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Manciano: Agriturismo: Quercia Rossa

Santarello di Montemerano, Phone: 0564.629529

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Reviewed by: Janet Z from NY, review #1992

When: July 2007

Relaxing rural retreat in the heart of the Maremma.

The view from our room at Quercia Rossa, photo by Janet Zinn

This agriturismo in the beautiful Maremma countryside is a wonderful base for exploring both the coastal areas and the tufa towns of southwest Tuscany.

It is quite rural and removed from the main roads; on our first approach we were a little worried that the drive would be daunting at night and thus it would be difficult to go to dinner. However, the road (from both approaches) is almost entirely paved, and not particularly winding or difficult; after one or two drives we found navigating it second nature, easy even after dark.

The upside of the location is of course the peace and quiet, and the surroundings of natural beauty. Quercia Rossa is nestled in undulating hills of farmland, vineyards, and olive groves. Sheep and cows greeted us on the road, and birds serenaded in the trees. Each morning before breakfast we took a birdwatching walk up their country road; there is a small pond on the premises, which harbored grebes and many dragonflies. Quercia Rossa's resident cats often accompanied us partway!

Our comfortable room was "Indigo", which consisted of a small bedroom and front sitting room; a large picture window offered an expansive view over the countryside. One oddity was that this window did not open - fortunately, the room had air conditioning, otherwise there would have been no cross-ventilation (although there were windows that opened on the other wall.) The a/c was truly welcome in July (only the "Deluxe" rooms have a/c.) There was a small safe, minibar and tv with dvd player (no English channels, although we enjoyed the Italian equivalent of MTV.)

The owners, Alessandro and Paolo, were very friendly and helpful and spoke English well. Dinner, with home cooking by Maria, was excellent and featured several courses of typical dishes served buffet-style. Including unlimited Morellino wine, and grappa or vin santo with dessert, it was very reasonable at 28 euros a person. We had dinner there on our first and last evenings (as noted, you should reserve your dinner a day in advance).

Breakfasts were ample but simpler, consisting of cereal, yogurt, soft boiled egg and some fruit, cookies and cakes. On our departure day we had to leave very early, and Maria kindly packed us our breakfast the night before.

We had one criticism, and that concerns the pool. While the pool looked very nice, it was oddly configured with no steps or ladder for access - and it was deep with high sides. Jumping in was not too much of a problem but as a short (5'3"), not extremely athletic person, I found it impossible - not just difficult but truly impossible - to get out of the pool without assistance. This made it impossible for me to swim without my husband accompanying me to help me out! The pool would also be a real problem with children (although we did see children in it, with their parents).

NOTE: The owner, Alessandro, has assured me that there normally is a ladder and it was only temporarily removed for repairs, so this shouldn't be an issue in the future.

As mentioned in other reviews, the B&B is very central for visiting both the coast and the interior of Maremma. We spent one day doing the "Tufa circuit" (Pitigliano, Sorana, Sovana); one day the Monte Argentario/Orbetello area; and one day visited the Parco della Maremma for birdwatching, hiking, and the beach with a stop in Scansano for wine tasting. Saturnia with its famous hot springs and spa is also close by.

We paid €108 a night in "Middle season" which included breakfast. Aside from the pool issue, we loved Quercia Rossa and would return.

Reviewed by: flanette from UK, review #1971

When: July 2007

Stress will evaporate immediately on arrival

This place will break your heart with beauty. We were greeted by Alessandro, who was friendly and welcoming.

It was 4 in the afternoon and we had missed lunch. We asked, tentatively, if they had anything we could eat before dinner, which was not until 8.30. This was no problem - a tray of ham and cheese sandwiches and a carafe of wine were prepared, which we ate on the terrace outside our room, looking out onto the orange-y landscape of undulating hills as the sun sank. A sandwich has never tasted so good.

The room was clean and comfortable, simply designed but with stylish, traditional touches. Dinner here, in the dining room with some of the other guests, is unmissable. A buffet of fresh, local Tuscan dishes is served by Maria and didn't disappoint us once ... we ate there every night of our 3 night stay.

The staff are keen to answer questions about the local region and the farm's activities. Leave a good 2 or 3 hours to spend at the pool in the early evening ... it makes you feel as though there is nowhere else in the world. It is not just the beauty of the surroundings, though. It is the whole experience. You feel as though you are part of something important while you are here... A perfect way of life? We left wanting to sell ourselves as farmhands and move there permanently.

Reviewed by: Michelle from MI, review #1852

When: April 2007

Beautiful views, room and surrounding towns and countryside. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Great meals. And all for a reasonable price.

Our favorite of the places we stayed while on our tour through parts of Europe.

The room was clean, nicely decorated and the bed luxurious. The view was lovely and exploring the surrounding villages and hot springs was great fun.

The people at Quercia Rossa, both staff and fellow guests were friendly and entertaining, which made for a great family style dining experience in the evening.

Reviewed by: DanW329 from MA, review #1601

When: September 2006

Highlight of Our Trip. Located in a slightly remote but beautiful part of Tuscany, close to a number of interesting sights and activities.

My partner and I spent two nights at the Quercia Rossa Agriturismo in September, and it was the highlight of our trip. The agriturismo is located in a slightly remote but beautiful part of Tuscany, close to a number of interesting sights and activities that could easily provide a week's worth of entertainment.

It is run by a capable staff who seemed genuinely dedicated to making sure that all of their guests have the best possible experience. We encountered many helpful hotel proprietors in Italy, but none who seemed to care quite as much as Alessandro, who gave us ample advise about activities in the area and checked in several times during our short visit to make sure that we were enjoying our stay.

Our room was very tastefully appointed, and also huge (the bathroom was about the size of the hotel rooms in which we stayed in several other places). There is also a very nice pool, on a ridge below the main house overlooking the Tuscan countryside. The mix of guests was eclectic - two couples from California to ride their bicycles, an Italian family on holiday, and a youngish German couple.

The agriturismo offers three meals per day, prepared by Maria, their chef. We found the breakfasts to be on par with or better than any others we had in Italy (not a country that takes breakfast that seriously), but it was the dinners that were really special. They consisted of elaborate, multi-course meals, served family style with excellent local wine (in virtually unlimited quantities), offering a perfect way to sample the local cuisine.

If we had stayed for a week or so we might not have had dinner at the agriturismo every night, since it involves a lot of heavy food, but it should at least be sampled once or twice. On a sidenote, dinner does need to be reserved in the morning of the same day; an understandable requirement given the small size of the hotel and the amount of preparation the meals clearly involved. Also, do be sure to decide when you make your reservation whether you would like dinner the night you arrive.

The only other caution that I would give is that the agriturismo is not in a part of Tuscany that is easily accessible to the most famous attractions (i.e. Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Montelpuciano). Traveling even relatively short distances on the region's winding roads can be time consuming, and if you are a first time visitor the best thing might be to combine a week's stay farther north with a visit to Quercia Rossa. On the other hand, the crush of tourists visting the more frequented parts of Tuscany can be truly overwhelming, and there is more than enough to do in the agriturismo's vicinity ... including hiking in the Uccellina nature park, the beach, extensive Etruscan sites, and several charming hill towns.

Our stay here felt more "real" than the rest of our trip, which would have been immeasurably poorer without it. It was also very economical, at roughly 150 euros per night for a room, dinner and breakfast for two people. We give the Quercia Rossa our highest recommendation.

Reviewed by: Alessandra from Switzerland, review #1596

When: September 2006

Sometimes when you really liked a place, you are torn between sharing it with others but also keeping it for yourself as a secret ... this is one of them.

The landscape is just splendid, it is the main character in this story, you can take pictures of it but you really have to go to see it for yourself.

The images posted on the website of Quercia Rossa are really not lying and the place keeps its promises. The owners are simply adorable and you feel at home. Indeed, you eat breakfast and dinners (you have to order in the morning) at a long wide table, like in a big family. It gave us the opportunity to meet great people and take the time to share experiences, something you might not do in other settings.

Yet, if you need to be quiet and rest, you can also get the space you need. Perfect balance! Perfect location as well - amazing beaches not far (the best one are near Argentario), Pitigliano is just a fantastic Tuscan town too little known, don't miss the "Giardino dei Tarocchi" in Capalbio and the many events that you can experience around at any season.

In a few words: just try it once and probably you'll try it twice or more!

Reviewed by: Diana B from UK, review #1514

When: June 2006

The most perfect rural retreat brilliantly located for the seaside, spa and historic Tuscan towns. Great rooms, great food and great pool at a reasonable price.

We spent a week at this hotel and had a really lovely time: it is beautifully decorated with antique furniture and is immaculately kept. The location is dreamy, on a hill with wide views across rolling hillsides. The swimming pool is big and also has a terrific view.

They provide a good breakfast and dinner if you wish. We ate dinner there most evenings as it was utterly delicious local recipes: excellent home made tortelli, fantastic lentil and chick pea dishes, and spectacular Maremma meats with litres of the local Morellino di Scansano wine.

It is also an excellent base for doing all kinds of different things: we went to the lovely beaches at Capalbio and Ansedonia; soaked in the hot springs of Saturnia at midnight under the moon; swam in the local river with only sheep as spectators; visited the amazing local Etruscan villages of Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana and ate in one of my favourite restaurants in the world at Saturnia.

The owners were friendly without overdoing it, and were very helpful in advising us of all the things to see and do in the area. It was also fun to dine with their very varied guests at one long table.

The room was €98 and dinner was €25, which we felt was really excellent value. We will return!

Reviewed by: Gyda from Iceland, review #1512

When: June 2006

I really enjoyed staying at Quercia Rossa. Beautiful, nice, clean and cozy.

The hotel is situated in a beautiful place in the country from where you can visit many other beautiful places.

The rooms are nice and cozy and very clean. The staff is the best; always willing to help and really nice! I definitely recommend staying there!

Reviewed by: David from USA, review #1365

When: september 2005

Charming agriturismo very well located: in the middle of Maremma, on Tuscany/Lazio border perfect for exploring both areas. And it's just as it appears on the website.

garden, photo by David

Call Quercia Rossa a B&B, an Agriturismo, or a Rural House, it is a great spot for a peaceful, quiet, beautiful atmosphere in the Albegna valley, about 10 minutes by car from Saturnia’s thermal bath (hot springs, don’t miss it!). It's been so a long time since I have stayed the first time in Italy that makes me want to write something about it!

First, Quercia Rossa is tucked away from the main town of Manciano but it has easy acesss to the main roads and we were able to visit many of Maremma's treasures as i.e. Saturnia, Montemerano, Magliano, Uccellina Natural Park, Talamone, etc. All was easier with the help the owners – Paulo and Alex (speaking English well, rare case) - offered each day in planning our journeys as the trip to Siena with pre-booked tickets for the Accademia Chigiana and Palazzo Chigi Saracini, and of course up to date information on some great restaurants and the wineries for the Morellino vino rosso.

The B&B is a farmhouse that's been beautifully restored with every detail checked to provide high quality accommodation. It's also set in one of the most gorgeous valleys of Maremma. The views are breathtaking and so peaceful. There are plenty of benches and sun chairs around the pool which is surrounded by olive trees. This was a wonderful way to spend our first night in Tuscany. It’s a farm and the major productions is extra-virgin olive oil (we bought 2 half liter bottles).

The original farmhouse, contains 4 double rooms for guests and the barn contains two double bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. We stayed in Double SUP (top floor), very quiet, impeccably clean, furnished with antiques and with a fairly comfortable bed, a fridge and window screens. The ensuite bathroom had good water pressure and plenty of hot water. Well lit bathroom.

I don't remember exactly, but each night was about 100 euros, all inclusive, including breakfast: served in the farmhouse, huge array of gourmet pastries, fruit, sandwiches, salami, cheese, juice, delicious capuccino with excellent fresh coffee and a good selection of breads, excellent eggs/omelets. And once fresh baked goods.

Quercia Rossa does not have a full restaurant service, but they offer dinner (we stayed once during our stay and it was certainly one of the best meals we had. 12 people 1 dining table and a 4 course affair. we were entertained by the hosts and all of the guests were totally relaxed).

It was easy to find and all email correspondence was prompt and informative. Highly recommended: we met a couple who return each year and I know why!!

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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