Sometimes Mums need to escape, to let their hair down and remember who they are without the label ‘Mum’… ‘Wife’… ‘Partner’. Its important to have that time to remember who you are, and where better to do that than in a stunning villa in Tuscany with a hot tub, pool and authentic Tuscan catering services…
Bookings For You invited me and twelve of my family travel blogging (Mum) friends to experience Villa Le Capanne. Bookings For You specialise in finding Italian and French villas that have that extra special something.
Villa Le Capanne is the perfect villa if you are looking to bring people together. It’s renound for it’s weddings, but also makes the perfect location for a family get together, a place to gather friends or celebrate a significant anniversary or birthday. You can make as much noise as you like because you don’t have neighbours, just a few wild cats.
Villa Le Capanne is owned by the Giovannini family, who also happen to own Dolceria del Corso the oldest pastry shop in Volterra (more on a little legacy and lovely coincidence to do with that later) and a rather impressive catering company. This means you can also book in some incredible home cooked Tuscan style catering for any occasion. Let’s face it I love a villa holiday, but I don’t love cooking and washing up on holiday!
Ranging from an informal pizza party cooked on the wood fired oven, to a formal five course dinner or serve yourself Tuscan Moms dinner, to breakfast or brunch, this is the perfect way to experience real Tuscany. All of it is prepared by Mum Fabiola and served by her son Dario and his wife Vera. Dad Giancarlo is a pastry chef who lends a hand when he isn’t preparing delights at Dolceria del Corso.
Of course you never quite switch off as a Mum, the weekend was peppered with snippets of phone conversations with grandparents and dads back home, that went something like this…
’Have you looked in the…’
‘Have you actually looked in the…’
‘Can you just look one more time…’
‘JUST. ACTUALLY. PROPERLY. LOOK!’
But between the calls from home, we managed to switch off and truly let our hair down, so here are those moments I will never forget…
Arrival and kittens
Villa Le Capanne is hidden up a winding track on the hillside, we’d almost given up hope of finding it, and had started to think we were lost, when a sign appeared and we followed the track to find an immaculate farmhouse waiting at the end. We were all immediately drawn to the views, Tuscan rolling hills, red roofed farmhouses, Cypress trees towering on the horizon. This was swiftly followed by Prosecco and antipasti and a sighing, gasping tour of the villa itself.
The cats live outside, and keep themselves to themselves, unless you patiently coax them to say hello when you are rewarded by lots of gentle nudging and purring.
Opening the shutters to my room
Don’t tell the others but I thought I had the best room. It was just so me. With it’s little desk and shutters that could be thrown open to reveal the rolling Tuscan hills I could imagine escaping here to write a novel, or living like Heidi. Or maybe combing both childhood fantasies and playing at being Heidi while writing a novel. Other rooms were more glamorous, with roll top baths , floor to ceiling windows, posh beds etc, but mine felt so traditionally farmhouse Tuscan, and so me. All are en suite.
I loved hearing from the family about the history of the building, as someone who also lives in an old farmhouse I found it fascinating. The series of three stunning rooms where we ate, danced and relaxed would have originally been where the animals lived. As I lay in my bed, above the dining room and listened to the late stayers still partying like wild animals I did smile to myself.
My ideal holiday home feels like a home, I can’t bear clinical hotel rooms or resort rooms. I love objects, stories and histories. So Villa le Capanne delighted me. Old sewing machines, keys hung over the fireplace, portraits mixed with stunning modern pieces. All the furniture is authentic Tuscan, family pieces, which keep the villa in keeping with the beautiful setting.
I came back full of ideas for our own holiday let, from the olive branches on the pile of fluffy towels to the rusted old tractor, pizza oven, catering and hot tub, I absolutely loved the character of Villa Le Capanne.
As a huge Italian food lover, it was such treat to see Fabiola cook up our feast. I was blown away by the simplicity of the ingredients, but don’t be fooled, the skill in combining them and perfecting something like a risotto is huge. Plus vegetables in Tuscany just look and taste totally different to those at home. So many of the recipes had been handed down the generations, food cooked up in times of war, seige, or simply to use up leftovers and gluts of seasonal produce. I would happily be taken siege or live on a remote farmhouse if I could live on the Giovaninni’s tomato bread soup, bread crumb salad and panforte.
Five course formal dinner
This was utterly incredible. As a veggie I was so excited to eat the Parmigiana di Melanzane, (sliced aubergine with mozzarella, tomato and parmesan) which melted in the mouth, the risotto was the best I have ever tasted and I fell hook line and sinker for the panforte, and begged that we could go to the Giovanni’s shop in Volterra and buy some to take home…
Dolceria del Corso Pastry shop, Volterra
This is an lovely moment which really makes me realise what a small world we live in. I first visited Tuscany when my daughter was nearly 2 and I was pregnant with G. We definitely visited Volterra and as we wandered the streets I remember buying L a toy phone to keep her quiet, the toy shop is still there. A few doors down is Dolceria del Corso Pastry shop, and lo and behold I realised I had also visited that too.
I was excited to tell Vera and Dario and quite emotional buying panforte from Fabiola inside wondering if she also served me all those years ago.
It’s so beautiful, with paintings. ornate light fittings and counters dripping with treats. Again, I remember buying something to keep L quiet! Isn’t the world small and amazing sometimes?
The Giovannini’s know how to get a party started. After prosecco, wine, desert wine and as the final mouthfuls of digestifs were washed down, the music began, after subtly showing us how to connect up phones to the speakers around the house. We moved into the lounge, where the leftover wine from the meal was waiting.
And we danced. Danced like we never expected.
Danced off the stress of the mental load of leaving families behind, of traveling and of life.
There aren’t any dancing photos sorry, as let’s just say what happened in Tuscany stays in Tuscany, but I do think Karen from Mini Travellers and I did a fabulous routine to Miss American Pie.
I assured Vera we wouldn’t be any trouble and she smiled and joked that she wasn’t worried, she’d seen everything, and a lot worse before, and insisted we let our hair down and had a great evening, it was our home for the weekend.
The brilliant thing about in villa catering was no one had to drive so we could really relax and enjoy the experience. Having decided on a menu we didn’t have to order anything or make decisions and truly experienced the best of Tuscan cusine in an informal but authentic setting. My last two trips have involved catering in a villa or chalet and there is something quite magical about experiencing food this way!
The spa is a massive draw, the hot tub is huge and inviting. There is a treatment room and chill out area. There is also an outdoor pool behind the olive groves, overlooking the valley. Thanks to Zoggs who sent me a fab new blue swimming cosy specially for the occasion. Normally swim costume shopping involves trying on loads of outfits and hating them all, but this fitted brilliantly in all the right places first time.
After a day exploring vampish Volterra and stunning Siena we came home to a more relaxed ‘Tuscan Mom’s’ dining experience. Fabiola cooked up a three course feast, piles of bread soup, pasta and salads and we all dug in. Dario, who was bringing the food out from the kitchen, had to keep fetching his mum to come and answer our questions about the amazing flavours – it clearly was an authentic Tuscan Momma’s feast. If I could do justice to just one of the incredible dishes I would be a proud momma indeed!
We returned from a soggy day in Florence, which was hugely inspiring and a little exhausting, to find Vera smiling with Prosecco and antipasti and Dario lighting a huge fire in the dining room. Having had a taste of Italian pizza by the slice in Florence I now had an insatiable appetite for pizza. But even I couldn’t manage to do justice to all the pizzas that were whipped up in the outdoor wood fired oven. But I will be recreating the Nutella calzones glazed with brown sugar in the firepod when I get home. Sheer alchemy. Followed by lots more dancing.
A home from home
I love the privacy, intimacy and escapism of a villa holiday, but it can take a while to feel settled so I think there is a real market for experiencing home cooked local food in the villa like this, or even having someone do your grocery shopping or provide a welcome basket – all services on offer. The warm welcome and catering made us feel at home straight away, I don’t want to cook all week on holiday and eating out can involve a lot of organisation and decision making. I cannot recommned letting the Giovannini’s take the strain enough.
It was Daisy’s birthday while we were there and a huge cake arrived with her name piped on – again, this is the perfect setting for a celebration and the family will totally nail making it feel special!
Thank you to Bookings For You, the Giovannini family and my fellow family travel bloggers for a much needed weekend of letting my hair down and superb company and hospitality. It doesn’t happen enough as a mum, and being cooked for by a real Tuscan Mum is an absolutely incredible gift that I will always treasure, thank you Fabiola. Dario and Vera have an amazing way of putting guests at ease and superb local knowledge.
So gather together friends and family, book in some Giovannini catering magic, let your hair down and make the most of the Tuscan countryside, you won’t regret it.
This is the way to do Tuscany. And if we could get married again, I’d do it here!
Villa Le Capanne sleeps up to 22 people and catering can be hired as a one off, or for the duration of your stay. Giovannini Enterprises offer 24 hour concierge, catering, shopping, local tours and event management. Book through Bookings For You the Italian villa specialists. Bookings for You offer French and Italian villas, check out their Tuscan villa collection.
Don’t just take my word for it, find out what fellow travel bloggers thought about our stay at Country Relais & Spa Le Capanne:
Flying with a Baby – Review of Country Relais & Spa Le Capanne – A Luxury Villa in Tuscany
Extraordinary Chaos – STAYING AT COUNTRY RELAIS AND SPA LE CAPANNE WITH BOOKINGS FOR YOU
Ting from My Travel Monkey – A long weekend in Tuscany with Villa Le Capanne
Mini Travellers – Villa Le Capanne, Tuscany with Bookings For You
Tin Box Traveller – A Luxury Villa Holiday in Tuscany
One Tiny Leap – Over the Tuscan Hills, Villa Le Capanne Review
Otis and Me – Country Relais & Spa Le Capanne in Tuscany
Like Love Do – A Tuscan Experience
Disclosure: I stayed at Country Relais & Spa Le Capanne as a guest of the Giovannini Family & Bookings For You – the luxury Italian villa specialists. All opinions my own.