San Marco's drive winds through its olive grove, passes its wrought iron gates and up its avenue of pencil pines before arriving at this classic Italian villa, where our wonderful 'housekeeper' will greet you. Completely refurbished & with a wonderful poolhouse, the tranquil Villa San Marco is set in its parklike grounds of 4 acres, surrounded by fields, yet it has stunning views down the valley to Lake Trasimeno and also up the hill to the Etruscan city of Cortona, which alone would take many weeks to explore. The villa is spacious, bright, beautifully decorated, elegantly furnished with many antiques and it has a warm family atmosphere. The refurbishment created 6 new bathrooms (1 in the poolhouse), 2 fabulous 'cooks' kitchens (one indoors and one outside), a breakfast room with doors opening directly into the ivy-clad pergola, total redecoration and huge 'behind the scenes' improvements, e.g. very high specification hot water, heating and electricity systems.
- Separate WCs1
- Minimum Stay7 nights
Fully refurbished Cortona, Tuscany villa- Secluded and Tranquil with Stunning Views, but Very Near Major Towns
- Response rate:
- Response time:
- within a few hours
- English, Housekeeper; UK, Italian, German, French, Dutch +
- Calendar last updated:
- 15 Jul 2018
About Andrew Ball
My wife's family is in Australia and we have friends dotted around the globe, so we spend many months a year staying in other people's homes. This has given us considerable insight into what works in making a functioning home and what doesn't. This, combined with my wife's considerable talent as an interior designer, especially in relation to colours, and my perfectionism has enabled us to create homes that are calm and welcoming- places where people feel relaxed. We were confirmed francophiles until we discovered Italy about 15 years ago and since then we have not looked back. The Tuscans are such happy and welcoming people, with a zest for life, especially really fresh, natural food and their sense of humour is superb. We manage about 3 months per year in Tuscany and love every momen
Andrew Ball purchased this Villa in 2006
Why Andrew Ball chose Cortona
We rented properties nearby in 2005/6 and had fallen wildly in love with Cortona, a true gem of a city within the magic of Tuscany and so central for visiting much of what it has to offer. The first property was a converted farmhouse and it looked great, but it just did not work as a dwelling- the staircase was outside, the kitchen was tiny, north facing and 50 yards away from the (fixed) place to eat outside. The pool was even further away. The second was a villa "near" Cortona, but it was actually a 30-40 minutes drive. The description of the accomodation looked good for 12, but more that half the bedrooms were in the attic with sloping ceilings and unlockable windows at floor level.... and we had several young children! We saw San Marco and fell in love with everything about it; ideal location, tranquil gardens, stunning views in all directions, spacious well-proportioned rooms, big swimming pool, productive olive grove and even a 1973 Fiat 500 in the garage! We did not even look at any other property- enough said.
What makes this Villa unique
We lived in San Marco for several months over 2 years before making any changes, but we then made structural alterations in all but two rooms in order to end up with a (brand new) villa that really worked. We took 30+feet off many of the trees to restore the glorious views and planted the drive of pencil pines, an orchard and a vegetable/herb garden. A couple of years later we completed my dream of a poolhouse, wood oven and BBQ to enable 12 people to be entertained outside without having to go back to the villa, i.e. everything necessary, down to a full kitchen, all tableware, a changing room and bathroom were right there beside the pool. We are so fortunate to have a wonderful and incredibly capable multi-lingual housekeeper, who project managed all our upgrades. She is one of our dearest friends and really looks after our guests.
Pool / Spa
Local Services & Businesses
Sports & Adventure Activities
Beautiful Italian Retreat
Beautiful Italian Retreat- Tuscany Italy
This Villa is not only beautiful, in a great location but it also is equipped with all the modern facilities you would need. During this week, we barely left the villa, apart from to top up on the yummy wine and food from the near-by supermarkets.
Guests: 12 young professionals from the UK.
Villa Accommodation: all good size double bedrooms, decorated beautifully in line with the style of the villa. Several the rooms are en suite and a few share 2 separate showers rooms. There is a large kitchen with all the appliances that you could wish for (coffee machine, dishwashers, washing machine, ect…).
Facilities: HUGE pool perfect to cool down during the hot super months. Ideal for pool games (we played water-volley ball each afternoon). On top of this, there is a pool toilet and changing rooms along with a fully functioning kitchen in the Pool House, so you do not need to go back to the main house for. There are lots of sunbeds surrounding the pool, set in a large garden. The villa is set far from the road so you feel you have escaped from the world. What we really loved was the croquet lawn which is perfect for sundowners before dinner.
On top of this there is an outside dining area (seating +14people) that looks over the pool and surrounding area.
In the evening the outdoor Pizza Oven and separate BBQ was fantastic. We had pizza making competitions and long leisurely dinners. We only ventured to nearby Crotona for dinner one evening and it was lovely. There are lots of choices for dinner/ drinks in a picturesque setting.
Near-by activities: Tennis courts in Crotona, Pedalo & swimming at Lake Trasimeno there is a quaint island that you can peddle to that has several lovely little restaurants serving local food. (For those not inclined to exercise there is a regular ferry). Top of this there are many Golf courses, Vineyards and lovely local restaurants. We had a lovely lunch at Casa Mia, in Camucia, which served the local delicacy, Pici.
Overall we had a fantastic holiday and would jump at the opportunity to return! You can tell that the Owners love their home and really want their guests too as well. It is 5* accommodation!!!
Lisa, many thanks for taking the time to write. Our team works hard to provide much more than any group can use in a single holiday, so it is lovely to hear about all the things you packed in to just one week.
When can we go back?
What a treat to stay in Andrew and Shan's beautiful Tuscan Villa. My only negative was that the week went too quickly but that is the sign of a truly great holiday.
The villa was stunning, spacious and immaculate both inside and out which is a reflection of the love and care that Andrew and Shan put into the property.
Whether you want to kick back and relax or fill your day with activities, the villa and surrounding areas cater for all. We had fantastic days relaxing by the pool, indulging in long lunches and enjoying alfresco suppers (the wood-fired oven even inspired the less enthusiastic chefs in our group to test their pizza making skills!) Activities interspersed the day from early morning tennis at the Cortona Tennis Club (perched on the hill with beautiful views), followed by Gelato in Cortona, afternoon volleyball in the pool, golf, evening croquet and late night cards washed down with the finest Tuscan wine!
I highly recommend a trip to Lake Trasimeno and hiring a pedalo and heading for the island in the middle of the lake for lunch in one of the many shore-side restaurants. Having pedaloed back we then headed up to Castiglione del Lago which offers incredible views of the lake (and an opportunity to admire our pedalo efforts - as Lisa said there is also the option of a ferry if you don't fancy an hour on the pedalo!)
I often think that there is a risk of 'cabin fever' on villa holidays. Not here, I could have stayed for weeks.
Thank you Andrew and Shan!
Beautiful, grand and picturesque Villa
The Villa was beautiful both inside and out, with amazingly decorated rooms in keeping with the grand and rustic Tuscan style. We had everything we needed and much, much more, enabling us to stay most evenings in the Villa, drinking red Tuscan wine by the pool and eating homemade pizzas (and thanks to the outdoor pizza oven, the cooking could all be done in the sun!). I stayed at the Villa with a group of 12 friends and it accommodated us perfectly with its spacious and airy rooms.
The Villa provided a lovely relaxing setting with views out across the farmland and over the olive orchard. It was a brilliant place to read by the pool and soak up some sun. The gardens are wonderfully kept with bright and lovely flowers and the pool was the prefect size and height for some epic volleyball matches! With the array of equipment available, we were also able to play a few rounds of croquet on the front lawn and some badminton over the pool.
The Villa is a walk away from the hill top village of Cortona, where you can wander down the cobbled streets with a tasty ice cream in hand browsing shop windows. Cortona also has well kept, clay tennis courts, which we all played on in the mornings before heading back to the Villa for a dip in the pool.
The pool house has all the facilities you need to cook and eat for at least 14 people, each day we would sit along the lovely wooden table that overlooks the pool and olive orchard for a tasty lunch.
I would definitely recommend a stay here, and cannot wait to return again myself!
Thanks Andrew and Shan!!!
Totally Incredible Villa; Take me back!
What can I say, from the moment we pulled up we were blown away by the beauty and location of the place. Perfectly appointed and maintained, this magical villa has everything.
The main focal point for us was the swimming pool area where you'll find (unsurprisingly) a swimming pool which is the perfect size and depth for families with young ones as well as older groups who are partial to a cheeky game of water volleyball or 20. There is also a large al fresco dining area which can seat all guests but what really makes it stand out is the real wood burning BBQ and pizza oven. We had great fun making our own pizzas in this bad boy and it really made the holiday extra memorable for us.
We were even fortunate enough to meet the owners Sian and Andrew, who happened to be leaving as we arrived but hung around to greet us and give us some extra info and handy tips which were much appreciated.
The local towns Camucia and Cortona are beautiful and you won't struggle for things to do ot places to go out to eat and there is even a stunning lake (Tresemeno) just 15 mins drive away where you can hire a peddelo and ride over to the beautiful island in the middle of the lake for a glorious seafood lunch and an Aperol Spritz.
I hope to return next summer to what is now one of my favourite places.
This is the third time we have been to San Marco and we can't begin to tell you what a fantastic time we have had in this beautiful home. It is honestly one of the most enjoyable and relaxing holidays we have ever had. The weather has been perfect - hot during the day and blissfully cool in the evenings and at night. The villa is incredibly comfortable with every last detail thought of. The pool house is a great meeting place for the whole family and the pizza oven tests everyone's cooking skills! Also there are interesting towns and vineyards within easy driving distance making this a fun holiday venue for all.
The perfect getaway
We have had a wonderful two weeks in this beautiful home. The house itself is really lovely and a credit to its owners. We loved the combination of beautifully decorated rooms with the benefit of every modern convenience - there is no detail or possible need which hasn't been considered!
However, most of our time was spent at the pool area, again - the pool house kitchen is wonderfully equipped, so our cooking was all done there and our eating all al fresco. The pool itself is just lovely, large and inviting, with cleaning done discreetly on a regular basis.
Carol looked after us so well on arrival, providing us with lots of useful information and the house book gave us lots of ideas for eating out both locally and further afield.
Cortona is just lovely, with beautiful old, meandering streets. We went most days to have coffee or an evening meal. We also went to Siena, Florence (by train, thank you for the tip), Assisi (our favourite), Montepulciano (great wine tasting) and Perugia (great chocolate!!).
We certainly hope to return to San Marco before long.
SPECIAL INTEREST HOLIDAYS:
COOKERY COURSES - we can arrange wonderful 1 day courses with a great local Mama who meets you for coffee in Cortona, teaches you what and how to buy the best local produce and then takes you back to her home for you to prepare, cook and eat it. I went with one guest and immediately signed up for two more! SHOPPING - there are 3 excellent outlet villages within an hour's drive.
ANTIQUE MARKET- over the weekend of the first Sunday of the month (apart from August) Arezzo hosts the largest outdoor antique market in Europe.
ETRUSCAN TOMBS - we can arrange a tour of 3 significant local local tombs by one of the leading authorities- a highly entertaining American lady.
HAND-PAINTED POTTERY - Deruta, about 40 minutes by car is one of the largest towns in Italy for producing fine hand-painted pottery. We can arrange a private tour of a factory so you can see the whole process from clay to finished article and watch the highly skilled painters at work.
There are several guarded beaches on Lake Trasimeno (20 minutes away). There are ferries going out to the islands and there is also sailing.
Ryanair flys from Stanstead to Perugia (40 mins drive). BA/Meridiana from Gatwick to Florence (1hr 20 mins drive). BA, Easyjet and others to Pisa (1 hr 45 mins drive), Ryannair to Ancona (1 hr 50mins drive), Ryanair to Bologna Forli (1 hr 50 mins drive) and numerous airlines to Rome (2 hrs drive). Car hire is essential, though if some guests in your party are not hiring a car then the railway stations of Camucia (5 mins drive) or Terontola (7 mins drive) are on the direct Rome to Florence line.
If you can drag yourself away from the pool, the villa and its grounds and Cortona, then Sienna, Assissi, Montepulciano, Perugia, Arrezzo, Pienza, Lake Trasimeno and scores of hill-top villages are all within an hour's drive and Florence and Rome, which are not very car-friendly, are easily accessable by rail from Camucia (5 mins drive) or Terontola (7 mins drive). Over 30 excellent restaurants, shopping and more than all the usual facilities (including 5 supermarkets!) within a 10 minute drive.
Languages- our 'housekeeper' speaks English, Italian, French, German and Spanish and can book restaurants, etc for you.
Eating out- there are about 20 restaurants in and around Cortona and 10 in or around Camucia (i.e. all within a 10 minute drive), so the choice is awesome and it is difficult to get a bad meal. The house book describes our favorites.
Exploring Cortona- it has only one level road, fortunately the main one. Otherwise it is extremely hilly, quite fascinating and you keep on chancing upon the most unbelievable views. Anyone (and not just Frances Mayes of 'Under the Tuscan Sun', the book and film about falling in love with Cortona) who has been there longs to go back. It has extraordinary Churches, really ancient buildings, excellent museums, exhibitions, music festivals and opera. It has several great shops, a Saturday market and a passegiata on Sunday.
Shopping locally- Camucia is a more modern town with shops selling most things, a large market on Thursdays and 4 excellent supermarkets, the newest, only 3 or 4 mins away. There are plenty of banks and cash machines.
Activities- the surrounding land is criss-crossed with paths suitable for walking or cycling and for those wishing to raise their heart-rate the hills of Cortona are very steep, fabulously rewarding and only a few 100yds away. There is an impressive tennis and country club in Cortona, a spa in the neighbouring (4 star) hotel, sailing on Lake Trasmeno (20 mins drive), 3 9 hole golf courses within 30 mins drive and 2 18 hole courses within about an hour's drive, horse-riding at several local schools.
Jazz- Perugia hosts the spectacular 10 day Umbrian Jazz Festival in mid July (it has fielded stars such as BB King, James Taylor, Simply Red, Steely Dan, George Benson, Herbie Hancock & Tony Bennett, Mark Knopfler, Sonny Rollins, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorterand many more).
Art- Cortona hosts many exhibitions, concerts and pageants.
Booking Notes: We can hold an option on our villa for you for 3 days. Changeover Day: Rental starts at 4.30-7.30 p.m. on the day of arrival and ends at 9.30a.m. on the day of departure. Arrival-departure days are Saturdays and the minimum booking period is 7 days. Outside of the main season this is negotiable. Notes on prices: Prices are for the villa per week in euros. There is a security or damages deposit of euro600 (+euro500 if using the cinema room) payable in cash on arrival. Subject to any deductions for damages, excessive cleaning, phone, heating oil, etc., this will be returned in your local currency shortly after you leave.