mercoledì 20 dicembre 2017

Tour of the Hamlets

5 itineraries

Try to imagine: rolling hills (between Florence,Pisa and Siena), historical hamlets, local products: a journey in the very heart of Tuscany. You will smell the flavours of the local tradition like the Chianti Wines, extra-virgin oil, truffles, Tuscan breads, cheeses and so on.
You will discover also the ancient crafts AND  trades that have been handed down for centuries : the ceramics of Montelupo Fiorentino, the terracotta items, the green glass of Empoli end the famous leather accessories.

These are one-day itineraries:
Lenght: 25 Km
Localities: Capraia, Limite, Faltognano, Anchiano, Vinci
Product: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil : with its unique, spicy flavour, extra virgin olive oil is the real  excellence of Montalbano area. It is obtained from olives that are grown, picked  and pressed in the territory, this olive oil can be tasted in the olive mills and holiday farms along the Olive-Oil and Wine Road, in the hills of Leonardo. (

The landscapes of Montalbano look very much like Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings of with their massive hills rising up among the towns of Capraia, Limite and Vinci.
 Starting from Capraia Fiorentina, the authentic terracotta capital, and following the banks of the River Arno, we come to Limite sull'Arno, home of the oldest rowing club in Italy (founded in 1861), where we can visit the EXHIBITION CENTRE DEDICATED TO SHIPBUILDING AND ROWING with exhibits of the works of wooden-boat builders, and small ships which in the past exploited the close vicinity to the river.
From Limite we start to climb the scenic road leading to Castra and the crest of Montalbano where the vineyards soon give way to olive groves and finally, oak forests, for centuries the scene of hunting expeditions organised by the Medici family who established a game reserve there, called the Barco Reale Mediceo. Thanks to a dense network of tracks that wind towards to ancient settlements, tiny hamlets and breathtaking views of the Arno Valley, these hills are now a real paradise for hikers.
On arriving in Pietramarina we begin our descent towards Vitolini and come to Faltognano where there is an obligatory stop-off to admire the landscape in the shade of a majestic,CENTURIES-OLD HOLM OAK. Continuing on towards Vinci, in the locality of Anchiano, we reach LEONARDO’S BIRTHPLACE this fifteenthcentury farmhouse, now a museum dedicated to Leonardo’s paintings and life, also reserves a surprise encounter with the Genius himself. There are spectacular views of the olive groves (which each year produce the prized PGI Extra-virgin Olive Oil of Montalbano), and the delightful village of Vinci, where this itinerary comes to an end with a tour of the  LEONARDIAN MUSEUM and its important collection of works by Leonardo, the technologist and enginee

Distance: 40 Km
Localities: Cerreto Guidi, Padule di Fucecchio, Ponte a Cappiano, Fucecchio

Product: Leather: The area between Cerreto Guidi and Fucecchio forms part of an important production district in the leather industry, where numerous local companies are specialised in the processing of leather for footwear and accessories that are exported all over the world, and where you can purchase top quality leather goods
 The hill on top of which the characteristic hamlet of Cerreto Guidi sits is dominated by the unmistakeable profile of MEDICI VILLA the erected by Cosimo I de Medici in 1556 as his hunting lodge and today home of the HISTORICAL MUSEUM OF HUNTING AND THE TERRITORY with displays of hunting weapons from various époques and an impressive collection of portraits of members of the Medici family itself. In 1576 this villa was the scene of the mysterious death of Isabella de Medici, whose fame is revived each year in July at the event, Isabella’s Night.
From Cerreto Guidi, travelling along the scenic road of Poggio Tempesti and passing by Fucecchio, we continue in the direction of Montecatini Terme in order to reach the Research Centre of Castelmartini, gateway to the Natural Reserve of the MARSH OF FUCECCHIOThe final haven for numerous animal species and a ‘must’ for birdwatchers, this area is the largest inland marsh in Italy and can be visited on foot or bike for most of the year.
 Returning towards Fucecchio we follow the signs to Ponte a Cappiano where we can admire a monumental sixteenth-century structure, also commissioned by Cosimo de' Medici and built over the ancient crossing of the Usciana canal, still part of the itinerary of the Via Francigena route. The bridge, equipped with a modern system of locks that made it possible to regulate the flows of water of the marsh, was designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself.
The last leg of this itinerary consists of a visit to Fucecchio, birthplace of famous journalist Indro Montanelli whose original studies are conserved in the MONTANELLI BASSI FOUNDATION. The oldest testimonies to the history of this village are on display in the rooms of the MUSEUM OF FUCECCHIO found in the Corsini Park which also houses the imposing sculpture Eloisa by Arturo Carmassi, as well as the ruins of the medieval walls.

Distance: 8 Km
Localities: Empoli, Pontorme,Montelupo Fiorentino
From Borgo La Casaccia (roundtrip): 74 Km 

Product: The Ceramics Road passes through the towns of Montelupo Fiorentino, Capraia e Limite, Montespertoli and Lastra a Signa, on the discovery of the artisan workshops and factories where still today craftsmen hand down their century-old secrets of creating ceramics and terracotta items. (
The city of Empoli, renowned as the birthplace of painter, Jacopo Carucci, also known as Pontormo, and musician Ferruccio Busoni, and famous for its churches, museums and thousand-year-old history, is also characterised by the historical production of green glass.
For decades the protagonist of table settings of the middle classes, and perfect for conserving olive oil and wine, this glass with its unmistakable bright green colour, is the emblematic product of the city of Empoli. From the eighteenth century onwards, thanks to the presence of raw materials and an advantageous position on the main communication routes and the River Arno, this important industry grew up and became the city’s largest manufacturing activity. Only a few furnaces are still operating in Empoli, however the memory of this industry that had such a great impact on local history is now conserved and revived in the GLASS MUSEUM OF EMPOLI (MUVE). Thanks to environmental reconstructions, videos and audio presentation, this is where the display of glassmaking is brought to life and we have the impression of being inside a furnace as we follow the history and production steps of this famous green glass.
 Leaving Empoli behind and heading towards Montelupo Fiorentino, we come to the village of Pontorme, PONTORMO’S BIRTHPLACE,the ideal spot for discovering the most intimate universe of this outstanding artist.
Upon finally reaching Montelupo Fiorentino, the City of Ceramics, we cross through the historic centre decorated with coloured installations in majolica ceramics and filled with typical artisan workshops, until arriving at the MONTELUPO CERAMICS MUSEUM which houses over 1000 ceramics items produced in this area from the Middle Ages up to modern times. The very famous majolica ceramics of Montelupo, which enhanced the most important courts of Italy and Europe during the Renaissance, is still the symbolic product of this city, exported and admired all over the world.

Distance: 35 Km
Localities: Castelfiorentino, Meleto,Montespertoli, Lucardo
From Borgo La Casaccia (roundtrip): 170 Km 

Product: Produced exclusively on the hills of Montespertoli, this wine, which has a unique flavour obtained by blending varying proportions of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes, is the perfect accompaniment for the dishes of Tuscan cuisine. Every year, between the end of May and the beginning of June, the Chianti Wine Show in Montespertoli is the ideal occasion to discover, or perhaps rediscover, this local excellence. (
Surrounded by the rolling hills of the Valdelsa (Valley of the River Elsa) and animated by the tranquil rhythms typical of provincial Tuscan towns, Castelfiorentino is the starting point of this itinerary dedicated to the most important product in the EmpoleseValdelsa area, Chianti wine. In the heart of Castelfiorentino, the SANTA VERDIANA MUSEUM and the BEGO museum with frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli, tell of a century-long artistic tradition, while only a short distance away from the centre is the district of Meleto where in the nineteenth century Cosimo Ridolfi wrote one of the most important pages in the history of Tuscan and Italian agriculture. Travelling down Via Samminiatese that leads past Castelnuovo d’Elsa we finally reach Meleto. Cultivated fields and vineyards testify to the activities of Ridolfi, who in 1834 transformed his MELETO FARM into the very first agricultural college in Italy where new irrigation and planting techniques were tested in an experimental farming area (still conserved today).
With our minds filled with images of the works of this protagonist from the Risorgimento, we return to Castelfiorentino and head towards Montespertoli on a road that offers breathtaking views of hills that the skilled hands of man have known how to transform into a winegrowing district par excellence. It is precisely here in Montespertoli, the Wine Capital, that several years ago breadmaking with ancient grains was rediscovered, earning it the additional title of City of Bread. TheMUSEUM OF VINES AND WINE  is located here, the perfect place for learning about the different local grape varieties and the winegrowing and winemaking procedures, while also being able to taste the different wines.
 From the Wine Museum, continuing in the direction of Certaldo we come to Lucardo, an authentic medieval hamlet that offers a sweeping view of the surrounding countryside. Here, where time seems to stand still, we can end the day in style while enjoying some excellent Marzolino cheese, the oldest pecorino in Tuscany, which Benozzo Gozzoli himself portrayed in one of his frescoes that is on display in Castelfiorentino.

Distance: 26 Km
Localities: Certaldo, Gambassi Terme, San vivaldo, Montaione
From Borgo La Casaccia (roundtrip): 170 Km 

Product: The Onion of Certaldo: Closely linked to the town’s identity and also depicted on the coat of arms of the city council, is the red onion of Certaldo, a very well-known local gastronomic product. Available in two different varieties, a winter one with a more pungent flavour, and a summer one that can be eaten raw, the red onion is excellent in soups, on crostini, and as an ingredient of the classical “lesso rifatto” (meat stew). It can be purchased in the stores of Certaldo and local farmers’ markets plus you can enjoy it at the historical onion festival held at the beginning of September.
The alleyways, piazzas and medieval buildings with their bricks caressed by the warm glow of the setting sun all make Certaldo one of the most spectacular villages of the Empolese-Valdelsa area. It was here in the fourteenth century that famous writer, Giovanni Boccaccio chose to rest forever and his HOME has now been turned into a museum and specialised library. Also inside the city walls we can visit the MUSEUM OF SACRED HEART and the evocative rooms of PALAZZO PRETORIO for centuries the fulcrum of civilian authority. If we look over the perfectly conserved city walls we can admire the towers of nearby San Gimignano and the tiny hamlets and oak forests on the surrounding hills.
On one of these hills a few kilometres from Certaldo is the town of Gambassi Terme with its scenographic CHIANNI PARISH CHURCH on the Via Francigena, the famous route taken by Archbishop Sigeric ten centuries ago and still today traversed by thousands of pilgrims on their journey that leads from Canterbury to Rome. Gambassi is also a renowned thermal spa where we can take a pleasant break and enjoy the beneficial properties of the brine waters of Pillo.
Resuming our journey and heading towards Montaione, a short detour leads to San Vivaldo where we can visit the famous JEROUSALEM OF TUSCANY a complex of chapels built at the beginning of the sixteenth century arranged so as to reproduce the exact layout of the city of Jerusalem, and decorated with splendid polychrome terracotta works depicting scenes from the Passion.
 The last stop-off on this itinerary is the tiny hamlet of Montaione, perched on a hill and huddling around the typical central piazza, often animated with local festivals, one of which is the Tartufesta, a market fair dedicated to the prestigious white truffle which at the end of October attracts numerous exhibitors and truffle enthusiasts

martedì 10 gennaio 2017

The excellence: Wine,Olive Oil, Cheese

Hi Guys, 

This time I would like to write about the most beautiful products we have in Tuscany, and where You can buy them in the surroundings of Borgo La Casaccia. Everyone of You know this products, and believe me, We are really talking about excellences.. So, take Your time during Your holiday to taste them.
Let's go... starting with his majesty:


One of the most requested question in my tourism's life is: "Where can we buy a good bottle of Wine?"

The answer is not easy at all.

First of all: I'm not an expert or a Sommelier (but are You sure that You can always trust in sommeliers? No, my friend), I'm simply a man that drink wine and I like it. So, "personal taste" is the word.  If every "experienced" drinker tells You that a specific wine is beautiful, but You taste it and it's awful , it's ok.  Your taste is the judge

I don't know every producers or every wineries: They are thousends;  it's part of the holiday simply to stop your car in a place that looks nice while You are driving  and try it. Often, in this way, We discover hidden places with amazing products.

From the Tourist's point of view , it's important that the experience is as more complete as possibile. This means: When You arrive, and You ring the bell, someone arrives (and You don't have to wait 20 minutes); the person who arrived speaks at least english (and not a strange mix between latin-Italian-Spanish-English); the person who arrived welcome You and offers to You a seat and so on.
So, the place must be "custumer oriented" in a right way.

Generally Speaking:
In both Supermarkets in Montaione (Pam and Coop) You find nice bottles of wine. Not a shame to buy something there , when You want to try only the product.

The range of price: between 8-30 Euro per bottle is ok. You are buying a nice (or good, or very good wine) Under 8 it's a risk, over 30 You are buying something "more" (the brand for example).

In Tuscany, we reach the maximum quality with Red Wine. Some white or rosè are unexpected good surprises, but they are more rare.

It could be a good idea give to You some explainations about the legislation in Italy about wine. So You can understand what Doc,Docg and Igt means.
In 1960s born a national regulation called DOC (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata). The aim was to create a framework and to fix some rules: quantity of grapes per acre,How and When to harvest the grapes,Storage Time, Alcohol content.  Pay attention: DOC does not mean High Quality for sure. It means that certain rules are followed.
In 1980s born a new classification: DOCG (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata e Garantita): production requirements and control conditions were made more stringent (from governement-licensed specialists)
IGT is the newest classification (Indicazione Geografica Tipica). IGT is more vague, and it embraces an universe of wine: there You can find a pleasent table wine, or a Super Tuscany renowed. No chance here, IGT wine must be drunk to understand.

The Tuscan vine harvest takes place in late September/October, and You can imagine how important it is.  Quality of wine is made by Terroir (soil conditions,Geography,grape characteristics...), a lot of sun, harvest process. The moment of the harvest is crucial. Temperature in Tuscany's Autumn is still warm and the grapes must be transported quickly to a cold cellar. the risk is the fermentation in the fields.

The other leading actor of Tuscany table is :
Olive Oil

Olive Oil si called also Liquid Gold. Not only for its color, but also because according to old Tuscan tradition, the olive picker is not remunerated in cash, but with olive oil. Like for the wine, We have a classification that is:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: the free acidity of this oil must be less than 0,8% and produced entirely by mechanical means at low temperature
Virgin Olive Oil: free acidity must be less than 2%
Olive Oil: here it is permitted the use of chemical solvents. The maximum free acidity is 1%.
The pick of olives is made at the beginning of November; tradition says: "by hand". I used to do it when I was a child. I remember this work as the hardest of my life.
Very big producers use machines that "shake" the trees, so the olives fall to the ground and are collected in a net.

I suggest to You Two places where You can taste (and buy of course) wine and olive oil:

Azienda Agricola Corbucci (15 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia)

Via Sant'Andrea a Gavignalla 25/A
50050 Gambassi Terme (Firenze)

Azienda Agricola Tamburini Emanuela (20 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia)

Via Catignano 106
50050 Gambassi Terme (Firenze)

From Borgo La Casaccia, before You meet Corbucci, and then Tamburini.
Don't ask me which one is the best,  because these places are really good for me. Their products are amazing but overall the experience will be great, and You will bring back home good memories, I'm sure about it.
The wine tasting is free but it's necessary to book (one day in advance is ok)

Let's go on with another "star" of the Tuscan enogastronomic panorama:


Tuscany is a green land.  While You are driving our winding roads, You will notice for sure how fields are well maintained, and how  our hills look like a painting. That's because farmers know very well that our landscape is our lucky. And in this landscape , sheeps live like kings and queens!
If You want to taste good cheese You can try:

Azienda Agricola di Camporbiano (20 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Località Camporbiano 8
50050 Gambassi Terme (Firenze)

Honestly, I'm not a man that looks only for "bio" products,  or a man that eat only "natural and healthy products"; I'm a man that sometimes like to eat in McDonald's.. You know..
But the best cheese that I ever eaten in my life, I found in Camporbiano. That cheese and that milk is amazing. The place could be really really nice also for children, because they show you the whole farm, with cows,hens, and so on, but it's absolutely necessary to book two days in advance for the visit. The shop is open and you can go there without reservation.

I hope I gave You some ideas about our enogastronomy. But don't forget to tell me when You discover other good places! I'm still learning...
Francesco Pellegrini
Owner of Borgo La Casaccia

lunedì 9 gennaio 2017

In the middle of Countryside: what can You do??

Hi Guys,

now imagine to be in Tuscany, in a warm sunny day. The nature is blooming ... a question holds your mind: "What Can I do today?"

Luckly You are in Montaione, and believe me, we are REALLY in the heart of Tuscany. I usually use these words as claim, for advertise, and this is normal, but I'm happy that I can tell the truth, because in the middle of the region there are so many possibilities:

First of all: the most natural, probably the most obvious: Take Your car and visit all the beautiful towns that surround Borgo La Casaccia. (Here I will not write about what You can do in each different town: You will find a lot of informations on internet, my aim here is to give You some suggestions)

Florence (1 hour far from Borgo La Casaccia):

You can't miss it! Consider one whole day to visit it.  By car or by Train as You prefer (check other post in this blog)

Siena (1 hr far from Borgo La Casaccia):

 The same, You have to visit it, and You need one day, from the morning to the late afternoon. The Best Solution is get there by car, but You can use the train if You don't mind to walk 20 minutes to reach the historical center.  If You have energy and time, I suggest You to spent 30 minutes in Monteriggioni, a beautiful Medieval town on the road to Siena.

Remember, Florence and Siena are Warm cities, so, be prepared in summer...

San Gimignano (20 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia):

 The Town of towers. It's another must. Unique in the world, it is crowded almost every day of the year. But , it's a joy for your eyes. Half day is ok for the visit

Volterra: (30 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia):

 The town of alabaster, it's the other player of the match. In fact 50% of clients prefer Volterra, the other 50% prefer San Gimignano. of Course there is no a winner, I can say that "in my opinion" , the town of San Gimignano is more beautiful, but the landscape of Volterra is really amazing. Oh, don't forget to buy an alabaster owl in Volterra. It's the typical gift.  Half day is ok per the visit.

You can visit San Gimignano and Volterra in the same day. It's possible, but You will be very very tired at night..

Certaldo (15 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia):

 A town that is not known from mass tourism but it's beautiful! After You pass through its doors it seems to enter directly in the medieval age; it's not crowded, and it's small. So for me it's a good solution to visit something different, close to us, and very typical. Spend just 1 or 2 hours there, no more. Remember, You have to visit Certaldo "Alto"  only (the high part of the town). Certaldo low is modern and there's nothing to say about it.

Pisa (1 hour far from Borgo La Casaccia):

Pisa is "Piazza dei Miracoli" , the square with the tower. But not only the tower: Dome, Baptistery, Cemetary, the whole square is breathtaking; then...stop... don't spend more time in Pisa; Usually I suggest to my clients to visit the square in about 2/3 hours and then drive to ...

Lucca: (1 hr 15 far from Borgo La Casaccia):

A city builded for wars and it has never did a war in its history: so , the architecture of the place is really original and beautiful! You can do a walking tour of the walls, it's a nice experience (by bike also)

If You want to drive a little bit more, and You want to enjoy the seaside (1hr 20 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia), we have the solution!

The nearest seaside is "Marina di Pisa"; but , believe me, if You drive only 15 minutes more You will reach Viareggio and the Versilia Coast that is much more better. Versilia is an "area" on the coast and Viareggio is the biggest town; then, You find several towns next to Viareggio, like Forte dei Marmi, Marina di Carrara,Lido di Camaiore etc... all of these places are along the coast.
Why I prefer Viareggio? Because the atmosphere is really like the "dolce vita"; imagine the road with palms and buildings in liberty style, next to the road there's the parking, then a very long walking path with shops and restaurants and clubs, and then the beach. Remember that in Italy we have "clubs" on the beach. So You have to rent an umbrella, sunbeds and so on (medium price: 30 euro per day). But there are also some spaces where You can sit in the sand for free (In Viareggio this place is next to the Clock Tower, You can see it from every place of the walking path).
So Viareggio is a right solution between sea,shops,comfort etc....
You may ask:  Is the sea clear and beautiful? it depends from the day, but in general it's not the sea that You may find in Sardinia , for example. It's not "the beautiful sea" You can imagine in Italy. For that You have to drive south , for example to Grosseto or Porto Santo Stefano, but it takes 2h30 to get there..

Close to Montaione You find the town of Gambassi Terme (15 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia); honestly, the town is really small, the landscape is nice, but the town itself cannot be compared to places like San Gimignano , Volterra etc.. but in Gambassi Terme there are The Therms:
Terme della Via Francigena -

Therms are quite small, You will find an open air swimming pool (don't go there for that, Borgo La Casaccia has much more bigger pools ;) ) , a covered and heated swimming pool , and then the "wellness path": Sauna, Turkish bath, Cold Shower . Check the website and I let You decide.

Sometimes You could find (cross fingers) a day of bad weather: rare but not impossible. Some clients asked to me for a place where kids can have "fun with water , but covered"
Here's my suggestion:

Hidron (45 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia, about 1 hr)
Campi Bisenzio, Firenze
It's a big center with: covered swimming pools, Wellness center, Fitness club, open air swimming pool (VERY big) , park, Restaurants and coffee shop. In few words it's an acquatic park that can be used also during rainy days.

It's beautiful to visit places, but what about the experiences You may live? Sometimes they are the most beautiful memories we have about an holiday.  Also from this point of view We have something to offer and I would like to give You my ideas:

Enogastronomy: the top of the top. Wine, Olive Oil, Cheese, Meat, local products.  In Tuscany the range of possibilities is really wide, and it's difficult to say to You :"this is the best place to go" because I haven't experiences every place and , overall, when we talk about "eat and drink" the personal taste is fundamental. However I can give You some suggestions and You will find them in another dedicated post. But,  in a a way or another, While you are in Tuscany, don't miss to visit a wineyard, and to taste local products!

Trekking and Mountain Biking: In Montaione there are 30 Km's of Trekking paths, and Borgo La Casaccia is on one of these paths. Exactly the path number 2. Last year, some mountain bike lovers create a nice website: . They rent bikes and they do guided tours too, but overall , in this website you find a section where ALL of these paths are showed, with distances, heights and so on. Very useful. The APP Wikiloc it's really well done too.
The Track number 2 on which we are it's quite hard. From Borgo La Casaccia by bike it's really difficult, much more better by run.
Remember that the landscape here is "up and down": it could be very hard from people coming from places like Denmark, for example, where the landscape is more "flat". So, don't start Your excursion at 11h00 in July because it could be very hard!
There are Two places for bike rental:
Landhill (3 km far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Via J.F.Kenney 10

or through the website that we already said:

Quad:Yes, we have also this possibility. (5 kms far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Via Leonardo da Vinci 14
There are really several opportunities, from the single rent to the guide tour with lunch outside.
My first experience with Quad was in Lanzarote (Spain) and from then I started to love it. If You want to see countryside from a different point of view it's a good choice. (Not really cheap, take a look at the website for prices)

Guided Tour, Cooking lessons, Truffle hunt: If You are looking for some really peculiar experience I suggest You to trust . I cooperate with them when clients ask me to organize a cooking lesson in Certaldo or San Gimignano and I love to work with Elisabetta and Claudia. They are really professional and clients love them. They have a wide range of tours, not mass-market oriented. The price, as usual is not cheap, but , in my opinion, there's the value for money.

So we have: visits to cities, to the seaside, to therms, visit to  a winery, taste of cheese, Bike tours,Quad Rental, Cooking lessons.... but... Remember You are on holiday so relax Yourselves.
Sometimes enjoy the pools of Borgo La Casaccia, sunbathing while you drink a glass of wine taken from our cellar it's the best way to spend the day.....

Francesco Pellegrini
Owner of Borgo La Casaccia

mercoledì 4 gennaio 2017

Montaione's Nightlife? ... let's talk about it!

Hi Guys, 

Today I'm going to write about Nightlife! Nightlife in Montaione..nightlife in the middle of the Tuscan countryside. Well, before You think I'm crazy , let me explain to You that of course Montaione is not Manhattan! Accommodations are like Borgo La Casaccia; this mean apartments; so 70% of clients in the town are families, and after 22h00 , kids ask to sleep (luckly).  So usually the nightlife is a coffee or an ice cream after dinner..


There are two places in Montaione where You can easily spend the night , drinking , listening good music and have fun

Lo Strettoio Pub (2 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Via Chiarenti 8

It's inside the historical center, (next to the restaurant "Osteria del Pesce Rosso") and it's "the old heart" of Montaione's nightlife. Is there since 20 years and it's an Irish Pub, really well done.
You will enter in a narrow passage (that is the meaning of words : lo strettoio) and after few stairs You will be in the pub, that is big.  Good choice of beers, Cocktails, snacks and so on.

Casablanca Garden Bar (5 km far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Via delle Colline 3

This place (born in 2015) is a  discoteque, a restaurant,a place for listening live music,  Dj's set , apertif. it's famous in the area, people came from Florence to spend the night there, so You can imagine what it mean. Location is panoramic and  there's a parking, but not so big, so You maybe need to park the car along the street.

Then, of course, in Florence you have millions of possibilities , and You will find in internet a lot of informations about Florentine's nightlife .. but remember, Montaione is much more than what You expected!

Francesco Pellegrini
Owner of Borgo La Casaccia

giovedì 29 dicembre 2016

Useful infos: Public Transportation, ATM, Doctors...

Hi Guys, 

this post could be a little bit "boring".  I'm going to talk about useful places and useful infos in Montaione, and You know, something useful normally is boring, isn'it? ( Probably a winery is more interesting than a post office...).
But during an holiday You may need of this places, so let's have a quickly look.

ATM: life in the Tuscan countryside is not so expensive, and  90% of hotels and similar, restaurants , etc accept credit cards (normally Visa and Mastercard; American express is much more rare). But You may need to take some cash with You, here where You can find ATM machines:

Banca Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze (1,5 km far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Piazza  Cavour 14

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (2 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Via Vincenzo da Filicaja 8

POST OFFICE:  (1,5 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia) Ok, in 2016 probably the post office is no more so important than in the past. But, do you remember the feeling You had when You received a postcard from someone next to your heart? Beautiful...

Poste Italiane
Piazza Cavour 18

PHARMACY: (2 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia).  It's inside the historical center (at the beginning), You can't park in front of it. But You can park few meters far.

Farmacia Priamo
Via Roma 43

DOCTORS AND PAEDIATRICIAN:  (3 km Far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Villa Serena
Viale da Filicaja 18
From Monday to Friday: You can reserve an appointment by phone (0039 0571 878582) or You can go directly there and wait for your turn. Visits start from 09h00 until 17h30
On Saturday,Sunday and on public holidays (and the day before):
In Montaione at the Health Centre in Via Filicaja 18
On Saturday and day before public holidays: 10h00 - 13h00
On Sundays and Public holidays: 08h00 - 13h00
In Certaldo at the Health Centre in Piazza Macelli 10
On Saturday,Sunday and on public holidays: 16h00 - 19h00

This is difficult. You have to consider two things: - that We are in Italy - that We are in the countryside.
So You can't expect a wide range of service , and You absolutely need your car. This is really a must. Sometimes some clients arrive here at Borgo La Casaccia without car , but after some hours They decide to rent it. The problem is that the nearest Rental is in Pisa or Florence.. so, if You really want to enjoy your holiday , remember the car!
Moreover , places like San Gimignano, Volterra, Certaldo etc... are beautiful but small medieval towns. So No public transport there.
Don't consider Taxi; only one (yes ONE) exist in the area and it's in Castelfiorentino. As You can imagine it's always busy.
Don't consider busses: They depart next to Cafè "_I Divino" (Piazza Cavour 22)  but there are few lines.
The only Public Transport You can really enjoy is the Train.
The Train station is in Castelfiorentino (12 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia) and from there You can easily take the train to Florence and to Siena (You can check timetable at: Remember to chose only direct trains (where You don't have to change train) and rememeber that the "Santa Maria Novella" train station is inside the historical center of Florence; outside the train You can start to walk and to visit the city; Siena Train station is 15/20 minutes walking distance outside the historical center. Consider this when the temperature is high or when You have kids with You.

You can buy train Train Ticket in :
Agenzia Beautiful Travel
Cafè Stazione
Cafè Ridolfi  
All places are in Via Ridolfi near the station, or by the cash machine inside the train station (You need cash, no credit card).
How to reach Castelfiorentino Train Station:
From La Casaccia, outside the dirt road.
Turn right , direction Montaione Historical Center.
Follow the main road.
Then The road starts to go down.
When the downhill finished you turn left (there's the sign "Castelfiorentino" ) .
You follow the road for about 8 Km. Then you find a Stop Signal
Turn Left
Go ahead and turn left at the first traffic light you see.
You are in Castelfiorentino. Go ahead you find the train station
You can left your car in the park near the station

 PARKING:  But if You prefer to go there with Your car (I can understand with infants, or rain, train could be not the easy solution) here You find the best parking:

Best Parking in Florence:
Piazza della Stazione
The parking is big (3 levels underground) and really in the heart of the town (it's under the Train Station)
Euro 3 per hour 

Best Parking in Siena:
Parking  “Santa Caterina”
It’s near the “Duomo”  and near the historical center
There is a direct link to the center with mobile-stairs
Address: Via Esterna di Frontebranda –
3 floors
512 parking slots
Open H24
2 Euro per hour

Parking “Stadio-Fortezza”:
It’s in the area “Fortezza Medicea”. Close to the historical center and to the stadium “Artemio Franchi”

2 floors
709 parking slots
Open H24
Two entrances:
SIDE “FORTEZZA”: Closed on wednesday
SIDE “STADIO” :Closed during footbal matches of the team” Robur Siena”
2 Euro per hour

Well I think it's enough .. a lot of informations here, but of course , You can always ask to our reception for more and more questions.. 

Francesco Pellegrini 

mercoledì 28 dicembre 2016

Restaurants: the hard choice

Hi Guys,

this post is difficult. I'm going to write about restaurants; and in a land like Tuscany, where enogastronomy is one of the biggest cultural heritage that We have , it's an argument to treat with respect.
Here I simply collected the nearest restaurants to Borgo La Casaccia. Trying to speak about them in an objective way.
We have to remember the personal taste, and the fact that , generally speaking, the quality is medium high almost everywhere. It's very rare to have a very bad experience in the countryside; in Florence? pay attention, in Siena? Pay attention , but here the risk is low ; Remember also that restaurants in Montaione and surroundings are both for locals and turists. There are no "traps for tourists".
And for the moment, prices are ok , pay attention with the wine that could be very expensive

All restaurants are really close to us; sometimes my clients ask me: "why don't you create a restaurant inside the Borgo?"  But the nearest restaurant is 60 seconds far by car ... So I prefer to maintain the core business and let restaurateurs do their job, probably much more better than me.


Via Mura 19 
Tel: 0039 0571 677 130 
Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn left.
After 2 Km on the right (pass an orange speed trap camera)  you find the restaurant. Typical Tuscany dishes (no fish no pizza).  Very good quality, good prices, typical atmosphere. (price 20/25 euro per person)


Via Chiarenti 46 
Tel: 0039 0571 69552 
Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn right, direction historical center.
Follow the road , you pass a "Stop"  signal and go ahed. You find the sign of the restaurant  on the walls at your right. You have to park the car (I suggest you to park in the main square, near Bar Aione) and enter in the historical center by foot.
You find meat, fish and also pizza.  Good quality place with "large areas"  useful for children.
For me it's the best choice for the first "dinner outside". Because it's inside the historical center (so You see also the town) and it has a nice panoramic terrace. (price 18/30 euro per person)


Via Chiarenti 14 
Tel: 0039 0571 69 010
Same direction as   I CIAMPA. You find the restaurant in the historical center.
it's quite small and the reservation is a must. Very good fish specialities, they have also some meat-dishes but the choice is small. (The seaside is only 1 hr far from us, so it's not a surprise that they have fresh fish). (price around 30/35 Euro per person)


Viale Vincenzo da Filicaja 65
Tel: 0039 0571 69 7888
Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn right. You follow the road and as the road began to go down you find the restaurant at your left. You find both meat and fish and the quality is very good. The atmosphere is a little bit more "old style" than the other. Excellent list of wines. (Price around 30 euro per person) 


Via San Vivaldo 21
Tel: 0039 0571 69264
For this restaurant You have to drive a little bit more (15/20 minutes).Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn right. You follow the road  and you will see that at a certain point  the road go down. At the and of this road   you find a sign "San Vivaldo" . Turn Right. You follow the road and after some Kilometers you see at your left a chapel. At that point you have to turn right and you will find the restaurant after 300 meters on your left.   Typical Tuscany Dishes, Good quality, Country atmosphere.   Need reservation  because it's very busy. This is really a "Trattoria", simple location. (price around 20/25 per person)


Via Leonardo da Vinci 73
Tel: 0039 0571 697941
 Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn right. You follow the road  and you will see that at a certain point  the road go down. You have to go ahead, direction Gamabssi Terme. Follow the road again and , after the curve, You will see an oil station. The restaurant is there. Yes, inside an oil station and I can imagine your thoughts. But believe me the experience is good. The restaurant is sophisticated, modern and dishes are accurate. (Price 35/40 euro per person)


Via John Fitzgerald Kennedy 
Tel:0039 0571 697866
 Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn right. You follow the road and as You will see that at a certain point  the road starts to go down. Turn left in the first road You see (it's a very small one) and then find parking. The Restaurant is in front of You. Here You find pizza , pizza and more pizza. The owner is expert in Vegetarian,Vegan,Gluten free diet. The location is very simple, they have a big choice of pizzas. (price 20/22 euro per person).

Then You can imagine there are hundreds of restaurants simply driving 10 minutes more, I haven't experienced every place and consider that part of the holiday could be also to try new and different solutions. ( depends from childrens, probably..) 

Finally Remember: if You find some nice and good places...let me know!!!!   

Francesco Pellegrini 

martedì 27 dicembre 2016

The Coffee-Bar: The Must of the Italian Lifestyle .. and the ice cream too

Hi Guys ,

in this post I'm going to talk about the "heart" of Italian Life-style.  A place  that YOU MUST visit at least once , if You want to experience the Italian way of life:


It's more than a place where to drink a coffee. It's the place where people meet together to speak about (in this order) : - Sport (90% football) - Politics  (90% against the government doesn't matter what part it is) -Personal facts of other people in the town - General Gossip.
Of course it's a meeting place for friends , but it's also the place where You can meet new people , new friends, build new relationship and maybe You can find the love of your life (very rare ..)
So, the bar it's part of the culture of Italian people, Bars are crowded in the morning for breakfast ("un pezzo dolce e un cappuccino" is the standard ordination; it means: a cappuccino and a small pie) for lunch (You can't really finish a lunch without an Espresso) and at aperitif time (there's a great choice of aperitif , my best choice is "Negroni" or a glass of red wine)

But , the ordination, in an italian coffee bar is not so simple, what it means "a coffee"? Well we have:

- Espresso: it is my favorite. It's strong, served in a tiny cup. Usually I drink 3/4 espresso coffee per day. I LOVE it

- Caffè Macchiato. It's an espresso with a little bit of milk. Of course the flavour is sweeter and not so strong. Pay attention: it could be "caffè macchinato caldo (warm)" or "caffè macchiato freddo (cold)"; it depends from the temperature of the milk.

- Caffè Corretto: it's an espresso with an alcoholic beverage. Usually Sambuca or Grappa, but You can ask, it depends from your taste (if You ask Caffè Corretto with wine probably You will receive looks that kill)

- Caffè Latte : Hot milk and coffee. A perfect Breakfast beverage.  "Latte e Biscotti" (Milk and Biscuits) is the must

- Cappuccino: You know. Espresso with milk foam , served in a large cup. It is the king of Breakfast

The "social role" of the Bar exist in every part of Italy: From North to South, from Milan to Naples. But , You can imagine, in small towns like Montaione this role is much more strong.
Really ALL the town meet itself inside bar: Young and old.

and of course, There are several bars in Montaione.  Distance from Borgo La Casaccia (1-2 Km)

Bar I divino

Piazza Cavour nr 22
It's the easiest to reach, and the one You can't miss. With Your car You will pass in front of it many times, because it's in the main square, from where starts all directions.
It's small , with a gazebo outside where You can sit. The heart of the town, ruled by young local girls.

Bar Tuba

via Ammirato nr 38
Inside the historical center, so You have to park your car (for example in Via Vincenzo da Filicaia, in Piazza Antonio Gramsci or in Via Aldo Moro (Coop parking) ) and reach the bar by foot. Only 5 minutes , and it's a nice walk in the historical center

So, You have a choice , I can't tell You which Coffee Bar is the best, because it's really a personal taste, the quality is medium-high everywhere.
I still rememeber that some years ago,  an American client spoke to me at the end of the day :"Francesco, we had such an amazing time! Walking in the narrow streets , seating in the square and take a coffee under the sun, it was amazing" . At that moment I understood the meaning of working in tourism: What is standard for me, it's an experience for another and viceversa. So , the password is: Experience. Try it, take an italian coffee, and then we will talk about it

Very often, in a coffee bar You can ask the ice cream.  The ice cream is another italian must and You can find it, as we said, in coffee Bar or inside the "gelateria" that is the place where You can buy only ice cream or similars (cakes or Yoghurt with Nutella...yummy....)
In Montaione I loved the ice cream from "I Divino" bar , or, if You want to drive a little bit more, I suggest You to visit San Gimignano and there You find:

"Gelateria Dondoli"

Piazza della Cisterna 4
San Gimignano
is inside the historical center and it's the ice cream world champion for years 2006/2007 and 2008/2009.
Try's amazing , but be prepared to wait a little bit in line; San Gimignano is crowded, and the gelateria too.

My personal taste? Stracciatella  (milk cream with small chocolate pieces), Hazelnut and dark chocolate....what else?

Francesco Pellegrini
Owner of Borgo La Casaccia