Wine lovers who want to experience country life in Tuscany can now vacation at an estate of one of the region's top wine producers. Marchesi Antinori recently opened a collection of farmhouse lodgings, called Fonte de' Medici, on its Santa Cristina estate, in Chianti Classico.
Set in the rolling hills of Tuscany, between Florence and Siena, Fonte de' Medici sits amid the vineyards that produce Antinori's famed super-Tuscan wines, Tignanello and Solaia.
Fonte de' Medici is divided into three separate lodgings, all within a few minutes' walk from each other. The first two buildings opened last July, and the third is expected to open this summer. The oldest of the three, Podere Tignanello, dates back to the 15th century and belonged to Badia a Passignano, a powerful monastery in the Middle Ages. The Antinori family took over the estate in the mid-1800s, and the buildings were once used to house farmers. All three lodgings have now been renovated and restored to retain as much of their original structure and character as possible.
Podere Tignanello is a very large, stone farmhouse, surrounded by gardens, with views of the Tignanello vineyard. It contains seven apartments -- ranging in size to accommodate from two to six people -- with Tuscan decor and modern amenities. Each apartment is named after one of the traditional Chianti grape varieties: Canaiolo, Colorino, Malvasia, Mammolo, Prugnolo, Sangiovese and Trebbiano.
Podere Vivaio (which means "nursery" in Italian) is a country villa overlooking a small lake. It has only two apartments, named Leccino and Moraiolo, after two varieties of local olive trees; one apartment accommodates two people, the other up to four people.
By July 2001, the third and largest lodging, Santa Maria a Macerata, should have five or six apartments ready for rental, plus a reception area, swimming pool and cafi for all the Fonte de' Medici guests. A total of 17 apartments should be completed by 2002, along with tennis courts.
Among the activities that guests can take advantage of is a guided tour and wine tasting at Santa Cristina. For an extra charge, they can arrange tours and wine and olive oil tastings at Antinori's other estates, Badia a Passignano and Peppoli.
Apartment prices range from a minimum of 1.3 million lire (about $640 at the current exchange rate) per week to a maximum of 4.6 million lire per week (about $2,265), depending on the apartment and the season.
For more information, contact the manager, Gilberto Nori, by phone at (011) 39-0348-397-9600 or (011) 39-0339-615-3964, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fonte de' Medici
Via Santa Maria a Macerata, 31
50020 Montefiridolfi (FI)
Phone: (011) 39-055-82-447-00
Fax: (011) 39-055-82-447-01