Oddly enough, I’ve never rented a car while traveling. Of course, I’ve had to rent a car when visiting San Francisco or other places like that, but I wouldn’t consider that traveling. Not only am I just visiting a place I’ve already been, it is still in the country.
A little over a year ago I went to Santiago de Compostela, and what I really wanted to do was get in the Atlantic Ocean. However, there was no way I could visit using public transportation and still make it back in time for my evening flight. The hotel suggested that I rent a car, but for some reason I felt it was out of the question. For my own unknown motives, I didn’t get to do something I wanted to do. I vowed next time I was going to rent a car.
For all that I’ve travelled in Italy, I was nervous to rent a car. I’ve driven in Spain, which isn’t all that different, and I’ve always been excited to try my hand at driving with the crazy Italians. What was there to stop me? It sounded like fun. So, I did it. (Read about the car here).
It took me way longer than it should have to get to the hotel. Neither the GPS nor my cell phone was working properly, and I couldn’t figure out exactly where the hotel was. Eventually, I got the electronics working, and, as it turns out, if I had gone 50m more from where I originally turned around, I would have found the hotel. Ah well.
The hotel’s name is Tenuta Il Burchio. It spreads across a one-lane-but-made-for-two-cars street. On one side is the hotel, a white-washed building with wooden window frames and an old tile roof. The other side has an extra building (one room, sided on three sides by glass windows) surrounded by a brick patio and tables. This is where breakfast is held. Behind it, reached by walking along some pine trees, is the 15m pool. Behind the hedges bordering the pool is the stable. That, however, is a separate property from the hotel.
It is a calm and peaceful place. No cars pass by, and the few people you meet are other guests intent on enjoying the tranquility. There are trees and well-tended plants, and the man-made structures, while having the charm of being old, are also updated and well cared for.
I arrived during the hours between 1:30 and 4:30 when the reception is closed. So, I grabbed my suit and headed for the pool to relax. The entire compound was completely empty except for the two people sunbathing. When I arrived at my room, I was pleased. It was old-Italian (an actual key on a heavy keychain, twin beds pushed together made with only a sheet and a coverlet) and rustic (old wood furniture, dim light fixtures, red tile floors, wooden ceiling beams) and yet decidedly clean and well kept. There is nothing I hate worse than a hotel room in which you can feel the weight and the dirt of all its previous occupants.
The hotel has a restaurant that is open every night except for Sundays. It serves traditional Tuscan food. While at the reception, I reserved at table (as well as made an appointment to go riding the next morning. Read about that here). I had a great meal of the recommended pasta dish (Paccheri al Ragù di Salsiccia e Crema di Pecorino), Tuscan white beans, and dessert of Tortino di Fondente Cuore Caldo.
Everyone who works at the hotel (I think there are three main people) was incredibly friendly and hospitable. I asked if I could do some laundry, and one woman showed me to their machine, which was definitely not usually meant for guests. I appreciated this immensely. Another guy showed me to the stable and stayed with me for a while to talk and translate. He even recommended a better wine the following weekend that wasn’t on the menu. Also on the following weekend, the second woman allowed me to store some food in their refrigerator. I definitely felt like I was at home. I enjoyed it so much the first time that I decided to return the following weekend. I received an even friendlier welcome and a hotel room with its own little garden.
The second weekend was decidedly quieter and cooler. It had rained once during the week and the rain turned the weather Autumn. I asked and was told that the hotel usually stays open until December, although there are fewer people. The restaurant closes at the end of September. Though there are a group of houses just down the road from the hotel, the residents only occasionally eat at the hotel.
There is wifi, which is obviously key for me. While free, it requires you to log in using some sort of social media or email, which is an invasion of privacy. You have to decide if you are willing to pay that price.
In conclusion, the hotel has just about everything you could want and is a very pleasant place. I highly recommend it. I have enjoyed my time here.