Travel for us, I realize, is not all about discovering the untainted slices of nature or about the secluded spots in the old towns; not just finding tiny coffee shops in quaint alleyways with the scent of finely brewed coffee and freshly baked cookies wafting out of the door; not just about exploring the woods where the birds sing and the leaves rustle in the cool afternoon breeze; and not just about the long drives through the countryside, by the fields of barley or the golden sunflowers, by the turquoise ocean or through the plains under the starry midnight sky. As much as we love each of these little joys associated with the kind of travel plans we make, I realize there is one other major factor that has made each of our little trips to various corners of the world happier, warmer and more memorable. The people.
When we planned our trip to the south of Tuscany a few months ago, we knew exactly what we wanted. A little boutique hotel in a tiny village somewhere far away from the Chiantis and the Sienas and the Florences and the herds of tourists associated with those names. Somewhere we could celebrate my 29th birthday in peace. Somewhere simple, fuss free and unpretentious. Somewhere happy. After going through a heap of suggestions (you know there is never a dearth of hotels and wineries in the region), we found this one suggestion that somehow felt like it was beckoning to us. Locanda la Pieve.
Nuzzled in one of the narrow lanes of the quiet and pretty village of Semproniano in the Grossetta province of Tuscany, Locanda la Pieve is a quaint boutique hotel run by the sweetest couple, Enrico and Angela. Enrico manages the kitchen and is the head chef while Angela wears the many other hats. Just as we arrived, Angela was there to welcome us and we could sense the love and the warmth that goes into the running of this hotel. Somehow, we knew straightaway that this place spelt out H-O-M-E like no other.
Location: Semproniano is the perfect spot if you want a quiet nook to spend a few days while you roam around the region tasting wine, relaxing under the trees, exploring the villages nearby or driving around the countryside. It is about an hour and a half away from Rome and is equidistant from the Tuscan mountain towns and the seashore. The proximity to the thermal spa at Saturnia adds to the advantages picking this spot for your glorious Tuscan holiday.
Décor: Locanda la Pieve is all about an experience reminiscent of your own home. The décor is simple, warm and comfortable. Be it the cozy furnishings at the entrance or the pretty dining area with the morning light streaming in through the thin white curtains, or even the cozy living corner where you can read a book or chat while sipping on a glass of Prosecco which Angela lovingly offers to bring for you, when you loiter around the kitchen, while you wait for the yummy dinner to be served. The rooms, again, are unpretentious, comfortable and leaves nothing to be desired, with the windows opening into the quiet lanes of beautiful Semproniano.
Food: Good Lord the food! Enrico weaves magic with his food, I kid you not. Locanda la Pieve uses only fresh, organic and seasonal produce (this is a philosophy that they swear by) and this becomes evident with every bite you take of the food that is served with love that is not experienced very often outside our homes. Both breakfast (complimentary) and dinner (upon request) is provided to the residents. There is no menu to choose from and I felt this was the best part about our meals there. Dinner comprises anything Enrico whips up using the freshest produce purchased from the local farmer; surprise antipasti, first course, second course and dessert, every day, each vying for the top spot in every meal. It has been two days since I last had a meal from their kitchen and believe me, my mouth is flooded at the mere thought of their handmade Pici in garlic and tomato sauce or my birthday dinner there. Yummm. Oh and ask Angela for wine recommendations!
People: If there is absolutely anything that the food at Locanda la Pieve would take second place to, it’s the kind of people that run this little place. It is their home that they open up to the public and they make you feel so welcome that it’s difficult to say goodbye and return to normalcy. I still remember what Angela said when she came with a steel tray laden with two glasses of Prosecco, some beautiful olives and some munchies. She set the tray down and said with a warm smile “Welcome! But this is the last time we say welcome and you say thank you. Familia, okay?” and she meant every word.
We have stayed at a number of hotels, home stays and the like in many different corners of the world. But somehow, Angela and Enrico will forever have a special place in our hearts. Something about the way she looks at you when you struggle to finish the plate of food (only because I have a tiny stomach and the portions are super generous haha), something about the way they greet you first thing early in the morning, the stories, something about the care they took to make sure my birthday was perfect, the little bag of cookies she baked specially for me, the “no munchies with your Prosecco today, or you will not eat dinner”, everything.
Something tells me that we have left a piece of our souls in Semproniano, and that we have found for ourselves a home in Italy that we will need to keep going back to and friends to keep for a lifetime. Thank you Angela and Enrico for the absolutely lovely experience! Cannot wait to come right back 🙂
PS: This is not a paid post or an advertisement. I mean every word and I feel the world deserves to experience the warmth and hospitality Locanda la Pieve has in store.