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A Tuscan Winery Experience at Guardastelle
There is something life-affirming about finding a place where it is apparent that a dream, hard work, perseverance, and commitment to excellence and family values can come together to create a unique place. Even though the future is uncertain (Irpide), and we know we will encounter little troubles (Tzibilotto) along the way, Guardastelle is a reminder that a vision, a dream, and hard work can create magical results.
Our compliments to Fausto and Susanna, and the staff at Guardastelle. They provided us with a wonderful experience of fun, delicious food and wines, beautiful scenery, friendship, and memories of the perfect Holiday in Tuscany that will last a lifetime. Thank you for hosting us.
Irpide and Tzibolotto
The newly married couple named two of their red wines Irpide and Tzibolotto. In Italian, Irpide refers to the mysterious, unknown future. Tzibolotto means little troubles. Susanna and Fausto named these two wines in reference to their uncertain future 20 years ago when they began what would become the wonderful Guardastelle agriturismo of today.
Susanna’s father, Sestilio, purchased the dilapidated homestead in 1984. Unfortunately, he passed away at an early age, leaving the property to Susanna and her brother. Not wanting to sell the family property, a very young Susanna took over management of the farm, selling the harvested grapes and olives to other producers.
Then, in 1997 she made a momentous decision to start making wine from her own grapes. She did not know what the future held (Irpide), and she knew she would encounter obstacles, both large and little troubles (Tzibolotto). However, she and Fausto persevered, producing their own wines and olive oil, and undertaking major renovations to the 15th-century main house and surrounding structures.
As custodians of the beauty and richness of this land, we carry out every single gesture with care and commitment in order to offer you the best welcome to Tuscany and make you feel at home. We provide the fruits of our work and share with you the history of our traditions, discrete accomplices of a unique and authentic experience.
Susanna and Fausto
Today, the beautifully restored house and surrounding buildings, the gorgeous landscaping, and inviting pool match the glorious location of Guardastelle. Blessed with its unique view of San Gimignano and the sweeping panorama over the vineyards and the storybook Tuscan hillsides, the newly renovated Tuscan Winery and Hotel holds an irresistible attraction to those who are fortunate to visit.
“Save water. Drink wine.”
So says Fausto with a smile, who along with his wife, Susanna, owns and runs the wonderful family-owned Guardastelle. One of the highlights of our Italian vacation was definitely our visit to this quaint agriturismo, located just five minutes by car or a 20-minute walk from San Gimignano, the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages,” known for its picturesque towers making up its scenic skyline. This small family winery, with about 12 acres of grapes and an olive grove, is nestled in the hills overlooking this photogenic medieval town.
For only €28 per person, the tour and lunch at the Tuscan Winery Guardastelle may be the best value. The agriturismo limits tours to about 24 visitors, which makes for a very manageable, intimate experience. Starting at noon, we first went on a one hour tour through the vineyards, the beautiful grounds, the olive groves, and the wing of the building where we learned how the grapes were prepared for the fermentation process.
Wines and Olive Oils Produced by Guardastelle
Our tour leader was Fausto, who was very personable, pleasant, funny and accommodating. He explained about the wines and grapes of the region, and in particular, the wines made at Guardastelle. The small winery produces three wines – two reds and a white. The reds are both nice Chiantis – the aforementioned Irpide and Tzibolotto.
The white is the excellent Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Another product is Grappa, a byproduct of the fermentation process. Locals say this clear, foul-tasting liquid, created by distilling the leftover skins and juices of the grapes, is good for digestion. Lastly, they also make a wonderful extra virgin olive oil.
A Perfect Tuscan Lunch
After the brief tour, in nice weather, the group gathers under the shade on a lovely terrace overlooking the beautiful countryside. On unusually hot days, the group gathers inside the air-conditioned main room. We were served a wonderful lunch with a different wine for each course.
Fausto began the lunch session with a short description of the wines and foods we would be served, as we sat back in air-conditioned comfort. He also answered many questions with patience and insight, and said of his winery, “… our small family winery, it makes me very proud.” He has a lot to be proud of.
The first course consisted of rubilatti, a hearty local soup, paired with the refreshing Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Next came platters of local salami, pancetta, cheeses, bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and olive oil, and a local honey, pure and sweet, served with the flavorful Chiantis. The excellent lunch was topped off with tasty biscotti and a nice sweet dessert wine. The wines and olive oils served were wonderful, and of course, we had to buy some to bring back with us to Texas. At only 10 – 12 Euro per bottle, how could we resist!
During our lunch, we shared a table with two lovely couples from Australia – Ian and Kaye, and Stephen and Sandi. They were delightful couples, and throughout lunch, we shared stories of our travels, our families, and our lives. The combination of great food and drink, the welcoming atmosphere of Guardastelle, and friendly people resulted is a very pleasant experience.
The main homestead
Guardastelle is the name given to the groups of lodgings on the grounds of the agriturismo. There are five rooms in the main building and five small apartment buildings on the grounds for a total of 10 units. The rooms in the main homestead are dedicated to the great grandparents and an aunt: Renato, Teresa, Francesca, Settimio, and Sebilla. Each room has a modern, private bathroom, and is decorated with a different color scheme and furnishings in typical Tuscan style.
We stayed in the Teresa room, decorated with lovely rose colors, timbered ceilings, a beautiful area rug, and elegant but comfortable furniture. Looking out our window, we could see the glistening waters of the pool as well as the surrounding vineyards and hills of the countryside. The private bathroom was modern, clean and roomy, perfect for cleaning up at the end of the day.
In addition to the five rooms in the main homestead, guests can choose to stay in Orione, Perseo, Virgo, Andromeda or Antilia. The names of these apartments were chosen because visitors can admire many of the star formations in the heavens with the naked eye. On summer nights, as fireflies imitate the stars in this romantic setting, this communion of soul and nature creates the ultimate respite from the daily routine.
Abundant International Breakfast Buffet
Breakfast is prepared each morning with fresh ingredients from local producers. The abundant international buffet is served in the central hall, or, during nice weather, on the terrace overlooking the skyline of San Gimignano. There is something for every taste. Savory flavors from a vast selection of cold cuts, cheeses, including fontina and ricotta, tomatoes, Tuscan wholemeal and white toast, eggs cooked to your liking, and bacon.
For those who instead prefer a sweet breakfast, there are many varieties of yogurt, cereals, fruit salad, fresh fruit, and pastries straight out of the oven. This bountiful buffet is accompanied by fruit juice, milk, tea, cappuccino, and American and espresso coffees.
The crystal blue waters of the pool were especially inviting on this hot June day when temperatures topped 90 degrees. The pool is reserved exclusively for guests of Guardastelle and is located on the property right next to the main guesthouse. Surrounded by lush landscaping, including aromatic herbs, with views of the beautiful Tuscan countryside, guests can relax with a glass of wine or swim in the cool, clear waters. Pool towels are available in each room.
The Ideal Destination Wedding Venue
Imagine your wedding taking place amid the beautiful Tuscan countryside with the enchanting medieval village of San Gimignano in the background. Susanna and Fausto will work with couples to ensure they have the ultimate wedding experience.
In addition to available lodging at Guardastelle, many rooms are available in nearby San Gimignano and the surrounding countryside, and Florence is only an hour away. For couples interested in a fairytale wedding at a beautiful Tuscan winery, be sure you contact them well in advance to reserve your time.
Authentic Tuscan Cooking Classes
Join Fausto and Susanna for their authentic cooking classes, where they share their passion for cooking in preparing traditional family recipes. As they say:
“Cooking is one of our great passions. We aren’t chefs, but as we grew up we used to watch our grandmothers and moms preparing the traditional Tuscan dishes day after day. Gestures, fragrances, and flavors all form part of our history and have entered into our DNA.”
For a real flavor of Tuscany, cooking classes are offered at Guardastelle from 11:00 am to about 3:00 or 4:00 pm. However, they will also work with requests from guests to personalize the course based on their interests. Fausto and Susanna enjoy sharing traditional family recipes such as tagliatelle, potato gnocchi, homemade meat and tomato sauce, and tiramisu. Proposed recipes change with the seasons to match the fresh ingredients available at different times of the year.
Since some of the recipes require long preparation, participants take a break with tastings of cold cuts, cheeses, and wine while waiting to enjoy the dishes being made. Guests must book cooking classes in advance. The maximum number of participants is 12, and the cost is 80 Euro per person.
Great Day Trips from Guardastelle
The wonderful walled medieval city of San Gimignano is only a five-minute car ride, or a twenty-minute walk, from Guardastelle. Guests can quickly pop over for a visit, to enjoy the panoramic views of this tiny village, the many shops with local products, or try a quaint restaurant for a meal or drinks. On the day we visited, the village was celebrating a Medieval Harvest Festival, complete with a superb pageant and sumptuous costumes celebrating the gifts of the earth. And don’t forget the gelato!
For guests who wish to explore more of the surrounding area, the metropolitan city of Florence is only an hour away, and the rocky coastline of Cinque Terre is a couple of hours away. For a true taste of the small villages that dot the Tuscan countryside, a scenic road trip through Siena, Montalcino, Bagno Vigno, Pienza and Montepulciano offer a full day of beautiful landscapes, charming villages, delicious food and wines, and friendly locals.
LOC. SOVESTRO – 53037 SAN GIMIGNANO (SIENA) ITALY
Ph. +39 0577 907209 Susanna +39 328 5918333 – Fausto +39 334 8339218
A Tuscan Winery Experience at Guardastelle – written by Scott Kendall for EuropeUpClose.com