Through its wines, landscape & flavors
The sun kissed vineyards just between Florence and Empoli at Tenuta San Vito are mesmorizing; an idyllic site for a holiday in Tuscany and a dreamy venue for a romantic event, such as a wedding. My meeting with Neri Gazulli, one of the owners and the person responsible for coordinating the estate, took place one early summer morning as he cheerfully answered phone calls and energetically mingled with his administrative team, preparing for next week’s guest.
We chatted in a spacious room which wouldn't have given you the faintest clue that he was responsible for managing the estate and making sure his guests were happy. And just to be clear, the "estate" translates into 7 holiday apartments, 2 private Tuscany villa rentals, an onsite restaurant, 35 hectacres of vineyards, 20 hectacres of olive groves, international exportation of their wine & olive oil, and, in his spare time, he dabbles in giving wine tastings, open to guests and the general public.
In Harmony with Tuscany
Upon my arrival to the rennovated Tuscan farmhouse, cantina and "casale", I appreciated how the front office and wine shop, with its casual setting, displayed a bit of the recent history in the form of serval photo collages detailing those who worked the land and the vineyards; it was a comfortable atmosphere where the adminstrative team took time to share a laugh and answer a few quick questions before I met with Neri.
I came prepared, just a little bit of online research will show you that the organic vineyards have claimed world wide attention, not only for their early decision to go organic but also from the constant stream of enthusiastic guests who return year after year to relax on the estate, and sometimes, if they are there at the right time, watch as a miracle begins: the olive and grape harvests.
Behind his desk, Neri was a powerhouse of energy showing evident enthusiasm for both the tenuta and his team; with an engaging smile he responded to some of my more routine questions, but when asked what was the one word that could truly describe what they, at Tenuta San Vito, stood for — he took a moment of to consider before pronoucing:
”We like to think that our wines, olive oil and accommodations transmit our intention to be in harmony with the land. The choice to go organic by my Aunt so many years ago, has transformed our way of showing respect for the Earth and its bounty.”
My exploration of the grounds proved that this message was felt by everyone at Tenuta San Vito: co-exiting in harmony. A harmony established between man and nature, the estate and their guests and between nature and the wines of San Vito.
Exploring the Estate
Cinzia, the greeter and person responsible for answering your emails, took me around the farm after my meeting with Neri. Her job was to walk me around Tenuta San Vito and demonstrate the highlights of the estate, the restaurant and holiday accommodations. She was more than just nice and efficient; she had a sparkle about her which she shared when she spoke of the agriturismo, the vineyards and the accommodations.
Our first stop on the tour of the Tenuta (the Italian word for farm estate) was the rennovated Podere Frantoio. Living here once were those responsible for deciding how and when the olives were crushed to make oil. And since the mill is still functional, when it is the season, you should definitely make time to watch how it is done...just follow your nose, the perfume of fresh pressed olive oil is unmistakeable. A word of advise, bring a bit of bread, you will want to taste the results!
Surrounding the crystal clear aquamarine private pool, are the main villa with 7 bedrooms and en suite bathrooms and a second building containing a large open common room. The view is stupendous; the San Vito vineyards and olive groves spread out below.
One of the more distinct features of the Tenuta is how everything is so versatile. It is able to accommodate families and friends on vacation together — to catering to a group of music or art students who use the sounds and colors of the scenery to explore in depth their art. The Podere Frantoio within the San Vito grounds is rented as one whole structure, and Cinzia is the person who can assist you in organizing a full package including meals, such as breakfast, lunch or dinner. The common room is ideal for catering parties or teaching yoga, celebrating 25 years together or learning how to paint Tuscan landscapes.
Particularly enticing for large groups is the apartment Lilia, attached to the main villa — creating a bit of separation from the masses. It offers, the sometimes much needed, privacy; this one bedroom accommodation is perfect for the teaching team, or the happy couple.
I have to admit, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the wrap around porch with carefully positioning of rockers and chairs to overlook the pool and vineyards.
A Review of Tenuta San Vito
We loved: there is an inviting casual atmosphere about Tenuta San Vito, you feel at home and relaxed in the apartments, the restaurant and the vineyards
Ideal for: especially large groups such as a wedding or celebration destination however, families looking for the tranquility of Tuscany will have found their match since the apartments are set apart leaving lots of room for privacy
Another Reason to Love the Estate
The on-site restaurant. Need I say more? Or do you want to hear about the delicious menu featuring recipes that make excellent use of their home grown products, the local traditions? Or do you want to know about the fantastic terrace, which has a spectacular view? The restaurant is for those staying on the grounds but, upon request it can be used for events not on the grounds.
For those who are residing at Podere le Querce, and thus right next to the restaurant, it is less than a 2 minute walk to no cooking, no cleaning up and an extra glass of wine with dinner. The five independent, (n° 2 one-bedroom and n° 3 two-bedroom) self catering apartments feature fully equipped kitchens, private garden areas and shared a pool among the olive trees.
Just a short walk from the Podere Le Querce you will find a charming two bedroom, two bathroom cottage, called Cavalli. This accommodation, one of the last to be added to the collection, was built to be in harmony with the landscape, and is a bio-contruction. The independent villa shares the same tantalizing views as the other apartments and the pool - but other than that it is completely private, affording the guests solitude and silence.
The last apartment I saw on the estate was located at the antique olive mill, and is called Bellosguardo - for the reason that it offers a beautiful panorama (a literal translation of the name).
Tenuta San Vito in a Glance:
Type: self catering holiday apartments & independent villa rentals
Location: Montelupo, 7 km
Distance: Florence (35 min) or San Miniato (35 minutes)
Transport: a car is necessary
Apartments: 5 apartments, & independent 3 villas
Type of board: Breakfast upon request, on site restaurant, & wine tasting
Tenuta San Vito is most certainly a creative and ideal solution for catering large groups. It offers gracious and comfortable accommodations as well as serves as an enchanting backdrop to any event. In addition, it offers a wide diversity of activities right here on the property. Not only will guests find themselves residing in one of the prettiest corners of Tuscany, tucked in the countryside just outside of Florence, near Empoli, Montelupo and Pistoia but they will find plenty to do on the estate itself.
Besides the onsite restaurant, a twilight stroll among the vineyards and olive groves, or a hike into the forests nearby, guests are encouraged to roam the farm at their leisure even during the daytime where they are sure to encounter someone tending the vines, trimming the trees or harvesting. Your curiosity bout "how it is all done" can be satisfied during the harvest season, just ask Neri if you can be present as they start the harvests. And let's not forget about the wine tastings!
Family Run Operation
The estate became part of the family tradition when Neri's grandfather bought it as a place where the whole gang (aunts, uncles and cousins) could come together, but the internationally acclaimed organic wines didn’t come into production and officially certified until 1985 when his Aunt took over. They, at San Vito, were a forerunner in the push to go organic — long before it became trendy — and it has paid off for them in the flavour, which is enhanced by the natural goodness of the uncontaimnated terrior: rich and fertile.
The extended family find themselves coming home often for the holidays enjoying the beauty of the area like so many of their guests. Some of Neri’s more treasured family memories include working side by side with his grandfather and Aunt (and now his own children). He likes to think that some of the very same joy and appreciation for the land that he felt as a child is transmitted to his guests when they stay at the holiday apartments.
Vineyards & Olive Oil
The cantina, or on-site wine cellar, is the perfect place to explore the various flavors that the “terra” of Tenuta San Vito provides. Guided visits of the farm, wine cellar, and olive-oil press house are offered upon request, along with tastings of all of the San Vito organically-grown products: DOCG Chianti, IGT wines, Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, vin santo, and grappa, often paired with traditional Tuscan lunches and dinners.
With a friendly and outgoing smile, Neri often finds himself personally leading the tours, answering questions and assisting his guests taste their way through the subtlety of flavors. He told me perhaps what surprises him the most, is the types of questions that people ask:
They really want to know how we make our wine, starting with the plants and terroir to the vendemmia (grape harvest) and fermentation process. It is a great pleasure to share with those who are truly curious.
After exploring the property, tasting the wines, and speaking with Neri it was quite clear that Tenuta San Vito is not just an comfortable accommodation where one sleeps in between day trips while visiting Tuscany. The estate, with villa rentals and holiday apartments, the on-site restaurant, vineyards, wine tasting, trails and large common rooms for parties, classes and events is where you will want to start your adventure discovering Tuscany, its history and rich flavors.
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