By Cacinda Maloney
Luxury Tuscany, Italy: A Journey for the Soul
Stranded on a path overgrown with weeds, thickets and briar, I search in the almost darkness to get my bearings in order to find the main road. Weary with thoughts, I found the gravel road in the haunting fog and a chill swept over me.
I heard the voice of Jesus say to me (1:40):
“Rest!” “Lay Down and Rest My Child” “Let the light from the light house shine on you.”
I continued down the rocky road until I came upon the main square of Montestigliano in Tuscany, near Siena. All was quiet and no one was around. I looked up to see the image of the moon against the black ink sky, then I made my way to the chapel, just to take a peak inside to see what or who was calling me.
At dawn, I had snuck out of my room in Villa Pipistrelli, a restored farmhouse on the Montestigliano estate, to get my first glimpse and a few shots of this glorious place. I wanted to be ready for the good light of the morning for photographs.
It was Easter Sunday and it had been years since I had even stepped foot into a church. With my camera in hand, I took some quick photographs. I loved the color of blue in this photograph of the chapel.
Relieved to feel the presence of God in these rolling hills and this tiny chapel, it was soothing for my soul. It seemed as if the walls of this chapel held the hopes, dreams, and sorrows of families past. I knew I could not be the only one who had been weary from my life’s journey. I thought of the generations of others who had passed through here before me.
I was looking for gold in the darkness and somehow found it here as the stillness came over me. Held in the palm of my hand was five small petals from a flower I had clenched earlier and I scattered them in the air, releasing the anxiety of being lost and now found. This flower needed to rest its head.
“When I say… “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting “I’m clean livin’.”
I’m whispering “I was lost,
Now I’m found and forgiven.” -Maya Angelo
Montestigliano is a place for the soul, a place of rest, a place of comfort. It is not just a trip you take, but a journey that takes you. A journey to see how others live, how life functions, not in your own country; but in a completely different way of life. Here, there is life like none of us know, but yet each of us yearns for, a life that we gravitate towards, yet somehow, I never seem to achieve.
Montestigliano is a 2500 acre farm, which has been repurposed as an agriturismo, which is not a common concept or word in English.
Agriturismo – a combination of the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian – is a style of vacationing in farmhouses codified into Italian law in 1985.
Now owned by the Donati family, it was once a tenant farm, where the buildings here were constructed in the 17th century.
The villas of the farm are situated around a town square, along with a chapel, old barn used for olive oil tastings, a machine shop and a massive dining facility. Each restored villa is named after the Donati children with names like Casa Virginia, Casa Marta, Casa Adriana, … Massimo, Ropoli, Luisa, and Damiano.
Each has its own sitting area, overlooking fields of cypress and olive trees or swimming pools and is the perfect location to read a book, have private reflection, cocktails with family and friends or an intimate conversation with your love.
The crème de la crème is their Villa Pipistrelli, which is up the road from the small town and the most luxurious of all the restored villas. It has its own swimming pool, which is filled in the summertime and is perfect for families.
“Tuscany has long been romanticized and I can say nothing but the same.” – Cacinda Maloney
Truly what makes this place special, though, is not only its surroundings but its people. The Donati family work hard to make your stay perfect and it shows. The genuineness of the family is remarkable and they will put you at ease within minutes of your arrival.
Luisa Donati is the perfect hostess and gives tours at Montestigliano, as well as tours in her family’s estate in LeMarche region (Palazzo Donati) in which she calls the “Authentic Italian Experience” and I could not agree more.
For other places to stay with family in Tuscany, check out Travel Babbo’s article on Tuscany for a Month.
LeMarche Region, Italy:
Lazio Region, Italy
Campagna Region, Italy:
Emilia-Romagna Region, Italy
Veneto Region, Italy:
Puglia Region, Italy
Liguria Region, Italy:
Calabria Region, Italy:
Disclosure: I was invited by the Donati family and their PR agency to come stay at Villa Pipistrelli and Montestigliano in Tuscany, Italy, near Siena. As always, my heartwarming experiences here were truly my own.