Classic Tuscany at Dianella Wine Resort
The perfect way to enjoy the best of Tuscany is to go straight to the source: a Tuscan wine estate that offers great views, a gorgeous villa B&B and spectacular wine!
You can enjoy wine & food tastings as well as a winery tour - and a cooking class - while enjoying the best of Tuscan hospitality. You can find all of this during your stay at the Villa Dianella Wine Resort!
I meet up with Veronica and Francesco, the owners who take on the daily challenge of the wine estate outside of Vinci, almost on an annual basis to keep up with the growth of the estate and their ambitious projects. The villa, the summer residence for Veronica's family as she grew up, has been transformed in its own Renaissance over the last 15 years as they have sought to grow and share this magnificent estate with the rest of Tuscany and the world.
As you arrive, you too will appreciate the villa's position atop a hill as breezes will always be felt here, regardless of how warm the summer might be. You will immediately be offered some form of drink: cold tea in the summer, hot chocolate whenever the weather calls for it.
Veronica is a very active person and you can tell she loves what she's doing. She emits enthusiasm and energy as we explore the villa, proudly showing off the current work on the estate: from the start of the B&B about 15 years ago to the full replanting of all of the vineyards in 2000 which have already led to award recognition for their wines. Reknown enologist Franco Bernabei came on board in 2014 but the estate was already high on the awards before then.
The wine cellars have been fully renovated and I personally find them to be gorgeous!! The estate has been dedicated to wine for decades, but the cement cellars used to ferment wine decades ago had been set aside. Bernabei recommended they be restored and used once again. Every year since then something new has been updated or added to the winery's offerings. While the main focus is wines (they make two Chianti DOCG wines and 3 red blends, a white, a rosé and a sweet wine), the estate is also surrounded by hundreds of olive trees that produce the estate's fine extra virgin olive oil. Curious? Then take this tour of the wine cellars with us and then book your visit!
Experience life in a Tuscan villa
The villa dates back to the end of the 16th century. It was used as a hunting lodge by the very famous Medici family from Florence. It was later the home of 18th century Italian poet Renato Fucini who mentions the villa in several of his poems. The villa came into Veronica's family in the early 20th century and this is where Veronica grew up in. I had the chance to meet her father at one of my visits and he very proudly talked of his daughter (rightly so) and the work she has put into the villa.
Our Review of Villa Dianella
We loved: the very spacious rooms, the gorgeous gardens and views of vineyards, the new wine cellars, pool with views and warm hospitality
Ideal for: couples, wine lovers and anyone seeking the perfect base from which to explore Tuscany
The elegant lawns and cushioned chairs in the gardens invite you to sit down and admire the gorgeous views of the vineyards and olive trees that surround the villa. The newly added swimming pool is the perfect place from which to relax and enjoy the views of the surrounding vineyards and rolling hills. I can perfectly imagine sitting out here and enjoying a book and a glass of Dianella wine every evening as the sun sets. One of the cool things you can do while here: request a picnic basket be prepared for you in the morning and enjoy it for lunch anywhere you wish on the grounds!
A dear frined of mine actually had her wedding here several years ago and the villa and gardens are magical when such a special occasion is being celebrated. It is a perfect setting for a Tuscan wedding both outdoors but also indoors, as there are many spaces inside including a large hall and the winery itself open for special events.
As far as accommodation, the villa has 3 luminous bedrooms (at the moment), providing a very intimate stay for those that choose Villa Dianella as their base in Tuscany. The rooms are spacious and delightfully furnished in an elegant country style, while the bathrooms are enormous by our modern standards! Cozy and romantic and with wines in the rooms, I would not know which room to choose if I stayed here as all three are very beautiful. The scent of the fresh flowers in each room meets us as I take a peek in; the fresh flowers are something Veronica confides she welcome guests to Villa Dianella with. She says she wants them to feel at home, and I can certainly feel that guests receive a warm welcome.
Couples who choose to celebrate their wedding here get exclusive use of the villa during their event, and can also choose to include staying in the rooms. The old stables behind the villa, in disuse for decades, are currently being renovated to offer 6 additional rooms to stay at Dianella. Their readiness has been delayed with the pandemic, but a few should be ready by the end of 2021 and all of them by June 2022.
While the B&B is small for now, all the services of a hotel are present, from free Wi-Fi to a delicious breakfast served every morning, either directly in-room or in the garden or in the main dining hall which faces the garden. Breakfast includes cakes prepared every morning, fresh juices and bread baked by the chef. Veronica and Francesco add that they, as well as the estate staff, are always on hand (they live right next to the villa) to provide any help or information to guests seeking recommendations for local restaurants, places to visit and more.
The new restaurant and bistro
One of the main advantages of staying at Dianella is the new on-site restaurant/bistro. Lunch is a-la-carté and open to everyone from 12pm while dinner is reserved for guests with advance booking. The restaurant offers fine dining featuring innovative regional dishes prepared with seasonal local ingredients, all coming from estates in the area, including the Dianella's own vegetable garden as things mature and they can be incorporated into the monthly menus.
Guests can enjoy aperitivo before dinner (at 7pm whether on-site or nearby) with the estate's wines or book a special romantic dinner in the vineyards to enjoy the setting sun. You can book a visit to the winery or wine tastings, enjoy the estate wines in your room or a cooking demonstration of dishes before eating them as part of your dinner. Would you like to go truffle hunting? It is just one other thing Dianella can make happen for you to ensure you enjoy the best of Tuscany during your stay.
The scent of wine
Villa Dianella at a Glance:
Type: B&B (luxury villa De Charme)
Location: Vinci is 7 km away (15 minutes)
Distance: Florence (50 min) & Pisa (60 Min)
Transport: a car is necessary
Type of board: Breakfast, with wine tastings, cellar visits and cooking lessons on offer
The interior of the villa is cool on summer days, inviting you to stay and enjoy exploring the wine cellars. They are simply spectacular! Wine tastings, dinners and other events are often held down there. The magical atmosphere of being in the cellars, with confortably couches spread about, invite one to sit, relax with a wine glass in hand and enjoy the scent of fermenting grapes in the air. These open spaces are full of activity during the wine period in fall and early winter.
A visit to the cellars includes the rooms where the wine-making process begins in modern stainless steel vats where the grapes are protected during their first, short fermentation. You'll also see the wood barriques or barrels where their Chianti wines are aging, while the recently renovated cement cellars are pretty neat, I don't believe I had ever seen the like before (see photo below)!
Along the route in between the aging wine cellars and winery, you will find tools used in the wine making process in the past set about like a small museum: each has its own story and use, from filtering wine to corking and labeling the bottles. It is a chance to learn of the art of wine making in Tuscany, your guide will let you know what each was for.
At the end of the visit, you'll enjoy tasting some of the estate's wines! The winery tour and wine tasting is open to everyone, not just for the guests and is open every day from 10am to 5pm. To better serve each and every single group that shows up, Veronica says she prefers you call ahead - even that same morning - as to ensure you can have individual attention and not have several groups overlap at the same time. A tasting can be of 2 or 4 wines and include a plate of local salami, cheeses and bruschetta to go along with your wines ;-). Ask for details on the various packages on offer when booking.
Guests staying at Dianella will be able to enjoy the estate's latest products directly in their rooms: soap, shampoo and shower gel made with the estate's olive oil and wine extracts. You can buy these along with their wines in the cellar wine shop, including body scrubs made with wine must and essential oils. I love these!
A cooking class to create & enjoy a Tuscan meal back home
Guests and anyone staying in the area can also take advantage of the special Tuscan cooking classes organized in the Villa's restaurant kitchen. The small group courses will teach you to prepare a full Tuscan meal from appetizers to dessert - and then you get to enjoy it for lunch or dinner!
The cooking classes are kept very informal so that everyone can enjoy and have fun preparing their Tuscan meal, along with capturing a bit of Tuscan culture and history of each dish. The classes last about 3 hours and are offered in English and Italian. It will be the perfect way to take back a piece of Tuscany back home with you, as you prepare for friends and family fresh pasta flavored with delicious sauces and enjoy dessert, like tiramisù.
Perfect for Exploring Tuscany
The villa is located in Vinci territory, the land of Leonardo da Vinci! We are sure the views and landscape here will inspire you just as they did the Master from the Renaissance. Villa Dianella is close to the outskirts of Empoli, making it easy to reach using the Fi-Pi-Li expressway that connects Florence to Pisa and the coast. It is in a perfectly central location to use as a base for visiting Tuscany: Florence, Pisa and Lucca are all just about 30 minutes away each (in different directions), beaches are 40 minutes away and San Gimignano is 45 minutes away.
With all that the wine resort has to offer, though, you might just want to set some roots in and enjoy the estate and nearby area for a few days, maybe alternating with relaxing days by the pool and days out exploring further afield.
Every time I visit, I come away wishing I could stay and enjoy a few days there myself. Whether you stay here or just stop for a visit to the winery and cellars to taste the estate's wines, you will surely leave already planning on your return.
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