|Minimum Stay||7 nights|
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Casa nella Selva is a three-story stone farmhouse a half hour north of Lucca, in the Serchio River Valley. The house overlooks the town of Borgo a Mozzano, with a panoramic view of vineyard-covered hillsides, clusters of farmhouses and the spectacular Appenine and Apuan Mountains in the distance.
A plant-lined terrace runs the length of the house, with a large stone table for outdoor dining shaded by a rose and grape-leaf pergola. There's also a vine-covered stone shade room for sitting outdoors at midday.
There is a large outdoor pizza oven for ambitious cooks, an inexhaustible supply of rosemary, basil, and sage from spring through the end of October. There are several small flower gardens on the property, a second small terrace for sunbathing, and a hammock in the woods for afternoon naps.
A working chestnut farm into the late 1980s, the house still has its original chestnut beams, and is simply and comfortably furnished with a mix of country pieces, including many that are original to the house. There are terracotta floors, original or restored, throughout, beautiful wooden windows and shutters, proper reading lamps in all the bedrooms, lots of leftover books to read.
The ground floor includes a fully-equipped kitchen with fireplace, a dining/sitting room that opens directly onto the terrace, a modern-tiled bathroom with large glass stall shower and a washing machine.
On the second floor are three large bedrooms, one of which opens into a separate studio with high speed Internet and wireless that extends onto the terrace. Each of the bedrooms has a large double bed (ranging in size from American double to king) and all overlook the valley. There is also a large marble-tiled bathroom on this floor, fitted with double sinks, a glass stall shower and a giant separate tub. The bedrooms are furnished with traditional iron bedsteads, new mattresses, and old wooden chests or armoires. Towels and linens are included in the rent and are ample for six people. (There is a surcharge of $50 per each additional guest.)
The third floor, formerly the hayloft, has been converted into an open living space, with a large table for sketching or board games, comfortable reading chairs, a day bed/sofa that sleeps one, one Queen sized- bed and a Queen-size air mattress in reserve. Its floor-to-ceiling windows share the same view as the terrace.
The comune of Borgo is the major town between Lucca and the Garfagnana, one of Italy’s most beautiful and popular trekking zones, and is easily reached by car or public transportation (regular trains and buses from Lucca). Borgo’s population is about 8000, of which roughly half live in town, the remainder in small villages or 'frazione' nearby.
In addition to a supermarket, the town has an abundance of excellent food shops; you can find fresh bread and homemade pasta, extraordinary local pecorino cheeses, wonderful fruits and vegetables, wines from the Lucchese hills and just about everywhere else. There is an outdoor market on Friday mornings, and similar ones can be found nearby on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. There are also a large number of modestly-priced restaurants serving excellent regional dishes within a twenty-minute range, and one very good one in town that is open for dinner six days a week, and for lunch and dinner on the weekend.
The Lucca region is one of the last parts of Tuscany to be discovered by tourists, and is anchored by two especially beautiful cities: Lucca itself, enclosed within its perfectly preserved wall, and Barga, whose narrow winding streets lined with ochre, persimmon, or apricot colored houses lead to a spectacular 12th century cathedral of white stone that looks out over the Apuan Alps. In between is in the spa town of Bagni di Lucca, 15 minutes from Borgo. Borgo itself has two clay tennis courts, and a beautiful community recreation center with a 25-meter swimming pool, a separate pool for toddlers snack bar and sunbathing.
The beaches of Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi are within an hour's drive; the towns of Carrara, Pietrasanta, the Cinque Terre and the spas of Montecatini are all easy day trips. One of the great advantages of the house is its easy access to Lucca, Pisa and Florence. It is possible to spend the day sightseeing, museum-going, and shopping, yet be home in time to enjoy dinner on the terrace.
Features include fireplace, telephone, high speed internet and wireless, stereo, iPod dock/radio, washing machine, dishwasher, outdoor oven, and barbecue.
Activities nearby include clay tennis courts, a beautifully landscaped town swimming pool, the beaches of Viareggio, Forte di Marmi, Tirrenia and Cinque Terre, antiquing, garden and villa tours, hiking, and trekking.
*** FOR ADDITIONAL PICTURES, CONTACT OWNER ***
Keywords: 17th c. farmhouse
I'm a writer who lives in Brooklyn, and the author of Chronicle Book's Rome Walks and Village Walks Tuscany.
Martha Fay purchased this farmhouse in 1991
I bought the property while visiting friends because it was the nearest abandoned house and I wanted to do what they had done—bring a house back to life. I was a youngish widow, with an eight-year-old daughter. I hadn't the least idea how I would make it happen, but I wanted to be able to return regularly to Italy and this seemed like the way to make that happen.
What we and our visitors love about the house is its simplicity and its authenticity, its spectacular view, and its connection to the past. It offers the intimacy of real Italy, with most of the comforts of home, a minimum of modern distractions, and entree to a genuine and unfussy Tuscan town and way of life. By design, there is no TV, but there are plenty of books, games, a radio and an ipod dock; there are lots of pots, pans and fresh herbs to cook with, and a large stone table to sit around late into the night.
Aaaaaah, Borgo a Mazzano. What a lovely town, rich in it's simplicity. We were SO glad to have chosen to stay in this small town where locals truly LIVE, rather than a touristy metro area. One would be hard pressed to stay in a fast-paced frame of mind here (unless you're driving ...that's a very different story!).
To say that this villa made our stay infinitely more memorable would be an understatement. The owner is a joy to work with and a great resource. The house itself is perfect, and has everything needed to cook and relax. 7 of us (3 young adults, one teen, a couple, and a grandmother) stayed quite comfortably. We could easily have accommodated either another couple or another child or two, as one of the rooms went unused until later in the stay while the 'kids' stayed in the AMAZING loft. A side note; if we are able to return, I'm calling dibs on the loft ;)
The first morning, we older folk awoke to a full brunch of local meats, cheeses, fruits, and breads from the town shops; bounty from the kids' earlier walk down the hill. We enjoyed our first cups of Italian coffee a'la the stovetop moka pot, with added local honey, while overlooking the breathtaking view. It was HEAVEN! Later in the vacation, we went wine tasting and let me just say that the view from the villa was even more gorgeous than any vineyard we photographed. We had a photo enlarged for a large wall at home.
Our time was spent traversing up and down the hill for our daily workout (don't forget the bug repellent), drinking wine (the wine shop in Borgo has vino on tap), training into Lucca (bike rental is highly recommended), venturing to neighboring towns, drinking and eating in various bars (aperetivo served happy hour style at many places), day tripping into Firenze (don't drive there - seriously), drinking local liqueurs and beers, exploring Cinque Terre (Oh My God, just beautiful!!), more wine, snacking on grapes (the terrace vines themselves make a great photo op), cooking over the fire (yes - cooking locally handmade sausage skewers over a roaring fire in the kitchen), and the kids even spent a full weekend in Rome. Two weeks was just enough to leave us wanting more. Our family matriarch, my mother, stayed the entire month accompanied by my nephew, and after my departure my sisters moved in for 2 weeks. Everyone wants to return :)
There was rain, so I would like to spend a summer or maybe a spring there someday to get that experience. Until then, Gracie Mille!!!!
Thank you for a wonderful month in your home! The six of us enjoyed every single day relaxing and exploring all there is to do in this beautiful region. Every morning I would wake at sunrise, prepare coffee in the Moka Pot and head to the terrace to watch the sunrise over those
We enjoyed meandering down the trail from the house into town and hopping the train to Lucca.
Lucca is a fabulous city...so much fun and so much to explore and eat! The highlights for us were cooking with Chef Paolo Monti and the walking tour with Wanda...both were sensational.
We also enjoyed numerous hikes in those gorgeous mountains...the vistas were breathtaking and the wild flowers were at their peak. Rarely did we encounter anyone when hiking the trails and we were always rewarded with a serenade from the cuckoo bird!
We loved everything about your charming house. There was plenty of room for six adults spending a month together. The kitchen suited us perfectly, and allowed us to prepare many delicious meals from local ingredients. We loved the beautiful old bowls and fine linens. It was so much fun making pizza in the outdoor oven...we never tired of dining on the terrace. And oh, the roses...everywhere, beautiful and scented.
Thank you for keeping your farmhouse a home!
Trisha and Bill, Marcia and Rick, Marolyn and Bruce
Martha's home above Borgo is truly one of the loveliest we've ever stayed in. Beautifully restored, exceptionally comfortable, fabulous gardens and a view not to be believed. The kitchen is fully stocked -- you can actually make excellent multi-course meals (at least we did!), the beds are excellent and the dining area is charming. The road up is dicey, but quickly becomes second nature, and the walk down (which we preferred) is doable even for aging boomers (2 out of the four of us). Borgo itself has several good eateries (the little pizza place in town is great) and it's really easy into Lucca (try Rest. Giglio -- fantastic). We are well travelled folks, and recommend this house unreservedly.
My husband and young daughter stayed here with our family for a one week stay. From the moment we walked in...or should I say down onto the terrace...we were in heaven. It was so peaceful and beautiful. The terrace in the evening was a wonderful way to unwind and then later eat a homemade meal. The whole house was clean and comfortable and well suited for our large group. We had a very memorable visit here. The nearby town was so charming and had everything we needed including a very nice pool! A short, easy drive to Lucca for shopping, lunch/dinner too. The owner was so sweet and helpful leading up to our stay as well as keeping contact while we were there. We came home and told everyone to visit this area and stay at the lovely villa.
We were able to settle into this beautiful farmhouse immediately. As travelers that love to visit local vendors and cook for ourselves, the kitchen was our first stop. It passed muster on all counts. The bedrooms all faced the views beyond of the valley; the common spaces inside and outside were all charming and comfortable for gathering throughout the day. The house is lovingly full of local art. And as a location to 'sally forth' by car or train, it was perfect! We took day trips to Cinque Terre, Lucca, Firenze and north into the Garfagnana. And we were so happy to get back 'home' at the end of the day. I have been recommending this choice to many of our friends and family.
My fiancée and I took a small group of family to Borgo and used Casa nella Selva as our base from which to explore the area where my grandfather was from, to experience a more relaxing (and more beautiful) Tuscany, oh....and to get married at the house!! From the moment we arrived we knew that the weeks (months, really) we spent researching villas had paid off. We didn't need anything too formal. We were looking for authentic old world architecture and setting, privacy, outdoor living space, and we wanted a killer view. These were among our top priorities. The understated elegance and charming character of this modest yet very comfortable and updated farm house was exactly what we were looking for. The outdoor living space on the terrace was perfect, and the view was absolutely stellar!
The house itself is very comfortable and well appointed. However, we spent most of our "house time" relaxing, drinking wine, and dining out on the terrace overlooking the mountains and river below. This is where we had a simple wedding ceremony with just 5 people, yet it was more beautiful, more magical, more real than we could have ever hoped for in some large pretentious venue back in the US with a bunch of distant relatives and acquaintances. It was perfect!
Martha was great in helping us arrange everything. She's very quick to respond and thorough in communications. She even helped us line up group transportation for one of the days. The booklet of house instructions provided covered just about everything you could think of! The road to the house does get narrow and somewhat tricky. The first passage is a bit nerve racking, and should be done in the daylight, but by the end of the week the road becomes 2nd nature, and in a strange way, it's part of the charm of the entire experience.
Highly recommended. We'll be back!
Swimming (beach and pool)—not on property, but easily accessible. Pool is in town, beaches are an hour's drive.
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My Standard Rate
7 night minimum stay
* Approximate monthly rate. Actual rate will depend on the days of the month you stay.