This 14th century barn converted into a contemporary B&B is located in the quiet, lush Tuscan countryside, only a short drive away from Florence, Arezzo, Siena and Chianti wineries.
How would you describe Follonico in a nutshell?
Follonico is not really a place for tourists. It’s a home for us that we opened up to our guests, so the quality of the linens, the beds, the furnishings and decoration are all what we prefer for our own home. It’s a real place.
What makes our bed and breakfast special is the location within this Tuscan landscape due to it having been preserved by farmers since the 15th century.
Why did you leave your previous life to restore a property and rent it out as a small hotel?
We were tired of the city. We wanted to create something tailor-made just for us, which is why we bought a ruin rather than something that was already finished.
Before, we had wasted a lot of time commuting. We wanted more quality of life for ourselves, as well as for our kids.
Why is the slow living philosophy important to you?
I feel I get back 25 days of my life every year with this slower lifestyle. That’s the difference between a crazy city life and a slower live in the country. I try to encourage my guests to do the same. Try to just slow down, stop your car, have a walk, breathe, smell, do all those things.
We also encourage our guests to travel to the smaller Tuscan villages nearby rather than the bigger cities. People in the area all believe in this way of living. This way, guests experience a real farming tradition and the food that comes from it.
Is it possible to visit the local cheese makers?
Some of the places we suggest have the full production — they raise the sheep on grass and produce the cheese on-site. The grasses have a different taste every season, so the quality of the milk can vary in flavor. You can also taste the difference between the cheese produced in the winter when the cows have hay compared to when they have access to grass in the other months.
The cheese you get in shops or on the road, they’re produced for the mass market, getting their milk from other places like France, Spain or Turkey, so they have a flatter taste. The local cheeses are much more flavorful.
What about visiting the Tuscan wineries?
Some guests like to visit the more famous Tuscan wineries and have already booked their tours. That wine is an industry, not farming, so we try to convince them to go to the smaller farmers to taste the difference. The flavors of the local wines are amazing.