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5.21.2019

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}


There is a lot of talk these days about over tourism and "authentic" travel in Italy. Even the word authentic has been used to so much that its meaning is becoming elastic and slippery. I have a lot of thoughts and am working on a much longer piece on this subject but for right now I want to share a very specific way you can have a remarkable experience that benefits people and businesses who are invested in the places they live.

One important way to be a responsible visitor starts with where you stay. Do your research and find a place that is owned by people who live in the place you are visiting. If you are planning on spending some time in Tuscany then the Castello delle Serre checks all of the boxes. 


Newlyweds Antonio, an Italian who grew up surfing in San Diego and Kaci, a Texan who left behind a corporate life in Rome, live what can be described as nothing less than a fairytale. I mean how can you avoid such cliches when you are talking about people that live in a Byzantine-era castle in a small Tuscan village? 

The Castello delle Serre is perfectly located near all of Tuscany’s greatest hits; Wine country, hot springs, Siena, Cortona (that’s the Under the Tuscan Sun town in case you had forgotten) and Pienza. It’s easy to reach from Rome and Florence. We left Rome after breakfast and had checked in just before lunchtime. You need a car to make the most of the location. There is on-site parking. 

One of the many benefits of choosing a family owned hotel over a place you book with credit card points is the experience and knowledge of the area. Because Antonio and Kaci live in the village year round they know what is open when, who serves the best version of the local dish where, and where to park to avoid a long steep climb to a popular hill town. The personal touch and local expertise offered here is generous and invaluable. 

Even though he was on crutches Antonio gave us a tour of the castle. We roamed through expertly restored frescoed rooms and in the garden filled with spring flowers pausing for the church bells which peal at regular daylight intervals. He shared the history of the Cacciaconti family and their castle and how his family then came to own it. It is a tale filled full of intrigue, luck, back-breaking work, and love.

Over a glass of wine by the pool Kaci asked us what kind of things we liked to eat and places we liked to visit and the next time we saw her she handed us a list (on monogrammed notepaper in perfect handwriting, a touch this fellow southerner very much appreciated) with the names of restaurants and times of our reservations. 

If you are a solo traveler or a big group the castle has the perfect fit. There are rooms, suites, and a small private villa. Somehow the space manages the balance to be both social and secluded. Depending on your mood you can chat with another guest or Antonio’s aunt over breakfast or feel like you have the place all to yourselves with a glass of wine in a romantic nook in the garden. 

Our room in the main part of the castle had a view of the Tuscan countryside through a window original to the structure, hand decorated ceilings, a Murano glass chandelier, and a tapestry. The May weather was unseasonably chilly but the castle was seriously warm and cozy. Even the marble and travertine floors! 

In our few short days, we lounged by the pool, soaked in nearby mineral-rich baths and indulged our carnivorous cravings with plates of Tuscan steaks, tagliatelle with wild boar and Cinta Senese ragu and started every meal with slices of sweet and salty taglieri di salumi. There was also melty pecorino cheese on grilled radicchio you know, for balance. We made the responsible choice to only drink local wine. The local wine choices are Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and  Super Tuscans.

We were in town for the start of the annual village festival, the Serre Maggio. The entire village, which is already untouched by cheap souvenir and take-out food shops transforms back to its medieval self covering every sign of modernity with burlap and handwoven straw mats. The festival lasts for more than a week with processions, costumed flag throwers, and mock sword battles. 

We headed back to Rome with another detailed list of towns and lunch suggestions for stops along the way and two more people to call friends in Tuscany. 

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}


Our weekend was generously hosted by the Castello delle Serre but everything I post is 100% my own opinion.

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