Ten minutes drive from Lucca, on the road that leads towards the marble mountains of the Apuane and Camaiore, a small drive leads to an idyllic hidden valley, where La Casina nestles snugly beneath its parent house.
The views are wonderfully Tuscan: ancient farmhouses perch on hilltops and forested hillsides wrap around the valley. The Casina, together with the owners' main house, was built in 1600 and is set in ten acres of lush Tuscan countryside, originally part of an estate including a large villa, a chapel and a "grotto" with mosaics, of which some remains are still visible.
A swimming pool sits to the right of La Casina, taking the place of the original threshing floor. You will share the pool and gardens with the charming owners.
A large loggia (35 sq.m.), with a roof of traditional chestnut beams, has now been enclosed with enormous windows and provides a spacious living/dining room, with views of the valley below.
On entering the Casina proper, there is a small kitchen on the right and there a bathroom to the left. The kitchen is small but well equipped; though it does not have a full size oven it does have a dishwasher and a coffee-maker.
From the entrance wooden stairs lead up to a double bedroom with a walk in wardrobe, a shower room and a twin bedroom. Outside there is a further covered dining space, to the right of the entrance. The main house is just above La Casina but all the main spaces of La Casina look towards the valley.
The area around Lucca is wonderful, one of the best examples of man made landscape, where every change that has been wrought seems to have been for the best: the forested hills are sustainably managed for woods, chestnuts and truffles; vineyards and olive groves interweave with cypresses, unpaved roads and stone walls.
A number of 16th and 17th century villas surround Lucca: Villa Marlia, Villa Reale, Villa Torrigiani are all worth a visit with their formal gardens and richly decorated interiors.
Heading north one enters the area of the Apuan Alps, the steep mountains that gave the marble for Michelangelo's David and La Pieta'. Now they provide extensive opportunities for walking, cycling, climbing and caving.
For the more urbane amongst us, Lucca is a jewel of a city, studded with churches and good restaurants. It also has a healthy antiques market and good shops.
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