We went to Villa San Simone mainly for the 3 day cooking school and found we were the only guests in residence. It is just outside of Pistoia up a gravel road. There is a house next door, so we were confused until Lidia answered the bell. She led us to our apartment which was very clean and large with nice kitchen facilities (not needed since we were well fed) and a private garden terrace with a gate leading to the pool, or up through Lidia's kitchen garden to the formal garden above. Lidia and Sandro are retired architects and have done much of the restoration themselves. The villa common rooms are beautifully painted and furnished with eclectic pieces which reflect their art background. Cooking school was like being a sous chef in her kitchen. We both love to cook and enjoyed learning the ins and outs of an Italian kitchen, different appliances, techniques, and styles. We shared their dinner table and felt like family. From this home base, there were daily tours of Pistoia (as old as Florence - don't miss the Della Robia frieze on the hospital), Pescia ( the Oscar Tintori greenhouse of citrus), Collodi (Pinochio), and a wonderful wine estate where we watched the grape harvest and sampled "fetunta". Sandro sets up the tours and will make arrangements or provide maps, As for food; We had a light breakfast each morning, 1 of which was brought to our room, lunch was on tour, and dinner was what we cooked. All delicious, but not fancy...pasta, meat, veggie/salad, beans, dessert.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Villa San Simone is only 5 kms from the 14th century walls of Pistoia, a charming city of art in Tuscany. It is an antique residence located on the slopes of the hills between Pistoia and Florence (30 min. To Florence, 40 min. To Lucca, 50 min. To Pisa or Viareggio, and 60 min. To Siena and the Chianti area).The villa was built at the end of the18th century on the ruins of a Romanesque church dating from 1000 a.D. And it took its name, San Simone. It is surrounded by an age-old olive grove and woods with deer and it has got a wide shady garden. San Simone offers four (six in 2011) full equipped apartments with every kind of comfort and it has been furnished with fine design and antiques. The owners, Lidia and Sandro, who live in the Villa, are two well known architects, who restored this building in order to live in; they will welcome you to share the peace, the elegance and the beauty of Tuscan architecture and landscape. Villa San Simone is not a luxury hotel nor a villa to rent as here you will not find austere concierges, immense halls and electronic door keys. On the contrary you will enjoy the quite elegance of the place, the comfortable furniture, the magnificent green of the garden and the surrounding woods, but above all the warm welcome that will make you feel at home.Villa San Simone has a large garden (1000 sqm.) Shaded by centuries-old. Trees. The garden is surrounded by olive groves and forests and peaceful private grounds of about 60.000 Sqm., Where deer and squirrels live. The large fenced garden surrounding the Villa is at complete disposal of the guests and it is equipped with tables and chairs, comfortable armchairs, chaise-longue, barbecue, ping pong table. At a lower level there is a small fenced vegetable and flower garden with lemon and orange trees. The Villa is surrounded by a large private park where it is possible to stroll along the stream and amongst the olive trees. ... more less
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