In practice it is impossible to apply our standard yardstick to this place because it is so unusual. You will either love it or hate it!
If you want to stay in an apartment with all modern amenities, with newly painted walls, dried flower arrangements and an interior design from "Country House" magazine, then you will hate this place and find it awful. On the other hand if you seek the genuine, if you want to stay on a farm in an apartment and live as the old farmers still do in Tuscany, where the whitewash is peeling a bit here and there, and where you are among pigs, horses, goats, rabbits and chicken – then you'll just love it.
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The entire estate is still owned by Count Raffaele Ceramelli Papiani, whose family has owned it for generations. Count Raffaele was born in the stately villa, which today he leases to others, who run the restaurant and hotel on site. He and his wife, Renata, manage the farm together with their son, Lorenzo, who concentrates more on the winemaking. They have made the conscious decision not to renovate the apartments because they want to give their guests a feeling of what rural life used to be like (and still is here and there), and not give them an artificial environment with modern design and regimented flowerbeds. The apartments are therefore meant to be simple, rustic and almost rough. If you have not visited old Tuscan farmers, it might be difficult to appreciate all this, but the mixture of Spartan kitchens, marvellous antique furniture, damp patches and picturesque buildings is something so completely genuine and authentic.
Whether you stay on the farm itself or in the farmhouse Santa Filomena, 400 m away, you will have an absolute fantastic experience. Although the apartments are simple and worn, there is a swimming pool (18 x 8 m) here, as well as tennis court and mountain bike hire. If you don't want to cook yourself, you will be pleased to know there is a restaurant in the villa.
The Count and Countess have a residence in Florence, but he does not care for city life so they spend most of their life on the farm. You would never guess that Raffaele is a member of the aristocracy when you first see him, but after a couple of minutes in this company you are in no doubt that he is of a different calibre to the rest of us. It is not often one encounters someone with such a relaxed manner, pleasant personality and charm.
The location of the farm close to the exit from the Florence-Siena motorway is both a blessing and a curse. It means easy access to both towns, and the charming Colle Val d'Elsa is just 3 km away. It is not that there is any noise from the motorway, but the fairly busy main road between Colle Val d'Elsa and Siena runs only 60 m from the main building, and 200 m from Podere Santa Filomena.
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