This review was submitted by Emma who went on a family holiday to Tuscany with the grandparents, her husband and two young boys.
During the May half term we set off on our first trip abroad with our two boys, aged 2.5 and 4.5. We also took my parents as support, not really knowing how it would work out, given that we were all used to holidays in the UK. I got various travel tips from Mini Travellers and other friends and blogs and felt I was prepared as I could have been – and we had a fantastic time!
We decided on Italy as we love the country and the people, not to mention the food! I used Baby Friendly Boltholes for my search, which was really easy to use and I quickly narrowed my choices down to three options. We decided on San Martino as the flights worked well, there was only 1 hour transfer time and the villa ticked every box. The journey there was great (apart from slow security checks through Manchester Airport), the boys coped brilliantly and were very excited about getting on a plane. I had packed their bags with a couple of sticker books and activity packs which along with toy cars and food kept them more than entertained on the journey. We flew into Pisa airport, which doesn’t have the greatest set up for car hire so please take note! You have to walk (or take a bus) to the car hire place which is about 500m, and the queues were large so it took us over an hour to get our vehicle, not helped by the fact it was pouring down when we arrived! Once sorted though, we got on with the drive and found San Martino with relative ease following their instructions.
The villa was superb, with three bedrooms, one family bathroom, one en-suite with rain shower and a nice lounge/dinning/kitchen area which was very well appointed. There was a welcome food/drink package waiting for us of 3 bottles of local wine, the estates olive oil (delicious and so different from what we have over here!), water, milk, bread, cheese, ham, olives and food to make a pasta dish. The favourite was an enormous fresh fruit bowl which my youngest soon started devouring!
There is a local restaurant about 7 minutes drives away which served delicious pizza made by Roberto amongst other things, the staff were very friendly and we all instantly felt like we were on holiday!
We had a fresh bakery delivery the first morning and enjoyed complementary croissants and bread whilst enjoying the view from one of our two outdoor eating areas. The garden was brilliantly kitted out for the boys with a badminton net, golf set, bowls, lego, blackboard the list goes on. Inside was also well catered for with a ‘treasure chest’ full of toys to keep them occupied if the weather wasn’t too good. There is also Sky TV and a DVD player, although amazingly they weren’t interested in sitting inside even when the weather wasn’t good.
In addition to what was in the villa, there was a lovely pool which was a 1 minute walk through the forest (a gate at either end ensured the children couldn’t access the pool unaided). The pool had lots of toys and inflatables which the boys loved. It was an infinity pool which although meant it was a bit cold (particularly as we didn’t have the greatest weather) did give the boys a great feature of a waterfall and splash pool which they spent a lot of time playing in.
Just beyond the pool was a great play area with swings, slides, sandpit etc which again came in useful when the weather wasn’t sunny enough to sit by the pool.
We had a few day trips out; places we enjoyed were San Gimignano (although it was nicer early evening when there weren’t as many tourist – ironic, I know!), we found a real Italian Castle between Castelfiorentio and Certaldo, and a beautiful town in Certaldo Alta where the boys played with some Italian school children and had a great time! The food was, as to be expected, superb. For the boys the highlights were Tuna and Oliver Pizza, Spaghetti Cabonara and of course, the Gelato (ice cream)! We had some treats too, a great meal in Gambassi of Spagetti and Lobster followed by Monkfish and Pork fillet. Another beautiful place was in Mura in a gorgeous setting with a great play area and very tasty food.
To summarise, we had a superb time, the villa was perfect and we had great communication with Lisa (the owner) in the run up to our stay and Pietro (the manager on site) was attentive to anything we needed. There was plenty to see and do at the villa and in the local area (we didn’t stray more than 30 minutes), and both the food and the people were just as we had hoped – fabulous!