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Villa Ulignano: A Tuscan villa perfect for families and friends

Large Luxury Villa for Special Holidays & Events

The Villa di Ulignano is a neatly wrapped package capturing the old with the new; preserving precious memories of Tuscan noble families, school teachers, sharecrop farmers, movie makers and tourists alike.

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When you talk to Paola, your hostess, about the villa, she is extremely professional – and her helpful yet business like attitude translates into an organization which runs the villa with a determined yet caring hand. 

I came for a visit just as she was getting ready to pack to go visit her daughter in Sicily during one of the rare weeks with no guests at the villa. And yet, even then, when there were no guests in arrival, the house was picture perfect, immaculately clean, chairs, tables and sofas organized precisely and even the roses in the garden stood tall as if they were under inspection.

Our Review of Villa di Ulignano

We loved: the eclectic mix of furniture combining antique & modern beautifully

Ideal for: large families or groups, as a wedding or event venue because the property is never rented out in pieces, so the whole villa & garden is exclusively yours

As we toured the venue, she clued me in on the history of the villa, starting with the illustrious family (who had ties to the Medici Family from Florence) that built the villa in the 1600's. The first owner was an admiral in the navy who took his work home with him - but more about that later.  Then she told me a bit about the experimental farming community. All of this led to its fame during the 1960s when Italian film-making was at its heyday. The history ended with the present as a deluxe holiday rental for large groups and families.

When I asked her about her first impression of the villa, I could see there was some indecision as to how to phrase it.

“The first time I saw the villa was at night and my brother-in-law was driving up this long and winding road which felt like it was never going to end! So I was a bit worried. But then we turned up the drive and we were greeted by the villa with its bright lights and the housekeeper was waiting to take us inside for a warm yummy meal... it was a fairytale come true.”

She confided that she loved this first encounter and it is the very same image - and feelings - she strives to give guests that stay at the villa today.

Designed to Accommodate All Occasions

The villa is divided into several floors, each accessed by stairs and for the most part the interior design has stayed true to the last big makeover in the 1960's. The renovations in the house did not include adding any modern twists except for updating the kitchen into a state-of-the-art professional kitchen, adding WiFi access throughout the property and a new sauna and adding AC on the very top floor.

One of the many positive characteristics of the villa are “le spazie deliziose” which literally means all the “delicious spaces."  For example, if you were to sit by the Olympic-size pool then you will find dressing rooms, a sauna, a poolside bar, a gazebo for an afternoon drink or snack (affectionately called the merendero), a covered picnic area, panoramic vistas, a full kitchen and pizza oven... the list could go on and on.

And this is just by the pool area.

Made to Party

Paola pointed out that even the flow of traffic to the villa was specifically designed to assist large parties and caterers while not taking away from the beauty of the house. There are several working entrances where large trucks can arrive and deliver while the festivities proceed none the wiser. At Villa di Ulignano, the show always goes on because there is plenty of space to accommodate its guests both indoors and outdoors. In any type of weather, the villa lends itself to several different "stages" for happy hour drinks, sit down meals and dancing under the stars... as well as a gaming room for party fun, ping pong table and a real movie theater, albeit smaller than usual.

Paola expertly mixed the various styles available in the decor – many of which have a history with the Italian film industry – into something that is elegant, inviting and practically timeless. The mix and match of flowered wall paper, wild upholstery designs from the 60's, table settings straight from one of Fellini's films together with bed stands in intricate silver designs and antique wooden desks, tables and nightstands just seems right in the immense setting at Villa di Ulignano.

Villa di Ulignano at a Glance:

Type: Tuscany Villa Rental and dépendance
Location: Volterra, 13 km (24 min)
Distance: Siena (70 min) & Cecina (70 min)
Transport: a car is necessary
Rooms: 15 with 11 rooms in the villa and 4 in the dépendance
Sleeps: 30+7
Type of board: no meals included but private chef can be requested, as well as many other services

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It was her brother-in-law who suggested she take over the villa since she had extensive experience in tourism working with tours and vacations on luxury boats off the coast of Italy. However, she quickly found out that taking over of the villa was not like taking over just any old “building”… these four walls came with a long, colorful, and sometimes, sad history.  It was a history that the locals were intent on preserving – and a history which on many accounts she has personally managed to document by searching through albums, photos, ledgers and occasionally even speaking with the participants.

“I had to learn as much as I could as fast as I could to save what was here,” Paolo told me, “the locals were watching me, trying to gauge my intentions... it was clear that they considered the villa part of their personal heritage and I was just an interloper. I worked hard to win them over and prove to them I was just as interested as they were in saving not just the structure but what it also represented to them and the community.”

Sailing into the Tuscan Sunset

As we started off the tour of the villa, she shared how she felt a small affinity with the villa because of its structure. The front courtyard is actually shaped like the bow of a ship. I studied the area she indicated but I couldn't see the semblance. It wasn't until we were on the top floor that she invited me to look out the window and asked “Can you see it now?” She smiled as I nodded my head in appreciation of the way the hedge came to a point. ”I always thought of it as a ship amongst a sea of hills.” Her imagery is spot on, as you gaze around the panoramic scenery you feel as if you dominate over everything and the smaller hills that surround the villa are the rolling waves bobbing up in down around your ship.

Book Direct with Villa di Ulignano

This is the place to choose for your next Tuscan vacation with friends, a family reunion or for a special occasion. With a combination of space, space and more space and the added plus of luxury accommodations, a super sized kitchen, a fantastic selection of games and extras, Villa di Ulignano is a superb example of spoiling yourself while on holidays. The villa and dépendance can all be rented together, or just the villa or just the dépendance depending on the size of your group, to make the best use of the spaces (and your budget).

The genuine Tuscan atmosphere in a fully restored villa, and the lush green gardens make this a paradise within easy driving distance to Florence, Siena and the coast. Groups can depend on professional assistance with a friendly smile. I encourage you to speak with Paola, and let her help you plan your next vacation in Tuscany now.

This is a Sponsored Article but reflects the honest opinion and experience of the author. More details »

Author: Donna Scharnagl

It has been more than 25 years since I took my first steps in Italy and I still haven’t found a good reason to leave.  Between the food, the culture, the history, the art, the landscapes … did I mention the food? I have become a lifelong student. It didn't take long to learn that Italians all have stories that long to be told; stories that paint a picture of how hard work produces character, how life is made of ups and downs and how good it feels to laugh.


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