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Our Nights in a Converted Chapel in a Villa in Tuscany

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

Taking a cooking class in a villa in the midst of the Tuscan hills is something that has been on my mum and my bucket list together since we first watched ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ when I was a kid. Whilst neither of us particularly like to cook, we always love to take a cooking class whenever we travel as a fun way to engage with something traditional from that country - we have made Paella in Barcelona, a Greek feast in Santorini and many many pastas through Italy...just to name a few. But we still had not had our ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ inspired moment and so, it was time to go and experience the beautiful rolling hills of one of the most famous wine regions in the world for a few nights ourselves.

Whilst there are many villas to stay in throughout Tuscany, we wanted to find one with a reputable cooking school...which usually also had to mean a well known restaurant. One of the most popular ones continuously coming up in my extensive research was Villa Bordoni and so we chose this one after searching the area and visiting a lot of websites.

Villa Bordoni offers a good selection of room types and it seems as though each room is quite unique in its offering. There are rooms of varying sizes, and each seems to have been converted from the villa’s previous life. Although one of the smaller rooms in terms of size, the room that immediately jumped out at me was the Capella room which adjoins the main property and was originally the home’s chapel. Now designed to have interior features that serve as a representatives of the famous cathedrals in the area - for example, the walls of the room are a nod to the Duomo of Siena, I was immediately intrigued by this property, and particularly this room and its history...and I was very excited that the Capella room was available for our dates in late September.

The room was definitely unique from your entry through wooden, almost barn like doors, to the elevated raise at the back of the room, now positioned as a cozy sitting area. It was really a gorgeous room and though small with our suitcases in there as well, it was absolutely perfect for 2 people. I will note, this room would not be accessible for everyone although being on ground level due to the steep flight of stairs down to the sunken bathroom. The bathroom was however very nice and had a really good sized bath. I was happy with our choice as an opportunity to stay in accommodation totally different to something we had stayed in before and the room was all round, very comfortable.

The property itself is really gorgeous. Set in the midst of the rolling hills, you can’t see anything but quintessential Italian villas and acres and acres of greenery in every direction. The villa has a large garden and a good sized swimming pool - we were the only ones in it when we went as though the weather was nice, the pool was a little chilly. We were happy to look (or feel) past the water temp though as between a big pool pool, the gorgeous surrounds of beautiful flowers and trees surrounding us and the serene privacy of no one being around, the whole experience was feeling a bit like a dream.

The main house is covered in flowers and vines as well - it was all just picture perfect.

Inside the villa is home to a cellar, multiple rooms, a sitting room upstairs for guests to enjoy, and the dining room/restaurant where breakfast is served for guests in the morning and then lunch and dinner as the day continues. The breakfast is largely continental but is substantial in its offerings of pastries, cheeses, meat, cereal and fruit. You can choose to eat indoors or out in the garden for any of the three meals - what a place to start your day!

The villa is quite distanced from any main town or other villas. You can drive there and parking is available but you should note that the final road to get into the villa is really quite a difficult drive and requires a lot of comfortability with cliff-face driving and uneven roads. I believe there is somewhere nearby you can walk to but must admit, we did not venture on that discovery. The villa is situated on a hill above Greve. The hotel reception team is absolutely delightful and were very helpful in organising cars for us when we wanted to leave or return to the property.

The Villa Bordoni restaurant is very good and it is easy to see why it has such a good reputation in the area. The food is very fresh and very traditional in rich Tuscan flavours. Though not too extensive, there is definitely choice and the ambiance of the restaurant is really on point with options to dine both outside in the garden or inside by the fireplace. Depending on the season in which you visit, either would be a beautiful way to spend a night.

This is definitely a slower type of holiday. We took it as a leisurely break after what had been quite a fast 3 weeks in Europe but during your time at the villa, you’ll notice that everything is quiet and turned down a few paces - it is extremely relaxing if you really let yourself indulge. Take a good book with you.

As I mentioned, one of our primary focuses on staying in the region was to take a cooking class and so we were very excited when our time for the class rolled around the afternoon after we arrived. The classes take place in the restaurant’s kitchen and are limited in numbers so you’d definitely want to book this part ahead if you intend to participate. We had a wonderful group and were thrilled that everyone was equally eager to work together and make it a fun group night! We drank a lot of wine as we cooked and learnt to make some delicious Italian dishes including a Pasta with Arrabiata sauce and a DELICIOUS tiramisu, amongst other dishes. Though the class started off slowly, it definitely picked up and was ultimately good fun that resulted in an amazing dinner with our group. Some of the skills were a little too technical for what I could realistically recreate at home but remember... I have no skill or knowledge in the cooking department. It was such a great way to spend the afternoon and definitely a fun evening and we continued to drink through the bottles of red wine and enjoy the company of our newly made friends from around the world.

After a beautiful day spent in the villa and ending in the villa’s restaurant for the cooking class, we thought it may eventually be time to leave the property and see more of the area. We asked the reception team for recommendations and they ended up taking care of it all, booking us both a car and a restaurant for what they assured us would be a fantastic lunch. Keen to explore another cute small town of Italy, and of course, to see what delicious food and wine lay in store for us, we were very grateful to them for organising it all and happily awaited our driver’s arrival.

We ended up going up to a small area - Tavarnelle Val di Pesa - where the restaurant, L'Antica Scuderia is situated. Our drive there was perfectly scenic (even if at times bumpy) throughout and when we arrived, the restaurant had a perfect feel for a leisurely vacation lunch. The food was fantastic but the wine menu was really something for them to boast about, especially the Capezzana Vin Santo Dessert wine I had which was mindblowingly good and local to the Chianti region. Full on fantastic wine and delicious pastas, our driver arrived back at the restaurant’s door ready to drive us back to the villa, via a photo stop on the way.

The next morning we ended up organising a driver to take us directly to Rome. Our alternative option would have been to go back to one of the main towns - probably Florence or Siena and taken a train but we figured we weren’t spending that much more time in the car and at this point, opted for the more luxe option of going direct simply because of the convenience. We had had such a beautiful 3 days (2 nights) at Villa Bordoni, we simply wanted to continue enjoying the experience all the way down to Rome. The drive took us about 4 hours door to door.

This ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ experience seems to have only made us hungry for more experiences in more of the beautiful towns around Tuscany. We loved our time at the villa and the opportunity that it gave us to recharge and take in the beautiful surrounds, whilst still indulging in the phenomenal food and wine that Italy is famous for.

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