Camping in Tuscany, August 2016

by Emma Bumpus on August 29, 2016

Summer brings a lush palette of sizzling sunflowers, Chianti burdened vineyards and fruitful leafy green mass of stunning landscape fit for the intrepid likes of Careertraveller and family.

Abandoning the car, we take a 90 minute hour train journey from Florence to Chiusi, which bursting with elegant sky scraper cypress trees and lashings of pure Mediterranean olive groves plunges us into the heart of Tuscany.

A sweet and gentle bus ride is a fleeting ascent to the hilltop village of Sarteano, a medieval hamlet of traditional stone houses peppered with winding alleyways that smack of history, good food and culture.

Destination Parco Delle Piscine is a gateway to nature where 3 thermo mineral water swimming pools reside in an evergreen park of entertainment brimming with sport and unlimited alfresco space.

Home is a tree-lined thoroughfare boasting pristine mobile homes with decorative praiseworthy verandas that stretch neatly across the patio, beaming with essential sun loungers, BBQ and outdoor dining area. Enveloped in a botanical haven of glossy laurel and eucalyptus we begin a unique camping experience that starts with an Italian stove cafetiere and 5-minute walk to the local bakery, where we develop a Tuscan palate!

A wander round the site is a harmonious display of fresh country living fit for swimmers, hikers, runners and leisurites. Uplifting shades of green are a wondrous display of flora and fauna amidst the fragrant lavender, sage and rosemary that thrive around the bar, a sociable hub of pizza, cornetti and all things pleasurable beneath the Tuscan sun! A babble of English, Dutch, German, Italian and American fills the air with intoxicating conversation from worldwide travellers and families in search of fun and adventure.

Soaring scented pine trees sway gracefully above the tennis, basketball and volleyball courts offering a generous shade for the energetic. As the midday sun peaks we take a seat below the grape clad pergola that overlooks the far-reaching lawn, an afternoon pleasure dome for children.

From football tournaments and water slides to picnics and sunbathing Parco Delle Piscine is a camping oasis full of inspiration, health and fun. Whilst the little ones explore the rubber tiled adventure playground the adults watch and workout from the nearby Vitagym, whose cardio machinery musters a healthy appetite and excuse to sample lunch at the camp’s Piscine Restaurant.

Panzanella salad brings regional cuisine and pure happiness to the table with chunks of bread and fresh tomatoes which endorses a glass of reserve Chianti on the balcony overlooking the shimmering turquoise Large Pool. Designed by Japanese architect and landscape designer Haruki Miyagima we absorb the waterfall and adjacent hydromassage spa amidst the rolling Tuscan hills that reflect his meditative philosophy “Green unites what man divides”.

Plot to plate brings a thirst for culture as we embark on the camp’s evening Sarteano and Surroundings guided tour, a picturesque trail that takes us through the town’s ancient streets and up to the 14th century castle along the Etruscan roads. From a mountainous free flowing spring water path that feeds into the campsite pools we pass rural farmhouses and antique churches offering panoramic views of the Val di Chiana and UNESCO Val D’Orcia plains, a stunning canvas of Renaissance Siena!

Back in town our amicable guide Eugenio rewards us with a customary Tuscan wine and food tasting session pit stop that celebrates the likes of Pecorino, Prosciutto and local Terre Di Siena red and white wine. Enthused and revitalised we swing by the local macellaio or ‘butcher’ for a flavourful Florentine-style steak famously known as Bistecca alla Fiorentina and prepare a rustic campsite BBQ beneath the Tuscan skies.

Mornings bring sunrise swims and unhurried bike rides that shower us with golden wheat fields and perfumed woodlands bursting with seasonal colour and provincial pride. Ready for a day of sightseeing we hop on a bus to nearby Montepulciano, which presents a breath-taking 40-minute long alpine backdrop famous for the filming of the vampire saga Twilight sequel ‘New Moon’.

A hilly ascent past pretty boutiques teeming with elegant merchandise reveals the Church of Saint Augustine, whose 15th century marble facade designed by Italian artist and sculptor Michelozzo exposes a beautiful wooden statue of the Virgin Mary and child.

Lunch at the refined Caffè Poliziano is an excuse to sample the restaurant’s Tuscan cuisine from the summer terrace laced with vibrantly coloured petunias and geraniums. A mixture of Vino Nobile reserve, Tuscan Platter and dazzling hazy blue mountain views are a sky-high cinematic experience that leaves our heads in the clouds!

Back in Sarteano events hot up for the evening’s eminent La Gisotra del Saracen or ‘Saracen Games’, an equestrian game where cavaliers on horseback compete for a ring hanging from the shield of a wooden statue. Crowds fill the streets ready for the afternoon’s ceremonial parade of medieval clad drummers, kings, queens and knights and swamp the air with traditional summer excitement. Five players with five colours representing teams storm the high street at great speed with lances and joust with proud ancient gusto.

Parco Delle Piscine takes authentic camping to the next level with family friendly cookery classes that feed the soul with pici all’aglione or pasta with spicy garlic tomato sauce, alongside ravioli with butter and sage. Maria our hostess is the real deal with her open-air gastronomic class demonstrations, which set beneath a canopy of love amidst the Tuscan hills starts with a wooden board full of eggs, flour, oil and water and ends with a pot of fresh pasta and good old-fashioned Italian sauce.

A final play in the Kid’s Pool and saunter round the park is a reminder of why holidaymakers and nature lovers return yearly to this sustainable tourism paradise, which gives new meaning to camping.

Further information:

Parco Delle Piscine
Sarteano & surrounding area excursions
Terre Di Siena

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