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April 5, 2016

Springing into Life and the Road to the Via Francigena

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 - www.tuscanyholidays-casaverde.com

The Padule near Vellano & Lucca Tuscany Italy

Written and Published by Malcolm Coward – www.tuscanyholidays-casaverde.com

 

 

 

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 (www.chronobikes.com…….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.

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June 4, 2012

Parco Villa Reale

The Villa Reale near Lucca Tuscany

Last June we published an article on the Villa Torrigiani, one of many villas and parks in the Lucca/Pescia area.  The Palazzo of the Villa Reale is no longer open to the public unfortunately.  The stucco crumbling from some of it’s elegant walls testimony to the fact that it’s current owner now have neither the money or the will to renovate this once proud house.  However the park and gardens are open, and what a joy they are.  Extensive lawns and formal gardens descend the gentle slopes toward a lake in grand vistas, with superb mountainous specimen trees in magnificent clusters.

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January 29, 2012

Winter in Vellano

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Darren Hackett @ 3:37 pm

 

We hope you all had as lovely Christmas and New Year, as we had here.  The weather was mild and sunny this year and there was lots to to do and people to see, including our friends and neighbours.  Aren’t Christmas decorations interesting in Italy!  There are lots of plastic Santa Claus’ flapping about precariously from chimney tops and climbing up traditional green Tuscan shutters.  Plenty of lights illuminating the trees in the road and one enterprising villager who is a big fan (tifoso) of the nearest Serie A football team which is in Florence, called AC Fiorentina.  He had a huge purple/violet Christmas tree surrounded by an arched doorway of violet lights.  Fiorentina incidently play in the colour violet (never seen in England you understand!).  This colour apparently originates from the original red and white city colours they used to play in.  The shirts were apparently then washed one day in the river Arno and the colours bled to form this particularly lurid and striking colour.  Fiorentina may not be Italy’s most successful team but they are the most beautifully equipped. What would you expect from Italy’s most stylish city.

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November 20, 2011

Autumn in Barga

Many of our visitors to Casa Verde head off for the great triumpherate Tuscan cities of Lucca, Florence and Pisa; all within an hours drive from Pescia.  However, there are some stunningly beautiful parts of our area that not all travellers manage to see.  One of these areas lies around 40 miles away from here over the hills and valleys of the lower Appennines to the Garfagnana and the Serchio valley.  The town of Barga is the jewel in its crown.  A lovely fairy tale place set on a hilly promontory overlooking the craggy marble magnificence of the Alpi Apuane hills, and topped by what I think is one of the most unique and glorious of Romanesque churches in Italy.

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February 5, 2011

Paradiso

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Darren Hackett @ 3:29 pm

We are having the most beautiful winter here in Tuscany.  The weather has generally been dry and sunny ever since New Years Day and at times the temperatures have been warm, up to 17 degrees.  So the crocus and the mimosa are flowering and the air is filled with bird song on balmy afternoons.

Montecarlo is the other side of Pescia a few miles away from here.  It is a small town on top of a hill, that occupies the plain of Lucca and was fortified to defend Lucca against the Florentines for many centuries.  With its fortified walls and its small castle, and with its Olive tree-lined streets and pretty terraces is lovely at any time of the year.  It is also the local centre for the wine industry with both its red and white wines gaining a very good reputation in recent years.  We went to the Fattoria Cercetoio to buy some wine for my mother’s birthday.  The farm is owned by Angelo who lived for many years in England running a very popular restaurant and now he runs this establishment set in its own gorgeous little valley a few miles down the road from Montecarlo.  The house and land, pictured, is surrounded by vineyards, olive trees and fruit trees.  Also there are many animals, including, a lovely tan donkey that supplies Angelo with the necessary manure to help with his vines.

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