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Il Colombaio di Monte Benichi is a traditional Tuscan farmhouse whose origins date back to the year of 1232. Only steps away from the hilltop hamlet of Monte Benichi, Il Colombaio sits at about 500 meters above sea level, offering breathtaking views of the beautiful Ambra River Valley, a beautiful and unspoiled natural environment in the heart of Tuscany at the southeastern edge of the Chianti, the area producing one of Italy's finest red wines. The famous medieval town of Siena is only a 20-minute drive by car.
Il Colombaio and its solar-heated pool are surrounded by some 350 olive trees with their mystic silver-green leaves. Beyond the olive grove are unspoiled views that reach all the way to the mountains and the sea. The surrounding area is a peaceful and productive landscape with woods, vineyards, olive trees and active wildlife, scattered with villages and castles, and, at every turn, a splendid panoramic view.
Il Colombaio is available for rental year round, meaning guests can also enjoy the villa outside of the peak tourist season, in the spring, fall and winter months, when the Tuscan landscapes are still lush, locals fill the cafes, and the cuisine is at its best.
As part of a 2014-2015 renovation project undertaken by the current owner, a solar energy system was installed to heat the pool and to provide heating and hot water to the villa. The solar heating system inside of the villa is supported by two large open fireplaces. Although solar energy is uneven by nature, the solar system installed at Il Colombaio has basically extended the pool season to the full month of May to the end of October.
Il Colombaio sources its clean water from a natural spring located 100 metres underground. In early 2015, a 10,000-litre cistern was installed, to serve as a back-up to the spring water. Other reserves of water are always available via truck transport.
Positioned on the southeastern side of the Chianti hills, Il Colombaio generally enjoys a refreshing breeze from the east in the afternoon and evening. With the cross-ventilation available in each room, the breeze can effectively cool the villa's interior in the evening. In addition, all of the villa's bedrooms are equipped with electric fans, while the master bedroom has air conditioning. All rooms have mosquito screens.
Internet access is available throughout the villa and on the terrace. Mobile phone reception is generally good outside of the house, but it may be poor in some parts of the villa interior, due to the barrier of natural stone walls that can be up to 60 centimetres thick.
The rental of Il Colombaio also includes the presence of the following service personnel: gardener (almost daily), cleaners (twice a week) and the pool maintenance crew (weekly). A small vegetable garden yields spices and seasonal tomatoes and figs. Bed sheets and towels are changed weekly, and on request, can be changed more frequently, at an extra charge.
The villa went through a major restoration in 2002, with subsequent renovation work done in 2005 and 2015. The interior is decorated in a typical Tuscan style, mixed with modern touches for comfort and design. All bathrooms have been renovated. The house is also decorated with a series of modern, large-scale photographs taken by the owner's daughter.
Main living room, dining and kitchen: 56 sqm with vaulted brick ceilings, stone walls, and yet full of light. Large open fireplace. Open passage to dining area, with seating for 10. Open passage to fully fitted kitchen (incl. dishwasher, large fridge-freezer, gas-stove).
WC and Pantry (incl. washing machine). Stairway to 1st floor.
Double bedroom: 18.75 sqm with separate, barrier-free entrance: 1,60 mt queen-size bed with single bunk-bed above; en-suite bathroom with large shower.
Terrace: large partially covered area with barrier-free natural stone ramps; covered dining area, with seating for 10; large BBQ (wood and charcoal); external lounge area.
Master bedroom: 15.2 sqm with adjacent bath, air conditioning and its own shady terrace, 160 cm wide bed;
Second bedroom: 21.7 sqm , 160 cm wide bed, sharing bathroom with master bedroom;
Third bedroom: 14.0 sqm with 2 single beds and a full bath nearby.
Computer room & library;
Lounge with two sofas (one sleeping 100 x 200 cm), large open fireplace, 62-cm flat-screen TV, DVD player, and DVD library with classic Italian films.
The third bedroom and the first-floor lounge area have doors opening on to a small covered verandah offering beautiful views of the property and the Ambra Valley.
A small house adjacent to the pool has a living area with large sofa, stereo, fridge, sink and a bathroom (w/shower).
12 metres x 4 metres; child-friendly depth; solar-heated from May to October; stairs with handrail; ample seating area with sun-beds and chairs; beautiful views.
Queen size Beds (3) Master bedroom with direct access onto private balcony, comfortable queen size bed, bathroom en-suite with 2 sinks and shower
Room with queen size bed
Independent room on ground floor with queen size bed and single twin bunk bed above it, Twin or Single Beds (1) Great room for children or singles with two twin size beds and direct access to the loggia or covered balcony, Child Beds (1) We have a travel cot or travel crib in case you need one, Bunk Beds (1) There is one single high bunk bed above the queen size bed in independent room on ground floor, typically to be shared by one child and his/her parents...moreless
Computer with ethernet connection and printer provided...moreless
Iron & Board
o Sheets & pillows
o 1 large towel per person
o 1 small towel per person
o 1 bidet towels per person
o 1 face towels per person
o 1 bathroom mat per bathroom
o 1 pool towel per person
o 3 kitchen towels...moreless
Mid Season 2015 Sep 26 - Oct 17, 2015 5 night min stay
Low Season Oct 18 - Dec 19, 2015 5 night min stay
High Season Dec 20 - Jan 9, 2016 7 night min stay
Low Season Jan 10 - Mar 19, 2016 5 night min stay
High Season Mar 20 - Apr 2, 2016 7 night min stay
Mid Season Apr 3 - Jun 11, 2016 5 night min stay
High Season Jun 12 - Sep 10, 2016 7 night min stay
Mid Season Sep 11 - Oct 15, 2016 5 night min stay
Low Season Oct 16 - Dec 17, 2016 5 night min stay
High Season Dec 18 - Jan 7, 2017 7 night min stay
My Standard Rate 3 night min stay
Additional information about rental rates
Refundable Damage Deposit€700
Rates are subject to change until reservation is confirmed. 30% down payment required to book and the balance plus the refundable damage deposit 10 weeks prior to vacation date.
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Tuscany, and specifically the Chianti Classico wine region are famous worldwide for reflecting the dolce vita lifestyle. Wine and olive oil tasting, great food, plenty of excellent restaurants to choose from, cooking classes (that can be set also at the villa), all types of summer festivals, antique markets, outlet shopping malls, and golf courses within 1 hour from the villa. You can organize yourself for biking tours, horseback riding excursions and lessons, and of course the enjoyment of the area. Just trekking from the villa wondering off on to the woods and then taking time off at the thermal spas 15 minutes away.
Year Purchased: 2014
About the owner: For more than 10 years Il Colombaio has been home to Valeria Bottazzi, her husband and her two sons. Despite being let for the last years, the house retained its character of being a primarily private permanent home. In June 2014, Valeria sold the House to Michael Semler, born 1946 in Munich/ Germany. Michael grew up in Germany and the UK. As a trained lawyer, specialized in international tax-law he became an international investment consultant and opened companies in Munich and St. Louis/Missouri. They accompanied many European companies, largely mid-sized family held companies, on their ways through mergers and acquisition in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentinia, Europe and Africa.
In 1987, Michael sold the companies to one of the major international consulting firms. Michael returned to his great love, Africa, and tried for two decades to bring peace and prosperity to this rich continent, working for private organizations as well as for the UN on peace making and peace keeping missions. Michael continues to travel to Africa, today specialized in legal issues on land ownership, protection against land grabbing and better justice in land ownership.
Why the Owner Chose Castelnuovo Berardenga: From the age of a toddler Michael came to Italy, every summer for at least six weeks, to a house on the island of Elba, where the family rented an old napoleon villa near the sea for almost two decades. Through his close friendship to imminent art-history professor Bernhard Berenson (Harvard) Father Semler became a hobby-art-historian. Trips to Italy therefore were never holidays only for Michael; they were often extensive tours through the history and art history of Italy. For decades there had been a strong desire in Michael to own a house in Italy, preferably in Southern Tuscany. Michael is a keen cook and loves the wine. But he equally loves the art, and the Muisic. All his life, Michael has been travelling extensively, often to the least desirable, hot, dirty places. Michael felt that time had come to sit down and dig deeply into the art history of Italy. A multi-lingual library will soon grow in La Colombaia. Italian literature and Film during the last three decades might well, be one of the most interesting in the world. This will be another area of intense research. But Michael also feels that there is such a mass of experience, positive and negative, he has enjoyed during his life, that he hopes to be able to put this into one or more books in Il Colombaio.
Il Colombaio will therefore remain a house almost permanently lived in. Valerie offered all her extensive experience in letting the villa when not needed, and thus Michael agreed that the house can be let during times he continues to travel somewhere around the world, or not needed by his two daughters. This implies that Il Colombaio will never be a sterile Hotel but it will breathe the spirit and taste of those loving, ownig, and living in it. It will breathe the individuality of the owner and we would be grateful if, to the extent possible, you will respect this individuality. Then, Michael enjoys the opportunity to share the beauty of this place with you.
The Unique Benefits at this Farmhouse: Nature: The wooded areas near Il Colombaio are home to wild boar, falcons, deer, fox, beech maarten, & other animal species. It is recommended that guests wear sturdy hiking shoes when walking in these areas. Some of the aforementioned animals wander onto the roads during the hours near sunrise/sunset and during the dark. The lack of lakes & open water reservoirs as well as the continuous wind make Il Colombaio almost insect-free.
Local attractions: With its upward winding spiral shape, the medieval village of Monte Benichi has a rich history, and features two castles, two churches, a small luxury hotel and a great family-owned Tuscan "trattoria" restaurant, where the food is fantastic and reasonably priced.
A few kilometres by car is the small walled village of San Gusme, sitting atop a hill, with the views extending from the local vineyards to the towering landmarks of Siena; San Gusme is completely a pedestrian zone, offering charming restaurants.
Il Colombaio is also near some of the most important historical cities in Tuscany: Florence (1 hour), Siena (20 minutes), Perugia (1 hour), Arezzo (45 minutes) and Pienza (1 hour). Even the famous duomo of Orvieto is only just a little over one hour away.
From Monte Benichi, the Chianti road winds around woods, olive groves and vineyards taking you to medieval villages, imposing castles, and wineries. It takes 40 minutes to drive southwest to Montalcino (producing Brunello, one of Italy's best wines) or to head southeast to Montepulciano (known for its Vino Nobile). There is an extensive house book to provide guests with hints about where to go and also where to dine.
Slightly south of Monte Benichi are the “Crete Senesi”, an extraordinary and unique land known for its clay lomes & the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore.
The small thermal spa town of Rapolano, 20 minutes from Il Colombaio, features two resorts with natural hot sulphuric-calcium springs emerging from the ground at a temperature of 38°C.