Follonico

Torrita di Siena, Tuscany, Italy Book from Eur160

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
A very special B&B with quirky rooms and delightful owners: a perfect base to explore southern Tuscany
As we drive along a narrow Tuscan road with the sun on our arms and the air heavy with the scent of spring flowers, we see Follonico in the distance: a beautiful stone farmhouse, hovering amongst neat lines of vineyard. And as we bump up the rough track to reach the house, owner Fabio, his father-in-law and 2 children spill out to greet us. Enthusiastic handshakes and chatter ensues, and as we’re led inside, we feel thoroughly welcomed and instantly at ease. Such is the charm of Follonico.

Fabio and his Dutch wife Suzanne run their B&B with genuine warmth, as an extension of their home. There’s no formality and you’re encouraged to just ‘be’, yet they're mindful of your privacy and service is quietly excellent. If you want to talk, they’ll tell you about the region, its history, the things to see. If you want to be quiet and soak up your surroundings, they’ll point you to a deckchair and bring you a cool glass of water. The spacious rooms and suites are a beguiling blend of rustic, modern and vintage. You’ll sleep deeply, and wake restored, ready to visit Montepulciano, Pienza and the Val d'Orcia, all on your doorstep. And when you’ve explored all day, it’s the loveliest place to return to: green lawns, a setting sun, and birds singing in the trees.

Highs

  • It's great value for money for this part of Tuscany
  • The surroundings - a valley of rolling green hills and swaying Cypress trees - are truly beautiful and utterly peaceful
  • Fabio and Suzanne are exceptional hosts: how they find the time to make every guest feel special is a mystery, but they do
  • Very eco-conscious
  • The decorative blend is stylish and intriguing: heavy stone walls and rustic doors meet modern luxuries and vintage quirks

Lows

  • You'll need to drive out for dinner but Montefollonico is only 4km away. There's also no bar, and no minibars in the rooms
  • There's no pool, though this is a considered choice to encourage guests to spread out rather than congregate (and to help to keep room rates low)
  • Sound carries from room to room
  • The gardens are in their infancy; when the roses and vegetables grow, they will be stunning
  • The suites require a 2-night minimum stay; if you want just 1 night, you'll need to book a double room (on a non-refundable basis)

Best time to go

Tuscany is a joy for much of the year, though it can be very hot in the summer, as well as busy and expensive. May is a lovely time to come, as is September, when sunny weather is still (almost) guaranteed, but you avoid the soaring temperatures.

Our top tips

Print off the detailed map Fabio sends you - trust us, you'll need it to get here. And if you'd prefer to not eat out every night, buy a picnic to have on the lawn and ask Fabio for wine glasses and plates.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 6
  • Breakfast only
  • Under 2s only
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Follonico’s rooms and suites have traditional beamed ceilings, rustic doors and travertine stone floors, and are delightfully cool when you step in from the hot sun. But the first thing that grabs your attention is the vintage paraphernalia: a wedding dress hung on your clothes rail, a battered trilby on the bed, antique typewriters, piles of LPs, a dial telephone. For a nanosecond you wonder if you’ve stumbled into another guest’s room. It’s rather theatrical, and whether you love or hate it (we loved it), you won’t fail to be impressed by the level of thought that’s gone into each detail. Indeed Suzanne has spent a lifetime sourcing and collecting the items, and all have their own story.

The backdrop for this quirkiness is a calm, uncluttered space that’s quietly luxurious. Comfy beds have pocket-sprung mattresses, there’s a choice of pillows, and temperature controls mean you can make the room even cooler if necessary. The ensuite bathrooms have excellent raindance showers, organic cotton towels and waffle robes.

The 4 suites are spread through the old farmhouse, mainly on the first floor. All have a living area with boxy sofas in white linen or black leather; some of these are in a separate room, others under original bricked archways. We stayed in Suite Verde Intenso and loved its little balcony and clever details. A bookcase was crammed with Dutch and English novels (everything from Rosamunde Pilcher to The Da Vinci Code), dried lavender was arranged in a wicker trug, and mismatched glass decanters sat in front of a Monet print. It felt like home. Suite Alba Chiara is on the ground floor, with a private garden in its infancy; you can look out to the distant towers of Montepulciano from the room. Luxury Suite Blu Notte has a mini balcony looking out over the church of San Biagio. Small Suite Rosso Tramonto, though the smallest suite, is arguably the loveliest, with its loft-like open-plan space and 3 huge windows that let in light all day.

In an outbuilding next to the farmhouse are 2 Double Rooms, added in 2011. Although they lack the space and sitting areas of the suites, they have access to a vast terrace looking over the rolling hills towards Montepulciano. Named White Essential 1 and White Essential 2 to reflect their stylish simplicity, they share the same blend of old and new as the main building: rustic beds are covered with crisp white linens, modern lighting is set into centuries-old cotto floor tiles, and jugs of flowers sit on bedside tables carved from huge chunks of antique timber. The overall effect is calm and soothing, giving centre stage to the panoramic views outside.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Hairdryer
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Breakfast is served in a sunny room adjacent to the family kitchen, with tables in a row, laid with vintage crockery. It’s a sociable space, and guests talk easily, led by Fabio’s infectious chatter. Foodwise, it’s a very good Tuscan spread of fresh breads, local meats, organic cheeses (including delicious Pecorino and Marzolino), brewed coffee, and juices. On a side table sat a homemade mushroom and olive pizza, and a bowl of fruit - ‘Take some away for later!’ he urged, endlessly hospitable.

For other meals, you’ll need to drive to Montefollonico (4km away) or Montepulciano (10km away). We ate in Montefollonico twice, and were very happy with our meals. Ristorante 13 Gobbi is a traditional trattoria, with checked tablecloths, thick stone walls, and a lovely warm owner. We dined heartily on homemade pasta served in a hollowed-out Pecorino wheel, aromatic pigeon, and a creamy tiramisu. Over the road, Osteria La Botte Piena is a bustling deli/wine cellar, with an upstairs restaurant that's popular with local families. There’s an extensive selection of bruschettas and local specialities; we tried the famous pici pasta with rabbit and it was fantastic.

If you want to spend a day just lounging around at the hotel, nip to Follonico and buy yourselves a picnic lunch. Fabio will lend you plates, cutlery, a bottle opener etc - maybe even a blanket if you ask nicely.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Montepulciano, a stunning hilltop town best known for its Vino Nobile, is the area's main attraction. Wander through car-free streets and admire ancient fortifications and the pretty Piazza Comunale (main square). At the bottom of town you'll find a couple of bodegas for wine tastings

  • The Renaissance town of Pienza - a Unesco World Heritage site - is also close. The cluster of buildings around the crumbling Piazza Pio II is the main attraction. See the beautiful altar in Rossellino's Duomo, then visit the Palazzo Piccolomini next door, once the home of Pope Pius II

  • Similar, with glorious medieval architecture but far fewer crowds, is Montichiello

  • The landscape of the Val d'Orcia is also marked as a Unesco treasure, and its pastoral and agricultural beauty has inspired many artists. Take the time to just drive and admire

  • Bagno Vignoni, a small village famous for its thermal hot springs, is pretty too. If you want to swim, buy a day pass to the Hotel Posta Marcucci's pool, which is fed by a natural hot spring. The central square has a (now unswimmable) large pool, which gives off a steaming haze at night. Local restaurants play live blues and jazz on their terraces, and the almost smoky atmosphere is amazing, reminiscent of 20s-style clubs

  • Ask Fabio for details and maps of his driving itineraries: 'The English Patient' (via Valdichiana, the Val d'Orcia and Le Crete Senesi), 'Under A Tuscan Sun' (through some small agricultural towns, generally not well known) or 'The Gladiator' (taking in the Val d'Orcia, Pienza and Bagno Vignoni)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children aged 2 and under are welcome, and Follonico can supply baby cots in the 4 suites. We'd say Suite Alba Chiara is the most practical for families, as it's spacious and located on the ground floor.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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