Poggio ai Santi/ Tuscany
Poggio ai Santi is everything I love about Tuscany – magnificent hills, vines, larches, pine and lemon trees, violet irises. Scent of rosemary, foggy air, astonishing sunsets, and the silhouette of Corsica in the distance.
We arrive at the place around 8 p.m., when the setting sun casts the most beautiful light. In a hurry, we leave the luggage in our lovely apartment with a private swimming pool and head for the Vintage Bar.
The sun paints the sky with sharp colours. Various fascinating objects fill the interior of the bar, while the garden outside is full of tables. The first pleasant surprise comes with the menu, which is put inside a second-hand book. Seems like nothing, but still it evokes a smile on our faces.
After a glass of wine in the marvellous sunset, we go for supper. Il SALE restaurant occupies the former house of Poggio ai Santi owners – Francesca and Dominique. Inside there are large wooden tables, smaller ones in a corner or by the window, a rocking horse, piano, bookshelf and other items. Of course, all this only complements what the essence of any restaurant – the food. The chef was born in Luccia but raised in Nevada, and his name is Timothy Magee. Brevity of the menu indicates that the restaurant favours quality over quantity. The dishes are based on home-grown vegetables and herbs. We ask for recommendation and agree on tuna fish, slightly pinkish inside and covered in delicate fluff. Magda tries it, beams and says it’s amazing.
What strikes us from the very beginning about Poggio ai Santi is how well it uses its space. What is now a hotel used to be a regular house where people lived. The couple in charge (she – a headstrong, cheerful Italian; he – a warm, reserved Monte Carlo citizen) moved in to a place further down the hill. It allowed them to rent several apartments and a one-room detached villa with a private terrace, from which there spreads the view of everything we love about Tuscany.
There is also a pool among the greenery, numerous terraces and little spots with tables, chairs or benches, where we can peacefully enjoy the beauty of the world.
The owners succeed in creating a unique atmosphere in which they would be regarded as friends or at least acquaintances. We feel comfortable, we can even brief through photo albums or read books. Everything is there to use, not just put on display as it often happens in other hotels. Moreover, we can always ask the couple for advice in every matter. However, they’re far from intruding into our daily schedules – they just share the same space and are happy to help. And so they did, directing us to a lovely village on the way to northern Tuscany. Lerici was the biggest discovery of our trip.
Birds’ chirping wakes me up the following morning. The weather is beautiful, and although it’s only 8 o’clock, I walk out on the terrace in my sleeveless top and enjoy the world with all my senses. Then I eat breakfast by a lemon tree. The setting is wonderful and the taste of olive oil, Parma ham and morning coffee can’t be described in words.
The hotel’s policy doesn’t favour families with children. The shape of the terrain is one reason, but many guests come here to calm down and have a rest in the first place. Kids are fun, but they can also disrupt the peace of relaxing by the pool or the serene sounds of nature.
However, the owners are always ready to negotiate – maybe the will be able to suggest a less popular date or some slightly more remote accommodation. In Poggio ai Santi there are no large organised events or groups either – all this for the sake of guests and the quality of their time.
Another aspect of Poggio ai Santi is eco-activity reaching beyond the hotel or the restaurant itself. In the reception room we can buy home-made products, such as oil or wine (it’s perfect – we can have a taste of it in the bar before the purchase). What matters is the product before it’s processed. Francesca also tells us about the program she participates in – she accepts people of different ages for an internship. They’re often lost and in search of their way, either in private or professional lives, and what they find here is a solid burst of positive energy.
What we liked:
– a lot of cosy places and well-planned areas where you can enjoy nature
– ecological attitude, lemons picked from the garden, home-made oil and wine
– impressive interior and small menu of the restaurant – the tuna was really tasty
– the impression of being at home, among good friends
– numerous magazines, books and albums to brief through
– pleasant arrangement of space by the pool
– beautiful view on Tuscan vegetation, sea and Corsica
– gorgeous, well-kept garden where you can blissfully waste your time
– little ponies and donkeys
– closeness to the wine-growing region of Bolgheri and the popular Barrati bay
Text and photos: Paulina Grabara
Translation: Karol Piotrowski