La Fornacina is a restored farmhouse and brick kiln located outside a medieval village in the Tuscan hills.
One of the things that we love about La Fornacina, that first attracted us to it, is its peaceful, rustic setting, high up on a hillside with amazing panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The house is situated on the slope above a valley running between two hill towns, Castelmuzio above it and Montisi on the ridge opposite.
The surrounding land is all agricultural – fields, mostly, and olive groves, as well as a large stretch of wild land kept as a truffle reserve. (Formerly, there was a small piggery located down the hill, but this has since closed.) The valley bottom has a stream running through it and is fairly wild, and the patchwork countryside is full of animals. Neighbouring houses cannot be seen from La Fornacina, giving it a secluded feel despite all the amenities within easy reach.
Enhancing its peaceful, rustic feel, we have put a lot of time into the gardens and land around La Fornacina – over an acre of the most beautiful mixture of flowers and trees. The wild strawberries and cherries are especially prized. As with many of the small properties in the area, we have our grove of olives, which are harvested by a local and used in preparing some of the excellent local olive oil. The large terrace outside the entrance catches the sun all day, and has a shady pergola and a barbecue, and this patio area is planted with a wide selection of fresh herbs to use while cooking.
The nearby village of Castelmuzio is small, with only a couple of hundred inhabitants, but it has a general store for everyday shopping, a charming bar/cafe where you can meet the local residents, and an excellent restaurant – all within about 20 minutes walk from the house.
Across the valley, the neighboring town of Montisi has another general store, hairdresser, cafe and (very small) movie theatre and another excellent restaurant. During July and August, families return from the towns where they now live, and there are frequent village entertainments (including wonderful open air meals prepared by the local families) where everyone is welcome. Activity peaks with the annual Festa of the Joust in the first week of August.
There are antique markets every weekend in one or another of the many surrounding villages, and farmers’ markets regularly throughout the area. The larger town of Sinalunga (20 mins away) features a full range of shopping and services, including a great supermarket, i Gelsi.
La Fornacina is built on two floors, descending the hill, with the main entry on the top floor. The top floor contains the kitchen / dining room, and a large living room with open fire. The large, open kitchen is full of natural light and comes equipped with a gas range/hobs, a microwave and oven, fridge-freezer, and dishwasher.
The floor beneath has two double bedrooms. The house can sleep six, with 1 king size bed and 2 twin beds in the rooms on the lower floor, and two more can sleep comfortably on the built-in couches by the fire in the living room. The house is tastefully furnished, with antique, local farmhouse furniture. There are two bathrooms, a large, sumptuously appointed one on the floor with the bedrooms, and a smaller one on the top floor. There is constant “on demand” hot water and full central heating. There is also a washing machine and dryer.
Although secluded in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, La Fornacina is readily accessible, being located about 40 minutes by car from Siena, 90 minutes easy drive south of Florence, and only 3 hours from Rome - the Autostrada (exit 28, Valdichiana) is about 2o minutes from the house. La Fornacina can also be reached by public transit, by bus from the train station in nearby Sinalunga, and then a moderate downhill walk from the bus stop.
La Fornacina is situated within easy reach of the renowned Val D’Orcia and of many delightful Tuscan towns – such as Pienza, where Zefferelli’s “Romeo & Juliet” was filmed. Also nearby is the monastery of Sant’Anna in Camprena, one of the locations featured in the movie “The English Patient.”