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Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of sketchandtravel.com is pleased to have as our guest  Marino Demata,  Owner of Villa S. Stefano, a town located just outside of Chiusi  in Tuscany, Italy. Marino is here to share his knowledge about the area and tell us more about vacationing in this part of the world.


Good day Marino and thanks for participating in our interview.




Marino, could you tell our readers something about yourself and how you became interested in the hospitality business?




Well, Villa S.Stefano was the house where I lived with my wife and daughter for years. In 1997 I retired from my job as a high school Philosophy teacher, and my wife started a job in Florence at the Cultural County Department. Consequently, we decided to move to Florence (which is about an hour away from Chiusi) and started renting out the villa to holidaymakers.


During the first year, we rented largely to friends from the
USA and Canada, who in turn recommended our place to their friends and relatives, thereby expanding our client base. We also made deals with travel agents to increase our business.




What is an Azienda Agrituristica and how does it play a role in tourism?




Literally translated, "Azienda Agrituristica" means "Farm Holiday", although I believe that term is not exactly appropriate for our place. Most Farm Holiday villas are divided into individual apartments, which we chose not to do. We believe our guests value and appreciate the quiet and seclusion and would prefer not to have to share the pool, garden and other services. Our property is for just one family or one group: guests can enjoy the peace and nature in total privacy.

We do refer to our villa as "Azienda Agrituristica S.Stefano" as well as Villa S. Stefano because the villa is situated on 4 hectares of Chianti Vineyards and 500 olive trees and fruit trees. Our guests very much enjoy our Extra Virgin Olive Oil and wine!




Where is Chiusi and how does one travel there from North America or other parts of Europe?




Chiusi is situated in a very strategic location, midway between Rome and Florence, both of which can be reached in 60 to 90 minutes driving or by train.

It is surrounded by beautiful towns and villages such as Perugia, Assisi, Arezzo, Siena, Montepulciano, Pienza, Cortona, Orvieto, Chianti area, Trasimeno lake and many more, all reachable in less than one hour from our Villa.




Tell us a little about Villa S. Stefano? Where it is located, what made you want to purchase it and how has been your experience with it up to now?




Villa S. Stefano is located in one of the most beautiful hills of Chiusi, with a stunning, 360 degree view over the Tuscany hills, Monte Cetona and the surrounding valleys. At the same time, it's only 5 minutes drive to the train station, supermarkets and the historical part of town.  For this reason, we strongly suggest a car rental for all of our guests!


We bought the property in the 1989 because of the house itself, which we restored, as well as the incredible position on the hill and the chance to run a mid-size Farm with vineyards and olive trees.




As a romantic destination or getaway, would you suggest Chiusi and its surrounding area as a destination? As a follow up, if you had to choose 6 romantic venues in and around Chiusi, which ones would you choose and why?




I believe Chiusi itself is a very romantic destination, with its sweet hills, the charm of the small streets of the old town, the peace of its beautiful lake. Therefore, if I had to choose 6 romantic venues, I would just start from Chiusi itself:


*** Take a walk through the ancient past, visiting the unique Etruscan tombs and the underground old city.  Chiusi was the capital of Etruscan Kingdom many years before the Roman power.


*** A romantic walk along the coast of the Lake Chiusi, which is also a nature preserve.

And here are four must visit destinations outside Chiusi:


*** A tour in the open wine caves of Montepulciano to taste (for free!) the famous Red Wine Nobile;


*** A visit to the most romantic village of Tuscany, Pienza, walking along the tiny old streets, such as "Via dell'Amore" (Street of Love).


*** Sitting on a rock and dipping your feet in the small, hot rivers of Bagno Vignoni.


*** Reaching Island Maggiore in the Lake Trasimeno by a romantic boat ride and enjoying a candle-light dinner in its charming restaurants.




What is there to do in and around Chiusi? What differentiates this town from others insofar as its location, uniqueness, etc is concerned?




As I mentioned before, I believe what differentiates Chiusi from other towns are the remnants of the Etruscan kingdom (the tombs, the underground city and the unique Etruscan Museum). The location is central and very strategic, giving our guests the ability to reach hundreds of beautiful towns and villages: an ideal base for unforgettable day trips!




How easy or difficult is it to get around Chiusi and how safe is travelling around the area?




Chiusi is an exit of the Highway A1 Rome Florence and it's situated between those two towns. Chiusi also has a very large railway station on the same line as Rome-Florence. You can also make connections with two other important destinations, Perugia and Siena.  In essence, you can be connected to all of Italy by train. Almost all the faster trains stop in Chiusi as well.


We are proud to live in one of the safest places of Italy (the whole of Tuscany is so) and have never had problems with the crime. When we lived in the villa, we often forgot to lock the doors at night or when we left the house. Many guests of the villa do the same!~




Are there any romantic dining establishments in the area of Chiusi and if so, please describe a few.



We regularly suggest some romantic restaurants to our guests.  Quite a few restaurants are situated around the lake. My favorite one sits on a hill overlooking the lake itself and is just on the border between Tuscany and Umbria.




Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered pertaining to Chiusi and the surrounding area?




Yes: I like very much the trip through Monte Amiata, less than one hour from Chiusi.  On other side of that mountain, the Monte Labro is a charming Buddhist Community. It's not a very well-known place, but it's really beautiful. It is considered one of the most important Buddhist Communities

of Europe.


I know that Richard Gere is a frequent guest there as well! I like the fascinating silence of that place: some call it "the Tibet of Europe, and they are probably are right!


Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

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