Confirmed guest, 2015-08-15
La Querce is a restored farmhouse, forming part of the Ormanni country estate that dates back to at least the 13th century. The owner's family bought the estate from descendants of the Medicis in 1881 and have farmed it, for wine (60 hectares of mainly Sangiovese producing over 110,000 bottles of mostly Chianti Classico) and olive oil, ever since.
The main estate house is situated with the farm and winery buildings next to the road from Poggibonsi to Castellina in Chianti at an altitude of about 300 metres.
Pulling into the yard at Fattoria Ormanni we had to wait a few minutes for the agent to arrive in her ancient, battered Fiat Panda 4X4. As the estate produces wine and olive oil, purchases were made as we checked in. The agent speaks fair English and soon told us to "follow me". We crossed the road and drove down a steep and winding track through the trees the other side to the valley bottom. Heading up the other side the track becomes rougher and steeper - definite first gear driving in a fully laden car designed for on-road use! The agent's car is clearly perfect for its job. About a mile from the road, through a rather incongruous electric gate (apparently for keeping deer out of the house and vineyards) we pulled on to the forecourt at La Querce and all our dreams and expectations about this location were realised.
The track brings you up to a raised, south facing area that has been levelled and terraced with the house and barn on the higher level looking out over the large outdoor pool and gardens on the lower. The grounds are beautifully planted and maintained and are watered automatically every night. The views over the rolling Tuscan hills are magical and you can see as far as the famous towers of San Gimignano. On Sunday we clearly heard the bells of at least three churches dotted around the valley. It is a very quiet and peaceful situation.
La Querce (one of two rental farmhouses on the estate) is divided into three apartments, two smaller ones on the ground floor and ours (Crocchi 2) occupying the entire first floor. The barn houses all the plant, storage, laundry room and a loggia for barbecues.
The whole place has been restored from a ruinous state in recent years, this done with great sensitivity and good taste while providing all mod cons. The family are very clear in their desire to maintain the integrity of this wonderful place.
All the external windows and doors have heavy iron grilles and you enter through a huge wooden door and into the hall with stone steps leading up to the mezzanine kitchen and then the hallway.
While most of the interior is clearly new, old features remain and the new has been done very traditionally and with great craftsmanship. The spacious living room faces front and back and is very comfortably furnished. There are five large ensuite bedrooms, four doubles and a single, all comfortably and tastefully furnished and decorated with antique furniture and old prints on the walls. All floors are tiled and the windows all have mosquito barriers.
The kitchen is very fully equipped with everything you need to cater for the nine people the apartment holds. You get the impression that the owners have actually stayed here to make sure everything is right. There is free Wifi that has variable speed given the fact it is shared with two other apartments and relies on a satellite connection. Outside we had our own terrace dining area and shared use of the grounds and pool. Parking is out of sight behind the barn.
There is a standing invitation for guests to join in a wine tasting at the Fattoria every Tuesday evening.
The pool is large and well maintained and there are plenty of chairs and loungers. Nothing is too much trouble for the owners who have even provided fans to help with the heatwave we experienced.
Obviously you are sharing the property with two other apartments but the international residents while we are there were pleasant and you don't feel crowded. It may be different if you or they have noisy children.
The wildlife here is so diverse compared to home. From the deer glimpsed in the olive grove to the the buzzards - yes plural, there was a pair swooping and diving over the trees down in the valley below the terrace this morning and one circling high up on a thermal at lunchtime. A red squirrel with a dark tail crossed our path on the way out to the farm shop one morning before shooting up a tree and across the branches - too quick for my camera. Birds include hummingbirds, blue tits, long tail tits and wagtails. There are lizards in all sizes and colours, the green one on our windowsill this morning was 9" from nose to tip of tail. The are also lots of butterflies, some quite large, in a variety of colours. Flying insects are not as numerous or annoying as we thought they may be but I do wish the horse flies would go away. They are vicious.
In summary, if you think of everything you might dream of in a Tuscan farmhouse holiday - it is here. A stunning location with plenty to see and do locally and a beautiful house and pool. My only gripe, having paid so much is that you get charged €5 for using the very small washing machine even if you use your own detergent. This together with local taxes, the €100 cleaning bill and gas meant the total "extras" bill on checking out was €200. This appears to be standard practice in Italy.