Disclaimer: Thank you Il Grande Prato for hosting us as your guests. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.
What makes Italy such a special place? Is it the award-winning wine? The legendary pasta? Or is it the architectural marvels that dot the countryside? We recently traveled to the heart of Tuscany with Il Grande Prato and discovered what makes this country so unique and its people so fascinating: their endless devotion to family. During our time there, we experienced the familial warmth of country living, strengthened our own family ties via sports, food, and shared memories, while also seeing new families plan their futures together.
To give some backstory: Il Grande Prato is a 200 year old farmhouse converted into an idyllic bed and breakfast nestled in the heart of the pristine Tuscan countryside. Their location cannot be beat, tucked away in Valdelsa, this area is known for its perfect positioning: close to Florence, Pisa and the various cities within Siena; a region famous for their wines, olive oils and picturesque landscapes.
We were welcomed by a warm family atmosphere the moment we arrived. Giulia, the owner greeted us graciously with open arms. Giving us a thorough tour of the property while explaining its history and humble beginnings. Sitting on 10 acres of land, the property used to be owned by Castello di Oliveto, a local winemaker who used the property and surrounding landscapes as a farm and vineyard to age grapes of traditional Tuscan varieties including Sangiovese, Colorino, Canaiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia.
Castello di Oliveto sold the property to Giulia and her family of four over 25 years ago, where they took it upon themselves to create a family business building a successful bed and breakfast that catered to travelers, family reunions, yoga retreats, weddings and more. Consequently, Castello di Oliveto relocated their winery only 15 minutes down the road, now sharing their wines with Il Grande Prato and their guests to enjoy. Keeping with their strong tradition of Italian hospitality, we were given a very large carafe of wine to savor at our leisure, as we happily sat and watched the sun make its way towards the horizon.
One important thing to acknowledge and understand when visiting Italy is that family life is the foundation to Italian culture … and with family comes food! A large part of Italian family traditions are centered around eating, celebrating, and enjoying one another’s company and Il Grande Prato has mastered all of the above.
Breakfast each morning was a beautiful display of locally made yogurt, fresh fruits, various breads, pasqualina (similar to a quiche), a variety of meats and cheeses, along with fresh juice, coffee, and tea. We looked forward to each morning, knowing our taste buds would be taken on a culinary ride. Dinner was also available for guests to enjoy onsite, inspired by traditional Tuscan cuisine and paired with locally sourced wines from the Siena region. From the moment you arrive, you feel like a part of the family, embracing the food, the culture, and the outpouring of love through food with each bite.
Il Grande Prato has created an environment where guests can escape to, a place where visitors can feel truly at ease, enjoying the Tuscan countryside and intimate farm house setting at their leisure. We especially took a liking towards the old hayloft that had been converted into a studio for guests to practice music, art, theatre and yoga… a perfect recipe for rest and relaxation.
The property is also fully equipped with a tennis court, basketball court, and large football (soccer) field. Athletic opportunities are in abundance… the only question was which to choose? We opted for a friendly game of tennis since we love playful competition and opportunities for familial fun.
If anyone is wanting to stay in shape while on vacation, they need not worry! Il Grande Prato also houses an on-site gym and cardio lover’s haven equipped with a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike and punching bag. If gyms don’t suit your fancy, there are also billiards, foosball and ping pong available for guests to use as they please.
Our personal favorite however was the pool. In the hot summer months, this is the place to be; here guests can bask in the sun or take a dip in the refreshing water to remedy the sweltering heat. Surrounded by rolling green hills and lush vibrant gardens outlining the pool’s perimeter, this is the perfect paradise for visitors to have a good time and unwind.
As you may be able to tell, we had an absolute blast exploring the property, playing games, and spending quality time together as husband and wife. Il Grande Prato is the perfect romantic getaway for couples in all stages of life. Speaking of relationships… one morning, while at breakfast, we met the cutest engaged couple from England: Poppy & Kane. They were planning their wedding at Il Grande Prato for next June and I must say, they have exquisite taste because nothing can surpass the rustic beauty of the Tuscan countryside. Il Grande Prato is an idyllic location for newlyweds to tie the knot: it’s whimsical, it’s elegant, and most of all, it feels like home: a place where love resides, memories are created, laughter is endless, and all feel welcome. There’s no better place than here to begin a lifetime together.
During our last night at Il Grande Prato, we made our way down the street to Chiosco ai Renai, a local rural eatery owned and managed by none other than Giulia’s son, Nico! Nico started this business three years ago and thanks to the support of the family and surrounding village, was able to turn Chiosco ai Renai into the successful, charming eatery it is today.
At Chiosco ai Renai, guests can savor classic Italian traditions with an aperitivo (or two). The drink menu is absolutely phenomenal, we tried several innovative cocktails, each embodying the perfect balance between bitter, acidic and sweet. While we sat admiring the view, Nico brought out a plate of appetizers for us to enjoy that was nothing short of heavenly. When you eat here, you can tell there is true passion behind the cooking, and as a guest, you are invited to experience a piece of deeply rooted Italian culture and appreciate the flavors that have been passed down through generations.
We loved Chiosco ai Renai from the moment we arrived. The atmosphere conveys a super hip vibe with a fitted retro bar, air stream, and outdoor area for lounging. You can lie out in a hammock, or post up on the hillside, overlooking the expansive meadows below. In the warmer months, guests can enjoy DJ's spinning live music and outdoor movie nights under the stars. The panorama of the surrounding landscape is simply stunning, and the sunsets are outstanding. The service is unbeatable, the staff is friendly, and the cozy atmosphere welcoming. We truly felt like family and didn’t want our time here to end.
Throughout our time in Tuscany, we felt the strong pull of family and tradition: Giulia’s warm welcome to the farm, our time gallivanting the countryside, and a convivial dinner with nearby residents all made us feel right at home. Italy is a country rooted in familial ties and Il Grande Prato gave us a chance to experience life not as guests, but as an integral part of their family.