“A very special B&B with quirky rooms and delightful owners: a perfect base to explore southern Tuscany”
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.
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.