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May 7, 2021

Vellano in the Spring Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren & Malcolm @ 6:27 pm
The Apartment at Casa Verde

When we arrived at Casa Verde this spring we opened the doors and windows and breathed in the mountain air, fantastic! The swallows were there also and quickly took up their old routine flight through the front door and up the stairs and out of the balcony doors! This used to make the cats go berserk!

Our Cat Caramella 2018
Casa Verde Main House Door
Santa Maria dell Fiori & Brunelleschi’s Bell Tower


As the restrictions are lifted here in Italy we were able to meet out friends in Florence and Lucca. In Florence were were surprised at the tranquil atmosphere of Florentines going about their daily business with no tourists! It was quite extraordinary. There were very few tourists in the city (they will be welcomed back soon!) So the city in which outdoors cafes and restaurants reopened, were well populated with local citizens enjoying the open spaces of this historic place.

On Friday this week the Italian Government will announce how they will be opening Italy for tourism this summer; so keep an eye-out if your thinking of Italy as a holiday destination this year.

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Santa Maria Novella Florence


Rustic Cheese – Half Cows and Half Sheep Milk from Croce a V

While out on a day walk in the Valeriana; at the highest level in the valley 900m we passed farm or a ‘Podere’ with a sign saying cheese for sale. It was the bucolic vision of a remote mountain farm, verdant green hills and slopes with goats, sheep of many colours and brown cows all happily living side by side. Their neck bells creating a beautiful sound over the whole valley. The farmer and his family greeted me with a warm smile and a curiosity that all Italian’s display. A rugged man with a weathered face of more than sixty years; brought out of the farmhouse a round of cheese, its a mix of cows and sheep he said for you, like it was a present! There was 27 euros’ written of the brown paper bag. Are you going to eat it on your way he asked, I said sure, for our Pranzo I said. Were are you from Germany? he said, my blonde hair always suggests this. I said Vellano, our village, but its not what he meant and I said Inghilterra! I’m sorry he said for your Regina Elizabetta, I realised that he meant the death of Prince Philip, a few days before, such news had reached this mountain top place. I could smell the cheese coming through the brown paper bag so off I went for my lunch.

Must Eat My Greens!

Field Green Called Cavolini by Some But ‘Spigole’ by the People of Vellano

Cavolini or ‘Spigole’ as the villagers call it is a field green that is very special at this time of year. Cooked with a little olive oil, salt and the water from the washing just steam for a few minutes or even eaten raw with olio and salt and black pepper, as you chew it the taste of lemon emerges, its delicious.

Cavolini the Vellanaise Call ‘Spigole’

Asparagi – One of the Wonders of Spring

One of the first things to be planted here in 2010 was an asparagus bed. Not thinking it would take, as they are such strange plants, every year they spring up from the ground. They make these fantastic tasting vegetables or should I say flowers which is what they are. Cooked by boiling and then frying a runny egg in butter to put on top, parmesan cheese, parsley and black pepper; that’s it, wonderful. Eaten by dipping the tips in the egg!

Back in the Day

St Martino & St Sisto Vellano 1900

This is where we put all the old photos we find of Vellano. See below a very old photo of the hillside without Casa Verde and one with, but not our neighbours house. Our neighbour now 100 years old has always said her Husband built the house for his family while he and his wife were working for ‘The General’, his house was on the road below Casa Verde. It is also said we had in our bedroom ‘The General’s bed’ which we used when we first arrived at the house in 2010. We still have the headboard! The stone quarry is visible in the first photo before the our house was built. It’s said the house was built to house the workmen and their families. Four kitchens and seven old bedrooms, complete with old straw mattresses’, stand testament to that story. Another neighbour, 97 years old, who’s son still runs a stone quarry in the village said he remembers the quarrymen, and the ‘scalpellini’ the chisellers who scupltured the stone into building blocks, or more artistic artefacts that we still see in Tuscany today. They would use wooden sledges to move the blocks of stone down the paths behind the house and then along the hillside track to the village.


Casa Verde will be built below white patch (our stone quarry) on hillside middle


Casa Verde – on the hillside – middle left – but with no house next door!


On a sad note the Village Dog Brunello has died and the village have erected a Pietra Serena stone memorial to him. He was very old but spent most of his life on the main road having been abandoned from a passing car over 15 years ago. He lived on the spot where he was left as if waiting for his owners to return. The spot is also the site of a restaurant which also my be a good reason to choose that spot to live. The villagers have always been very generous to Brunello looking after him and paying his vet bills. We will miss him.

Brunello RIP
Vellano from Casa Verde

We hope to see you soon at Casa Verde

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March 1, 2021

The Lent Season – Brigidini

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren & Malcolm @ 11:09 am
The Old Brigidine Convent

This is the Lent Season around Europe, Lent is old English for Spring, and many different areas have varying traditions. We have, elsewhere in these blogs, talked about the Carnivale season in Italy. Sadly, the pandemic has meant that many of these have been cancelled this year. Still there are the food traditions that cover this period. In the open stalls in town and cities there are the traditional festive foods for sale. Brightly coloured pastries and sweets that attract children, along with the fancy dress costumes that they like to wear. This is a familiar sight in these early spring days after the darkness of winter. Don’t forget that in many countries ‘Martedi Grasso‘ {Fat Tuesday) is a national holiday. In the UK it’s Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, where Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confession and were “shriven” or absolved from their sins.

La Luminara di San Ranieri in Pisa » At Home in Tuscany
Always a ‘Passeggiata’ to Enjoy
Brigidino di Lamporecchio — Two Parts Italy
Sweets for the Holidays
A 600 Year Old Olive Tree at Vinci near the Brigidine Convent.

According to the legend, the first Brigidini were made by mistake by St Brigida’s nuns while preparing some food or even ‘hosts’ for the Mass, in the 13th century. The name derives from the saint, (that’s the Swedish Brigitta not the Irish one apparently}. They are simply very thin biscuits, a little like waffles and often come in long strips and served in long paper bags. They symbolise the beginning of lent, rather like pancakes do in other countries. The using up fat and flour before the fasting of the Lent period.

The Viareggio Carnivale

Should you get the urge you can try making them with this recipe. This may be useful if at this time of the year if you can’t be there in Italy. Enjoy them anyway and we hope to see visitors in Tuscany some time in the new few months.

Milan Italy December 8 2018 Stall Stock Photo (Edit Now) 1287971389
Always a Brgidine Stall

These treats originate from a small town near Casa Verde called Lamporecchio (very close to Vinci the birthplace of Leonardo!)

Casa Verde Tuscany

Try Making Your Own Brigidini

Brigidini di Laporecchio | Geekr | Flickr

Ingredients for 60 Brigidini

  • 400 gr baking flour
  • 200 gr sugar
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon aniseeds
  • pinch of salt and vanilla extract


Beat eggs until frothy, then add sugar and aniseeds. Work the mixture vigorously adding flour, salt and vanilla until you get a fairly smooth and soft dough. Let the dough rest for 1 hour in a dry and cool place. When the 60 minutes are up, cut the dough into small pieces and make many balls as big as nuts. Roll them out thinly, to make the wafers. Place onto a baking tray lined with non stick baking paper, allowing room for the wafers to spread. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C and bake Brigidini for about 15 minutes.

Brigidino di Lamporecchio — Two Parts Italy
Brigidini on Sale made by Nuns
The Brigidine New Arrival Story - New Arrivals
The Brigidine Nuns 1900
Livorno Daily Photo: Making Of
Local Bridgidini Stall Famous in Lamporecchio

Our New Feature – Sei in Questa Foto? Are you in this Photo?

School Children in Vellano Last Century
Sei in Questa Foto? Facci Sapere – Are you in this Picture? Let us know
The village of Vellano From Casa Verde

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Vellano from Casa Verde

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February 1, 2021

Back to the Future – Welcome Back to Tuscany This Spring!

Vellano from Casa Verde – Yes that is the View!

The Mountain Top Village of Vellano from Casa Verde

This is the beginning of 2021 here in Vellano.

So many of you will be hoping that perhaps this is the time we can begin to think about holidays in this beautiful part of Italy. Great sights to see, stunning weather, lovely beaches within reach, mountains to explore and climb and above all the glorious food and wine in local ‘trattoria’ that serve local dishes in picturesque villages.

Cutigliano – Top of the World
The Beach at Viareggio
an hour from Casa Verde
Casa Verde Apartment & Terraces
Trattoria Manero Vellano
Trattoria Manero – Vellano
Five Mins Walk
The Pool at San Lorenzo
15 Mins from Casa Verde
Pescia Palio – First Sunday in September
Pescia 20 Mins from Vellano

Locally there are numerous festivals and celebrations to join in with. Here in Vellano alone there is the May Day festival with street stalls and music; in July the cake festival, in August ‘Ferra Agosto’ – holiday in August – or Ferragosto with lively dancing in local square and in October the chestnut festival, with roast chestnuts, castagnaccio and necci, sweet pancakes. Again this festival draws large crowds and street sellers to Vellano.

Vellano’s Main Square for Ferragosto in August with All the Villagers
Street Festival in Vellano
Vellano Chestnut Festival in the 1950s & Still Going Today

This is where we are with 11 years of experience providing holidays at our Casa Verde Apartment, with great facilities two terraces with it’s lovely views and tranquil airs upon which to read a good book.

Monte Serra from Casa Verde Vellano

So what can we offer to you in these uncertain times? Space to be yourself in a rural hillside setting.

Vellano – a Spring Morning

But close enough to many sights from the most popular locations in the region; Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Siena and the coastal beaches. we are never short on warm to hot sunny days to spend by the sea.

How many steps are there in the Leaning Tower of Pisa? | Travel Trivia
Florence travel | Tuscany, Italy, Europe - Lonely Planet

Pisa, Florence & the Coast an hour from Casa Verde

A place to be healthy, cycling in the hills, fantastic walking on spectacular and well signed pathways in the mountains and on the plains. We at Casa Verde are eager walkers and last year we completed, over a period of four years the Italian half of the fabulous and increasing popular pilgrimage walk from the Alps at Gran San Bernardo Pass to the Vatican in Rome. Stretches of which pass nearby down the Versilian coast through Lucca Altopascio and San Gimignano.

40 Mins from Casa Verde

There are many other well signed paths locally and in through the Appennines that are worth the effort for day hikes too. You are never far from some breath-taking views!

La Via Francigena From San Miniato Tuscany

The luxury of sitting, on jasmine scented days, with a glass of wine. Watching the fireflies on warm summer evening illuminating the olive terraces.

Siena travel | Tuscany, Italy, Europe - Lonely Planet

So what are you waiting for? Summer holidays will be with us again soon.

In the meantime we hope you all stay safe; wherever you are.

With our very best wishes,

Casa Verde

Casa Verde is a self check-in and Covid Secure holiday destination

Vellano Pescia Tuscany Italy

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Oh that Cappuccino!

June 9, 2020

Return to Vellano this Summer!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren & Malcolm @ 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

A New Work of Stone in Vellano – A Village Rich in History

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren & Malcolm @ 7:02 pm
A New Wall for Casa Verde
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, many shops, 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, and 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 (2020)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. In 2021 a café was opened.

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

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Darren & Malcolm @ 4:44 pm
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 & Malcolm @ 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

See Casa Verde Here:

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 & Malcolm @ 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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