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Originally a farm cottage, Castello has been lovingly restored to provide a comfortable home, whilst retaining a traditional simple charm. The house is surrounded by 5 acres of vineyard, rough pasture and woodland, dropping steeply down to a mountain stream. It is situated in the heart of the Garfagnana, a peaceful area of wooded hills, lakes and old mountain villages in Northern Tuscany.
There is a 10m x 5m private pool with paved surround and sun terrace set in extensive lawns at the edge of the vineyard. The pool gets the sun all day and has plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas, with a wisteria-covered pergola for those who prefer the shade. There is a table tennis table under the pergola.
The well-equipped kitchen runs the length of the house and is divided from the dining area by a breakfast bar. There are glazed doors leading to a small balcony, with stone steps leading down to a paved terrace with distant views of the Appennine mountains, a lovely place for breakfast in the early morning sun. The sitting room, with television and DVD player, leads into the studio with sofabed and where the freezer and WiFi hub are located. Glazed doors lead to a large south-facing roofed terrace overlooking the vineyard and wooded hillside, with the villages of Gragnanella and Sillicano in the distance. The main terrace can also be accessed from the front entrance terrace with barbeque area and the wood burning pizza oven. There is a marble slab for pizza preparation! Stone steps lead down to the cantina (cellar) where the wine is produced and stored. There is an outside WC and washing machine and an open outbuilding to leave the car in the shade.
Castello sleeps a maximum of seven people. The double aspect main bedroom has views over the lawn to the pool and to the east over to Lago di Pontecosi and the Appennine mountains behind. There is plenty of room for a third person in the Z bed if needed. The second double bedroom has views to Gragnanella and Sillicano in the hills opposite. The church at Gragnanella chimes every half hour during the day, with an extra peal at midday to remind the workers to stop for lunch! Sillicano's church is further away, but listen for the music at seven every evening. The bathroom has a generous shower cubicle, bidet, WC and wash basin. Water is heated by solar panel (supplemented by gas boiler) and comes from a spring above Sillicano.
Nestling in the hills with amazing mountain views, Castello is only a few minutes drive or 15 minute walk to the village. Filicaia is a small village with bank, post office and grocery store. There are two bars, one of which has a small restaurant and pizzeria with wood oven. On the edge of the village, a road leads down to Lago di Pontecosi, where the River Serchio has been damned - there is a short walk on our side of the river with shady picnic spots and barbeques. Or you can cross the bridge and feed the ducks, and walk round past the children's play area to the lovely old stone bridge and little church. The bar on the lake sells delicious ice cream and serves very reasonable lunches during the week. Occasionally there is a village festa (visitors welcome!) at tables on the edge of the lake where villagers serve homemade food and drink.
A short drive away on the other side of the river is the Buffardella Adventure Park - an absolutely amazing place for adults and youngsters with a variety of challenging courses of climbing ropes and zip wires through the trees - full safety training given! Nearby is the Golf Club Garfagnana - a six hole course set in the mountains above Pontecosi. They organise floodlit evenings during the summer - clubs can be hired and there is a putting green, driving range, bar and restaurant. There is a ranch in Pontecosi for horse-riding and Garfagnana Trekking, and fishing in the lake.
The medieval town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, with supermarkets, ice cream parlours and bars etc is only a 10 minutes drive from the house, and is great for people-watching over a coffee or aperitivo in the main piazza. It has a thriving weekly market, and there are religious processions, open air concerts and food and wine festivals during the summer.
One hour by car or an easy train journey to the delightful city of Lucca, surrounded by 4km of tree-lined walls - you can hire bikes and ride all the way round, or walk on them looking down at the city. There are quaint cobbled streets and piazzas, churches and towers round every corner,, and a Roman amphitheatre. With interesting old shops next to designer boutiques,and many bars and restaurants, Lucca is one of the loveliest cities I have ever visited!
The sea is an hour's drive over the mountains where the marble for Michelangelo's sculptures was quarried. Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi have soft sandy beaches and a warm gentle sea to swim in. The elegant towns have smart shops and plenty of good restaurants serving locally caught fish.
.Florence is a 2 hour train journey and can be reached in time for morning coffee.
By Chloe Williams on 01-Dec-2016
We had a wonderful fortnight in this beautiful corner of Tuscany! The house was spotless when we arrived with a welcoming bottle of Prosecco to greet us, which we drank on the large terrace listening to the church bells and gazing at the beautiful view! What a great place! We enjoyed days out to Florence, Lucca and numerous quaint little villages in the hills, and several morning coffees in the piazza of the nearby medieval town of Castelnuovo, then happily returned to our terrace or lazing about round the delightful pool. The owner was extremely helpful and provided lots of information at the house including recommendations for a number of local restaurants; we had Sunday lunch at La Guardia in the mountain village of Roggio, which was very reasonable with delicious home-cooked food, well worth the winding journey up the mountain roads. I would thoroughly recommend this lovely cottage for an amazing holiday!
By Avril Woollett on 01-Sep-2016
This cottage was the perfect answer for our family holiday, as satisfying two daughters aged 6 and 14 can sometimes be difficult! Vanessa, the owner, was very helpful with information about the property and area, booking was trouble-free, and the house when we arrived was clean and welcoming with everything we needed. The grounds and views were idyllic, and it was great to have a private pool where I could lie peacefully on a sun bed reading my book, sometimes with a glass to hand! while my husband and children swam and played table tennis or swing-ball. We visited Lucca, (ice cream in the amphitheatre, window-shopping some very stylish designer shops and then a relaxed cycle ride round the walls). We went to the nearby Adventure Park, with a variety courses to challenge both girls including thrilling zip wires through the trees; we went to a cheese festival inside the walls of the nearby medieval town and to the local weekly market, and we had a spectacular drive over the mountains to spend the day on a glorious sandy beach. We ate out on several evenings spending surprisingly little, but the highlight was lighting the pizza oven and making our own pizzas - and actually becoming quite expert!! We will definitely come back.