In April this year, we did a 14-day road trip in Italy with Momondo, as a part of our world ambassadorship and the project #LetsOpenOurWorld. While visiting Tuscany, me and Christine, stayed with a local family in their home.
It’s an experience called homestay, and we did a similar one in Nepal last year. I love this concept, and our stay with Rina and Battista in Montegonzi was really memorable, more on that later!
So, where did we stay?
Rina and Battista have their own house just right next to the Chianti wine region, and the closest village is called Montegonzi, which is a rather tiny village of 200 inhabitants. However, this fitted us perfectly. Calm and quiet, lots of greenery and scenery, but also within short driving distance from Chianti and other popular stops in Tuscany.
Below you can see the view over Montegonzi, from their house.
Our Homestay Experience in Tuscany
We stayed in Florence before taking the train to Montevarchi, which is the closest train station to Montegonzi and Rina and Battista’s house. Before arrival, we told them what time our train would be arriving, and they gladly met us by the train.
Already after having greeted them, you could feel the warmth and welcome feeling. Of course, in the beginning, it will always be a little quiet and you might not what to say because you don’t know each other yet.
However, that went quickly by, and already in the car, Rina told us a lot about the region. Upon arrival at their house, we had a cup of coffee and chatted a bit. Battista, Rina’s husband, didn’t speak that much English, but it was not really a problem to communicate because he was so friendly and welcoming as well.
Rina speaks English, and while I think she speaks English fine, she didn’t think so :) After a while, we followed Battista to cut the olive trees. They also produce olive oil and grow vegetables besides offering a homestay, and it’s all organic!
Below you can see Battista cutting the trees, and Christine also trying to cut some branches. I tried it as well, but we didn’t take a picture of it. A fun experience to see his daily work (not mandatory of course, we asked if we could tag along).
We met as strangers, but left as friends
One of the best parts of doing a homestay is just to sit down and have dinner together. We were served freshly made pasta, and I mean real Italian pasta, not Barilla or some other “cheap” brand. Fun fact: Barilla is considered a luxury pasta brand in Sweden, but in Italy, they eat real pasta, as they funnily explained to us.
Our first night we had a dinner together with Rina and Battista together with 3 other Italian guests. They didn’t speak a lot of English either, so there we were, but it was so much fun. Just because we didn’t understand each other very well, in the beginning, we tried even harder to converse through body language and similar words.
And after a while, I think we actually understood about 70% of what we said to each other. Of course, Rina was our translator as well from time to time, but she was also cooking and preparing the dishes, so we talked with Battista and the 3 other Italian guests in the meantime.
It’s so funny to see the cultural differences, and what prejudice people have. We learned a lot about Italy, and they learned a lot about Swedish customs and food. Unfortunately, we don’t have any photos from that night, due to it being late, and that it was dark outside and the batteries were dead after a long day of sightseeing.
Below you have a photo of me, Christine, Rina and Battista having a dinner the second night, just the 4 of us. Even though we had a lot of fun the other night, this dinner was more personal and we had a really good time, chatting about life and everything for hours.
And of course, tried some delicious food. Seriously, Rina is one talented cook, and we had some of the best Italian food here!
Every morning we had breakfast, and Rina prepared freshly baked pies. While I find Italian breakfast to be too sweet for my taste, the pies and pastries made by Rina were delicious!
Overall, we had one of our best travel memories at Rina and Battista’s house, and I fully understand why the other 3 Italian guests have come here about 3 times. I want to go back as well! Just to spend some more time with Rina and Battista, as well as having some delicious home cooked Italian food!
If you want to stay at their homestay, you have a direct link here.
Local expertise and tips
One of the perks of staying with a local family is also that you can ask them questions, and get insider tips that only locals know about. For example, some photo spots that we wanted to find, we asked Rina and Battista, and they knew almost every one of them!
They also recommended some villages and places to see during the days.
How we stayed
We had our own private bedroom upstairs, with a comfy bed and a lovely view.
Here’s the bathroom.
The living room upstairs. A lovely room, but we didn’t spend much time here since we mostly were downstairs hanging out with Rina and Battista or out and did some sightseeing.
If you’re interested in doing a homestay in Tuscany and want a nice local experience I can heartily recommend Rina and Battista’s house. They are great hosts, and it isn’t that expensive either. I think we paid around 40 Euros or something and that’s not much being Tuscany.
And besides, you also get an unforgettable experience. If you choose to stay here, please send my warmest regards to Rina and Battista! Say hello from Alex and Christine :)
Have you done a homestay before? What’s your experience? Feel free to share by leaving a comment!