VBT’s Lodging of the Month: Agriturismo Montebelli

We like to have our travelers experience as much of the local culture as possible while on a VBT vacation—including the scenery, food, people, and especially your accommodations.  “Distinctive Lodgings with Local Charm” is a tagline we like to use because we feel as though your lodging should be a destination in itself—a haven meant to savor. You can find short descriptions when you click on the “accommodations” tab on all our vacation pages on the VBT website—but we wanted to delve a little bit deeper here. So we’re starting a series of blog posts highlighting some of our accommodations.  This month we’d like to tell you about one of our favorites, Agriturismo Montebelli, found on our The Tuscan Coast bicycling vacation. Located in the Maremma region of Tuscany,  Montebelli is situated on immaculately maintained grounds with olive trees, vineyards, and flowers. Guest can also enjoy tennis courts, archery, bocce courts, an outdoor pool, and a stable with horseback riding facilities and instructor! And who better to tell you more about this fantastic hotel then the folks at Montebelli themselves—Enjoy!

conference-room-outdoorsHRweb

Well, first of all, what does  Maremma stand for? If you try searching on google you would get lots of information on theOakTree_7948web white shepherd dog but way past half the page you would learn something more about this beautiful territory located in the south west part of Tuscany.  When travelling through this grand territory you are overwhelmed by the beautiful landscapes of its rich and unspoiled natural environment. Views from the countryside, seaside, mountains and rolling hills unfold in a mesmerizing dream come true.

Agriturismo Montebelli--View

Maremma has a long time tradition in farming thus saving it from uncontrolled exploitation. Be prepared to enjoy good food and wine. Some of the best Tuscan wines from this area are Morellino di Scansano DOC* and Bianco di Pitigliano DOC. The Mediterranean diet here is at its best—seasonal fruits and vegetables, milk, sheep cheese, meat, wild boar and seafood make for top culinary specialties.

HikingTrail_7935webThe territory offers ample choice for physical well being; apart from the tracks and trails to cover on foot or by bike, there are infinite opportunities for practicing sports like golf, horse-riding, water-sports, boating, fishing. On top of that, spa breaks are easy to get almost everywhere. Saturnia is well known  for its beneficial hot springs.

Last but not least, for those seeking cultural sites and events, Maremma boasts a historical heritage dating back to 750 B.C during the Etruscan times—Amazing!

And what about Montebelli?

Agriturismo Montebelli--Exterior at night
Montebelli Agriturismo & Country Hotel is an oasis of peace and relaxation located in the softly rolling hills and olive groves of the Maremma countryside. It is twenty minutes from the Tyrrhenian coast and close to the art treasures of Tuscany. Montebelli offers its guests the very best of Tuscan hospitality and lifestyle. A stay at Montebelli includesArbor_Scene_7125web holistic wellbeing for its Spa treatments, healthy cuisine prepared with organic produce, outdoor activities, sports as well as a quiet and relaxing ambience.  The century-old olive groves lining our Agriturismo grow olives used to make the excellent Fabula I.G.P. extra-virgin olive oil—the ultimate in olive oil for people who choose wellness as a lifestyle choice. But Montebelli is much more. The Zampinaio vineyard grows Sangiovese and Vermentino grapes, while the Giannino vineyard grows Sangiovese, Sirah and Montepulciano grapes. Both vineyards span 8 hectares and are classified as “DOC Monteregio di Massa Marittima”. These vineyards produce a range of noble Tuscan wines like the Fabula DOC Reserve—a jewel in Montebelli’s wine cellar—as well as the excellent Acantos red wine.

Our joy is your satisfaction. We are pleased to welcome you to our little Oasis..

*DOC stands for “Denominazione di origine controllata”—Controlled designation of origin—and is a quality assurance label for Italian food products, especially wines

Cross-Country Skiing Slovenia, Austria & Italy with VBT

VBT Slovenia LEAD

This winter VBT is offering five, fabulous cross-country ski vacations throughout the world to the Canadian Rockies, Dolomites, Julian Alps, Green Mountains, and Yellowstone National Park. Over the next month we’ll be posting a series DSC_3658short blogs that will highlight some of the great experiences—both on and off the trail—that these active vacations are chocked full of. For those of you who don’t know, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations added a new line of three Cross-country ski vacations in the winter of 2012/2013.  After a wildly successful first year, we’ve added 2 more vacations for the 2014 season. Each trip includes all accommodations, round-trip airfare—on European vacations—many meals, two expert local Trip Leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities. This week we kick off the month long series with a brief introduction to our Slovenia, Italy & Austria: Cross-Country Skiing the Alps vacation, which has five departures throughout January and February of 2014.

DSC_4370Tucked away in a snowy corner of Europe, the distinct cultures of Slovenia, Austria and Italy come together in the Julian Alps. Our journey begins in the shadows of Mount Triglav—the Julian range’s highest peak—in the Slovenian resort town of Kranjska Gora. There, we’ll glide along some of the regions finest ski trails and even ski up to visit the largest ski jump in the world, in Planica, during the trip.

As we crossover in to Italy, we’ll spend a morning in the picturesque village of ValbrunaMAR_1064 skiing through peaceful woods, alongside small streams and stunning views of vast snow-covered mountains like Mount Lussari. One of the “off the trail” activities that make this trip so special is an afternoon visit to Ararad Khatchikian’s International Sled Dog School in Tarvisio. Here, we’ll learn how this important means of alpine transport became a sport and then get to enjoy a dog sled ride, mushing the dogs ourselves!

DSC_3904The third country we’ll visit on this wonderful vacation is Austria. Our Austrian skiing adventure begins in Ramsau which lies on a plateau in the midst of the rugged Alpine terrain—an ideal locale for some word-class cross-country skiing. As per usual on a VBT vacations we’ll ski at our own pace, whether it is slow and steady on the flat valley trail or a vigorous jaunt up to another breathtaking vista. Many meals are included in the price of a VBT vacation and one of our favorites on this trip is the night we walk about a mile for our hotel up to the Gruberstube, which offers traditional Austrian fare, including a variety of fondues and a large selection of excellent wines from the region and beyond.

DSC_4923So join us this winter out on the trails in some of the world’s most jaw dropping cross-country skiing destinations. With VBT, after a fun-filled adventure day out in the snow, you’ll have a warm fire, comfortable bed and delicious, authentic meals to enjoy by nightfall. See you next week as the series continues with a blog about our Italy: Cross-Country Skiing the Dolomites​ vacation!

TRIVIA: The first person to answer the following question correctly in the comments section below will win a “VBT Ski Pack” complete with a VBT winter hat, ski ties & poster – Good luck!

What is the name of the warm, sweet winter drink found in small Alpine towns of Northern Italy…and on both of our European ski vacations?