Annoucing a family gathering in Pienza with Quartier Collective

I’m so pleased to announce this family-friendly gathering — which is open to anyone who is curious, wants to make a connection, enjoys slow travel, good food, good wine and good company — together with our friends Martin and Taryn of Quartier Collective.

We will spend 5 nights together, from 11-16 October 2021 {UPDATE: we have added a SECOND week, from 18-23 October}, in the blissful Villa Pienza, which has a 360 degree view of the Valdorcia countryside. Activities are planned each day, but there is also plenty of time to relax and enjoy the villa, which is a beautifully restored Tuscan farmhouse with a heated saltwater pool, yoga studio, hammocks, cosy communal living rooms and billiard room. We will show you our favourite artisans and organic produce in the area and go truffle hunting, wine tasting, visit hot springs, pet farm animals, taste the best pecorino cheese, as well as visiting some of the most charming medieval towns in the area. Most evenings we will be relaxing at the villa, making and enjoying dinner together.

Our days will look a little like this:

Day 1: Afternoon arrival and welcome drinks. Long table dinner at the villa.

Day 2: After breakfast, we set out for a truffle hunt in the woods on the property of a wonderful organic farm and one of the best Pecorino di Pienza cheese producers in the area. This unique landscape known as the Crete Senesi is known for both white truffles and black truffles. With our truffle hunter and his dog hopefully we will find some of the prized white ones at this time of the year, then we’ll sit down for lunch where we can also taste the cheeses and a truffle meal.

After lunch, time to relax at the villa and anyone who would like to help make dinner is welcome to join in making fresh pici pasta with Emiko, the most well-known pasta dish of the Valdorcia, which can be served all’aglione (a garlic and tomato sauce) or cacio e pepe (with pecorino cheese and pepper). Marco will be opening some wines and can take the grown ups through an informal tasting of wines from the area. Dinner at the villa of antipasti, pasta, dessert and wine.

Day 3: After a late breakfast and morning spent at the villa (maybe time for some yoga in the studio or a swim in the heated pool), we will visit an organic producer of ancient grains and their mill, where they make pasta everyday. We will also stop here for a light lunch too, for a taste of local specialties.

After lunch we will visit Bagno Vignoni, a charming medieval hamlet famous for its curative hot springs since the times of Catherine of Siena. These hot springs are the hottest in Tuscany and have volcanic origins from about 1000 meters below the surface and anyone can visit them in the pools of the village’s two hotels or by walking down the hillside to the ancient Parco del Mulino (park of the mills), where there is a slightly cooler natural pool. We will have free time here to explore this beautiful village. You can relax in one of the cafes and stroll around, or go for a swim at one of the town’s thermal pools (an entry fee of around 22 euro for half day) or come for a mini trek down the hillside to the natural one, a short but steep 5 minute walk. We will have dinner in a wonderful trattoria here.

Day 4: Today after breakfast we can go exploring some of the Val d’Orcia and its towns and other beautiful gems like the Vitaleta Chapel and the town of San Quirico d’Orcia, which has a beautiful garden called Horti Leone which was constructed in the Renaissance (they say it was designed by Michelangelo) as a public resting stop for those on the pilgrim route.

Lunch and siesta back at the villa, then in the afternoon we will stop in at Montepulciano, a historic hilltop town enclosed in a 14th century wall, there’s a wonderful historic cafe here for some refreshments, then we will visit a flower farm where we can pick flowers, make a small posy or wreath and have aperitivo in the beautiful panoramic garden before heading back to the villa for pizza night.

Day 5: A slow breakfast before a visit to a winery and organic farm that produces beer, wine and honey (and they also have a collection of cute farm animals and a picturesque view of Pienza). We will have lunch here at their food truck with a natural wine tasting too, before heading finally to Pienza, the “ideal” Renaissance city: great views, great gelato, cheese shops, beautiful piazza and a good spot for aperitivo with a view. After an initial walk to the best gelateria in town get your bearings, we will have free time here to explore the wonderful shops and little streets. For the kids, there will be a one hour workshop in a little studio and shop of all things made with recycled materials. We can meet on the wall for aperitivo before heading back to the villa for our last dinner together.

Day 6: Our last breakfast together and goodbyes.

To participate, the cost per adult is 3500 euro (children 2000 euro). This price includes everything (board, food, drinks, activities, and your charming hosts) except what you choose to do during your free time. To confirm your place we ask a 40% deposit. Note that we have limited space of only 6 rooms, with a possible wait list for a second week.

Covid-19: We will do everything to operate in a covid-safe environment, so guests (children 12 and under are exempt) will need to show either a covid-19 negative test or proof of recovery from covid-19, or vaccination, which you will likely have to do anyway on your travels here. Your own travel insurance (not included) is a must.

If you would like to register for this workshop, please send an email to for the FAQs and to submit your registration.


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