It all started with an email. Would you like to come to Tuscany? Well who wouldn’t? It was a year ago that we responded saying that the next time we’re in Italy, we’ll definitely stop in to experience the luxury Tuscan villa of Borgo Argenina.
Owned, operated and renovated 20 years ago by Elena Nappa, Borgo Argenina is the Tuscan villa experience you’ve always dreamed of having.
A Villa in Tuscany – The Experience
While on our trip to Italy this summer, we made plans to visit Tuscany once and for all.
Sure, we’ve been to Florence and Pisa, but we’ve never explored the Tuscan countryside or experienced that dream that I read about years ago in Under the Tuscan Sun.
I’ve wanted to stay in a Tuscan villa since reading the book in 1996! After booking a flight to Rome and getting a smoking deal on a rental car we started our road trip through Italy.
When visiting Tuscany, you want to have a vehicle to truly get the local experience. It’s the only way to really delve into the culture of the land.
We arrived late afternoon at Borgo Argenina and Elena’s two dogs “Pasqualina and Giuseppina” greeted us with their tails wagging.
Her cats came out to say hello too! One cat even decided to hang out in our room with us for a very long nap.
Other guests were outside the villa sipping Chianti Classico wine getting ready to watch the sun go down over the vineyards.
Note: If you don’t have a car, Elena has tour guides, driving trips, cycling trips and hikes that you can book through her.
We settled into our traditional Tuscan villa suite (I just love saying Tuscan Villa) and instantly felt a sigh of relief. Borgo Argenina is a place that makes you feel at home.
We didn’t want to leave our room it was so comfortable. But we didn’t want to miss a moment in Tuscany, or having an authentic Tuscan villa experience.
A Tuscan Villa Welcome
Once we were all set and ready to go, the new guests gathered around Elena’s large wooden table in her traditional Tuscan kitchen.
She takes great pride in keeping everything traditional and historic to give her visitors and authentic Tuscany experience.
Her story is incredible.
The Borgo Argenina Story
Elena fell in love with the abandoned village of five stone houses in 1991 while working as a fashion designer in Milan.
In 1992 she bought the property and began renovating the 10th-century property.
It took five years to bring running water, heat and electricity to the rundown buildings that she turned into luxurious villas with the help of a skilled family of Tuscan craftsman.
Read her full story here
While listening to her speak, I declared that she is the original inspiration for Under the Tuscan Sun!
A Passion for Tuscany
I have never seen such passion in anyone that Elena has for Tuscany. She wants to share everything with you and make sure that you have the best experience possible.
During our introduction meeting, we sipped wine and ate olives as she pointed out on her beautiful hand drawn map where to go and what to see.
We had four nights at her Tuscan Villa and four nights was just enough.
If you want to really experience Tuscany and have a life changing experience, we suggest a week!
We followed her guidance with map in hand and explore the surrounding monasteries, castles and vineyards.
Each day began with a delicious home cooked breakfast overlooking the rolling hills, olive groves and the picturesque vineyard.
The villa doors were opened and the warm breeze whisked through as we sipped cappuccinos and dined on fresh bread, fruit and cheese.
She even makes homemade cakes and pies and if you are a fan of eggs, they are cooked fresh to order.
Mornings are lazy as we sat in paradise and never wanted to leave, but by mid-morning we pulled ourselves away from the tranquility to explore the region.
Setting off in our little Fiat 500, we were confident to tackle the winding roads.
Nearby Tuscan Sights
Brolio Castle is close to Borgo Argenina and if you want to hike in Tuscany, you can set off from the villa and be at the castle in time for lunch! There is a winery there, where you can do tastings too.
If you don’t have a car, Elena has you covered, she knows everyone in the area and can set up cycling tours or private vehicle tours with guide of the region.
Her good friends Roberto, Paola, Sergio, Marco and Luca will show you the best kept secrets of Chianti.
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany
If you want a true Tuscan experience, you must go Truffle hunting with Giorgio.
Giorgio also owns a nearby restaurant where Elena sets up dinners that last all night long complete with wine flowing and prices so low they can only be experienced in Tuscany.
A fellow traveller raved about it when Dave and I arrived at the Villa.
Alas, Giorgio had just left for Milan the day we arrived for an olive oil conference.
We’ll just have to go back to Tuscany soon, because Truffles and dinner at Giorgio’s are things we don’t want to miss!
Dave and I ventured a bit further out during our daily excursions stopping for food, wine tastings, taking unexpected turns on back roads and stopping regularly to enjoy the view.
A highlight was having lunch at a monestery near the end of Elena’s hand-drawn map.
Monte Oliveto Monastery is a working monastery where monks welcome guests into their lives. It’s a beautiful setting where you can tour the grounds.
Monte Oliveto Monastery
There are beautiful historic towns nearby like UNESCO World Heritage Site Sienna but our favourite was Radda.
This medieval town has cobblestone walking streets, large walls, beautiful views and several eateries, shops and places to buy and taste Chianti. When in Chianti, you can’t get away from tasting wine!
Want more of Italy travel? Visit our post on Touring Cinque Terre
When in Chianti Classico, you must taste wine. The Classico is a better vintage than Chianti so we made sure to taste and buy a lot.
We bought a couple of wines from the Brolio castle winery. €20 a tasting, but if you buy a bottle it is free. We thought it was a fair trade since we bought a €20 bottle.
There are several wineries in the area and Elena has a full list on her website.
We got lost in Chianti.
Each morning we couldn’t wait to choose a route and drive the countryside.
The rolling hills filled with olive groves and vineyards are like something out of a movie.
It’s no wonder so many dreamers bought property in the 1990s for a song.
Elena told us that you could buy a villa for €3000 Euro back then. Now they are going in the millions!
The Chianti experience has caught on and if you want a break from the hustle and bustle of Florence which is just an hour away, this is the place to come.
You really don’t need to go far from to get lost in Tuscany. Dave and I always thought that Tuscany was overrun with tourists so we avoided it. But not in Chianti. You feel like you have it all to yourself.
See our step-by-step guide on how to taste wine like the experts
Cooking Class in Tuscany
If you really want to delve into the Italian culture, you must learn to make pasta. One of the highlights of staying at Elena’s Tuscan villa is to join her in a cooking class.
Elena doesn’t let one non-traditional piece of equipment into the kitchen.
Dave and I even tried to bring a bottle of Chianti Classico into the class, but she insisted we drink her wine poured directly out of the flask.
In Chianti everyone used to pour out of a traditional flask. The bottles are a new invention.
It was a fun and festive experience as we made hand-made pasta, chopped fresh garden vegetables and prepared everything by hand.
The class lasts for hours as you get to know your fellow guests, drink Chianti and work up an appetite.
At the end of the class, you get to eat your giant three course meals.
Elena gives everyone a cookbook to continue the tradition of Italian cooking.
As she said, “Traditional Italian cooking is getting lost and we have to preserve it.”
That is why she keeps everything as it once was and gives her guests a cookbook to take with them and pass on to their families.
Staying at Borgo Argenina was a special experience. It was a true escape.
Florence is wonderful, but when visiting Tuscany, make sure you get out to see the countryside.
While staying at the villa, there were young couples, older couples and groups of (twenty-something) friends.
It is a destination for everyone. I could tell that everyone in the villa felt how special the experience was.
In a world of selfie sticks and instastories, Borgo Argenina in Tuscany is a place to get back to what is important in travel.
Meeting new people, making new friends and learning about the culture and traditions of the destination you’re visiting. I’m glad we had the chance to have our own Under the Tuscan Sun experience.
Book your stay at Borgo Argenina
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO Italy
- The Best Things to do in Amalfi Coast Italy
- 10 Best Things to do in Florence
- Where to Stay in Florence: The Best Neighbourhoods and Areas
- 3 Days in Rome: the Perfect itinerary
- 7 Unforgettable Reasons to Visit Tuscany Right Now
Read all of our articles on Italy in our Italy Travel Guide
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21 thoughts on “Tuscany Dreams – Stay in a Tuscan Villa”
Dave and Deb, your fantastic write-up served as the inspiration for me to book a trip to Borgo Argenina after a photo workshop in Tuscany. Two friends and I loved the five nights we spent with her. The cooking class, views, and hospitality are all divine. We loved it so much we are trying to figure out when we can return. And, we loved the truffle dinner with Giorgio as well. Thanks again for your tips and inspiration.
That is wonderful to year! We love sending people to good people and Elena is the best! I am glad that you had a great time and thank you so much for letting us know. We want to return as well. We are thinking of going to Europe this summer just so we can stop by and see Elena. That is awesome you went to dinner with Giorio as well!
This sounds like the absolute best experience you could have in Tuscany. I can’t get enough of that place. The wine straight from the cask – the handmade pasta – the incredible views. I’m sure it was amazing.
AMAZE …I can’t wait to go back to Italy in a couple weeks with Drishti Yoga Teacher Training! I’d love to check out this place sometime!
Ooh, I wonder if Elena wold be interested in having a yoga retreat at her villa. It would make for the perfect setting!
It is a very amazing place and it is full of natural thing. Their Villas are very charming. and Attractive these photo thats you share its beautiful place.
Thank you for sharing the photos and for doing such a great job describing your trip, it looks amazing! We were in this area years ago the first time, and finally made it back last October. After being in many different cities from the south to the north, we’ve come to the conclusion that we love it all, but that Tuscany is definitely the sweet spot! Everyone we talk to has either been to Italy and loves it or has always wanted to go there! If all you see are the big cities like Rome, Florence and Venice, then you may have mixed feelings about Italy because it’s so busy but so beautifully full of history. It will be a great time, but will have its share of hustle-and-bustle. Go see those cities, but get to Tuscany and relax if you want a true vacation! Rent a car, drive around, enjoy the scenery. Hard to describe, but it is so different! The people, the food, the scenery, the pace…assolutamente fantastico!!!
I wish we had known about this Hamlet on our last trip, we would have definitely checked it out! I’m saving this information for one of our future trips because these types of places are exactly what we love! I look forward to checking it out soon! GRAZIE MILLE! Ciao!
Such a romantic place to visit!
I absolutely love the pictures you took in Tuscany. The countryside and villa all seem so marvelous and that medieval town with cobblestones all looks makes me want to know more about the history and the people who once walked through there and saw the same cobblestones I see many years ago. Thank you for allowing me to know a great place in Italy with great wine tasting and hand-made pasta and so much more. Look forward to going there myself.
Elena’s place is the true Tuscan experience. Back in 1998 when I got married in Florence, I sent my parents and my uncles to Elena’s for a few nights after they attended my wedding. To book her place back then I had to send a fax! She had just opened that year.
By the way, Siena is spelled with one n.
Your photos are wonderful!
Respect for the passion and dedication Elena has towards Borgo Argenina. I can’t imagine the beautiful ambience over the Tuscan villa…I really don’t want to miss that in my life… Thanks for the amazing enlightenment Dave and Deb…
What a fabulous job describing the “villa”! It was as perfect as you describe and the surrounding area was gorgeous. Elena is a fantastic hostess with stories that only she can tell. If you go, make SURE you eat at Giorgio’s (sorry you missed that) and make your way to Radda and Castellina. Both are quaint medieval towns with tons of character. Deb, it looks like your drone-flying lessons paid off. The pictures are spectacular. I’d love to see the video footage you shot while we were there.
Such a wonderful place! The view is amazing! Gorgeous photos! Dreaming of retiring in a place like that!
First time I came here I felt so much in love and looked for a stone house to live for a life time!
No 2 days woudn’t be enough ! Elena Nappa
We stayed with Elena at Borgo Argenina last summer, and I have to say that this review is an accurate description – it is as wonderful as described. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to eat at Giorgio’s! That evening was the high point of our trip. The nearby recommended winery, I Sodi, was a great experience with wine worth bringing home. Elena is a wealth of information on Tuscany and all her recommendations for food, day trips, wine, and shops were spot on. The best part was that the cost of staying at Borgo Argenina was very reasonable – comparable with other places that offered much less. Highly recommended!
Thanks for sharing your experience Jennifer. Borgo Argenina is definitely a special experience. We’ve been to Italy a few times, and this was by far our most memorable place to stay!
Welcome everybody to Borgo Argenina for an unforgettable stay in a Tuscan hamlet!
You will love the Chianti Classico region where we are located. The region contains everything that is quintessential about Tuscany in the traveler’s mind and romantic imagination – it is truly special, and the more you come to know the region, the more extraordinary it becomes.
Our ancient hamlet dating back to 998 A.D. is centrally located in the heart of Chianti Classico region, near Siena at the border with the Val D’Orcia region. You will be able to plan day trips to some of the most beautiful places in the area, and don’t forget, you will come back to an oasis of peace and tranquility. At Borgo Argenina you can relax after your day exploring, with a glass of wine on our terrace overlooking the vineyards.
Staying in a traditional farm house allows you to soak up the rhythm of rural Tuscany, and experience the traditions that are at the heart of Tuscan life.
Come see for yourself.
Ok you have me fully in love with this place!!! Now I want to stay there too.
Pictures are amazing and awesome place to plan a little trip with family. Hope you had a great time over there. Interesting place to visit at once. Thanks for sharing!
wow! that is a amazing place and the place is full of natural things. Villas are looking so awesome and natural which is around villas is best attraction of that place. stunning photos you shared of that beautiful place..
It would definitely be cool to spend a few days in a place like that … better start saving!