Photo: Eryn Gordon

Tuscany’s Villa Ardore Pairs Luxury Living With Farmhouse Charm

Epic Stays
by Eryn Gordon Nov 22, 2023

What started over 500 years ago as a lookout post on the top of a tall hill is now Villa Ardore, a luxury rental villa in the heart of Chiantishire, the Chianti wine region of Tuscany.

As you might expect when renovating a medieval structure, converting a building from old to new leads to some surprises. Villa Ardore’s owners, Christian Scali and Stephen Lewis, teamed up with premier Florentine architect Massimo Pieratelli to adapt the property’s ancient charms for modern dwellers.

“We wanted to create a space true to its original roots as a farmhouse without sacrificing luxury,” Scali noted when I toured the property.

Within two years of the purchasing date, Villa Ardore opened its doors in the summer of 2023. After a flight delay and an airport reroute, I arrived at the villa on a balmy October afternoon. The property manager, Francesco, met me out front with a jovial grin as he took my luggage in one hand and served me a glass of prosecco with the other. A masseuse waited for me by the pool, and so kicked off my four-day retreat at Villa Ardore.

At Villa Ardore, R&R starts in the room


Photo: Villa Ardore

Villa Ardore has eight bedroom suites and an optional ninth, which makes it perfect for a wedding party or family and friends getaway.

Upon your first tour of the house, you’ll notice that each room is decorated with a unique display of art and moveables. There’s a tasteful combination of antique furniture next to the works of local painters such as Fabiola Quezada who moved to Italy almost 30 years ago from Mexico.

One bedroom suite has wooden flooring imported from an Indian school. If you look close enough, you can see the children’s etchings on the boards. Another fine touch: the bathrooms are a kaleidoscope of rich marble all sourced from the local ground.

Amenities that spoil guests, sustainably


Photo: Villa Ardore

When you arrive in a new destination, your first inclination is to explore — to get out there. After arriving at Villa Ardore, the property calls your name for a restful return as you fill your days with adventures. When you do return, you’ll find a space that’s large enough to be comfortable but that never loses the feeling of intimacy being in the heart of the Chianti region.

One nice way to relax on the property is to sip an aperitivo by the fire pit — compliments to Francesco for building a fire during my stay that would inspire envy in any Boy Scout. You can also watch the sunset in the villa’s heated infinity pool or explore the surrounding vineyards. For a real treat, unwind in the immersive Roman sauna that combines a mixture of scents, sights, and sounds for a sensory-heightened experience.

One look at the sauna and you might consider asking Christian and Stephen if they’ll consider a long-term residency. But all of this grandeur is not without eco-consciousness. Villa Ardore is stocked with towels and linens made from natural fibers, has sustainably sourced fixtures throughout the property, and is on track to become completely solar powered by next year.

Simple ingredients equal splendid dining


Photo: Eryn Gordon

To say dinner is a major event in Italy is not an overexaggeration. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, as the saying goes, ask any Italian and they’ll tell you that mama and nonna are the blood that brings it to life. The chefs at Villa Ardore understand this, creating memorable meals that perfectly blend simple home-cooking with sumptuous fine-dining.

Gianluca, the villa’s master pizza chef, or pizzaiolo, spoiled me with his skills on the very first night of my stay. Known for his inventive carbonara pizza, he began with a doughy crust and laid cured meat on a cushion of scrambled eggs from Villa Ardore’s own chicken coop. When Gianluca isn’t working next to the artisanal pizza oven at the villa, he manages Pizzeria del Borgaccio in the nearby town of Poggibonsi.

My final dinner was a multi-course masterwork by Chef Roberto Miceli. Each dish was a marriage of local flavors and served along with a story about where the ingredients came from. While I munched on fresh ravioli, Miceli shared a story of venturing into a friend’s garden in the dead of night to pick the exact pumpkins that made their way into the pasta on my plate. Whether it was true or simply for amusement, the quality of ingredients that Villa Ardore sources is a true testament to the commitment that goes into Italian cuisine.

Tuscan experiences of a lifetime


Photo: irena iris szewczyk/Shutterstock

Villa Ardore sits just off of Via Chiantigiana, a road that connects all of the major towns and cities within the Chianti region. That makes the property an excellent base for wine enthusiasts, as well as those who love the open road. Come with a car or opt for something with two wheels — there’s a significant motorcyclist and bicyclist community here — and set off.

San Gimingnano is arguably the most famous city in the Chianti region. Local legend says that the town was first constructed in 63 BC by two Roman patricians. It’s a popular destination year-round, but seeing the artisanal shops against the medieval backdrop is worth the crowds. If you’re looking for someplace more lowkey to explore, try Castellina. This small but mighty commune is a rich production enterprise of olive oil and wine, plus it has a history that dates back to the Bronze age.

For the fashion-inclined, Il Borgo Cashmere recently opened two high-end boutiques in the area but have been creating white label threads for some of the most lavish brands for decades. Villa Ardore partnered with Il Borgo to deliver a bespoke personal shopping experience to their guests. But what would an itinerary in Tuscany be without a spotlight on food and wine.


Photos: Villa Ardore (left) + Eryn Gordon (right)

One of the best dining experiences you can have outside of the villa sits 30 minutes away by car in the little town of Panzano, home to celebrity butcher Dario Cecchini who was featured in Netflix’s Chef’s Table series in 2019. His restaurant, Macelleria Cecchini, is hard to miss in Panzano’s otherwise small town streets — there’s almost always a throng of people lined up outside, wine glass in hand, waiting to sample cuts of beef that practically melt in your mouth.

Cecchini articulated his philosophy best on Chef’s Table: “I try [to] take a crumb of the joy from my childhood and bring it to the restaurant.”

When it comes to wine, Poggio Amorelli is the Chianti region’s best-kept secret. Despite a high overseas demand for its wine, this family-run winery refuses to expand their business into retail or restaurant sales. “We don’t want to replace quality by selling higher quantities of the product,” the daughter and co-owner of the winery told me during a tour.

The lunch included with the wine tasting I participated in could have easily been the highlight of that afternoon. We ate seasonal vegetables from the winery’s organic garden and pasta made in-house with eggs from its own chickens.

How to get to Villa Ardore


Photo: Eryn Gordon

While Italy’s infrastructure can get you most places by public transportation, getting to Villa Ardore requires a car and some solid driving skills as you scale the serpentine roads through Tuscany’s peaks and valleys. If you choose to take the train, the nearest town is Poggibonsi, which you can get to from Florence in about 45 minutes. From there, Villa Ardore is a 20-minute drive. The good news is that both car rentals and taxis are easy to arrange from the Pisa and Florence airports. Fly into either airport and expect about a 1.5-hour drive to the villa.

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