The city that is considered the capital of the arts is a must for any road trip in Tuscany. Indeed, planning a trip to Florence is not without interest. It is in any case one of the unavoidable stops. However, not everyone wants to live in the city center, especially in summer. This was our case, we wanted space and greenery. The agriturismo La Fontaccia, located in Rufina, is really ideal to combine city trip and fresh air.
Guided tour of Fontaccia
A family story
Samuele and Elisabetha took over the family estate 10 years ago. They started by growing olive trees, even though the estate is in the heart of the Chianti region. They explained to us that it was easier than wine when you are starting out. Since then they have also planted vines on other parcels. They also obtained the organic designation in 2014. It was only in 2016 that they decided, in addition, to open guest rooms.
This year, in the spring of 2021, they have welcomed 2 new tenants: a beautiful 26 year old white mare who is coming to finish her life quietly, in the field just below the house. She is also accompanied by Lola, a small donkey, who was badly treated in her original home. She is now back in shape and feels like a fish in water.
An exceptional reception
The 2 owners are really charming and reserve a warm and personalized welcome for each of their guests. One feels immediately like at home. We had the impression to find ourselves one year back during our stay at Terre de Barronnies. The same desire to share the love of its region. They also gave us many tips for our escapes in Florence and its surroundings.
To complete the welcome, the view from the terrace of the building is exceptional. It offers a panorama on the whole valley.
There are 5 accommodations here. Some of them are classic rooms and others are small studios because they are equipped with a small kitchenette. The word "classic" that I used does not reflect the reality. We slept in one of these rooms, they :
- are spacious, even have a dressing room
- are nicely decorated and well equipped. Everything has been thought of, even the USB ports at the head of the bed to recharge the phone
- all have a very nice view
- have modern and clean bathrooms. The large shower with perfect water flow is very appreciated after a hot day in August
Breakfast is included in the room rate and served on the terrace. Everything is home-made and local. It is very copious, that allows to attack the day in the best possible dispositions. Moreover, we start the day with a breathtaking view: that really puts in form!
We can also only encourage you to book at least one dinner here. It's 25€ and for that you'll have: anti pasti (starter), primo piatto (first course), secondo piatto (second course) and dolci (dessert). Everything is homemade with local products or even from the garden when possible. Wine is extra but the ones we tasted were all exceptional. Elisabetha is really an excellent cook. This is really an evening not to be missed: the conviviality adds to the quality of the food.
To tell you everything: to make small economies we had decided to dine here only 2 evenings on 3. We still regret our choice so much it was delicious! In short economy of end of candles.
What to do during your stay in Florence
How we got there
I already talked about it in our article on how to get around in Italy: car traffic is very limited in the historical centers. And entering a ZTL can get you a big fine. Moreover, as in many big cities, parking spaces are quite expensive. Luckily, La Fontaccia, which is located in the town of Rufina, is 2km from the train station which is served by a train that leads to the central station of Florence. This is the option we chose. There is about one train per hour between 8am and 9pm and the ticket costs 3,6 € per person. Find all the schedules on trenitalia, the Italian national company.
# Extra info :
At the exit of the station, on the other side of the square, is the tourist office. If you need information or a map of the city, it's the ideal place. We were also lucky enough to find someone who spoke French.
What we have done
Given the 40 degrees announced, we only made one trip to Florence despite the 2 originally planned. So we don't position ourselves as experts. However, here is what we did, if it can give you some ideas. In the next paragraph I will list the must-sees that you could do if you stay longer.
Luckily, we had booked our tickets for the Galleria Dell'Accademi in the early afternoon, which was the hottest time of day. So we took advantage of the morning to discover the historic center of Florence by walking. It was predictable: the Ponte Vecchio or the square in front of the Duomo are very popular places for tourists. Moreover, we are there on August 15th so it is closed to the public. So we couldn't go in.
During our wanderings we also discovered the other architectural treasures of the city:
- The Palazzio Vecchio
- The Di Santa Croce Basilik
- The Giaodino di Boboli (from the top we couldn't get in it was closed)
We pushed on, despite the heat, to the Forte Belvedere which really offers a spectacular panorama on the roofs of the city. It is from there that we saw the Giaodino di Boboli.
After a cool break in an air-conditioned restaurant, we went to the Galleria. I strongly advise you to do as we did and reserve your seats in advance even if it costs you 2€ more. The wait can be very long otherwise. However the famous David of Michal Angela is really worth the detour, it is an incredible work. There are also many other statues: busts or unfinished statues to admire as well as many classical paintings.
The gelato at the exit does not make anything there it is too hot, we return! We shall return in spring or in autumn to discover the city more in detail if the heart tells us. Indeed, it is necessary to like museums and classical art for I think to appreciate it to its right value.
We did not visit these places but considering the number of guides and blogs we can say that it is a good base to visit.
- The Duomo and the Brunnelleschi dome. It seems that the interior of the Duomo is very simple and does not necessarily require a long wait to enter. However, the monumental dome is a recommended stop. It is a remarkable architectural achievement for its size and design (tickets to be reserved in advance).
- The Uffizi Gallery
- The view from the top of the Campanile di Giotto
- The Giardino di Boboli
- The interior of the Palazzio Vecchio
Discover more tips in this video made by Oui Sncf.
Around the Fontaccia
Samuele will be happy to discuss with you during breakfast and give you some ideas to discover the area. The day was going to be very hot for us once again and we were looking for coolness. That's why he recommended the Vallombrosa Abbey. It is located in the heart of a forest. And not just any forest: century-old pine trees that provide the required freshness.
And the Italians are not mistaken, they meet there in great numbers for picnics. We were very amused because picnics here are an institution: they come with tables, chairs, tablecloths, deckchairs... With our little futah we couldn't blend in.
There are many hiking trails all around. On the advice of Samuele we followed the path of the chapels. Very nice and quiet because people come here to relax in the shade and cool but not to hike. It's a small hike of about 7 km accessible to everyone even if the beginning is a bit steep.
If you prefer other activities, don't hesitate to tell him, he knows the area well and will be able to suggest things in accordance with your desires.
# Extra info :
Generally speaking, if you plan to visit Florence on August 15, be aware that it is an important religious holiday here and that many stores and restaurants may be closed. Please inquire beforehand.
At the Fontaccia
Without even moving from Fontaccia there are many things to do. The owners are developing more and more activities:
- Nap in the shade of a tree in the hammock or in the chilienne
- Discovery of the olive tree plantation with tasting
- Nordic bath with view on the valley (when the temperature allows it of course)
- Cooking class with a chef...
- Discovery of the olive tree plantation with tasting
Depending on the road you take when you leave, Samuele will be happy to show you the most beautiful road. We were going to Siena and he advised us to take the schoolchildren's road and avoid the highway. We didn't regret it and enjoyed discovering
- Greve in Chianti
- Monte Fioralle
- the superb panoramas offered by the road.
We were a little short on time and skipped the stop at Castellina in Chianti. However, he had advised us to stop there if you have time on your way.
In 3 days we didn't have time to explore this less touristy area, we were heading to the south of Tuscany. However, it gave us a first impression. And the accessibility makes it a real plus for a getaway to Florence. In short I hope that you will have understood it we adored our stay here and we hope well to return there one day next to discover the other points of interest of the sector.
If you want to go further, discover our road trip in Tuscany.