Wow! We've returned to Ankhura, this gem of a place in Monterongriffoli, situated in the (hands down!) most beautiful landscape in Tuscany, for the past six years. We have brought college friends, sent down family and their friends, recommended older colleagues and young couples, and of course traveled down by ourselves.
The pure beauty of the surrounding landscape is a stunner every time. Depending on the season there's the crisp flowing grassy hills of spring, the outstanding deep red poppy fields of late spring, the overwhelmingly radiant yellow summer fields of sunflowers in bloom, and the more autumnal scales of brown, moss greens and greys of harvest season in september and october.
Ankhura is the perfect tranquil haven in this setting. Run by a very generous and hospitable couple from Sweden and their absolutely adorable little son with vibrant red curls that accentuate his happy personality. They offer cooking classes or served gourmet dinners of local specialties, landscape walks with optional lunch basket and local horticultural guide, truffle hunts with dog and experienced local truffle expert. And then of course there is everything else that the surroundings have to offer, that you can (and should) experience and discover on your own.
Every morning starts by waking up in the comfy beds in the beautiful high ceilinged rooms that have reused all old materials and interiors in a very fresh way. Opening up the wooden shutters to meet the soothing music of the cicadas, the olive groves on the opposing hill, and of course the proudly errect cypress trees lining the hill top - the signature of this part of Tuscany.
Going downstairs you're greeted by the breakfast stir - the coffee pots ready to go on the gas stove, perhaps eggs and pancetta waiting to be sizzled, the beautiful little glass jars of yoghurt, a plate of finely sliced seasonal fruits, a basket of bread and some fresh pecorino cheese (a specialty of nearby Pienza). This is all served on the middle terrace, in the shade of the olive tree, at the wrought iron breakfast groups (bought at the monthly antique market in Arezzo).
We've seen this place evolve over the years, but returning this time around it had really taken a leap. Finally, after so many years of negotiations with the "commune" (local municipal bureaucracy), grumpy neighbors, planners and construction companies, the beautifully designed pool has finally been completed. Blending tastefully into the landscape by using a two tier terracing down to the pool, a light natural gravel and a nice big olive tree surrounded by petite antique wrought iron breakfast table groups on the offset tier, beautiful sandstone stairways and tiles surrounding the pool, which itself is lined in large off white marble slabs. The icing on the cake is the nice antique spout that gently and steadily fills the pool with the circulating, lightly saline water.
There are countless experiences to be had in the surrounding area. Daily excursions to Montalcino to visit the local vinyards and sample the excuisite Brunello di Montalcino reds. A drive to Pienza for a stroll in the lovely old village, entering the plentiful little stores that have their windows stacked with locally produced Pecorino cheeses. Enjoying walks in the landscape, seeing up close the natural habitat of the olive groves, the vines, the woods in the valley that host the local riches of the white and black truffles. For those in the mood for shopping, day trips can be recommended to SPACE - the Prada outlet located about an hour away by Montevarchi, and after that, the Mall, which houses the other major high fashion brands such as Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Pucci, Burberry, Ermenegildo Zegna and others. Or why not take the full drive up to Florence. Other cities are Sienna and Arezzo.
Well, we could go on and on, but suffice it to say that we highly recommend a trip to Ankhura. Basically any time of year, and with any type of company - couple, friends, family, groups, foodies, fashonistas, naturalistas - everyone can enjoy and appreciate it in their own ways.
We are already planning our return next year, when we're hoping to book all of the four rooms with family and friends.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This beautiful little bed & breakfast is located in a magical medieval hamlet just south of Siena making it an ideal place from which to explore central and southern Tuscany. The proprietors, Christopher and Tina, left corporate careers in New York to indulge their passion for Italian culture, food and wine. Ankhura offers cooking classes, wine tours and truffle hunts throughout the year. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Ankhura Italy/San Giovanni D'Asso, Tuscany