Fattoria Barbialla Nuova

Montaione, Tuscany, Italy Book from Book from £58 per night

Pure city escapism in converted farmhouses (sleeping 2-8) on a 500-hectare organic farm - a remarkably tranquil and hospitable retreat
If you've ever dreamt of ditching the city rat-race for a simple rural lifestyle, here's your chance. Set in 500 hectares of private estate, these 3 farmhouses, tastefully converted into 7 rustic-chic apartments for 2-6, 1 villa for 8-10 and 1 house for 2, are surrounded by nothing but woodland, hills, pastures and utter tranquillity.

Forests full of wild boar, deer and locally-prized white truffles cover half of the estate, and there's a remote wildness quite unlike postcard-Tuscany, with its uniform lines of cypresses and vines. Guests are welcome to roam the land as they please, and you could explore for days. As well as walking and tracking wildlife, you can go truffle hunting in autumn, pick wild herbs in spring and gorge yourself on figs and cherries in summer - all of it organically grown. Wine-tasting and sightseeing opportunities abound: the towers of San Gimignano and the underrated town of Volterra are on your doorstep, Siena and Florence not much further. But it's the sense of remoteness, nature and space which mark this place out, and may have you pondering a permanent move to the countryside.

Highs

  • This is utter pastoral bliss, yet just 1 hour from Florence, Siena and Pisa
  • The wonderful hosts, Guido and helpers, believe in Slow Food and offer bread-baking lessons, pasta-making demos, guided truffle hunts, even an intro to bee-keeping
  • The apartments combine simple rustic stylishness and spaciousness - a cut above most Tuscan farmhouse conversions; and all are good for families
  • Each building has its own pool: a large one for Doderi guests, another for Brentina, and a private plunge pool for Trosce villa
  • There's a huge variety of plantlife on the estate: blackberries, figs, apples, plums, nuts, herbs, elderflower, pears, cherries, peaches... go forage

Lows

  • After entering the estate, you have to drive over bumpy tracks to reach your accommodation, but nothing an ordinary hire car can't handle
  • These are self-catering cottages, so you bring your own food or stock up at their lovely farm shop
  • Doderi and Brentina are split into 3-4 apartments, so sound can carry between them; but most guests are peaceful, and we weren't bothered by any noise
  • Be aware that it's Saturday-Saturday rentals only in summer (and check in before 6pm)

Best time to go

Summer in Tuscany is busy, but this place is a haven from the crowds - and the pools are a godsend too (though bear in mind there's no air-con). If you're planning to do some sightseeing then May-June or September-October will have fewer tourists yet reliably good weather, while winter is blissfully quiet but can have cold, frosty weather, rain and occasional snow. Each season brings something new here - don't forget the truffle season, which runs from October to December. The hotel is closed from the end of December until mid-March.

Our top tips

One of the great things about Italy is the availability of local produce; Barbialla Nuova is truly Italian. On our first visit we stayed over a public holiday and hadn't stocked up at all... but we needn't have panicked. We ended up cooking an organic, seasonal feast of zucchini flower frittata with tomato and basil salad, and new potatoes crushed with sage, garlic and olive oil. Foraging and feeding from the land, in such a stunning setting, made it a very memorable meal and one that fitted in well with the ethos of Barbialla Nuova.

The famous Mostra del Tartufo Bianco (White Truffle Festival) takes place each November in San Miniato (about 30 minutes away) - it's foodie heaven in this part of the world and well worth exploring. There are also guided truffle hunts around the local area if you want to try your hand at tracking down the elusive delicacy for yourself.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Stylish Agrotourism
  • 7 apartments, 1 villa, 1 small house
  • Self catering
  • All ages welcome.
  • Closed: 15 Dec 2018 - 7 Mar 2019
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

Spread across the estate are 2 converted farm buildings (Brentina and Doderi), which between them house 7 apartments for 2-6, plus 1 small house for 2 in Doderi's garden. There's also a third building (Trosce), which is a separate villa for 8-10.

Country living is reflected in the rustic charm inside. Simple, sturdy wooden furniture (well-worn dining tables, four-poster beds and capacious wooden chests) sit comfortably on original tiled floors, next to large traditional fireplaces (in some apartments) and exposed original brickwork. All kitchens are thoughtfully stocked, and there are enough utensils and chairs for the number of people in each house. In the summer, the rooms are blissfully cool thanks to thick stone walls and small windows; in the autumn and winter, they're cosy and snug, with open fires (in some apartments). Don't expect a luxurious finish, but know that all the bathrooms are modern and surprisingly stylish.

Doderi is a typical Tuscan hilltop farmhouse split into 3 apartments. It's a 20-minute walk from a lake, and surrounded by fruit and olive trees. There's also a small house called Doderino in the garden - perfect for couples after complete seclusion. All Doderi guests share a large pool that has panoramic views of the farmland and beyond, and each accommodation has its own outdoor dining space - we particularly liked the covered terrace and elevated views from Doderi Alto, where we stayed in 2013.

Brentina is more remote, tucked in a dip out of sight from the main track that cuts through the farm. The traditional farmhouse and converted barn make 4 apartments that share a pool, in gardens full of plum, apple and pear trees. Rambling roses climb up the walls, while lizards scuttle into log piles collected for firewood. You'll have your own designated outdoor area for eating and relaxing.

Le Trosce, built in the 19th century and rented as a villa for 8-10, is an ivy-covered farmhouse with 4 double bedrooms (though only 2 bathrooms). The terrace is a perfect place to sit and take in the fantastic panoramic view, and you can cool off in a small but stylish decked plunge pool. Bags of communal space include a large dining room, a sitting room, a kitchen, a dining area and large covered terrace. We found a little darker and less funky than the other 2 houses, but wonderfully cool in summer.

As a pointer, we thought the best option for a couple is Doderi Ovest (overlooking olive groves, with an open fire in the terracotta tiled kitchen, and a cosy double bedroom); the best for a family of 4 is Brentina Ovile (a funkily converted sheep barn with great original features in its open-plan living space); the best for a larger group is Trosce (see above), because it has its own pool.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Kitchenette
  • Oven
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

The villas are self-catering so bring what you need, though you're encouraged to help yourself from the garden, or to stock up from their lovely organic shop (see below). If you're arriving late, you can ask for your fridge to be pre-stocked.

The kitchens in the apartments are well supplied with plates, utensils and pans, though note that Doderino only has a small kitchenette so is a little light on equipment. Each apartment also has its own outdoor area with table and chairs, as well as table and chairs in the kitchen. There are crates of local bottled water in the outdoor area - you can help yourself, leaving cash in the box and bringing your empties back to the same place for recycling. You can also buy boxes of firewood here.

One of the best things about Barbialla Nuova is its organic shop, with staples like milk, bread, tea and pasta, home-grown products (olive oil, honey, meat, eggs, jam, ragout sauces, white truffles), local wines and, if you're lucky, something from their gardens. If that's not enough, there are several village shops close by, and a larger supermarket in nearby Montaione; or owner Guido can direct you to another organic farmshop about 10km away.

As well as a list of local shops, they has also compiled a list of restaurants worth a visit for lunch or dinner, ranging from the local trattoria to fine dining in Florence (60km). Our new favourite is Osteria il Papero, a funky little place in nearby Balconevisi whose young owner-chef specialises in classic Tuscan recipes that have been creatively updated using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Chef on request
  • Children's meals
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Kitchenette
  • Organic produce
  • Oven
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the vast swathes of woodland on marked walks put together by Guido, looking out for wild boar, badgers, porcupines and wild roses; or stroll through the farm, visiting the organic veg garden and the friendly chianine cattle
  • We really recommend booking their excellent activities, which include cookery courses with a local chef, pasta- or bread-making lessons (including a delicious sour dough), and an introduction to bee-keeping for the curious
  • Guests also rave about the guided truffle hunts in the autumn - it's one of the few areas boasting highly prized white truffles, and porcini (cepes) are also abundant
  • You can fly-fish in the estate's lake, or sit with binos and a bird book looking out for hoopoes, bee-eaters and buzzards
  • Horse-riding is available 3km away (Le Mura) and there are 2 golf courses within 15 minutes (San Miniato and Castelfalfi)
  • There are countless lovely villages to explore, including Palaia and Montaione
  • Head to the touristy but pretty medieval towers of San Gimignano and the under-rated town of Volterra, both 40-50 minutes' drive away
  • It's only as a little further to Florence, Siena or Pisa - each is about an hour's drive
  • There are plenty of vineyards around for a spot of wine tasting too
  • Or just sit by the pool and appreciate the tranquillity - you couldn't be any more immersed in nature

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Bee keeping talks
  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Pasta making
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Truffle hunting
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting

Kids

This is a great option for adventurous families. Children are very welcome at the farmhouses and there are no expensive fittings, ornaments or furniture to worry about. There's no TV so it's a great chance to reconnect as a family. It's also great value and a self-catering farmstay makes a fun family holiday if you can cope without modern entertainment on tap.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

They're all good for families; we'd say book an apartment in Doderi if there are fewer of you (they sleep 2-8), or book out Le Trosce (sleeping 8-10) if you are a larger group as it has its own small pool.

Babysitting:

The hotel work with an English speaking babysitter who can be arranged with prior notice.

Baby equipment:

  • Cot, high chair, baby bathtub, changing pad, toilet reducer, plastic cutlery and plates provided in a "baby kit" which costs €20 per stay
  • Stair gates

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Kitchens are functional. You can request a pre-stocked fridge with local goodies (recommended) or head to the nearby towns for groceries (15 minutes' drive). Book a chef in advance if you want, again they are superb. There are plenty of family friendly places to eat in neighbouring towns as well as crowd-pleasing gelateria.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Large shared pool for Brentina apartments, a large shared pool for Doderi apartments, private pool for Le Trosce house
  • There's a wooden swing outside the Brentina cottage
  • Kids cooking classes
  • Plenty of animals nearby, including white Chianina cattle, wild boar and hens
  • Truffle hunting with the local dog, in season
  • Walk, enjoy nature and enjoy each others' company
  • Play boules, football or ping pong

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Day trips to Siena, Florence and Pisa
  • Horse riding
  • Castles
  • Museum
  • Bike hire
  • Pinocchio Park, Collodi
  • Gelato sampling!

Families Should Know:

Those with smaller children should bear in mind that the gardens are very natural, without boundaries and with some steep drops. The pools and the pond are not protected.

Distances:

  • Airport: 50 minutes (Pisa)
  • Doctor: 15 minutes
  • Nearest shop: 15 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Fattoria Barbialla Nuova is in the heart of northern Tuscany, midway between Siena, Florence and Pisa. It is set on its own 500-hectare estate, reached by an unsurfaced track.

By Air
There are some flights to Florence Peretola Airport (55km away). However, most people fly to Pisa Galileo (also 55km away), which is well-served by budget and scheduled airlines from the UK, other European countries and further afield. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.

By Train
If you'd prefer to travel overland from the UK, you can reach Florence quite easily from London, then take a local service. The closest train stations to Fattoria Barbialla Nuova are Castelfiorentino (16km away) or San Miniato (also 16km away). See the excellent Seat 61 for more details.

By Car
You’ll definitely need a hire car if you want to explore the region - see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be provided after your booking is confirmed.

More on getting to Italy and getting around

Airports:

  • Florence Peretola 55.0 km FLR
  • Pisa Galileo 55.0 km PSA

Other:

  • Beach 65.0 km
  • Shops 7.0 km
  • Restaurant 4.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 23 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

We loved it at Fattoria Barbialla Nuova. It's so peaceful and beautiful. The accommodation was simple but gave us everything we needed. Ilaria, Francesco and Frank were very helpful. If you want glamour and frills this is not the place for you, but if you want to be soothed by nature and get away from it all I'd highly recommend it.

9/10,

This is a truly special place. Nestle yourself in to some untouched Tuscan countryside and escape everything. A wonderful setting with everything you need and nothing that you don’t.

10/10,

We had a lovely time at Fattoria Barbialla Nuova and our host Ilaria was super helpful and accommodating with any of our requests. It was a lovely experience to stay on a working organic farm. We stayed in Brentina Ovile, an apartment that slept 4 adults. It was a perfectly adequate space and had everything we needed to self cater for the week. We were expecting the property to be rustic and somewhat simple, but we did feel that the room had been stripped back somewhat and was lacking in a little finesse - or just some welcoming finishing touches - like some coffee tables, cushions, a vase with some flowers and just a little decoration here and there.

7/10,

We had a fantastic time at Fattoria Barbialla Nuova. The location is just breathtaking with the best views of the Tuscan countryside. You have peaceful, rural surroundings (we saw deer, falcons, wild boar and badgers) with the added benefits of being within close proximity to Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena and San Gimignamo. The accommodation is rustic and in keeping with the surroundings. What made our holiday so special though was the amazing service from our hosts. They went above and beyond to make our holiday special with some great recommendations. Nothing was too much trouble. We particularly recommend having the Chef at home service with Serenella, a very talented Italian chef. The meal was amazing with enough left overs to keep us going for a few days afterwards as well. Highly recommended.

10/10,

I could not recommend this place enough. Ilaria (the owner I think) is very helpful, informative, and friendly and gave us a lovely welcome when we arrived. The owners have produced a very professional booklet detailing enjoyable walks around the farm and information about the animals and plants you may see. The farm is huge, remote, peaceful, but close enough to towns and villages for shops, restaurants and sightseeing. The owners also provide a very useful information pack on the local area on what to see, do and where to eat - this was very appreciated, and very useful. The farm and the houses are beautiful, the setting is stunning, and it was very relaxing to spend some time. We stayed at Doderi, a simple yet beautiful house, which was cool in the evening and at night, but easy to open up to the warm summer air in the day. Do not expect modern European luxuries, expect the luxury of Tuscan simplicity. The houses are spread out over the farm so there are no buildings around at all, I think Doderi is around 3 km from the main farm building. It is worth knowing that there is private outdoor space allocated to each apartment, but the boundaries between each one are fluid, so are likely to get to know your neighbours - which we thought was great as they were the only other people for miles.

10/10,

Absolutely beautiful organic farm in the heart of the Tuscan countryside. It was so peaceful and relaxing. It was great to have access to so many walks through the farm and to be able to explore the area, the animals are wonderful as well. Everyone on the farm was so friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.
There was a great little organic farm shop on the property with local produce that you could take back to the house to cook. There are also some beautiful towns, all within an hours drive of the farm that we’re definitely worth a visit.
Overall, this visit to Fattoria Barbialla Nuova has been wonderful in every way and I hope to be able to return one day.

10/10,

Fattoria Barbialla Nuova was a perfect location for an active vacation in beautiful Tuscany. We biked and walked the many trails on the property and met wonderful people.

10/10,

We had the perfect holiday - Ilaria and Francesco could not have been more helpful. We loved the cooking and baking class and all the staff were so passionate. The location is great for exploring and our 2 year old loved the farm

10/10,

We had the most amazing time here and would and have highly recommended it to others. We will be back.

10/10,

I stayed at Fattoria Barbialla in the spring with my family. We had such a wonderful time that everyone is still talking about it months later. The accommodations are very comfortable, and the farm is quiet and relaxing. If you are looking for a place to unwind and unplug, this is it. The hosts Ilaria and Francesco are wonderful and really go out of their way to make sure your stay is enjoyable. We had an issue with the WiFi one day, and Francesco stayed out until 11 at night trying to fix it for us. They even gave us some treats from the farm shop to make up for it which was far more than necessary. They also gave us excellent recommendations for interesting places to visit and restaurants to try nearby. I would highly recommend this place to anyone who enjoys spending quality time with friends and family in a natural setting.

10/10,

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