Explore Montebenichi, A Hidden Gem in Italy
Twenty minutes northeast of Siena, and less than an hour south of Florence, is Tuscany’s lush and fertile Valdambra region. Bordering the southern tip of Chianti, Val d’Ambra is the home of phenomenal restaurants, storybook castles, award winning vineyards and some of TuscanDream’s most popular air conditioned Tuscan villas.
The unspoiled Valdambra countryside is punctuated by a collection of little towns and hamlets, including Montebenichi, Levane, Rapale, Capannole, Duddova, Ambra, Sogna, and its principal city, Bucine – where the region’s train station is located and where one can catch an hourly commercial train to and from Florence throughout the day. The train journey takes slightly more than an hour.
On a map the town of Montebenichi is but a blip, a sleepy little hamlet of perhaps sixty inhabitants, but to us at TuscanDream this tiny castle town on a hill captures everything that makes the Tuscan countryside the tourist Mecca that it is today. First of all it features one of the finest four star hotels in the country, the gorgeous nine bedroom Castelletto di Montebenichi, run by a lovely couple from Milan. Each of the air conditioned rooms and suites has its own individual personality, with an en suite bathroom, satellite television. The service is impeccable and the only reason the hotel lacks a fifth star in our opinion is its lack of a restaurant – although they do serve a marvelous buffet breakfast every morning on the loggia. Castelletto is open only from Easter to the beginning of November.
The hotel’s lack of a restaurant is no worry to its guests, because right next door is the stellar Osteria l’Orciaia. This small trattoria set in the 16th century village serves a traditional Tuscan fare in a friendly warm atmosphere. We particularly recommend the white bean and garlic soup and the homemade pici pasta, unique to the province of Siena, is a must!
Down the hill from Montebenichi you come to some of our favourite bed and breakfasts including the intimate air conditioned two bedroom Molino del Boccarina run by our friends Mario and his wife Rosy.
A little further down the road you come to the la Selva estate featuring two wonderful villas offered by TuscanDream, the traditional 11 bedroom Villa Felciai, and the lovely air conditioned 8 bedroom Villa Fabbri. These villas offer stunning views and are great places for family reunions and wedding ceremonies!
Passing la Selva you come to another of Montebenichi’s treats, the wonderful Ristorante la Leccarda restaurant. This friendly and large restaurant is open for lunch and dinners. The Sciacca, a special bread, is a must – and the pizzas made in their wood burning oven are fantastic. The pasta is yummy and La Leccarda has a large menu for meat lovers and vegetarians. The service is warm and accommodating and the waiters speak fluent English.
TuscanDream loves Montebenichi and are proud to offer many fantastic air conditioned villas with our famous concierge service for discriminating tourists who want to explore all the magic of Tuscany!
I looked Montebenichi up as it was mentioned in an obit in 28th Feb Times of Frank Unwin who was befriended by the inhabitants as an escaped English POW in 1943. He re-visted them after WW@ on almost an annual basis to renew his thanks for their help, lastly in 2018 in (failing health) to mark the 75th anniversary of Italy’s wartimne armistice. He had led a remarkable life but greatly appreciated the friendship shown him all those years ago.