has been preserved: a path cuts across it and low stone walls run along its perimeter. Four hectares of grounds surround the property, which appears nestled in olive and fruit trees, hazelnut and oak woods; and everywhere the eye turns there are meadows full of lavender flowers, old-fashioned roses, geraniums and aromatic plants. Guests of Podere di Santa Maria can choose to sit back and read in these luxuriant gardens, or admire the wonderful sunset views over the hills of Siena from the saltwater pool. Gianna’s love and concern for the environment have led to sustainable choices: the salt water sanitising system in the pool keeps the water naturally clean, without the use of chemicals; solar panels generate the power needed for the houses, while low-energy light bulbs help reduce the consumption of energy.
Podere di Santa Maria’s spacious three houses are two-storeyed and self-contained. They all have a well-appointed kitchen and a private, well-equipped garden; besides, a lovely fireplace graces two of them. The attractive, airy rooms are decorated in the warm hues of ochre and green, and with natural stone and wood. Breakfast is served on a huge terrace, where the guests will sample some fresh and deliciously healthy food produced locally or made by Signora Gianna following the traditional recipes of Tuscany: herbal teas, honey, bread, preserves and cakes, to name but a few.