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June 9, 2020

Return to Vellano this Summer!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 6:28 pm
Vellano from Casa Verde – Yes that really is the view!

In the year of the pandemic it is very hard to think of holidays in the sun, here in Italy. Up until now, as with many other holiday properties around the world, we have been closed to visitors. Many people either are still unable to travel for a holidays or if they are not restricted are worried about travelling for all sorts of reasons. However from this month we are are Open at Casa Verde, for people within Italy and from next week, most of Europe can visit Tuscany and Vellano again. So what can you expect when you arrive?

Firstly, our apartment will be maintained to usual high standards of cleanliness and hygiene. In addition we will provide hand sanitation and fully disinfected linen and towels. Our property is near a beautiful village but it is also a ‘great escape’ into the Italian countryside with superb valley views and wonderful air.

So what is open now in Tuscany? All of the main sights and museums are now open to the public, including the Leaning Tower at Pisa and the Uffizi, in Florence, all with appropriate social distancing (don’t forget to bring your protective face masks). What’s more is that these popular tourist spots will be as significantly quieter as they are inevitably have less visitors than previous years, this could be one of the best times to visit Tuscany with the heat and light of summer and space to appreciate the cities and towns all the more. All regions of the country are now open, though some sights and places to visit may require pre-bookings, so you are now free to travel around the area and go to the beach. Also open are many of the restaurants and bars. As it is summer now many have open air table therefore they seem to be adapting to social distancing requirements and safety concerns.

In Vellano our local restaurant Manero has re-opened last week and provides and excellent friendly service with fine views. The local menu, field mushrooms and the fresh pasta are superb, with plenty of local wine to complement it.

Please contact us if you have any questions before booking.

Now if you want a haircut! That’s available too!
The Casa Verde Apartment

New Olio Jars at Trattoria Manero Vellano – 10 Mins Away

Trattoria Manero Vellano – 10 Mins Away
New Dining Area – Trattoria Manero Vellano 10 Mins Away

The Pool at San Lorenzo is open to the public and only 10 Mins from Vellano

Manero at the Turn of the Last Century – Casa Verde visible on the Hillside.
The Old La Tosca Ristorante and Hotel
Vellano From Casa Verde – Yes that really is the view

Casa Verde can be booked on our website or using booking platforms –

January 6, 2020

Vellano – A Village Rich in History

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 7:02 pm
Vellano Near Pescia Tuscany Italy

We came to live in Vellano in 2010. We knew little about the village having only visited it briefly on holiday in 2001 and the year before in 2009 when we viewed the house, along with a few others in Tuscany, which were for sale.

Vellano sits at 552 meters above sea-level with 254 inhabitants. The village was first settled in the 10th Century and grew-up around a Benedictine Abbey at the site of the Church of St Michele Castle Chapel in the Medieval centre; where services are still had everyday at 5 o’clock; a small bell rings out through the mountain air to welcome in the faithful. The village was handed over to the Garzoni family in the 13th Century. The Vellanaise were not best pleased, but they finally came under the authority of Florence in 1339. The Villa Garzoni at Collodi is said to face towards Lucca and Pisa in triumph at the Florentine Garzoni’s victory over Pisa! Collodi is the home of Pinocchio.

We are told that at one time each of Le Dieci Castella – the 10 villages that make up the valley communities – all had a brass band in each village and that they would have concerts in one of Vellano’s two theatres; now redundant. In one of the village houses you can still see where the stage was; this is now a sitting room in house that belong to friends of ours. Spot the corridor that links to the house next door, thought to be used as an off stage dressing room.

One of Two Old Theaters in Vellano

Casa Verde, as we have named it, was a property built to house itinerant stonemasons for the quarry on the property; that is still visible today above the house. There was even a school for stoneworkers in Vellano. A neighbour in his nineties says as a young boy he can remember blocks of stone being sledged down the hillside behind our house (The sledging path is still definable (photo below) to build the houses of the lower third of Vellano. Vellano still has a working quarry Cava Nardini – Click here for a Blog about the Nardini Quarry: Click Here Germano Nardini Stone Quarry

Vellano has a Historical and Ethnographic Museum of Miners and Quarrymen This interesting museum can be visited and guided tours requested, around Vellano.

How Casa Verde’s Quarry may have looked
The Village of the Scalpellini – Stonecutters
Old Sledging Path

The first two floors of the house were gentrified in the 19th Century with the addition of a Pietra Serena stone fire place, marble window sills, a double stone sink, a balcony and arched double doors. We are told that this happened when Vellano had its own town hall, school and a police station, a Carabiniere Officer lived in the house with his family. In the master bedroom of Casa Verde was a liberty style bed referred to, by our

neighbours, as the ‘General’s Bed’ we used this bed for some years and still have the old headboard!

Casa Verde with ‘Liberty’ Doors & Balcony


Also Vellano was opened up to the wider world when the state highway was built in the 1930’s.

Workers Building the New State Highway

In the autumn of 1944 Vellano was a village located to the south of the ‘Gothic Line’ during World War Two. This meant that the forces of Hitler’s army and local fascists groups clashed with resistance fighters in Vellano. Vellano was then the capital town in the valley with excellent views over the foot of the valley, where allied forces were attempting to make their way over the Apennines into the Northern parts of Italy occupied by Hitler’s forces and the remains of Mussolini’s fascist regime. The conflicts of the autumn and winter of 1944/1945 were brutal and horrific, and this was a very serious time for Apennine villages like Vellano and its people. Locals will say they can remember the American Army arriving in Vellano from Montecatini Terme nearby which was the Allied Headquarters. The main battle was in December 1944 when the US Army and Indian 8th Infantry Division confronted the German/Italian Army in the Garfagnana region close to Bagni di Lucca. the Indian 8th were a special mountain troop of the British Indian Army. The Allied forces gained a small advantage but generally the Gothic Line stayed in place until the Axis collapsed in 1945. This was a torrid time for Vellano, as the Germans Army committed some particularly serious war crimes. In the last month a new stone carving of two links in a chain have been commissioned by the village to stand as a symbol of reconciliation between Italy and Germany; each link symbolising each nation. Both countries being founding members of the European Union.

Battle for the Garfagnana 1944
Links Between Italy & Germany

The 1950s were halcyon days for Vellano. With a population of about 3500 citizens and many shops and a hotel ‘La Tosca’ with a restaurant nearby where the restaurant Manero is today, before mass tourism and foreign travel was available to most people. At this time Italians’ would spend the hot summers up in the mountains appreciating the cooler breezes and from here, in certain weather, you feel and smell, the sea air! It’s still called the Svizzeria Pescatina or ‘Little Switzerland of the Pescia Hills’ today.

Restaurant La Tosca with Casa Verde visible on the Hillside top left
Albergo La Tosca – & The Locanda in the 1990s

Ferdinando Innocenti the inventor of the Lambretta and scaffolding was born in Vellano. The Lambretta being a lasting icon of the 1950’s.

An Icon of the 1950’s – Rock Hudson & Gina Lollobrigida

Vellano like most of the mountain villages has a number of seasonal festivals. For some it’s sausages, arancino or bruschetta for Vellano the most popular is the annual Chestnut Festival over two weekends in October. There are stalls and medieval costumes, as well as Castagnaccia, a type of pancake delicious with panna-cotta or chocolate sauce!

Still cooked on this ‘Gigante’ Pan

This year has seen a very important development for Vellano the renovation and opening of a new shop in Vellano. The alimentare has proved very popular; particularly the delicatessen counter with it very tasty cheeses, cured meats and bread.

Vellanaise Queue at the New Elimentare
Vellano’s New Enterprise

Over the last 10 years we have renovated Casa Verde from a much loved home to what we see today. The Holiday Apartment which greets holiday makers and travellers in much the same way it did itinerant workers and stone masons a hundred and fifty years ago. We hope with modern facilities and comforts! In 2010 the Apartment had no electricity, hot water, bathrooms or heating system and the toilet waste went to a hole in the ground! Now with three bathrooms, central heating and double glazing (keeps heat out as well!) we welcome guests from all over the world from Portugal to Peru with over 720 guests staying in the last 10 years!

The Apartment at Casa Verde
Casa Verde

We hope to welcome you again if your returning to us or if you are excited travellers yearning to see and feel the cities of Florence, Lucca, Pisa; your Welcome.

We look forward to meeting you

If you have any photos of Vellano you would like to share please do by sending them to me at: They will all be shared on this site.

Monte Sera from Vellano
Vellano’s is a Winter Wonderland


August 3, 2019

Art Nouveau in Tuscany – The Liberty Style of Galileo Chini

Galileo Chini

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At the great Paris exhibition of 1900, a new art movement that had blossomed in Europe over the preceding years reached fruition. It produced a unique and magnificent form of painting, architecture and, above all, a modernist form of design that spread across the continent known as Art Nouveau or Liberty. It was art and design of a style that was greatly influential the later part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th.

Its inspiration from the earlier arts and crafts movement associated with William Morris and Burne-Jones , that stressed Art, Design and Architecture as a holistic enterprise in the naturalistic construction of the environment. The names of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Aubrey Beardsley and Gustav Klimt are perhaps familiar to us as well during this period.
In Tuscany, an artist perhaps less well known within the genre, but was highly influential on the local landscape of Tuscany. Is the artist Galileo Chini, sometimes thought of as the Italian Klimt.

Galileo Chini

Galileo Chini was born in Florence to Elio, a tailor and Aristea Bastiani in 1873. After his father’s death, he enrolled at the Santa Croce School of Art, in Florence, where he attended the courses in decoration.

From 1895 to 1897 he occasionally attended the Free School of the Nude at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence without obtaining any diploma, and always considering himself at the peak of his education he was otherwise self-taught. In this same period he met the young Elvira Pescetti who became his wife.

In 1899 he married Elvira. The first child, Isotta, was born in 1900 and a second son, Eros, in 1901.

Elvira Chini

He developed a specific interest in the design and manufacture of ceramics, firstly from 1896 at the Arte della ceramica” in Florence; and later, together with his cousin Chino, he founded the “Fornaci di San Lorenzo” in Mugello, at Borgo San Lorenzo, a small town north of Florence. They made ceramics and stained-glass windows but also interior furnishings and design of wooden furniture decorated with tiles, ceramics and glass.

Fornaci di San Lorenzo

He continued to exhibit on multiple occasions, both in Italy and abroad. Until 1905 he engaged in a series of decorations and restorations in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Florence , as well as in a series of frescoes at the Hotel Cavour, Florence and at the Grand Hotel La Pace in Montecatini Terme Tuscany .

The King & I

In 1910 King Chulalongkorn of Siam , Rama V , the son of Rama the IV who was the king in the film The King & I sent Carlo Allegri, then chief engineer at the Ministry of Public Works of Siam, to Italy, with the task of finding a painter for the new Palazzo del Trono in Bangkok. Signed the contract in Florence in 1910 between Galileo Chini and Carlo Allegri, in 1911 the artist embarked in Genoa, on the NDL Derfflinger steamship setting sail for the Far East. Rama V, who died on October 23, 1910, was succeeded by his son, the very cultivated King Vajiravudh, Rama VI . Chini frescoed the throne room at the new Ananta Samakhom palace and painted a series of portraits of Rama VI. He returned from the kingdom of Siam (today Thailand) in 1913 bringing back to Italy a series of landscape and environmental works, which he exhibited in 1914 at the Roman Secession Exhibition . 

Chini in Siam

He also reported a collection of oriental memorabilia that he donated to the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Florence in 1950 . The influence of Indo-chinese art is abundantly clear in much of his work from this point.

In 1915 he taught at the Ornato Course of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Florence . 

Meanwhile he diversified his artistic directions with his contemporary
Giacomo Puccini as a set designer, collaborating with him on productions of Gianni Schicchi in 1919 and Turandot in 1926.

In 1920-1923 in Salsomaggiore Terme he completed the decoration of the Terme Berzieri and, later, in 1926, in the Grand Hôtel des Thèrmes , His collaboration with architects Gaetano Orzali in several Lucca villas, and
also with Alfredo Belluomini on many building and design projects along the Versilia coast in Viareggio and Lido di Camaiore.

Terme Berzieri in Salsomaggiore Terme

He spent so much of his spare time with his extended family in his villa at Lido di Camaiore and, as many a home movie demonstrated, he was thoroughly immersed and engaged with them as a fun loving family. Though later on he suffered the great loss of his daughter Isotta in 1946 and, in the following years, his artistic activities were progressively reduced due to serious sight problems that led him to blindness.

Galileo Chini died on August 23 1951 at his home-studio in via del Ghirlandaio 52, in Florence. He is buried in the monumental cemetery of the Antella .

Where to see the influences and works of Chini

We visited an exhibition in April of works by Chini in Pontedera, a small town near Pisa. This was an extensive collection of paintings and ceramics, that illustrated the whole range of his independent artworks. There are some permanent pieces in the Uffizi and the Pitti palace in Florence. You can visit the website to view that range of his art works online. You can also register for access to the Chini archive.

The ceramics factory at Borgo San Lorenzo was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War. However, the most obvious and visible statements that can be seen in our region in main locations.

Villa Ducloz Lucca

Lucca – there are a number of villas in the ‘Liberty’ style that were built in the early part of the 20th century outside of the walls of Lucca that demonstrate Chini’s collaboration with the architect and contemporary artist Gaetano Orzali. The two most interesting are the Villa Ducloz and the Villa del Magro.

Villa Argentina

Viareggio & the Versilia Coast

With Alfredo Belluomini, Chini created many of the buildings on this coastline, including the Grand Caffè Margherita, the fabulous Villa Argentina, the Balena bagno, the Caffè Concerto Eden. See link

Grand Cafe Margherita

Lucca Villa del Magro Detail

Also in Lido di Camaiore is the house that Chini had built and spent many summer holidays with his family; the splendid Villa i Pini. Which since his death has become a hotel that you can stay in. See link

So in Tuscany there is a lot more art to see that is innovative, exciting and is not solely of the Renaissance.

Ceramics by Chini – Montecatini Terme Tuscany Italy
Vellano from Casa Verde

April 23, 2019

Lambretta – Ferdinando Innocenti – A Son of Vellano

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Darren Hackett @ 5:43 pm

Vellano Pescia

Vellano near Pescia

Ferdinando Innocenti the inventor of the Lambretta and scaffolding was born in Vellano, Pescia, in the Valdinievole , to Zelinda Chiti and Dante Innocenti, a blacksmith. With his family he moved from Vellano to Grosseto where a hardware shop was opened by the family, which he then took over at the age of 18; after completing his technical studies. He expanded the turnover by purchasing scrap iron and exchanging them for lubricating oil to resell.

Gina Lollobrigida & Rock Hudson 1961 in the Film ‘Back in September’

From 1920 Ferdinando began to deepen his engineering knowledge and experiment the use of iron pipes and their applications, then opening a warehouse for the sale of seamless pipes produced by Dalmine in Rome. The workshop in 1930 took the name of Fratelli Innocenti and in 1933 began the production of tubular scaffolding and by adopting a particularly rapid assembly and disassembly system. Until then, steel pipes had only been used to convey liquid or gaseous substances. Ferdinando was the first to use them as a load-bearing structure.

The Lambretta
The Lambretta

Thanks to some important contacts with the Vatican, he was also able to carry out numerous contracts such as a sprinkler irrigation system for the gardens of the Villa of Castel Gandolfo ( 1931 ) and for the Vatican Gardens ( 1932 ), as well as a thermoelectric power plant and the fire prevention systems of the Sistine Chapel ( 1934 ). In addition, Ferdinando was responsible for expanding the capacity of football stadiums ahead of the 1934 soccer world championship, which were held in Italy.

Sistine Chapel
‘Lambrate‘ District Milan 1933
The Italian Resistance

From Rome he moved permanently to Milan to improve his business and here, in the ‘Lambrate’ district, he founded the Innocenti Company, with the construction in 1933 of a plant in Lambrate in Via Pitteri Milan for the manufacture of iron elements for scaffolding. These now famous Innocenti tubes, are still widely used today. During the Second World War, he was forced to change manufacture from a civil to a war production. After 8 September 1943 Ferdinando began to collaborate with the Allies and to finance the Resistance and it is for this reason that once the conflict was over, he manages to regain possession of his factories.

The Post-War Period

Scaffolding First Made by Innocenti

At the end of the Second World War he also became managing director of the Dalmine , a company with which he collaborated with for many years. In 1950  to dedicate himself to his factories in Lambrate which had been damaged by the war. The age of individual motorization had come, but based on a low-cost vehicle, this would allow a large percentage of the population to own one. The car was still too expensive for most people. Thus it was that in 1947 there was the creation of the first Innocenti scooter, the Lambretta , which competed with the Piaggio Vespa , designed and put into production the previous year.  After some initial difficulties and an following an unprecedented advertising campaign for the time, in 1952, at Lambrate, 96,000 examples of the “D” model were produced with a metal tube bearing frame, of which 16,000 were exported. The peak was reached in 1953 , when the “E” model was launched, with a production of 70,000 annual units associated with 50,000 units of the “LD” model.

Paul Newman 1950s Lambretta
Piaggio Vespa 1946

The 1960’s

The 50’s & 60’s economic boom led the Italians to switch from two to four wheels. In 1960 with Lambretta sales stagnant and despite not being very convinced of entering the world of cars or competing with the likes of Fiat. Ferdinando now old and sick was pushed by his son Luigi , who became the company’s vice president in 1958 to build cars for leading car makers of the time under licence. The first car built – the A40 – is none other than the British Austin A40 produced under license by the British Motor Corporation. Shortly thereafter, the Innocenti 950 Spider was born – an Austin-Healey Sprite engine and a Ghia body, designed by Tom Tjaarda, and an IM3 model, reworked with a Pininfarina bodywork, this allowed the inclusion of Innocenti in the 1100 Series as a quality vehicle.

950 Spider

While the assembly of the British Mini under license dates back to 1965 , which was better finished to meet the tastes of the Italian market but despite the success commercial of the Italian version launched in 1966 , all attempts at autonomous design of a car by Innocenti failed.

The A40
Austin- Healey

His Death

On June 20, 1966, while he was at rest in his Varese villa , Ferdinando Innocenti was taken ill and was transported to his home in Piazza San Babila in Milan, where he died the following day of a heart attack.

Private life

He didn’t have a car license, he didn’t know how to drive a car and he didn’t even ride a scooter. From his marriage he had a single son, Luigi , who on his death inherited the entire business complex and which he held until 1971,


In the same year, all plants and Lambrate machinery for the production of Lambretta were purchased by Scooters India Ltd. in 1971.

Scooters India Ltd

Prizes & Awards


Mayor of Pescia Rolando Anzilotti
  • In 1939 Ferdinando was appointed Cavaliere del Lavoro.
  • In 1953 he was awarded the “honoris causa” degree in Engineering [by the Milan Polytechnic .
  • With Deliberation of the Municipal Council dated December 26, 1953 , No. 179, he was granted the honorary citizenship of Pescia, his hometown, for the high merits acquired in the industrial field. The bestowal ceremony was held at the Palazzo dei Vicari on 8 September 1954 , the tenth anniversary of the liberation of the city of the flower from the fascist Nazi , in the presence of Innocenti himself, the mayor Rolando Anzilotti and the bishop of Pescia Monsignor Dino Luigi Romoli .
  • On August 4, 2011 , at the Palagio palace in Pescia , an exhibition was dedicated to him.
  • On 1 September 2011 , on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of his birth, a marble plaque was placed on the facade of his birthplace in Via Fiorentina, Pescia.

Thanks paid to:



Collodi in the Pescia District – Home of Pinocchio

January 26, 2019

Some Things Change in a Timeless Landscape

Some Things Change in a Timeless Landscape

I suppose this, our 10th year at Casa Verde in Vellano, is a story about all the work we have completed on the land.  It is also a story about the whole of the local landscape here and the most obvious features that any guests and visitors will notice when they stay here.  Essentially this landscape is part of a very hilly past medieval world, fortified over the centuries to protect people from invasion and conquest (usually from armed local neighbours from Florence, Lucca or Pisa!).

Manero or ‘La Tosca’ with Casa Verde visible on the Hillside

They are also places of sanctuary from what was the dangers of flood, pestilence and starvation from the underdeveloped Arno flood plain below; with it’s dangers from malaria and typhoid. The Etruscans first drained the Valdinievole and then the Romans. Here in the mountains, water, woods, plants, rocks and trees provided food, shelter and heat in the winter. Our first winters here were a surprise and joy with it’s unexpected dry weather and bright sunshine, however it could also be incredibly cold with the sweeping Tramontana winds (northwind) but only for short periods of time.





Restored 200 Year Old Terraces

On the lower slopes of the hills that is the Valleriana are covered in hand-made terraces.  These are south/southwest facing and benefit from the heat of the sun, and are sheltered from the wind.  Ideal for olive trees and oil production.  In the higher part of the hills traditionally, the chestnut and walnut trees provide an abundance of essential food. Chestnuts can be milled to make flour, which is sweet, great to crumble! As well as food from the forest, such as wild boar (cinghiale), deer, rabbits and wild fowl.  In January, as I write, the main activities of the valley are the hunting of wild boar and the cutting and felling of trees. 

These men built the Strada di State to Vellano & on to Abetone

These are activities that go back centuries, and mean that the local communities are very used to a sense of self sufficiency that is long gone in other parts of Italy and Western Europe.  Indeed many young people, frustrated through the lack of employment in towns and cities, are returning to more traditional rural activities.  Of course there are now modern methods of food production that are less physically demanding.  However, you may use electric machines to tease the olives from the trees, but there is still something elemental and pleasurable about using a long cane to tap, shake and stroke the precious  olives from the trees.  This agrarian traditional culture means that there is always something fresh and local on the menu at anytime of the year; artichokes in April, fresh asparagus in May, figs in July, and chestnuts in October.

Stone Works at Vellano

Local Skills on Display






Another element of the local landscape are the local quarries this produce one important local stone. This is known as Pietra Serena, a hard and durable stone from which many of the local houses have been constructed.  Casa Verde, like many others has in it’s grounds, it’s own small quarry, from which we assume that much of it’s stone came to build Casa Verde and our neighbours house. Neighbours remember stone being ‘sledged’ down the paths behind Casa Verde in the 1940’s. It is also a stone that is easy to carve and sculpt and there are a number of highly talented sculptors (scalpellini) who have produced a number of art works around the village.  In the summer they also hold an international exhibition of sculpting in the Nardini Quarry in Vellano.

Vellano Santi Martino & Sisto 1900?

In the 9 years we have been in Vellano at Casa Verde we have completed a lot of work restoring and improving the steep terraces.  Discovering and planting new olive trees. Clearing and cleaning the terraces that were covered in overgrown briars, ivy and out of control acacia trees.  We have cut down many of these to reveal long lost olive trees. There were a number of large fir trees that were planted, we think, during the Depression and also after the last war as a cash crop. Thesetrees are actually very unsuitable for these steep slopes with their shallow roots.  They were planted to provide a quick reforestation of the hills, but these are gradually being replaced and the wood used at power stations to make electricity. This is making way for more traditional plantations of chestnut and mediterranean oak trees.

New Olives at Casa Verde

New Olive Tree at Casa Verde







So we now have some 60 olive trees and another 20 to plant later this spring.  The views from the house have become, as a result of our tree felling, even more dramatic and extensive. We hope this will be a legacy for the property for ourselves and others for many years to come.




We, as always, welcome visitors to Casa Verde in 2019, to explore this fabulous landscape.

Malcolm & Darren

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The Bell of San Michele Vellano

January 6, 2019

Casa Verde Holiday Apartment 2019. Our 10th Year!

Casa Verde – Our 10th Year! – 2019

Welcome to 2019 and this our 10th Season providing holiday accommodation in our Tuscan Apartment.

Casa Verde

The Walls are Coming Down

Decoration – Winter 2009

Without doubt over the years we have had fantastic guests from all over the world and with the internet this has meant that we are now accessible to more and more new places.  In 2018 we have had visitors from South America, Russia, Mexico and Indonesia, new international boundaries in the life of our house in Vellano.  650 people from 23 different country’s have stayed at Casa Verde ranging from Peru to Portugal.  Yet the village remains the same timeless, peaceful and sunny escape from the troubles of the world.

On the Move 2010


At Casa Verde we have developed our own special features for those who choose a destination, which while not being at all distant from the main Northern Tuscan attractions of Florence, Pisa and Lucca, also seems to attract those that wish to explore and relax in the peace and history of rural Tuscany.  Spectacular and beautiful at any time of the year.

What have we achieved in these last nine years? Well we have been rated as No 1 by Trip Advisor for most of these years for the Pescia region in the category in which we feature.  We have rented our Apartment for 160 weeks for those years.  We estimate that this means more than 800 people have laid their heads at Casa Verde, and probably having the most peaceful sleep possible in the mountain air of Vellano.

Vellano from Casa Verde

Ponte Vecchio

We are both very keen walkers who have explored and learnt a lot about the trails and tracks of both our local area in the Valleriana, the hills above us, but also those in the higher Appenines and the other areas of  Tuscany.

So many fantastic ways to discover the history and classic scenery of this part of the world.  Also many visitors come just to sit read and relax on the terraces with it’s wonderful outstanding views down the valley towards the Pisan Hills. Listening to the sounds of the birds, the swifts dipping and diving from roof to roof, the falcons and buzzards gliding serenely on the warm air currents above the villages of the valley, this is far away from the urban noise.  This is a place to be still as well as explore Renaissance wonders.

Luca Della Robbia


We have, we hope, also become a trusted destination for visitors.  The way in which travellers book their journeys across the world has changed; many now use well known, booking and travel sites, as they feel their booking and money is more secure. We hope that you will visit us and celebrate our 10th year. Try our site at you can pay safely via credit card with PayPal. Its the cheapest way to book with us.

We look forward to meeting you, or meeting with you again!

Here’s hoping you have a very Happy New Year in 2019.

Malcolm & Darren

Casa Verde


1st January 2019


December 1, 2018

Pistoia – A Jewel in Our Regions Crown

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 1:57 pm

Pistoia – A Jewel in The Region’s Crown



Many people visiting Tuscany are naturally dazzled by the glories of the Renaissance at Florence, Siena, Lucca and Pisa. I would suggest that you can spend a day of your holiday discovering the wonders of a lesser known city like Pistoia.

According to one theory, Pistoia lent its name to the pistol, which started to be manufactured in Pistoia during the 16th century. Today, it is notable for new industries such as the building of trains and for the extensive plant nurseries surrounding the city, producing plants and trees delivered around the world. Pistoia is also famous for its flower markets, as is at our nearby city of Pescia.

Catiline & His Slain Men

Pistoria in Latin other possible forms are Pistorium or Pistoriae and was a centre of GallicLigurian and Etruscan settlements before becoming a Roman colony in the 6th century BC, sitting along the important road Via Cassia:

Via Cassia

In 62 BC the demagogue Catiline, not a nice chap it would seem, but very popular with the poor and his fellow conspirators were slain in a battle near Pistoia. From the 5th century the city was a bishopric, and during the Lombardic kingdom it was a royal city and had certain privileges. Pistoia’s most splendid age began in 1177 when it proclaimed itself a free commune, or city state: in the following years it became an important political centre, erecting walls and several public and religious buildings such as it’s hospital, cathedral, city hall and baptistry.


City Hall at The Palio


The river that ran through the city was converd over and the dry riverbed can now be visited beneith the city streets and acient buildings. It is an interesting Tour with quite an insight into the city’s workings and history. A wheel that would have pressed olives can seen which used the water as a power source.

As was very common, a war in 1254 saw the taking of ‘Ghibelline Pistoia’ by Guelph Florence, it good to ‘hiss’ here as Florence is not part of our Region! Pistoia remained a Florentine holding except for a brief period in the 14th century, when Castruccio Castracani captured it for Luccaagain ‘hissing’ is good because Lucca is a regional rival, but a great Tuscan city to visit.

Water wheel that would have pressed olives.

Dante mentioned in his Divina Commedia, the free town of Pistoia as the home town of Vanni Fucci, a thief who is thrown into the Inferno tangled up in a knot of snakes and burnt to death. Nice!



One of the most famous families of the city was that of the Rospigliosi, cloth and wollen  merchants and owners of agricultural estates. The Rospigliosi family provided a pope in 1667 with Giulio Rospigliosi, who briefly reigned as Clement IX (1667–69), and gave several cardinals to the church. One cardinal Rospigliosi named “Il bambino Rospigliosi”.

Pope Clement IX

The 11th Prince Rospigliosi, Filippo, is the present (12th) Earl of Newburgh in the peerage of Scotland. The family have palaces in Rome and Pistoia, which can be    visited. The current Earl & Price Rospigliosi live in Milan.

‘Il Bambino’




11th Prince Rospigliosi






Eating in Pistoia is a delight. Its a relaxed afair with fantastic local food businesses who have a great pride in making such delicious food for locals and visitors alike.

Image result for Resaurants and streets in Pistoia






There are many fantasitc places to visit in Pistoia not least the Cathedral and the Baptistry. However smaller churches have fantastic works by Pisano for example at San Andrea.

San Andrea with Pisano Pulpit

Della Robbia at San Leone

We hope you will visit Pistoia and Casa Verde its a joy to see.

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May 21, 2018

Restoration at Parco Villa Reale Lucca

Visit ParcoVilla Reale & Casa Verde

An Hour from Lucca Florence Pisa & the Coast

A visit to the Park of Villa Reale will surprise and delight you. A chance to immerse yourself in an ancient past with roots stretching back to the Medieval age. The extraordinary history of the Villa Reale estate has unfolded across the centuries with a series of transformations, witnessed by illustrious figures and royal dynasties. The first building was formed from a fortress, where the Duke of Tuscia lived during the early Medieval age.

Image may contain: outdoor and nature

Arno & Circio At Villa Reale






The property subsequently passed to the Avvocati family and then to the Buonvisi, a noble Lucchese family of merchants and bankers who transformed the fortress into a magnificent building. After their downfall, the Buonvisi sold the majority of the family properties, including the Villa in Marlia near Lucca.

The historic residence was bought by Olivieri and Lelio Orsetti in 1651, who carried out modifications to the Villa and recreated the Park in a baroque style with the creation of courtyards, avenues and spectacular gardens, including the Green Theatre and the Lemon Garden. 


marlia orsetti


During the 18th century, the Orsetti brothers also constructed the elegant Palazzina dell’Orologio, with its pillared loggia situated above the portico.


Palazzina dellìOrologio_Villa Reale

It was around this time, in 1806, that Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, Napoleon’s sister and Princess of Lucca, bought the property. From this point on, the Villa took the name “Reale” (Royal) from Elisa’s title as Queen of Etruria. The Princess had a strong bond with the residence in Marlia, proceeding with major works which transformed the structure of the building and the gardens. Shortly after the purchase, the Princess incorporated the Villa del Vescovo into the estate, and modernised the façade of the ancient Orsetti Palazzo in a neoclassical style. The entrance to the property was moved laterally, along with the creation of an impressive semicircular space, flanked by two small matching buildings designed by the architect Lazzarini. The Park was also partially redesigned in line with the 18th century fashion for English gardens. The most significant change was the elongation of perspective in the space in front of the Villa. This is characterised by a slight incline to highlight a sense of movement, as per the Romantic taste. The Park of Villa Reale was also adorned with statues and vases created with precious white marble from the Eugeniana Academy of Carrara.

Carrara Marble

The Lemonia with 200 Citrus


Elisa had to leave the kingdom in February 1814, after the fall of Napoleon. The Princedom of Lucca was transformed into the Duchy, assigned to Carlo Ludovico of Bourbon, and to the mother of Maria Luisa Infanta of Spain. Villa Reale then became the summer residence of the new court, who delighted in organising splendid dances, often hosting distinguished individuals, noblemen and royalty. In 1847, Carlo Ludovico of Bourbon abdicated, bringing an end to Lucca’s political autonomy, when it was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In the second half of the 1800s, the historic residence passed into the hands of the King of Italy, becoming the property of Vittorio Emanuele II, who decided to transfer it to Penelope Carolina, the widow of Carlo of Bourbon, Prince of Capua. When she died in 1882, the estate was passed to the two children, Vittoria Augusta and Francesco Carlo, whose mental illness earned him the name “The Mad Prince”. When his sister Vittoria died, the prince was aided by a guardian who dealt with the management of the family property. The Villa Reale estate was put up for sale. Many items of furniture were sold at auction, and many trees within the Park were cut down for timber.


Teatro Verzura_Villa Reale


The Count and Countess Pecci-Blunt bought the estate in 1923. The next year they commissioned the famous French architect Jacques Greber for the restoration of the Park and gardens, with the aim of uniting tradition and innovation. Woodland, streams, a lake, and other bucolic features were created to complete and enrich the existing romantic picture created by the classic Italian gardens.

The Villa Reale Lucca

Almost a century later, in 2015, a young Swiss couple bought the by then neglected estate, having fallen hopelessly in love with it. A mere two months later, a terrible storm hit the estate and uprooted many centuries-old trees, complicating the ongoing renovation of the park. Despite the numerous difficulties, the owners decided to accept the challenge of bringing the Villa Reale back to its former glory, initiating significant restoration.





Visit us & Villa Reale an Hour from Lucca Florence Pisa & the Coast

See Villa Reale @

Entry to the Park 8 Euros’ (The Villa is not open to the public at the moment.)



Casa Verde Vellano near Lucca

February 2, 2018

A New Look Around Casa Verde Apartment, Vellano

A New Look Around Casa Verde

Here are some photographs showing the changes we have made to our lovely Apartment here at Casa Verde in recent times.

Sitting area with log fire (stufa).

These photographs will soon be updated on our own website, , however we have already been changed on other sites where Casa Verde is advertised and listed. We are so looking forward to another great holiday season with guests from around the world. It is a great pleasure for us to greet so many interesting people and helping to provide them with a home-from-home and to enjoy the fabulous visitor attractions at Florence, with its art culture, Pisa with the astounding Leaning Tower, Lucca and its medieval center and stupendous walls , Viareggio with the beach, at the foot of the Massa-Cararra Mountains. All this here in Tuscany within an hour of Casa Verde.

Remember it is always costs you less to book with us direct from our own website.

Twin Bedroom

Chestnut Room























See Also:

Vinci the Home of Leonardo

Da Vinci’s Birthplace at Anchiano







Viareggio Carnival




Pescia near Vellano











Montecarlo near Lucca



January 1, 2018

Vellano Summer 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 7:18 pm

The summer of 2017 in Tuscany will be recorded as one of the hottest and driest on record, however a memorable one at Casa Verde.  Here for the New Year is a record of the summer 2017 and we look forward to your visit here to Vellano and to our website:

Vellano has had a very festive Summer too with 10 days of the local Ferragosto event at the local village center with dancing both traditional, contemporary and ever so slightly crazy.  Plus an entertaining and very popular evening with a very plausible Freddie Mercury impersonator that we all enjoyed singing along with.


‘Freddie Mercury’ at Ferragosto

Several Friday evenings in the Piazza at the top of the village were filled by visitors and locals alike for Pizza, music and catching up with friends and local Vellanese. Darren won first prize in the tombola, salami and cheese selection, fantastic!

Pizza in the Piazza at Vellano

The Vellanese crowd in our local Piazza








The Tuscan coast shimmered in the summer haze and a visit to the peninsular near Bocca del Magro, and the local town of Sarzana on the Tuscany/Ligurian border was a delight. This area provides us with outstanding vistas and views of charming villas and coves around the coast Lerici.  A Roman Villa near Lago Massacciucoli is the ancient backdrop to the lake as it looks over towards Torre del Lago and the coast, again walking in the area provides the best insights into what this location has to offer.  Walking is the theme again as we ventured to the rocky edges of Tuscan and Emilia Romagna and just over the Appennine ridge we climbed the mighty Monte Cimone, at 2165 m it is the highest peak hereabouts and mighty long climb up from Abetone through forests and then along the mountain ridge.  Most walking here, be it short or long, eventaully takes you through a beautiful olive grove somewhere, and this warm year has provided us with a bumper olive harvest at Casa Verde to savour and remember.  This olive oil is to keep us stocked maybe for several years and marks the end 0f 2017 as a long hot season that has been mightily fruitful.

Monte Cimone



Bocca del Magro, Tuscan Coast

Casa Verde Olive Oil 2017

Olive Grove

Casa Verde can be seen on the hillside of this old photo

 Happy New Year from Casa Verde.

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