After Florence, we spent five nights in Greve in Chianti, a little town in the center of the region known for its world-famous Chianti wines. We could have easily spent more time there, lounging in the pool, visiting medieval towns such as Siena and enjoying what’s typical of tuscany holidays – food and wine! Here’s some video footage of our time there:
Tuscany Holidays – Getting to Chianti:
The best way to get around Chianti is to drive (see our note on driving in Italy). Depending on where you need to get in Chianti, you may be able to take a bus or train. They run frequently between Florence and Siena and will take you to the center of the town you need to go to but you will still need to make your way to your accommodation which could very likely be on a hill or in the middle of a vineyard. Upon our departure from Chianti we drove to Rome which took about 3.5 hours.
Where to Stay in Tuscany with Kids:
I often prefer apartments and villas to hotels but in Chianti I am glad we settled for the latter because the area is so spread out and remote, we would not have had access to information and infrastructure as we did in a hotel. Turns out we also decided on a bit of luxury at an 11-bedroom paradise called Villa Bordoni. It’s not cheap, but I thought it was worth every cent for tranquil settings and an impeccable staff. The website describes the villa as “luxurious but unpretentious” and I couldn’t describe it better myself. Although I felt conscious for the other (older) couples that were also residing at the Villa, the owner David Gardner (a host extraordinaire with a couple of restaurants in Florence) assured me several times that children were most welcome there and drove the point home when he didn’t blink an eyelid when Karam swallowed too much water in the pool and thew up on the deck chair. One evening David brought his two golden retrievers around to mingle with the little guests, reinforcing the familial atmosphere at Villa Bordoni.
As we had four people in our room, we had to get the junior suite with a mezzanine which my three and a half year old loved (he called it “his room” and played up there but had to sleep down with us in case he fell down the stairs at night). A baby cot was provided at no extra cost as was any amount of milk I requested for my one-year old. The kind staff took no objection to washing my bottles and refilling them with milk and water every morning. The bathroom was a particular thrill for Karam, because of its spa shower with six spouts.
Meals were taken in the elegant restaurant with a gorgeous courtyard or in any of the adjacent towns. (You do need a car to reach Villa Bordoni and to explore Tuscany for that matter – see our note on driving in Italy). The service at Villa Bordoni was outstanding, the food was at least on par, if not better. The menu included all your Tuscan favorites and although there were no pizzas (thank God!), the kitchen was happy to accommodate special requests for the children. Every plate was a work of art. The wine list was extensive (of course), and the staff was happy to pour us a glass of Tuscan port to be taken up to the common area outside our rooms to be enjoyed once the kids went to bed. The hotel also offers a cooking class like many in the area but as it runs for about 7 hours and includes dinner, it’s not very practical for a traveling family (unless your spouse is keen to babysit!).
It’s also the sort of intimate atmosphere where you can make new friends – and indeed, we did. A small bonus of Villa Bordoni is the little farmhouse just 5 meters away run by an elderly couple that produce their own wines, olive oils and art! My son played football in their field while we sampled a beautiful Chianti that the couple produces for their friends and family – only 200 to 300 bottles a year! Villa Bordoni is an hour from Florence and an hour from Siena making it perfectly situated to explore the area.
Tuscany Holidays – Eating in Chianti:
Ristoro di Lamole: You come for the view but you stay for the food. And the service. And the limoncello. This restaurant takes its Tuscan cuisine seriously and everything from black truffles, to fruit, to spices are used to give the food its rich taste. Again, the kids were well taken care of with their pasta and gelati and the little playground just below the restaurant (which we only discovered after our meal). Inside is a little deli where you can purchase some wines, olive oils and other goodies.
Ristoro L’Antica Scuderia: We asked for good pizza and we received it. We didn’t ask for a view and a glorious setting on a Tuscan summer evening but we got that too. The pizzas in this restaurant are well known as they should be but the meats, seasoned and cooked on an open grill also warrant some attention. As with Lamole, venture into the dining room for a little gourmet shopping.
Note: Most of these restaurants have high chairs but no change tables. The staff at Lamole was vey helpful providing me with a table, a sheet and a pillow for Kimaya.
Tuscany Holidays -What to do with Kids:
Enjoy the unabashed dedication to the good things in life: nature, food, art, history and people!