Seeing the other reviews of this property with people saying they spent much of their holiday time at this villa, I can understand why!! We ended up doing the same!! Everything you need to experience of Tuscany is in this wonderful village. Wonderful people, wine, fresh fruits and veggies, restaurants near by, and places to explore. The villa was well equipped with everything we needed, and the infinity pool was spectacular! With the view from the balcony and the pool, I'd never experienced anything so breathtaking! The owner of the home, Elisabetta, was so wonderful and welcoming as well! I can't wait to go back to this oasis! After leaving to explore the rest of Italy, I was longing to be back there! Next travel to Italy will be two weeks at this villa and explore from there as it is in a perfect location to do so for anyone who wants to experience being under the Tuscan sun
I am not the type of person to sit around on a vacation; I like to explore. I booked this house due to the location: walking distance to town, between Pisa/Lucca/Florence, and would allow the ability to have a home base while exploring Northern Tuscany. We arrived at the house, and basically never left. We did take short day trips to Barga, Castelnuovo and Lucca, but the views from the house were so stunning, the pool so lovely, and the house was so comfortable that we never felt the need to leave. Elisabetta is a wonderful host who was very welcoming and informative. The property was super easy to rent, and Andrew (the property manager) was very accommodating and easy to work with for booking.
Pros- VIEWS!!! Panoramic, and breathtaking. The house is a well restored farmhouse with many bathrooms and good places to both congregate or to escape your family. Good for small children, although not totally without worry. It is very easy and enticing to reach the pool, so with my 3 year old escape artist we had to keep a special watch. Also, the stairs are very steep with handrails that can one can easily fall through. The windows on the top floor have only a few bars across them and with the elevated bedroom floors I felt they were very a danger to tumble out of from the bedroom. The rooms on the top floor get very warm/stuffy and I had to keep the windows closed as my children are very small (3 and 5). I would recommend keeping them on the main floor so you can keep the windows open with no worry.
Cons- Creepy crawlies!!!!!! It's nothing that you shouldn't expect in a farmhouse, especially one that is this old. Your windows are open all day/night, so of course there will be bugs. But after 7 wonderful days of sharing your accommodations with the creepy crawlies it does get to be overwhelming. Day 1 one of the children stepped on a bee in the grass on the way to the pool. We noticed the bees loved the grass in the hot sun- after it was covered by shade, no bees. There are also earwigs, centipedes, spiders, and my very, very, very least favorite- scorpions. Again, with small children, be aware and take steps to ensure you shake out clothing and shoes. It's nothing that you shouldn't expect in this climate and environment, but you do need to take some precautions.
Did this negatively impact our stay? Not really. Would I go back? YES. I'd just bring a big can of bug spray!
Around and about:
Pieve F. is very close by and the local store is open until 730pm. Easy to get to and has most everything you need.
Castiglione is a great little town, but there is not much there. The local pizza restaurant is wonderful. There are only 2 tables but you'll make friends with whoever is in the shop.
Castelnuovo is wonderful. Large enough to have a selection of shopping, gelato and restaurants. Small enough that you can walk through most of town. Recommend seeing the town's museum while you're there. It only takes a few minutes but has some amazing imagery from WWII that really gives you some perspective.
Lucca was hotter than blazes.. The layout is very confusing and you wander down lots of small roads but don't feel like you've seen much. The Palazzo and gardens were only 6 euro entry and the biking or walking around the walls is great.
Barga- Amazing town that is well worth the visit.
Forti dei Marmi- Just eh. You can't even see the ocean due to the construction. The town center is like visiting LA; expensive cars and shops but that's about it.
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