Tips

mare_toscana_spiaggia11.jpg

Tuscany has a long coast. Here as follows we give you some informations for the most famous locations.

Marina di Pisa the nearest beach (50 kms far – west direction) with good restaurants, but sea is not so good.

Viareggio (60 kms far – north/west direction) with good restaurants, pizzerias, bar, but sea is dirty, apart from Darsena Beaches  where there are wonderful beach resorts with large parking, beautiful swimming pool, restaurants, but it is very far from the center.

Marina di Massa (75 kms far – north/west direction) for us is the best: clean sea and many facilities, it is also good to catch the boat to Cinque Terre.

Pineta di Marina di Cecina (80 kms far – south/west direction) beach with woderful pine forest where to have a pic nic, restuarants are a bit far. Acqua Village an water park in Cecina very beautiful but expensive.

The White Beaches Rosignano (80 kms far – south/west direction) a particulare beach with white sand… someone say it is due to the pollution!! But it worth a visit.

Baratti Gulf (120 kms far – south/west direction) a wonderful place with beautiful beaches and an historical site to visit and near harbour to get to Elba Isle. A day cannot be enough to see all.

There are many other little pearls on the Mar Tirreno, follow the the street along the sea, enjoy the views and stop when you feel inspired!

 

14590264_623391354508404_8656424725285415266_n.png

I’m discovering an amazing way to visit Tuscany.

Our partner Vintage Vespa Fan Club is able to organize your Vespa tour for a unique experience.

Below are two of their best-managed initiatives.

TOURING ON A VESPA BACK INTO THE RENAISSANCE TIMES going through the period of the Bonaparte family, Leonardo da Vinci and the Medici family.

On our vintage vespas, we will lead you between these 2 centuries , admiring places and buildings which have contributed to write the history of that period.

We start from the buildings of the sixteenth century of the Bonaparte family of San Miniato, related to the famous NAPOLEONE BONAPARTE who during his 1st Italian military offensive came to visit his canonical uncle in San Miniato (this event has been represented by a painting which belongs to Cassa di Risparmio di San Miniato bank).

We carry on towards Vinci with the old castle which dominates the village and after few kilometers we find the natal house of Leonardo. Going up the
road for few more kilometers we reach the church of Santa
Maria Assunta where a holm tree aged over 250 years

old dominates (this tree is registered in the Tuscany monumental tree register). From this spot we can enjoy a breath-taking panorama of the medium Valdarno valley and on very clear days we can see as far as the Tuscan archipelago.

On the way back we will stop to visit the Medici Villa in Cerreto Guidi. This villa was built as the hunting house for the Medici family due to proximity of  Fucecchio marsh land and Montalbano mountain, both places are rich of fauna.

Finally we will visit the place where in 1432 the famous battle of San Romano took place. This battle was immortalized in 3 paintings by Paolo Uccello and belonged to the Medici family. Nowadays the three paintings are shared between the museum of Louvre, Uffizi Gallery and the National Gallery in London.

ON PINOCCHIO’S TRACES

Once upon a time…. there was a village called Pinocchio! Yes, you got it, it is not a marionette but a village called Pinocchio. As a matter of fact the town of San
Miniato Basso was formerly called “Il Pinocchio”. This name originates from a
stream which used to go through the main crossing of the village.

You might now wonder what a name of a village got to do with the most famous
marionette . Actually they are related quite a lot as reliable signs say that Carlo Lorenzini known as Collodi (name of the village where his mother was born) took inspiration from different names of these

places during the draft of his well-known fairy tale.

And now on board of our vintage vespas we are going to take you to visit these places finishing up in the ancient village of Collodi.

Let’s see the main coincidences among the fairy tale and the places around San Miniato Basso.

First of all how can a name such as Pinocchio being invented if this name has never been heard before ?

Here is the first clue : Carlo’s father worked for few years as a cook for a family in San Miniato Basso – Il Pinocchio, therefore Carlo knew these places very well.

Second clue : When Geppetto decides to call the marionette as Pinocchio, he says : I have known a whole family of Pinocchi , Pinocchio the father, Pinocchia the mother and Pinocchi the children and they were all lucky….. It’s evident that he is referring to a family living in Il Pinocchio.

Continuing our research for other clues, we find a connection with the prisons of San Miniato (Alto) and in particular in the episode where Pinocchio is arrested and put into the prison of the village called “Foolish people” and then released by the order of a young emperor who was reigning in that village.
Indeed the emperor Federico II of Svevia had reigned in San Miniato and the inhabitants were also called “foolish people” that is gullible people as it is known that when the citizens of Empoli attacked San Miniato at night by tying a small light to the neck of one thousand goats , the people from San Miniato got frightened by such a strong army and surrendered straight away.

More clues are available….but we will give you them during our tour that will lead us to the ancient village of Collodi through a road that twists and turns between the olive groves and by giving us a breath-taking panorama. The village still keeps the original medieval structure with the ancient doors of access , lanes made of stones and sighting towers.

On the way back we will stop to see the “witches oak tree” which is supposed to be more than 600 years old and that the local legend reveals it as the tree that inspired Carlo Lorenzini for Pinocchio’s hanging.

Have a good time !

 

 

poggioadorno1-1.jpg

The Manor of Poggio Adorno is a wonderful building placed halfway down between Staffoli and Santa Croce sull’Arno, althought it is part of the municipality of Castelfranco. Today the construction belongs to the four grandchildren of Germinal Giovacchini, who bought it from the marquis Bargagli. Thanks to the availability of one of the owner, Roberto Giannoni, and his wife Stefanella, I could visit the manor and realized how magnificence it is.

Background

The manor was built on a pre-existing tower in the second half of seventeenth century; the promoter of this initiative was Domenico Guerrini, the current owner. Named “Manor of Poggio Adorno” to be sourronded by the green, its real name is villa “Vettori-Bargagli”, to the name of familiy owners. One of these was the marquise Maria Ottavia Vettori Placidi, died in 1878. This woman gathered in this place artists and intellectuals, like the macchiaiolo painter Cristiano Banti, born in Santa Croce, who inherited the villa at the marquis’ death.

The Gardens

The park around the Manor is very large and includes several hectares of woodland. On the back there is a well kept giardino all’italiana (Italian Garden). Exiting by a hidden door and walking along the outer walls, you get to a “labirinth”; the path, bordered by laurel hedges, leads to the “Hermit Cave”. Here, in fact, there is a sculpure of San Benigno, whose remaines are kept in the church close the manor.

The interior of the Manor of Poggio Adorno

Built on three floors, of which the upper one carries out the functions of the service room, the villa shows a particular care in furnishings. The ground floor is occupied by a large living room with a serene stone fireplace and two separate rooms: the first one is a very refined studio made by a chapel, the second is a sitting room connected to a bathroom. Careful in detail is the antibagno, adorned with an oriental patterned tapestry.

What is truly gorgeous is the noble floor, which is accessed by two staircases of serene stone with barrel vault. The main lounge, with a balcony overlooking the valley from which you can see the towers of San Miniato, has its walls entirely frescoed with trompe-l’oeil reproducing the surrounding landscape. The effect of dematerialization of the walls is very impressive and is repeated in what is probably the most curious environment of the villa. From the living room, in fact, you get in Cristiano Banti’s bedroom, who probably freshned the walls.

There are many other annexes to the villa, such as the adjacent church with central nave and polygonal apse, or lemon house; all this enhances the pathos of this place, making it charming and inimitable.

Alessia Domenichini

http://www.5avi.net/2017/10/11/la-villa-di-poggio-adorno-un-itinerario-artistico-e-architettonico/‎

 

 

 

20/May/2019
madonnina.jpg

– Prefer accommodation not too close to big cities.

The big cities are assaulted by tourists, so the market price rises, but it does not exactly match the quality of the services. The structures are mostly old mansions, this means beautiful locations, but it is not said the bath always works fine! This would not be a big deal if the staff were ready and attentive to the costumers, but on this I do not feel to put my hand on the fire.

– Call the facilities directly without going through the major channels (Booking, Airbnb, etc.).

You can search through conventional channels, then try to find the direct contact of the structure you prefere. A simple and efficient way is to access Booking, complete the profile with the mobile number and make sure Whatsapp is installed on our device. If the property allows for Booking the free cancellation please make a reservation with Booking and cancel immediately. Booking notifies the owner of the booking with all your data including the cell phone and after they notify the cancellation. Most likely the property owner will contact you in good faith to know the reasons for the cancellation and will offer you a direct offer. Generally you save from 15% to 40% compared to Booking Price. Almost always payment is required in cash upon arrival, only in some cases an advance or credit card is required. Do not be afraid of the language problem, almost all owners know English, otherwise messages on Whatsapp are easily translatable with the various apps in circulation Google Translator (Android) or iTranslate (iOs).

– Rent a car.

The train / bus formula may sound the cheapest way, but it is worth noting that there are the restaurants and the most expensive exercises near the stations. Aside from fast food (and I do not think it’s your first choice if you want to come to Italy), the bars and pizzerias of that area are even more expensive than 100%. To come to Italy and not to eat Italian does not seem to me a good choice. Having a car instead gives you many more options, you can reach many more excellent restaurants, pizzerias, bars, and bakeries at significantly lower prices. In essence it is about living like a real Italian. The owners of the facilities will be happy to give you more information on the best exercises, the unbeatable value for money.

– Look over the photos.

Exciting views, dream terraces? Are you sure you want this? The photographers are good at turning an ordinary reality into a spectacle of nature … I am also a photograph and I try to do that more I can. Advertising photos are made in optimum conditions to achieve a certain result and to achieve a super-positive impact on the user. Bringing overwhelming emotions that inspire the desire to visit that particular place is the primary aspect. Unfortunately, it is up to your sensitivity to blindly believe images or deepen your investigation. A visit to Google Street View can be enlightening. You can also try to find photos of the same structure that are not diverted by economic interest. Evaluate distances from the structure to the cities you want to visit, but also to the major shops, bars, restaurants. Even the reviews of previous guests are fundamental, but remember that every person has their own tastes and way of expressing them. From my point of view, a negative review does not remedy a vacation. If possible you should always try to reconcile the parties. The negative review is to be implemented only as a last resort, if the owner appears absent and relapses to solve the customer’s problems.

10411163_789417914451579_8301436415667239183_n.jpg

One of the most interesting destinations of CasaLina & CasAlfredo’s guests is the Riviera of Levante in Liguria, here in the province of La Spezia are a series of villages that since 1997 have been included among the UNESCO World Heritage. Porto Venere, with the islands Palmaria, Tino, Tinetto and Cinque Terre (from west to east: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore) definitely deserve a visit. Porto Venere means Venus Harbor and Cinque Terre means Five Lands. In less than 90 minutes drive you can enjoy a fabulous, unreal landscape made of crystal clear waters, unspoilt beaches, wonderful naturalistic trails, stunning scenery, art, culture and food at the highest standards. Let us remember, however, that as a monumental hamlet our presence must not have too much environmental impact for them. These lands live in a fragile balance that can not be overwhelmed by the frenzy of modern life. For this reason, those arriving by car will surely have to deal with the parking problem, often crowded, far from the center and quite expensive. Some countries have been parked very externally with respect to the center, but well connected by a very frequent and economical shuttle bus. For further details, please visit http://www.cinqueterre.eu/en/parcheggi-cinque-terre

The train is a hinting alternative. Trenitalia proposes 5 Terre Express. In words all very beautiful, in reality we find ourselves in a nightmare journey, made up of delays, crowds, besides noting that in the past Italy has built tunnels and stations without respect for the surrounding environment and never making significant improvements to the structures. There is someone who likes to say that this is all very picturesque in Italy, I disagree. I want my guests to have a fantastic memory of Italy.

My advice to spend a wonderful day without stress is to take part in boat trips organized by the Consorzio Marittimo Turistico Cinque Terre Gulf of Poets. I generally suggest that you reach the Marina di Massa haven https://goo.gl/maps/2dhBZGiWacL2 with less than an hour’s drive. You must park in Via Zolezzi near the church for parking is free and close to the embarkation site https://goo.gl/maps/NjUy72uKhfC2. You can check out more useful information, timetables and rates at the following link http://www.navigazionegolfodeipoeti.it/en/timetables-and-rates.html

The boat is certainly the most convenient and suggestive way to visit this area. A light luggage, a little camera, a beach towel and a sunblock in the beautiful season and the game is done. During the journey you can admire unseen glimpses and often in summer the ships approach into marvelous coves where you can swim. Upon arrival in the villages you will immediately find yourself in the little harbor of the historic center and without any parking problems you can easily walk to the area, try one of the many restaurants tasting the typical pesto trophies or pointing at the bakeries that propose the typical Ligurian focaccia note for its delicious softness, a soft dough that if I think I’m getting it now! You will love this place, not by chance in the last century was the typical destination of our grandparents’ honeymoon and one of the most famous trails is called the Way of Love. These are feelings that can not be explained, perhaps for this reason Lord Byron was a frequent visitor to these areas, the famous poet was inspired by the passion transmitted from this wild, uncontaminated nature and a bit harsh with its inhabitants. Here, where the mountains dive into the sea, the nature trails are mostly suitable for well-equipped and experienced trekking people. Those who want to get closer to this type of tourism put their skills to the test, but it also takes great satisfaction. The trails can take you to the most hidden and pure places in the Cinque Terre Park. In the summer the activities are multiplied, the sea is calm and clean and becomes deep only after 3 meters from the shore, so suitable for all ages and all levels of skill as swimmers. Even in the spring, if you leave for the Cinque Terre, do not forget to put your costume under your clothes, because tan is insured.

In short, Cinque Terre is for all tastes and it is not impossible to take a tour from the morning to the evening also with children. Just plan your trip well, assess the difficulty of the trails and get involved with the magical atmosphere you breathe here.

DSCN0540-1280x960.jpg

At Casalina & CasAlfredo, small guests are welcome. During this year we have known a myriad of parroets of all nationalities. Children when they enter our apartments say “ohhhh!” And their eyes light up right away! Certainly our greatest satisfaction. I still remember with great affection the family who arrived in the summer with four children one of them was 3 month, the little French sisters, a Belgian “doll” from unforgettable cheeks, Naja from Spain who was playing with my son while his mother she was sleeping in the house because she was pregnant, and so many more.

Our staff did everything to make their stay pleasant: we have made our garden available to play, we suggested to parents the right restaurants where to eat peacefully while children can have fun in the adjacent and enclosed playground, in some cases we have taken care of the children directly because the parents did not feel well. I have a baby too, and I know what it means to travel to a new place and have to arrange quickly to manage the children. Before we leave we parents always try to figure out whether the place we’re going to visit is suitable for our children, and sometimes we give up for fear of exposing them to dangers or stressful journeys. With CasaLina & Casalfredo dear parents you can travel calm and enjoy an exciting trip. The discovery of Tuscany will be a wonderful adventure and your children will also thank you.

Here are some of the sites I always recommend to my guests. Contact me on Whatsapp, Viber or Facebook for more information.

Restaurants child friendly

Lago i Salici

Gelsa Ristofamily

Casa d’Africa

Leo’s Land

Taka Tuka

La Taverna del Grillo

Minigolf Montecatini

 

Parks

Parco Robinson e Percorso Vita Montefalcone

Parco di Pinocchio

Piccolo Mondo

AcquaVillage

La Taverna del Grillo

 

Events

La Notte dei Briganti

Festa dell’Unicorno

Festa di Hallloween al Ponte del Diavolo

Casa di Babbo Natale a Montecatini

And for next year, a fantastic surprise for young and old: in our large garden we will install a large swimming pool with depths ranging from 1.2 to 1.8 meters to meet every need.