Whether you are continuing a life-long love affair with Tuscany or are venturing to Italy for the first time, we hope our family-run company can help you to enjoy your Escape to Tuscany. We offer exclusively owned and managed accommodation in a prime location from which you can enjoy all the cultural, culinary and recreational experiences that Tuscany has to offer.
“ Experience all the cultural,
culinary and recreational experiences
that Tuscany has to offer „
San Martino is a centuries old farm nestled deep in the Tuscan hills. Reached via the old Roman road the Via Franciaga it is situated on a promontory with stunning views overlooking the Chianti Classico region and Appenine mountains some 100 km distant. The farm has changed little over time and comprises of around one hundred acres of vineyards, olive groves, pasture and woodland. Centuries old tracks criss-cross the estate linking old farms and monasteries and now provide many kilometres of cool walkways to enjoy all year round.
The estate produces olive oil and wine. Our olive oil is produced in November every year and is some of the best in the region. The trees are very old and produce two types of oil, one a more golden colour but rich in flavour of pepper and apples, the other a much greener fresher oil. Our wine production has paused as we take on the challenge of planting new vineyards on the south facing slopes to the front of the farm - there are however still plenty of our older wines for guest to enjoy.
San Martino has a history as a farm with animals and we have been keen to recreate this – we have two very child-friendly English Setter dogs, an assortment of outdoor cats, while two lovely ponies have recently joined us. In time we hope to add some goats and sheep. The estate has an abundance of wildlife. If you are walking at dusk or dawn you will often see families of cinghiale running their paths, deer grazing in the fields below the house and cottages and even porcupines (mostly eating our bulbs!). Jays and kingfishers are quite common but lazing by the pool by day you may also see our hawks flying overhead and possibly even an eagle, while at night you may be lucky enough to witness our local owls or even a bat or two.
Being surrounded by oaks we are in prime truffle hunting territory. Mushrooms also thrive and the famous porcini grace our woodlands each autumn. Herbs and wild vegetables are also in abundance - the scent of mint, coriander and fennel lingers in the air. As required we can arrange for local experts to guide you in picking your own wild dinners!
While the main farmhouse itself dates back over 600 years the estate as a whole can trace its history back to Roman times and beyond. Our principal access road forms part of the famous Via Franciaga, walked by pilgrims and travellers alike for tens of centuries. The original buildings on the site were an old Roman village and, though time has buried most of the village, steps down to parts of this can still be seen near the farmhouse. As its name suggests the farm had religious status for many years. In the woods we still have the foundations and room layout of the San Martino monastery. Legend has it that our monastery is linked by underground tunnels with the monastery at San Vettore some 2km away. The monasteries were used to treat and care for victims of the great plague - San Martino was runs by monks and took in male victims while San Vettore was administered by nuns and took in women.
“ In the sixteenth century a new structure was built. Owing to its positioning and amazing views it is believed that San Martino became the site for one of three key lookout towers facing east across the Chianti region. „
The bottom portion of this lookout still survives and now forms the kitchen and one of the bedroom suites. The walls of this very old construction are built from perfect square cut stones and are over a metre thick. In the dining room for the main house you can see our ‘history wall’ showing both this very old wall (c600 years) and two more recent phase additions (400 and 150 years ago respectively). As the centuries changed so did the farm and its use. Exposed brickwork within the buiding shows how, as the owners and their fortunes changed, new rooms, floors, windows and doors were added to the tower gradually transforming it into a privately owned farm producing Chianti wines and olive oils.
When we took on San Martino in 2001 it still had the original wine vats in what is now our entrance hall and kitchen. There was no internal linkage to the rear of the house as this was where the animals were kept - our dining room still has the animals’ original drinking trough and some old Maremma saddles in situ. The stunning double height living room with picture window and delicate brick trellis windows was the farm’s barn and had just a dirt floor. The downstairs bedroom and spa suite was the store for the wine to age in barrels and the oil to keep cool. Upstairs was a warren of rooms all leading off the central tower room which had become the main kitchen and living area. The master bedroom, dominated by its huge chestnut beams, is one of the few rooms to retain its original use. The heat from the animals below plus the huge fires and stoves kept everyone cosy in winter. Our restoration has tried to be very sympathetic to the farm’s rich history while opening up the house for comfortable family living. We have allowed as much as possible of the building’s origins to show through - we exposed old walls, reclaimed doors and archways that were previously, like the whole house, plastered over. The combination of handmade tiles and expert carpentry has meant that at first glance it’s hard to tell what’s original and what’s not in the structure of the building. Traditional calcio or natural chalk based paints have been used throughout allowing the walls to show movement and breathe. Our main nods to modernity have been the addition of our gorgeous spa, the stunning infinity pools and chef’s kitchen. Finally the relatively recent addition to the estate of the barn some 50 years ago has had new life breathed into it via its conversion into two single storey, family orientated cottages.
Escape to Tuscany, relax and unwind in a very private location. San Martino, our centuries old farm nestles, deep in the Tuscan countryside among olive groves, vineyards and woodland. From the gardens, take in the outstanding views extending from the Chianti hills to the Apennine Mountains.
Our ethos has been to retain historic features within the properties while retaining a sense of rustic tranquillity, luxury, style and a high level of comfort.
Outside you will find stunning infinity pools, natural landscaping and endless space to explore or play. Soak up the sun on one of the many teak loungers, cool off in the crystal clear pools, quench your thirst in your own poolside bar offering views of the vineyards and countryside or enjoy dining al fresco under one of the shady pergolas.
The house and cottages are some 300m apart and are each set in their own private gardens. At night sit under the stars surrounded by gently glowing lanterns and enjoy the scents from our plentiful herb gardens while sipping a glass of Chianti or creating your own perfect Tuscan dinner on your beautiful stone barbeque.
The main house has a 16m x 7m infinity pool with 360 degree views. The cottages have their own curved infinity pool (12 x 6m) and are totally self contained, private from the main house but close enough for related parties to easily walk between the properties.
San Martino has around 350 mature olive trees situated on the south east facing slopes of our farm. The terrain is a clay based soil littered with fossils from its past as a glacier route through Italy.
Our oil is among the best of the oils in our region. The yields for the year 2012 were 14-16% and for 2011 17% versus an average this year of 11.2%. We don’t have organic accreditation but the newly acquired trees have always been organic and our house trees have not been sprayed for 3 years (as of October 2013).
The taste of our oil when fresh is quite peppery with a hint of apple, if stored correctly the oil will retain its cloudyness for some time. Fresh oil can be sipped alone (yes we do its gorgeous) or with crusty bread and salads, delicious as Catarina would say...Olive oil is also wonderful for cooking everything with..
For anyone who has not tasted fresh oil it really is a different experience, generally supermarket oil is over 3 years old and stored at ambient temperature rather than in a cool dark store so has a yellowish rather than green appearance.
Our oil is all virgin, cold stone pressed, single tree type, single vintage. Its as good as it gets.
All our guests receive complementary oil and local wines with their welcome hamper. In season fruits from the farm are included as well as other local produce. Cinghiale can be ordered on request.
In order to ship and price efficiently we are selling in 5L tins stored in a dark cool place these will remain fabulous for a long time.
We will be shipping to London and Edinburgh as well as Cirencester if there is demand. If you would like it shipped to your door we can do this but the postage cost may vary if its less than 20L. Postage and transport is £80 for 20L.
We take orders throughout the year but our main shipment is late November when the oil is completely fresh, and its also in time for Christmas....
Please email your oil orders or any enquiries to or telephone +447961 111334.
San Martino vineyard is being replanted in spring 2014 on the south facing fields towards the olive grove. First harvest from this will be in 2017. We expect to plant Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot plus a few lines of white to produce a little sweet wine.
Wine - for at home drinking our guests help themselves to our wine selection in their villa, best advice for all local wines is pour into a jug or open in advance to air a little.
Next Door is Pietralta - Our neighbours Franca and Micky at Pietralta do wine tastings and its an easy walk, their Solivagus (E15) and Brinaia have won many medals at Vin Italy and Soli is truly a special occasion wine. All the local producers sell at the Scuola del Gusto where the prices are the same as on the farms.
Scuola del Gusto - At the end of our drive , 1km to the right and opposite Restaurant Castagno is the Scuola del Gusto – run by the local producers you will find all the local wines at ‘on the field’ prices plus a host of local cheeses, chutneys, honey and herbs. Most Sundays at 6pm there is a tasting, free to our guests as we are a member of Toscana inn, please make sure you get our members card when you arrive!
Best wine shop in the region is Enoteca Scali, Volterra, 3 Via Guarnacci, 0588 81170 - owned and fronted by Massimo, if you intend to indulge in some lovely wine let him know and you will usually be rewarded with a serious tasting, they also do cheese and ridiculously good balsamic tastings. Also very good is the wine shop /bar in Certaldo Alto. You can’t miss it there’s only one...
Isole e Olena 0558072763 – Poggibonsi ( Siena to Florence road) San Donato exit dir’n Monsanto,
Castello Paneretta 0558059003, are both outstanding and it is a beautiful drive and a stunning castle – booking is a must.
The day trip to Bolgheri is well worth the trip if you are keen on wines, the home to Sassacaia, Ornellaia and a host of other super Tuscan producers. Book in advance for tasting at the big houses or call in at the old monastery where they serve the big names in affordable half glasses together with a light lunch. Finish the day with a trip to the sea side just another 10 minutes further on past some stunning vineyards.
San Martino on site manager
+ 39 334 8835044
+ 39 334 1178526
Escape to Tuscany
38 Fernhurst Road, London SW6 7JW
+44 7961 111334