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October 15, 2012

Cycling Mania In Tuscany

The UCI World Cycling Championships 2013 in Tuscany!

These run from September 22nd to September 29th 2013, with race starts in Lucca and Montecatini Terme

Here is the happy Canadian Fred McGuire, who stayed at Casa Verde this summer.  (Fred is that a bottle of Chianti on the bike frame?) He is happy for us to report about his cycling adventures here in the hillside and mountains that are a training ground for the world’s best cyclists.  Mark Cavendish is a local resident in the Pistoia area!  Every weekend there are hundreds of aspiring Bradley Wiggins in their multi-coloured tight-fitting lycra ascending the steep hills and bends up and around the Valeriana.

Fred hired his bicycle from ChronoBikes (…….an excellent web-site by the way) in Lucca at what he described as a very reasonable rate (25 Euros per day) in the peak of the summer weather….brave guy.  I would probably manage about 100 metres up these mountain roads but to healthy enthusiasts these hills are perfect for a Tuscany cycling holiday.


December 23, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas from Tuscany

We cannot believe that another wonderful year has gone by and nearly two years since we first moved to Casa Verde.  Here in the hills it is sunny again after a very fierce storm with high gusty winds last week, unlike last Christmas we currently have no snow.  This is just a little ironic as many of the regions of Tuscany have just introduced a new law that says all automobiles must carry snow chains or have snow tyres fitted between the middle of November and the middle of April.


July 11, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Darren Hackett @ 9:07 am

The other day we travelled to the little town of Vinci.  The town is quite close to Casa Verde, in the line of hills that runs south of Montecatini and Pistioa.  It is a very pretty place and a surprisingly modern place by Tuscany standards.  However, there are plenty of people around looking at the birthplace of the great master of Italian art, invention and anatomy.  At the top of the town there is a handsome church; this lovely square with the sculpture depicting one of Leonardo’s great symbols and a castle that contains a museum to his imaginative genious.  Do not expect to find a Mona Lisa here or any of his important paintings, they are elsewhere, however what you will see here, from the town walls, and the landscapes that inspired his work.


May 1, 2011

Lo Scoppio del Carro, Florence.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Darren Hackett @ 6:24 pm

This was an interesting experience in Florence on Easter Day.  This event has apparently occured outside the duomo for more than five centuries.  The object exploding in the picture is a medievil ‘cart’, normally used I think to carry arms to the battlefield.  However in this case it is armed with fireworks.  After the Easter Day service at around 11 am, the Cardinal comes out from the Cathedral and blesses the cart.  Then something comes flying from the west front and ignites the cart.    Then begins a 10 minute show of light and even more noticably, noise.  There seemed to be about 10,000 people in and around the square to witness something that has happened since 1494, when the Medicis (who else) wanted to make a show at Easter.  The 3 flints for the fire were apparently given in 1099 from the church of the holy sepulchre in Jerusalem as a gift to Pazzino de Pazzi, a Florentine, for capturing the city at the end of the first crusade.  The fireworks are a symbol and celebration of the resurrection.


March 27, 2011

Clearing Trees

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Darren Hackett @ 9:52 am

Meet Eric a French itinerant tree climber and tree cutter.  In the mid 1960’s a Florentine family bought Casa Verde and replanted and restocked the terraced land.  The planting included four pine trees among other such trees that formed the amphitheatre at this end of Vellano.  Sadly, partly through neglect of the land, partly through drought and age these trees have died and have become unsafe so they needed to be felled.  The question was how to do it?

Eric, in the space of three hours cut down these four trees by climbing the trunks with a rope and crampons, cutting away the lower branches on his way up then cutting the large trunks from the top down.  This was achieved with an amazing degree of skill, speed and efficency.  Now our view from the house is even better! We plan in the next few years to plant more olive and fruit trees.  To restore the ‘campi’ to their original full and plentiful state.


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