La Bandita: Town and Country in Tuscany

In 2007, John Voightmann and Ondine Cohane moved from New York to the foot of the Monte Amiata, an extinct volcano in the southernmost part of Tuscany. He was a big time music executive and she, a contributing editor for Condé Nast. Since then, they have living their dream (with their young son), and also making other travelers’ dreams come true.

Their first property was the La Bandita country house, which they renovated with care and style, and, then, they did the same with La Bandita town house in nearby Pienza. Stopping there these days, you are likely to find one or both of them.

On my most recent visit, I chatted with John in the elegant but cozy upstairs living room about his philosophy. IMG_7448

“I have always wanted my guests to feel ‘at home’,” he explained, “We still have a tradition of seating guests together at the farmhouse as if they were at a private dinner party.” John responds to most emails about reservations himself and is very much present, anything but an absentee owner.

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I found Ondine in the restaurant of the townhouse with chef, David Mangan. She is still writing for Condé Nast (as well as the New York Times and other publications) and has her own website and blog.

Guests can sit either at the bar overlooking the kitchen, at private tables or at the communal table…

Or on the terrace overlooking the garden.

The food changes with the seasons and with whatever is locally available. The recipes are authentically Tuscan with a modern twist. Two of my favorites were beet soup at the Country House.

And tortelloni with shavings of Parmesan at the bar at the Town House.

The wine list is delightfully Italian with many wines from the surrounding area (Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano and Chianti Classico).

Both Town and Country Bandita locations are ideal for exploring the Val D’Orcia (Valley of the Orcia) a World Heritage site. John, Ondine and their staff know the area well (because it’s home for them), and they generously share their knowledge with their guests.

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Tags: Italy, organic wine, wine
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