Property No. 26
As I write this, I am happily contemplating one last vin santo on your beautiful terrace. We have had an absolutely perfect week, the houses worked brilliantly for us, and I must say that the ...Read on...
Although only ever rented to one party to ensure complete privacy, the property has the flexibility to be used as one large house or two with the separate areas being linked with a terrace - useful if holidaying with a number of families, or grandparents. This is so much more than a regular holiday property. In fact there are definitely elements of this property that will set you up beautifully for a life long love affair with Italy! The views over the mountains and villages are stunning and the houses themselves have been restored and equipped so beautifully that you will not miss out on any of life's creature comforts.
These two (linked) beautifully restored houses were formerly agricultural buildings and were the home of farm animals when the English owners bought the property in 2002. The main Casa and the Barn can be rented together or the larger 3 bedroom house can be rented on its own in low season. This means that families have exclusive use of the pool, the games room and of course ‘that' view whilst they are there.
The property is cleverly joined together at first floor level where there is a terrace which overlooks the local countryside. This is accessible via the kitchen from the main Casa and from the sitting room of the Barn. This means that 2 or 3 families holidaying together have plenty of room to themselves yet can enjoy al fresco living together. It also means that a family can also holiday with other guests whilst everyone retains some privacy and space. In fact, the Barn has been specifically designed for older guests such as grandparents: shallow stairs, only about 15cm high; higher plug sockets in the bedrooms; wide tiled surround on the bath to enable easier entering/exit and a moulded bath shape, and lastly a loo on the kitchen/living area floor.
The most notable feature of this property is that throughout the renovation programme almost everything has been done with children in mind. This means that railings are the recommended width, all the equipment is there for you and the attention to detail, such as the luxury of White Company Linen, is bound to impress.
Note: The house has very effective central heating as well as a fireplace; as the cost of the heating in the colder months will depend on usage, a £500 heating deposit will be taken and the exact amount used metered and charged against the deposit.
The Main Casa
The main Casa is on 3 levels with two of the three bedrooms (a master double and a children’s twin) at the top and third double bedroom and shower room where the cantina (cellar) was. Because of the room layout we would recommend that one family sleeps on the top floor whilst a couple or a couple with a baby in a cot could sleep in the basement. The master double bedroom on the top floor is a fantastic room with a large double bed, en-suite shower room with under-floor heating, and fabulous views over the countryside. There is a door out onto a balcony which overlooks the terrace below.
Opposite the master bedroom is a spacious family bathroom, also with under-floor heating, with bath (shower over), loo, bidet and basin and a myriad of toys for bath time fun. The twin bedroom is ideal for the children and has views from the side of the property and overlooks the swimming pool and the mountains beyond.
Kitchen and living space
The middle floor consists of a large kitchen/dining room and a cosy sitting room. The kitchen is fabulously equipped with almost everything that you would have at home including a dishwasher, large fridge/freezer, fan oven, 5 ring gas hob, microwave and a table that seats 12. There is also a TV with satellite reception in the kitchen. In addition there are two high chairs that can be moved around between the two properties and placed where needed.
Double doors lead out onto a terracotta tiled terrace which is the link with the Barn. This terrace is where we imagine that most of the activity at this property will take place! The railings have all been carefully designed with small children in mind. There is a gate on the terrace that can be shut to keep children closeby whilst a long, leisurely lunch is enjoyed.
The sitting room on this level is small and cosy and has a woodburning stove, comfy sofa and chairs and TV/DVD with satellite TV channels including BBC. The front door is on this level and leads directly into the hallway.
The games room on this ground floor level is a large room and has both a table tennis table and table football - an ideal venue for inter-house football and ping-pong tournaments! There are also a couple of sofas here for supporting fans. A ‘secret’ corridor leads from the games room, past a utility room with a washing machine and a basin into the bedroom level of the Barn next door.
It is in the Barn that you will see how cleverly and sensitively this property has been restored. The vernacular for agricultural buildings in this area is to use terracotta tiles (or mandolati) arranged in such a way that they let in enough air to allow the hay to dry. Of course there is no hay in the building today but the mandolati have been conserved and work like a giant (yet far more attractive) stairgate! The tiles allow almost an entire wall to be open to the view, the light and the fresh air without any worries about the safety of your children. Two sets of glass doors allow you to close off the outside world should you want to.
The Barn, just across the terracotta terrace of the main house, is as lovely as the main house itself and enjoys the same views. This property is on two levels and has two bedrooms down in the basement.
The main double bedroom is quite small and has a comfortable bed, plenty of storage and a roomy en-suite shower. In line with building tradition in this area, corner rooms have two windows facing in two different directions so it is light, airy and of course the shutters make for an excellent night’s sleep! The en-suite shower room is under-floor heated and has a good shower, loo, bidet and basin.
Next door is the twin bedroom which has two windows overlooking the main view and is very comfortable. Down here there is a large family bathroom (again with under-floor heating), a bath (shower over), basin, loo and bidet. A stairgate can be positioned at the bottom of the stairs to prevent accidents in the night.
The ‘secret’ corridor between the two houses is located at this level and houses the utility room which has a washing machine and a basin as well as doors out onto the front terraces.
At first floor level there is a front door leading in from the terraces and the terraced and garden areas at the back of the house. This leads directly onto the landing which has a loo and a basin as well as stairs down to the bedrooms and the link corridor. The stairs are not gated at the top as there are bi-fold doors which close off the sitting room and kitchen area.
The sitting room has the amazing mandolati which give the sitting room a great sense of history. The sitting room is very comfortable and has large sofas and chairs for an adult evening in front of the TV, watching DVDs or playing scrabble, cards, or other types of games between the house and barn; or for the children to take some time out of the sunshine with a dose of CBBC. There is also a comfortable desk and internet point here. This room has a wonderful enclosed fireplace with a special ‘machine' used for roasting chestnuts. Chestnuts are an autumn joy and children love the idea of collecting chestnuts from the garden and taking it in turns to turn the handle of the chestnut roaster, followed of course, by the extra special joy of eating their treasure!
Double doors lead out of the sitting room onto the spectacular terrace between the two houses. This is the most amazing place to relax, eat and drink food and wine from the local area.
The open plan kitchen/dining room is well equipped with an oven, gas hob, fridge/freezer, dishwasher, microwave and of course views from the sink over the valley below. A large farmhouse table seats 8 and is the perfect place for a quiet breakfast or some gentle colouring in.
These two properties have a lot of outdoor space and are a great place for childhood adventures! Special mention must be given to the pool which not only has magnificent views but also has many features that make it fab for families (the pool is useable from May to the end of September). The first line of security is the fencing which goes all the way around the pool and then there is an electric cover that serves not only as a security measure but also as insulation. The pool also has solar panels for heat and a grey liner which is able to absorb the heat rather than reflect it as a normal blue pool would.
The pool (6m x 12m) has a shallow end (1.2m) which starts to slope after 4metres, reaching 2.4m depth after 8metres. There is a floating rope that can be used to stop children in rubber rings floating too far into the deep end, grab rails around the whole of the pool, as well as a step that goes the whole way round the pool in order to give early swimmers the security of feeling ‘land' underfoot. The seven wide, shallow steps at the pool entrance work well as a paddling area for less confident swimmers. Plenty of care has been taken to ensure that this pool offers children the maximum opportunity to build up their water confidence and to have lots of fun. There is also a shower by the pool to wash off before going back into the house. The pool can also be lit at night for any parents wanting to have a more serious swim once the children have gone to bed.
The house itself is built on the side of the hill and has a number of different levels to it. The property is entirely fenced from the winding road that climbs up the hillside but care must still be taken with little ones as the different levels mean that there are places where the ground drops away and children will need supervision. The highest level is a great place for flying kites and letting off steam in the spring, autumn and winter months but is overgrown in the summer. Meanwhile there is a paved area to the back of the house which can be used for car parking or as a play area for the kids.
The back of the house is a more suitable area for the children than the front which has traditional steep terraces.
Parent Points: The property is enclosed but the fact that this is a hillside property means that there are plenty of different levels and the land falls away. We feel that children of any age should not be left unsupervised in the garden or on the terraces.
This is an intriguing part of Italy with its fabulous, peaceful mountain setting yet with plenty to do and see within a stone's throw. For bigger picture stuff, Pisa is approximately an hour away so the leaning tower is not out of the question. Neither is Florence and the beautiful walled city of Lucca is only 40 minutes away and will give you plenty of chances to amble past the shops, sample the food and explore the beauty of this city. One fab idea is to hire bikes (with trailers or baby seats) and cycle around the city walls, stopping to admire the views or for a bite to eat.
Just over the mountains, the Mediterranean coast is 1 hour 15 minutes away and is another hit with parents. Italian beaches tend to be very well organised (like those on the Cote d'Azure) with sunbeds, showers and cafes so ideal for families. Also on this side of the mountains are the Carrara marble mines, from where Michelangelo got his beautiful white marble for all his statues. Another recommended activity is a day out to these marble mines where most of Italy's fabulous marble is still quarried. This intriguing drive through the mountains gives you an insight into where exactly the marble comes from and how it is turned into a kitchen worktop!
In the other direction are the mountains around the town of Abetone which are great for summer walks or winter sledging or early skiing. The slopes are well set up for children with a fantastic area for ‘learner-skiers' and sledgers complete with a conveyor belt to take toddlers back up the slope. In our opinion this is a great and inexpensive way to give children a ‘taster' session without the expense of a week's skiing in the big resorts where the children turn out to hate ski school and refuse to be left.
On a local level there is plenty to do, and great food is to be found almost everywhere with a fantastic restaurant serving fresh pasta, that, if requested, can be taken back to the house. A few moments drive away and a little café in the next village along selling the most luscious hot chocolate! These were a definite hit with the children that we visited with! Then there are the local markets in Castelnuovo selling deliciously fresh local produce and then a never-ending supply of local restaurants and hand made ice cream counters (all absolutely thrilled to welcome your children).
For a more gentle morning or afternoon's activity why not take a short stroll around the wooded hillside paths up to the next village where there is a small park. Alternatively if you are there in the autumn go out chestnut collecting and take them home to roast in the chestnut roaster!
If food is the one thing that is guaranteed to get you excited where better than Tuscany to indulge yourself in fantastic local produce? Sapori-e-Saperi can arrange for you and your family to explore the culinary wonders within this fabulous region of Italy, ranging from hunting porcini mushrooms in the woods, to chocolate making in September, and cheese making to chestnut picking in October. There are events all year round that revolve around some of the most stunning produce that Italy has to offer, including wine tasting and cooking lessons. Please click here to find out more.
For many families, going away for less than a week may not be practicable. Closer to home though, short stays can be a great option and the calendars will allow you to select anything from 3 nights or more where this is available. If you are travelling outside of the school holidays (which of course we recommend if you can), consider arriving and departing on non-standard days (why not try 11 nights for example) as you can get some great deals both on your accommodation and on flights.
Before booking, please read our Terms and Conditions.
Additional Charge £500 per week heating deposit for low season bookings, and then the client would be charged from readings taken from the house gas meters.
Price includes: linen, towels, electricity.
As I write this, I am happily contemplating one last vin santo on your beautiful terrace. We have had an absolutely perfect week, the houses worked brilliantly for us, and I must say that the photographs on the tots to travel website did not do it justice at all - it was far more beautiful than we had imagined it would be. We have this evening been discussing high lights of our week, which have included a trip to Lucca and bicycle rides on the walls, climbing the leaning tower of Pisa, exploring the Grottos, lunch in Barga, gelatos is Castelnuovo, 2 delicious meals cooked by Maria and Jessica and plenty of time in the fabulous pool. We could easily have stayed another week and are seriously contemplating rebooking for another year.
So well equipped with all we could possibly want and more! "We've had a wonderful 2 weeks in this stunning place! The house has been so comfortable for us all - so well equipped with all we could possibly want and more! We feel thoroughly invigorated by our holiday and our 2 small children have had a great time. The highlight for them has been your gorgeous swimming pool, which they've enjoyed even in late September. We've also had a wonderful time exploring some of the stunning local area in our hire car: highlights for us were the drive past Gallicano around the Grotta del Vento to Fornovolasco (where we sat and ate a great picnic) .. Also the children thoroughly enjoyed a trip to the Orechiella natural park - we were able to go on a decent walk with our double buggy and they got to see deer and bears in the nature reserve. Our children also loved a day trip by train into Lucca through the Serchio valley and past the spectacular Ponte del Diavolo. .... There is something for everyone: parks and playgrounds for the very young, walks and mountain adventures for those a little older ... and plenty of history and culture for those who are that way inclined - young or old."
|Double bedrooms||Two in main house, one in the barn|
|Floor area:||Approx 3800 sq ft|
|Location type:||Rural with stunning Tuscan views|
|Property type:||Renovated farm building|
|Dining room||Both parts have a kitchen/dining room|
|Living room||One living room with fireplace in each property|
|Bathrooms||Five - plus an additonal WC all with underfloor heating|
|Twin bedrooms||Two - one in each part of the property. One of the double rooms in the main house can be converted to a twin if required. An additional camp bed is available to convert a double room into a triple, or to put into the master bedroom if a child needs to sleep closer to their parents.|
|Nearest market||Castelnuovo in Garfagnana - 3 miles|
|Nearest supermarket||Le Clerc at Gallicano - 10 miles (or smaller at Castelnuovo)|
|Nearest shop||Migliano - 1 mile (walkable)|
|Nearest doctor||Migliano - 1 mile (walkable)|
|Nearest village/town||Migliano - 1 mile with a bar, shop & Drs surgery.10 mins drive to town with wide choice of restaurants(also a trattoria where you can buy a complete meal to takeaway & enjoy on the terrace).|
|Skiing available locally||No|
|Nearest restaurant||Ponte di Ceserana - at bottom of hill. English spoken.|
|Nearest tourist office||Castelnuovo in Garfagnana - 3 miles|
|Nearest cashpoint||Castelnuovo in Garfagnana - 3 miles|
|Nearest airport||Pisa - about 75 minutes|
|Walks from door||Yes|
|Golf available locally||Just outside Pontecosi (30 mins drive) Castelfalfi (1 hour 30 mins drive)|
|Less than 1 hour from nearest airport||Pisa (1 hour 15 mins)|
|Nearest station||Ponte di Ceserana - bottom of hill|
|Nearest beach||Forte del Marmi -75 minutes. Also a lake 30 minutes drive|
|Nearest petrol station||Castelnuovo in Garfagnana - 3 miles|
|Indoor Towels and Linen included||Yes|
|Babysitting||Available please enquire|
|Home cooked food||From a local restaurant, which will also cater for lunch/dinner parties if arranged in advance|
|Baby pack||Available on request|
|Additional Cleaning available||No|
|Internet access||Yes - included in price|
|Shopping Service||Yes -additional charge|
|Info pack in house||Yes|
|Restaurant on site||Catering offered at the house (fully cooked homemade 3 course meal delivered, or meal cooked & served at the house). Menu available at clients additional expense. Also a restaurant at the bottom of the hill.|
|Welcome pack||Yes - includes wine and fruit|
|Local assistance/housekeeper||Yes speaks English|
|Local Bike hire||Yes - try Lucca for a great day out on bike. Bikes locally available near Barga|
|Swimming Towels available||Yes - included in the price|
|Suitable for Multiples||Yes|
|Less than 1 hour from Nearest Airport||No|
|Golf available locally||Yes|
|Walking Distance to Village/Restaurant||Yes|
|Skiing available locally||No|
|Additional Cleaning available||No|
|Home Cooked Food||No|
|Air Con or Cooling System||No|
|Suitable for Wheelchair Users||No|
|Local Bike hire||Yes|
|Booster seat||Two available|
|Night light||Each room has emergency lights which can also be adapted to use as low level night lights as required|
|Blackout blinds or curtains/shutters||Yes|
|Child's loo seat||Yes|
|Food blender (hand held)||Yes|
|Non slip bath mat||Yes|
|Indoor toys and books||Yes|
|UK satellite TV channels||Yes|
|Garden equipment (slide etc)||No|
|Essential Kit Guarantee Info||Some terms and conditions apply so please read our complete Terms and Conditions before booking.|
|Other information||Additional Charge - 500 pounds per week heating deposit if heating is required, to be charged from readings taken from the house gas meter. Italian lessons at the house and guided mountain walks available at extra charge. Childrens books and balls for playing in the garden are provided. There are two DVD players, one in the house and one in the barn. The pool is solar heated so may not be sufficiently heated for young children in early season. However they would be fine in wetsuits. The pool also has a rigid automatic cover which retains the heat and provides additional safety. The pool is open from May to the end of September. The security deposit at the property is £500. Price includes: linen, towels, electricity.|
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