La Mandria is a small hill farm set in the dramatic landscape of Lunigiana at the northern tip of Tuscany. The farm includes pasture, meadows, olive groves and vineyard, all surrounded by chestnut and oak woodland. A small river runs through the land. The apartments, situated next to the vineyard, have been recently renovated to a high standard. Each opens onto a sunny terrace with views across the valley and with a private sitting out area for “al fresco” meals or sitting and relaxing. The swimming pool is a short walk away through the garden and provides additional space for relaxing and sunbathing. For guests, who want a more challenging swim, there are cascades and rock pools in the crystal clear but chilly water of the river ten minutes walk away from La Mandria. Guests are invited to explore La Mandria and walk in the olive groves, pastures and woodlands and along the river if they wish.
Area & Farm: The Lunigiana region has the advantage of being one of the less frequented corners of Tuscany. It has a rugged charm with peace and quiet for those who want to experience largely unspoiled rural life. With relatively little traffic, the area is pleasant for walking and cycling with routes to take your breath away. Walks around the farm and beyond offer lovely views of mountains and hilltop villages with church towers. Lizards bask on sunwarmed walls, butterflies flit amongst orchids, humming bird moths probe evening primrose whilst the extraordinary praying mantis awaits a mate. High above buzzards circle over wooded hillsides, home to deer and wild boar. The clear night sky reveals a brilliant array of stars, with flashing fireflies and glow-worms competing in mid-summer. For those who prefer to visit Italy out of the summer months, the area is just as beautiful and colorful in spring sunshine and autumn mists, with peaceful evenings curled up by the woodstove with a good book.
Things to do: The hills of Lunigiana in the Apuane and Apennine mountains offer plenty of scope for exploring. There is much to see for cyclists, intrepid walkers or those who just like to stroll through the vineyards and olive groves. A little further away on the coast are Lerici, The Gulf of Poets and the Cinque Terre and to the south are the marble caves of Carrara and a scenic route down through the Garfagnana valley to Lucca and Pisa. Throughout the summer months there are numerous markets, fairs and festivals in different locations around the area. This being Italy, food and wine, particularly local produce and specialities take pride of place together with arts and crafts and several have a medieval theme. The wide variety of habitats in the area has a wealth of butterflies, other insect life, birds, animals and wild flowers to spot and enjoy. With little light pollution we also enjoy nights of star filled skies and other times a landscape bathed in brilliant moonlight.
A little about us: ‘La Mandria’ is Italian for ‘The herd’ and our little herd comprises: Paul, English with a background in theatre as a props maker, designer and teacher, now working as a 3D artist when time permits, including creative projects with local children; Renee, Canadian, practiced law in the UK, met Paul and gave it all up to follow his dream of a life in Italy and doesn’t miss it one bit (on a good day) - Both work on the land, grow organic fruit and vegetables, make wine, tend the olive groves and attempt to manage the woodland. The Little Herbert, a relatively well-behaved ginger cat, like us, turned up for lunch one day and never left. She takes great delight in her role as chief pest control officer, when she has time. Frida and Fiore, two sturdy purebred Bardigiano Apennine mountain ponies. are in charge of land management. They are direct descendents of Gaulish war ponies who arrived to help invade the Roman Empire and after it was all over liked Italy so much they decided to stay.
La Mandria is 4 kilometres from the small town of Fivizzano which has a post office, banks and a good selection of bars and shops including a number of traditional “alimentari” and supermarket. There are restaurants and pizzerias in the town and surrounding area offering traditional local cooking at reasonable prices. There is a weekly market on Tuesdays around the Medici Fountain in the medieval piazza. At the end of May there is a food and craft festival “Sapori” in Fivizzano and over the summer there are other local festivals when local produce and wine of the region can be sampled and purchased. On the second weekend in July the inhabitants of Fivizzano participate in their medieval pageant “Disfida” which starts with a parade then an archery competition and culminates with a firework display. To explore the wider area, the Apuane mountains, Garfagna Valley, Versilia Coast, Gulf of Poets and the Cinque Terre are all a relatively short drive or train trip away.
Other Activities: Nature watching
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