The perfect spring break
A wonderful break in a tranquil and relaxing part of Italy with the perfect hostess. The views are stunning from Simonicchi inspiring us to walk down the valley, fording a rustic wooden bridge to climb up through the chestnut trees to Fragiola where we bought freshly made Easter cake to eat in thesun. After a cold beer in Lama, Jenny kindly picked us up and took us backfor lunch al fresco. Wonderful memories of the space, light and freedom ofthe place. A joy not to hear the sound of traffic or planes, just birdsong.
Full immersion relaxation
The house is delightful, beautifully restored while maintaining its historical character. The views are fantastic, stretching across the valley to the wooded mountains. A painter is spoiled for choice, but probably, like me, won’t need to go beyond the terraced garden to find inspiration. The owner is happy to advise visitors about venues and is always ready to help solve any problems that arise.
Lovely stay in a hidden part of Tuscany
Villa Monteverdi is indeed surrounded by green hills which gives one the impression of being in Umbria instead of Tuscany. From the windows and the balcony one has an uninterrupted view of these hills. When we were there in the beginning of June one could hear the sounds of the birds such as the cuckoo but also the sound of the deer challenging each other in the valley below. At night, if you are lucky, you can see dozens of fireflies. The owner Jennifer Barnard is very hospitable and she will do anything to make you feel at home. She is a sculptress and inside as well as outside you can find proof of her work which adds to the attractiveness of the place. If you play a musical instrument don’t hesitate to bring it along. Jennifer plays the flute herself and she would love to play with other people!
Simonicchi, which is a hamlet of only a couple of houses at a cul-de-sac, is situated at about half an hour’s drive from San Sepolchro. Città di Castello and Arezzo are also within easy reach. You can also visit the sanctuary of La Verna where Saint Francis received the stigmata. The little town of Anghiari near San Sepolchro is considered to be among the 10 most beautiful medieval places in Italy. It is even possible to visit Perugia or Florence.
It is very challenging countryside for cyclists and the are various opportunities for making long walks. As for restaurants we could recommend ‘Il Refugio’ in Lama (only 4 km away) and for a good pizza you should go to ‘Il Bosschetto’ in Caprese Michelangelo, the birthplace of the great painter (only 6 km away).
All in all our stay in Villa Monte Verdi was an unforgettable experience!
A romantic and idyllic corner of Tuscany
The warm welcome from Jenny was a lovely start to our holiday in Simonicchi. Sunglasses are a must when taking breakfast on the roof terrace, with stunning views across the valley to the tree covered mountains beyond. The Villa is clean, tidy, well equipped and with many books available to choose from. The beds are very comfortable and the shower is such a blessing in the heat! Excellent restaurants in Lama and Caprese a few minutes down the road in the car. There are wonderful walks nearby, so get the guide maps from the helpful lady in the Tourist Information in Chiusi. See Michelangelo’s birthplace in Caprese and St Francis’ sanctuary at La Verna. Beautiful old town of Anghiari is not too far and further afield make time to visit Poppi, Assisi and Arezzo. Florence is 2 hours away but suggest parking at Arezzo and taking the (fast) train on to Florence. We would recommend the Villa to friends and family, and hope to return ourselves. Thank you Jenny for a wonderful and relaxing honeymoon in this romantic and idyllic corner of Tuscany.
I stayed here with my two children (11 and 14) as I really needed a get away from it all holiday with peace and quiet, great wine and good food. I chose wisely! Stunning place, my host was thoughtful and approachable, it is a place to experience the real Italy.
Large Apartment with a wonderful view and host
The apartment in the hamlet of Simonicchi – a collection of atmospheric houses and very welcoming people perched among the wooded hills. It is large, tastefully furnished, and has all one would want for a relaxing holiday. Jenny is an excellent host who went out of her way to make sure we enjoyed our stay. The roof terrace with its provides ever changing panoramic view over the wooded hills and neighbouring villages is a highlight of this property. Thank you for the hospitality everyone we had a lovely time.
‘On our fourteenth Italian journey this visit has introduced us to a wholly new landscape – the rolling shape of the hills wonderfully calming. We have sat and looked at all the changing tones as the day passes…………..we won’t forget this beauty, or the soaring beech canopy up at La Verna. Our sense of Italy has been quite transformed.’
‘The loveliest landscape I have seen in Europe….and days of glorious sunshine to set it off.’
Dominic and Veronica, Pangbourne
‘The accommodation is absolutely superb, the surroundings breathtaking and places of interest to be explored endless! – all of which contributed to a wonderful honeymoon. Once again thank you….’
Dominic and Vanessa, Kent
‘Most inspirational holiday – the surroundings, the food, the view, the peace and the beauty – looking forward to seeing your website and receiving your emails. Thanks for your generous hospitality and the dear little Fiat!’
Patricia, Guy and Corinne, South Africa
‘’To be able to hear the silence gives every part of one peace – in both mind and body. Thank you Jenny for setting the scene in this oasis of serenity….’
David and Dorothy, Surrey
‘The wild flowers here are quite spectacular…………..’
Anne and Peter , Bedfordshire
‘Two visits in such a short time – there cannot be better proof that we like this place very much. Thank you Jenny……………’ Hans and Cristina, Munich
‘Thank you so much for letting us share your little piece of paradise, and for all your kindness, help and understanding. In every way it felt like home. What more can you ask?’
Simon and Jan, Oxford
‘We had a delightful but all too short stay. The area is beautiful, the villa lovely, the hospitality so warm and welcoming. Thank you from both of us Jenny. We hope to see you again soon.’
Peter Dunsford and Alison , Germany
‘Two weeks of pleasure and relaxation in the company of some great people. Thank you for the fun times we had together which I didn’t want to end!’
Daiane and Glenn, Molly and Godfrey, Surrey
THE APARTMENT: The first impression of the apartment was that it was
everything we had hoped for: cool, spacious and pleasant. When we began to
take in the marvelous views, we began to sense that Simonicchi was much more
than we had dreamed. As we settled in, we noticed the elegant furnishings,
the exquisite art, and the marvelous lay out. Our 14-year old son Mikey
felt like a knight in his cozy perch at one end of the apartment, while we
could act like honeymooners at the main bedroom on the other end. The
kitchen is large and well furnished. The dining room table was ample, but
we were invariable drawn to the terrace. There we enjoyed refreshing
breakfasts in the mornings, watching as the rising sun bathed the valley
from the East.
In the afternoons, we enjoyed a bottle of wine as the sun set over the
hills to the West, and in the evenings magical candlelight dinners under a
starry canopy. On our first night, we spent hours watching meteor showers,
and we brought out the telescope to get incredible views of the planets.
The living room/library was probably Francisco’s favorite. He was usually
the first one up, catching up on e-mails or reading a book, while enjoying
the early morning breeze and listening to the symphony of birds waking in
FOOD: Our first and last meals were at the restaurant in Lama, Il
Refugio de Mario y Mara[i], barely a 10-minute drive. The ambiance is
delightful, and the service is excellent We were offered a prosecco
aperitif at the start. With dessert, we were offered a bottle of vino dolce
or grappa. The menu was typically Tuscan, but we noticed a few customers
eating pizza. The dishes were delicious and the house wine very tasty. Our
first visit convinced us that we had to return before leaving Simonicchi.
We were greeted as friends on our return visit, and the advice on the menu
was right on the mark. Our waitress spoke very good English, and although
we had not planned on dessert, the way she recommended the chef’s freshly
made biscotti (“you must dip it in the vino dolce”) was simply, and
accurately, irresistible. In Sansepolcro, we enjoyed a marvelous lunch at
Ristorante Fiorentino[ii]. The food was exquisite; the setting was
elegant, as was the service. In Poppi, we ate at Emo; good food and service,
though we wished we had been able to get one of the tables outside, in a
charming piazza. We never made it to the markets at Piave or Sansepolcro,
but we found the Despar grocery store in Lama usually open during daylight
hours and fairly well stocked (except for orange juice).
OUTINGS: Anghiari, less than half an hour away, is magical. We only
spent one morning there, and left wanting to return to explore the medieval
churches and alleyways. The civic museum offered free a half-hour guided
tour in Italian. We were surprised how much we were able to understand
thanks to our knowledge of Spanish. From there, it’s a straight, downhill
ride (literally) to Sansepolcro, which has a charming center and an
excellent art museum. Francisco was enthralled during our outing to the
Franciscan Monastery at Chiusi della Verna, less than a half-our ride from
Simonicchi. Perched atop a vertiginous precipice, Saint Francis of Asissi
is said to have received the stigmata there. Saint Anthony of Padua spent a
year of prayer and meditation in the monastery.
On our last day, we went past Chiusi on to Alpe di Serra. In Badia de
Prataglia, a very helpful woman at the visitor’s center gave us excellent
recommendations on hikes and where to eat. The hikes were relatively easy,
and beautiful. The first was hike was a 15-minute drive up the road, in a
verdant conifer forest. After a delightful lunch (including a succulent
boar meat stew) we drove another 15 minutes to another hike leading to Mount
Penna, on the edge of a dizzying precipice and a wonderful panoramic view
stretching dozens of miles. We continued on to visit the hermitage founded
in the medieval ages by St. Erasmus at Camaldoli, before circling back home.
On another day, we travelled to Assisi, and then on to Perugia for a free
tour in English of the Perugina chocolate factory, yum!
Dorota , Francisco and Peter Gobler