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April 5, 2016

Springing into Life and the Road to the Via Francigena

Spring up Via Francigena. April 2016 013

Spring Blossom at Casa Verde

Waking up to Spring, that is the theme for the season here at Casa Verde, and it is also time for us to prepare for our walk along the local part of the Via Francigena from Lucca to Siena soon.  The Via Francigena is the pilgrim’s footpath all the way from Canterbury to St.Peter’s Church in Rome.  In AD 990 The Archbishop of Canterbury Sigeric collected his cloak of office by walking with his band to and from Rome! (And he wrote about it).  Whether it is the notion of Pilgrimage with it’s spiritual intent, the challenge of the road for days on end and the sense of achievement when you arrive at your destination, or just long days in the ‘wilderness’ attempting discover something more of yourself, then the long walk has great appeal to many thousands of travelers.

The Hills Near Vellano


The Via Francigena through Italy begins at the San Bernadino Pass and goes down the Aosta Valley below Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) towards Ivrea, the Po plains, Pavia and Piacenza.  Then over the Appenines to the coast at Luni, down to Lucca, through San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Siena; crossing Chianti, then Lazio into Rome. It has become an increasing popular walking route but much less well used than the Way of St. James in Northern Spain.  There has been recent publicity to promote the Via Francigena through advertising and celebrations.  Also by improving signage; and providing good safe walking through maintaining tracks and by-ways.  It is a problem that some of the original route had become busy main roads, and the route has had to be diverted in parts to make it safer to walk.  Still there are significant sections on side roads and busy roads in some towns and cities; however the route does have a romantic and ancient history and one which we all hope to enjoy and promote to tourists and keen walkers.  Please watch this space in the coming months for pictures and reports of our adventure.

Spring up Via Francigena. April 2016

San Michelle Vellano Tuscany Italy







Spring up Via Francigena. April 2016 005

Agrumi at Casa Verde


It is easy to love Tuscany at this time of the year, when suddenly the temperatures escalate from 12 to 22 degrees centigrade.  Within a few days every plant in the garden and in the many folds of the valley comes to life with fresh green leaves, blossoms and flowers.   It is as if a magician has swept a wand over the earth and changed it’s colours, it’s smells and it’s air into fans of warm breezes and raised up the volume of the singing birds.  In Britain spring can be beautiful too but it never seems to happens so quickly and with such a force that you feel so transformed by it’s energy.  It is the perfect time to explore the hills and valleys of this landscape and we cannot speak too much of the opportunities for walking and for any explorers of life, nature and culture in this part of the world.

Winter in The Padule near Vellano & Lucca Tuscany Italy -

The Padule near Vellano & Lucca Tuscany Italy

Written and Published by Malcolm Coward –




January 2, 2016

Happy New Year 2016 – The Feast of Epifania

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Darren Hackett @ 2:31 pm
Bifania old woman who, in Italy delivers presents at Epiphany

Befania old woman who, in Italy delivers presents at Epiphany


In Italy Christmas does not start in October and end on New Years Eve. It really seems to begin on the public holiday of the Immacolata Concezione on the 8th of December and ends one month later on the feast of Epifania or Epiphany (Twelfth Night) an the 6th of January. This is also the feast of La Befania; one of Italy’s many public holidays. La Befania is an old woman, who looks like the classic version of a witch. She is, by legend a woman whom the Three Wise Men passed; on their way to Bethlehem to visit the new-born baby Jesus. She was sweeping her house when they asked her to join them. She told them she was busy with her sweeping. When she had finished her sweeping she looked for them but they were gone. Every Epifania Eve she takes to her broom flying about he skies of Italy leaving gifts for all the children; who have left their stockings for her. The gifts are usually sweets but she also leaves coal or garlic to indicate all the times they have been naughty as well.

The Three Wise Men asked Befania if she wanted to go with them but she was busy seeping!

The Three Wise Men asked Bifania if she wanted to go with them; but she was busy sweeping!


At Casa Verde we have enjoyed a very fine, warm and dry November and December with little sign of cold or snowy weather to come.  This has been headline news here as there have been smog warnings in Milan and the Emilia-Romagna. Linked to this an alarming lack of snow on the Alps and higher Apennines so that thousands of enthusiastic skiers are having to dry grass ski on the slopes of the mountains!  The trees have been reluctant to shed their leaves, grass is growing in bright green swathes across the hillsides and the Camelia shrubs and Mimosa trees are budding seven weeks early. However you can be sure that winter will have it’s say sometime in the next few weeks and sprinkle some white frosting in the Valleriana where Vellano sits.

Snow on Snow but not this year, as yet!

Snow on Snow but not this year, as yet!


At Casa Verde we look forward to whole new set of interesting guests from around the world in 2016 as well as some old friends too.  Many things change in the world but here the world changes, thankfully, very slowly.


Wishing you, your family and friends a very Happy New Year 2016.

Malcolm & Darren

July 12, 2015

Walking in Sunshine

Pian del Grande

Pian del Grande


At the beginning of June we hosted a group of Staffordshire walkers for the first time here at Casa Verde and elsewhere in Vellano.  It is becoming an important feature of our time here in the Valleriana near Pescia, that we are walking more  as we have other friends who are equally enthusiastic about exploring the hills on foot.  I think we are gaining more confidence in finding our way about the valley and if we are not then we have discovered some great guides who know their way around.  There are some fantastic places to explore here.


Resting at the Refugio

Resting at the Refugio

The walkers completed a series of excursions, all varying in length and environment.  We went twice around the local area, among the hills.  A beautiful picnic atop the Castello at Lucchio and an historical and environmental exploration to the lost village of Lignagna (both of these places have featured previously in the Casa Verde blog).  Throughout the steep trail up to the lost village, our guide Andrea spoke of the many botanical features of the hillside; the rock roses, other unique plants, the different birds, lizards etc that thrive in these hills.  He also gave us a picture of how the valley had changed over the centuries in the type of plants and trees that have been cultivated here.  From the chestnut trees, to the vast amounts of imported pine trees, to the encouragement of the smaller Mediterranean Oak.

We had an excellent guide, Donatella, who took us high up to the Alpi Apuane, above the coast near Viareggio.  It was a fabulous treck around the Pian del Grande, one of the highest peaks in the area at nearly 2000 meters (over 6500 ft!).  After a trail along a quarry road with great views out over the chain of mountains running North West, where many of the peaks have been dramatically despoiled by the rich quarrying of the marble industry.  We entered lovely beech and oak woodland before suddenly emerging in a splendid, colourful and dramatic valley where the meadow was still filled with forget-me-nots and poppies.  A stunning scene of delicate and delightful beauty.  Standing over us here was the

Top of the World

Top of the World

huge bulk of the Pian del Grande itself; a rocky beast with a double peak connected by a razor sharp edge (or so it seems) by the name of ‘Omo morto’ (deadman).  This name is also a warning, as many climbers and adventurers have died on this precipice. In the midst of the valley is one of the many ‘rifugi’ that you find in any of the mountain tracks in Italy.  It is a vital resource for mountain walkers and fulfill three main needs of the ramblers; sleep, food and shelter.  Here our group dined at a long table on pasta, veal and wine….what a dream it was to recover and rest in fantastic late spring sunshine under the shadow of the mountains!

Our wonderful group then finished their week around the little wine town of Montecarlo; walking through its vineyards and olive groves, this was very different experience for the group.  In the shimmering heat among the Jasmine and roses, we all had  a taste of Tuscan life familiar to readers of the tourist brochures.  A cappuccino in the cafe. An Italian wedding, the bride and groom posing exotically on the town walls. And to round it all off wine tasting at a local winery, where several wines where gulped, and several where purchased, making ‘La Signora’ , our wine hostess very contented.

Lunch at the Refugio

Lunch at the Refugio

Pondering Each Others Thoughts

Pondering Each Others Thoughts

Restful in the Shade -

Restful in the Shade


March 7, 2015

The Way of St.Francis

St.Francis, one of the patron saints of Italy (St.Catherine di Siena is the other), was a rebel. He rebelled at the wealth and extravagance of the Church, he divested himself of his clothing in a city square as symbolic of all his worldly possessions. He founded an order of poverty and devotion in his home town of Assisi.  We have visited Assisi several times, now packed with visitors of course, but you can imagine the place, strung out on a hillside above the Tiber valley as a place of wealth and peace in the middle of the 12th Century, a quiet market town with wool merchants and farmers at the heart of it’s activity.  St.Francis was born in 1182, the youngest son of a wealthy family, as Giovanni.  He was renamed Francesco (the Frenchman) because his mother was from Provence and he was taught to speak French.  After his wild boyhood and his time fighting in local battles he denounced and denied his family wealth and moved outside the walls of the town to San Damiano and founded his own group of religious followers devoted to a life of poverty; risking as he did the anger of his family, friends and more seriously the ire of the Roman Catholic church. The popularity of St.Francis (he was canonized in 1228, two years after his death) grew gradually though the succeeding centuries and many images of the saint appeared.Face of St Francis

St Francis

St Francis

Reputedly one of the oldest images of the Saint resides in Pescia, Casa Verde’s local town which the Saint visited in 1211.  Painted in 1235 by Bonaventura Berlinghieri, from a famous Lucchese painting family, the altar piece is thought to give us a pretty accurate likeness of Francis as it was painted only nine years after his death.  It also tells the story of his life in six painted side panels.  The life cycle of Francis has been depicted frequently, most famously by Giotto in the Cathedral of St.Francis at Assisi and explains to generations of devotees the importance of his religious experience.  The Giotto frescoes there portray wonderfully St.Francis’s love and view of nature, the fantastic colours of trees and flowers in shades vivid and vibrant so true of much of the Umbrian & Tuscan countryside.  It is this beauty in the natural world that most residents of these hills truly appreciate whatever else may be happening in the world, and which is portrayed so truly by Tuscan artists.

The icon is in the lovely church of San Francesco at Pescia and can been seen there every day.  This church is of a simple Romanesque style with a few more ‘modern’ baroque features though the  have  building remains essentially unchanged in atmosphere from it’s original feel. The lovely wooden roof beams are beautifully carved; the archways above the main body of the church are frescoed in the most fabulous natural colours, their lucidity owes much to the intricacies of the original design and also that they were only recently restored at the end of the last century.  It is genuinely a place of peace and must give great comfort to visitors across the road at the town’s main hospital. It is also an important treasure for Pescia, a city not so well known compared to San Gimignano, Volterra and other famous Tuscan cities nearby, but a town that has has it’s own medieval heritage, and it’s own charm and beauty nestling as it does under the Appennine Hills.

Chiesa di San Francesco, Pescia

San Francesco Pescia

To all those who booked for Casa Verde this season we look forward to meeting you.  To those who haven’t, take a look at what we have to offer in the land of the way’s of St.Francis.

As churches ready themselves for the busy Easter season, we at Casa Verde ready ourselves for the new holiday season and the spring growing season.  Olive trees are being pruned, ground made ready in the Orto for the vegetables, land being cleared for strimming.  Also the first warm sunny days have appeared as the fresh green grass sparkles framing the first spring flowers that appear on the terraces.  The vivid blue of Italian crocuses and the lovely violet of bluebells that a previous owner has planted at Casa Verde are a find.

Photo 1 courtesy of Suckale, Weniger, der Gotik & Verlag

Photo 2/3 courtesy of Sailko

January 21, 2015

Orange & Lemons at Vellano – Candied Peel Recipe

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Darren Hackett @ 1:29 pm

Oranges & Lemons Said the Bells of Vellano!

The Scent is Fantastic

The Scent is Fantastic

Some readers will be familiar with the song, ‘Orange and Lemons Said the Bells of St Clement’s’. St. Clements’s may be St Clement Danes or St Clement Eastcheap in London both of which are near the wharves where merchants landed their citrus fruits. The tune is also reminiscent of change ringing or bell ringing and St Clement Danes rings out this tune to this day.

I had forgotten it is a singing game or dance where you were ‘out’ if the arc of hands came down on you and you were then ‘out’ to the words, ‘And here comes a chopper to chop off your head‘. The game was sung on festival days, on which bells would be rung.

This leads me to my problem as there are so many oranges and lemons on our citrus plants this January I wondered what to do with orange skins.

We have had orange juice, orange fruit cocktail and ice cream, zest in cakes and one idea was to make candied peal with the skins. Instead of composting it all, which is not advised as it can make you compost acid and thus your soil acidic. Very difficult to put right!!

So below is a method for making Citrus Candied Peel

4 Oranges

4 & a half cups of water

2 and a half cups of sugar

Sugar for coating

1. Cut the orange peel with the pith taken away with a knife into 6cm by half a cm strips. Do not worry if there is a little pith left on the peel.

Cut into Strips

Cut into Strips










2. Add water, sugar and peel strips in a wide pan and bring to the boil.

Simply add water & Sugar

Simply add water & Sugar










3. Simmer for 1 hour or so until the mixture of fruit and sugar syrup goes a little bit golden but before it turns to caramel!!

Simmer for 30 - 45 Mins

Simmer for 30 – 45 Mins










4. Remove from the syrup and place on a bed of sugar. Leave for a few minutes to cool. Then sprinkle with sugar and roll the candied peel in the sugar with the flat of your hand.

Dry over night or in  a warm oven

Dry Over Night or in a Warm Oven










5. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and then put in a warm oven to dry. If you leave them on the kitchen table over night they dry just the same.

6. Keep in a air tight jar.

They are delicious.

Keep In an Air Tight Jar

Keep in an Air Tight Jar










Top Tip: You can also dip half of each strip in chocolate! Enjoy.


Oranges and Lemons:

St Clement Danes:

St Clement Eastcheap:,_Eastcheap

December 23, 2014

The Shortest Days & Christmas Presepi

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Darren Hackett @ 5:17 pm

We at Casa Verde would like to wish all our readers, friends, visitors and customers a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
Presepe of Bread San Miniato

There is in Italy, at this time of year, the great tradition of building presepi or nativity scenes in many religious and public spaces. Here in the photograph opposite, a bakery has made this one with their own bread. In San Miniato, coincidentally, twinned with Bethlehem, there is a whole festival dedicated this week to artistic versions of the presepi made with all sorts of materials including old garden tools, sweets, metalwork etc.

The quiet town of San Miniato in the province of Empoli is the Northern-most town in the Chianti region. It is strung out along a low narrow ridge overlooking the Arno valley for more than a mile.  It’s main street is part of the Via Francigena, the road from Canterbury through France to Rome. San Miniato was fought over fiercely in July 1944 between the German and American troops, leaving the town very badly damaged, it is hard to believe that it has ever changed for over eight centuries.

The town is home to the November truffle festival and famous for it’s white truffles.  One of these sold in the US recently for around 50,000 dollars!!!!

Precepe San Miniato

Precepe San Miniato

Everything is gentle and slow, time to sit in the Cathedral square watching the mist billow in and out of the towers.  The church tower in typical red-brick splendor, it’s gothic clock beautifully; but oddly placed to one side of it’s square construction.  The giant medieval watch-tower on top of the hill placed as if in solitude in a pretty, well-kept park.

We visited San Miniato on the shortest day,  the 21st of December. One of those glorious winter days when the warm, strong sun creates such a soft light among the mists that rise from the river valley below.  There is little of the Christmas bustle and business that seems to be happening elsewhere.


Ipad  Photos 2014 097

San Miniato


In the main square stands a beautifully curved edifice known as the Palazzo del Seminario. It’s facade painted and decorated elaborately and distinctively.  On the ground floor there a many doors with steps that look as if they could have been shops and stalls.  This is the main market square for San Miniato; on various days full of food stalls or antiques.

Market Square at San Miniato

The architecture always reminds us that such is the glory and quality of Tuscan architecture that every comune or local council, has had to somehow find a way to create distinctive style or look that is unique to it’s buildings.  After wandering around more of the presepi we enjoyed our favourite winter treat at one of our local cafes……a delicious hot chocolate topped with whipped fresh cream.  Boun Natale a tutti!!!.

December 5, 2014

Roads to Casa Verde

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 2:40 pm

There are many roads up and around the valleys above Pescia and Lucca and they are vital in maintaining peoples access to the main shopping and working centres  located on the valley floor. For the past 70 decades there has been a gradual shift in workers looking for jobs in shops, factories and other businesses in the area. Meanwhile the life style of the ‘contadini’, the country workers, in the mountains has been slowly eroded. It was unusual for people in villages such as Vellano to visit the nearest main town of Pescia more than once a month. There were supplies of what was needed all around them in the village. Any transported goods were carried by pack horse as late as the last war and Vellano did not have surfaced road until the 1950’s. Here is a photo of the labourers building the road at that time; the photo has been shared by our neighbour.


Isn’t it such a beautiful photograph of these guys seemingly so happy in their work.  I wonder how many of them are still alive today. The road is of course particularly important as we move towards the heart of Winter with the threat of frost and snow.  The road is especially significant as it is one of the routes up to the ski resort of Abetone so it is kept open all year round.  This last year was a mild and damp winter followed by a lot of rain during the late summer and autumn months, this has led to a 40% drop in Italy’s olive harvest, probably with greater damage in the Tuscany region, other crops too have suffered in the unusual weather of 2014. Many coastal resorts in North West Tuscany and Liguria around Genoa have experienced floods and mudslides, with many losing their homes, roads and living from the land.

So this year we are all hoping for a drier and colder Winter season with lots of bug-killing frosts, and a necessary drying of the land for the Spring of 2015.

Talking of roads being built, those guests and friends who have enjoyed their visits to Casa Verde will know that there has been a small price to pay for the splendid view from the property; that is the ride (or walk) up and down our famous ‘strada bianca’.  It is not very long but was a bit bumpy and scary……well not anymore!!

HolidayDrive 051It may need a little more landscaping, and it is not quite the Yellow Brick Road, although it is the yellow required by the Florence authorities! However, it makes for a pleasant smooth, gentle ascent to the start of your holiday.  It is of course our new cement road.

A Pathway to Paradise?

A Highway to Heaven?

Well maybe those are too pretentious as names …so we can just call it…..

Una Strada pui Bello!!!


HolidayDrive 054

No more muddy shoes when you dine out at the Ristorante Bistrot!


No more unloading of bags or passengers at the bottom of the drive!


No more fear of heart attacks as you ascend the hill!


A formal opening will no doubt be made for the Summer season of 2015.


September 8, 2014

Festival Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Darren Hackett @ 6:10 am

Festival Time

The Vellenese crowd in our local Piazza

The Vellenese Crowd in Our Local Piazza

Well we have all heard of the Gunfight at the OK Coral……..this is the bunfight at the local Piazza!

This is a traditional event, a cake festival at the beginning of August, as part of the Ferragosto celebrations.  Local people bake the most delicious and beautiful array of cakes, displaying them in the square and there is a competition.  I assume that the prize is for the best looking cake….or perhaps for who gets to taste them first in the frenetic cue for pieces of this delicious fayre.

(I had a piece of the grand white cream cake, with icing and pistacchio, the one at the bottom of the table…in case you might be interested!)


This picture was taken at around 10.30 in the evening as to display cakes outside on a warm August evening would have been very difficult earlier in the day.  The small piazza at the top of our village of Vellano was crammed with people at this time and music was provided by our local crooner Liscio.  He also provided all the music for our 50/60th Birthday Party in June this year and very entertaining it all was….part Italian country songs and part Karioke.

Whilst the weather in Tuscany has been strange and unusual for us all this year other normal summer activities and festivals continued on.

The Giusti Garden's Verona

The Giusti Garden’s Verona




We visited Verona in the Veneto in August, for another of Italy’s more famous festival, the Verona Opera Festival in the Roman Arena.

Where gladiators once fought with Lions and Tigers opera goers now vie for seats at one of the most spectacular theatres in the World. The audience of about 12000, dressed in a range from the most glittering to tourist casual began the spectacle with the overtures and a sea of traditional candle light……then after about half an hour of the performance…..rain! After waiting 2 hours for the showers to peter out the performance was abandoned.  So now we must wait for another twelve months for the next years round of Verona performance to begin and another chance to see the fabulous Aida emerge from the artificial but beautiful stage representation of Memphis (this time not waiting for Elvis).

There are other delights in Verona of course to sea and we took a meandering walk and climb around the lovely Giusti Garden’s, with it’s great views over the city.

The Giusti Garden's

The Giusti Garden’s


July 16, 2014

A Pilgrimage – San Pellegrino in Alpi


San Pellegrino in Alpi – The Legend


We reached San Pellegrino after a very steep climb to almost 1525 meters 5000 Ft . The church and shrine sits on a small mound with steep drops at each side. It must have one of the most spectacular views in Tuscany although it straddles Tuscany and the Emilia-Romagna (see photo of the divide).

Popular imagination has created a legendary life for San Pellegrino, which was spread by the lay brothers of the communities that attempted to collect alms for the poor. According to the legend, San Pellegrino is the son of King Romano of Scotland and his wife Plantula. (I cannot find anything about this king!) He performs miracles from the day on which he was baptised and after a childhood of penance, he renounces the succession to the throne and sets off for the Holy Land, accompanied by a band of thieves who he has miraculously converted! After suffering persecution by the Saracen’s he ran away and legend has it that he reached the Appenine mountains sailing upon his cloak and guided by a star, nice!

So green and so high!

So green and so high!

The boarder with Tuscany and Emila - Romana Italy

The Border with Tuscany and the Emilia-Romagna Italy

At San Pellegrino he lives in a cave where he is visited by wild animals, whom he then befriends. Many years later he removes to a suitable location for penance, sheltering inside a hollow tree. S. Pellegrino dies at 97 years old, after having written his life on the bark of the tree.

A man and wife from Modena, guided in a dream by an angel found his body intact, guarded by a great number of animals. The bishops and populations of Tuscany and the Emilia flocked to the place and a dispute breaks out between the Emilian’s, who want to transport the Saint to the plains and the Tuscans’ who claim him; having died within their borders. To resolve the issue they then put the corpse in a coffin on a cart and it is then pulled along by two wild bullocks, one Tuscan and the other Emilian, and they stop at a place called Termen Salon which became St Pellegrino in Alpi. A basilica is created here in honour of San Pellegrino, whose Dedication is given 10th August 643 A.D. At this location, where many miracles occur, the site becomes honoured by popes and emperors, is then created a house of refuge to receive those who flock to venerate the Saint.

Pilgrims visit the site to this day.

Pilgrims visit the site to this day.

It is worth remembering that the cult of San Pellegrino, despite having had a great popular following in the past still receives pilgrims to the present day. However he has never been officially recognised by the Catholic Church.

San Pellegrino is laid out with his former pagan friend San Bianco; whom he converted. The Saints’ look very comfortable together in their reliquary which is a large gold and glass case. I was not sure about seeing them so close up. However when I went forward, San Pelligrino’s remains show a smile on his face, which you could be forgiven for not expecting on a corpse! The most noticeable things were their shoes, with no wear on the bottom as they have never walked in them….. in this life!

San Bianco maybe the same saint as Bianco da Siena who wrote the Discendi amor santo, the words for the hymn Come down, O love Divine, known by most to the music of Ralph Vaughan- William’s ‘Down Amphy’, see link below. However this seems unlikely as the dates for San Pellegrino and San Bianco da Siena are too far apart to fit.

Top of the World

San Pellegrino in Alpi has three places to eat, a church with a shop for pilgrims to purchase icons etc, a museum of local life and gift shops. The area is a fantastic place for walks in some of the most spectacular mountains in the Alpi. Take an extra layer, as we went in July and I needed a jumper: which I did not have with me!!

Another prominent visitor was the poet Shelley. The poet walked up to San Pelloginro in August 1820 after taking the waters St Giuliano Termi near Pisa and was inspired by the experience to write The Witch of Atlas, published posthumously in 1824. The work, which Shelley called “a fanciful poem”, was dedicated to Mary Shelley, the dedication “To Mary” first appearing in the Poetical Works edition of 1839. Mary Shelley wrote that The Witch of Atlas “is a brilliant congregation of ideas such as his senses gathered, and his fancy coloured, during his rambles in the sunny land he so much loved.” She objected, however, that Shelley was “discarding human interest and passion” in favour of “fantastic ideas” which were “abstract” and “wildly fanciful” and “full of brilliant imagery”. She argued that Shelley should have written works that were more consonant with the popular tastes of that time! Hark at her, anyway she then edited it!! a small portion is reproduced below

The silver noon into that winding dell,
With slanted gleam athwart the forest tops,
Tempered like golden evening, feebly fell;
A green and glowing light, like that which drops
From folded lilies in which glow-worms dwell,
When Earth over her face Night's mantle wraps;
Between the severed mountains lay on high,
Over the stream, a narrow rift of sky.

See link to full text below (its Long!):

(Sources: P. L. Biagioni, D. Hackett. Wikimedia)


And in local news the potatoes are ready - five sacks of potatoes sitting on a wall

And in local news the potatoes are ready – five sacks of potatoes sitting on a wall!! No singing please!











See Links:

  1. San Pellegrino:
  2. The Hymn: Come down, O love Divine
  3. Emilia-Romana:
  4. Bianco da Siena:


June 8, 2014

Roads to Vinci

Pieve di Compito

It is quite possible to travel around the edge of the triangular valley that sits between three sets of hills and mountains.  These are the Appennines, where Casa Verde sits on the lower slopes; the Colle Pisani to the south west and the hills of Montalbano to the south east.  Between the lower slopes of these hills lies the flat-lands of the Valdinievole; the misty valley.  The valley contains the Padule di Fuccheccio but also larger towns, industrial areas and also the town of Montecatini Terme. In the lower slopes of the hills, around the valley there are many smalerl and larger hillside villages that many visitors may miss but are very worthy of further exploration.  The hills near Lucca specialise in March in exhibitions of exquisite and colourful Camellias.  Many of these villages take pride in the gardens and flower displays that make any visit between March and July a visual and fragrant journey.

Borgo Cecina

Borgo Cecina

We have travelled to pretty villages in the area close to Monsummano such as  Montevettolini.  It is here in this village atop it’s own small peak that the Medici’s could see all the Valdinievole before them,  any enemies that approached over the hills be it Pistoia, or from the south west  in the direction of Lucca and Pisa, from the south in the direction of Siena, all the approaches were covered from this lofty place.  For the Medici we imagine that they came here because the palace they occupied was also a quiet and beautiful escape from the intrigues and violence of the Florentine court.  Smaller villages such as Borgo di Cecina have such a charm to the peaceful passer-by, set as it is, among the most immaculate olive groves full of blood-red poppies and white daisies that thrive in the terraces that  borders these ancient villages.  In the hot weather you can hear a cat breath on the stone walls.  It is these rolling landscapes that make the hills of the Montalbano so picturesque and attractive to artists, at Anchiano near Vinci it produced one of the world’s most famous of these.  The small town of Vinci has its own attractions of course, but his two-building birthplace up the hill side has a magical and humble feel to it.  You can see why one’s sensory imagination is so heightened in such havens as these.

da Vinci's birthplace Anchiano

da Vinci’s birthplace Anchiano


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