Family Holiday Cottage in Tuscany

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Thoughts and photos from Fran & Adrian who rented Casa Colombo for an extended period….

“We were fortunate enough to be able to rent Casa Colomba for 6 months in 2013 and have had a wonderful experience in this stunning part of Tuscany. So why Orciatico, we wanted a village (not a city) and we wanted a house (not an apartment) and after many months of trawling the internet we came across Casa Colomba it offered much more than a holiday let, well equipped for a 6 month stay plenty of facilities and spacious. We knew it had great views because of the pictures on the website along with a description of the house itself and facilities but what we didn’t know was how this stunning landscape changed from day to day and how much more there is to Tuscany than the main tourist attractions. Our time there gave us an opportunity to experience the real Italy and real Italians. The view from the terrace changed with each season and went from what looked like barren land to tinges of green then gold as the vines finished. The Autumn sun filled the landscape and even on a very cold winter morning the views were still stunning with pockets of mist and just a hint if Lajatico in the distance. Breakfast outside on the terrace looking over the views during the warmer months and a long cool aperitif on the front veranda after a long day sightseeing in the heat were just a small part of our amazing experience.

The village itself is only a 5 minute walk away, it has a very friendly bar a couple of shops and great locals, on any summer evening this town comes to life, with the children out playing in the piazza and the locals enjoying La Passegiatta and a catch up on what they didn’t get to catch up on in the morning.

The beautiful hilltop villages of this region have a lot of history of their own with most small villages having a bar (great for that fabulous Italian coffee) and a couple of shops and in most cases some old medieval buildings, some of the most amazing churches can be found in these little villages and some date back to the 12th century and some really pretty houses. We visited so many places and usually sourced the information from the travel books at the house then mapped a route and went driving. On many occasions getting lost and finding even more amazing places in the process. On the days we didn’t want to drive far we kept to the surrounding area Chianni, Palaia and Peccioli Casciana Terme, Colle Val D’Élsa are all a nice drive.

We became market shoppers, most villages and larger towns have a market day, Peccioli, Casciana Terme, Ponsacco, Pontedera have pretty good sized markets Lajatico has a small one on a Wednesday that is a nice atmosphere, then have a coffee at the bar/geletaria on the piazza. We found Mercato Centrale in Livorno and San Lorenzo in Florence in their own historical buildings dating back to the late 1800’s a whole new shopping experience well worth a visit.

Although not beach lovers we did venture to the sea side but mainly for a stroll along the esplanade and a gelato. Cecina and Follonica both have large water parks but both also have a lovely pedestrian esplanade for watching the sun go down or a stroll. Follonica is about a 2 hour drive Cecina is less than an hour.

Some days we’d just get in the car and head out, the drive to Chianti sees some stunning Tuscan scenery and both Rada in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti are worth a visit. For foodies like us we could not miss a chance to see the world famous Macellaria Falorni in Greve in Chianti; made up of a number of shops all leading into each other and has everything a food lover could need including wine tasting of the famous Chianti brand. Our favourite drive was out through Saline Di Volterra to Pomerance, Larderello and on to Massa Marittima the drive is lovely over the hills with amazing views with Massa Marittima another pretty town with a lot of medieval history.

Our favourite time of the day was time for the Italian tradition of La Passeggiata the age old tradition when mothers who wanted to marry off their daughters would parade them up and down the piazza in front of the mothers who wanted to marry off their sons, thankfully that tradition has changed and its mainly a time of day to wind down take a stroll and watch. The Italians are great watchers and they wander along stop for an aperitivo or gelato, during the summer we found this pastime on most evening especially in the larger cities and towns but for the most part it is Saturdays and Sundays when the stylish Italians dress up and head out for La Passeggiata. Volterra was a great place for this as it wasn’t too far they have a great gelato shop and a few wine bars and a nice atmosphere, also San Gimignano is a nice place for this. But we preferred the seaside; Follonica and San Vincenzo being our favourite places. San Vincenzo out towards Follonica along the SP1 is a lovely town with lots of nice shops and a real buzz in the summer because it has a harbour.

We did not venture out too far to eat preferring to buy and cook the beautiful Italian food available to us. But we did eat at La Mangiatoia in the village, the food was great, traditional and very tasty and well priced – Felice and Rita and their family are the perfect hosts, we also ate at the Pizzeria/Ristorante in Montecatini Val Di Cecina the one on the corner of the Piazza has great food and great hosts with good prices and a lovely atmosphere, if you want to sit outside you need to get there early in the summer.

There is so much to see and do (or not do) in Tuscany it’s the perfect place for a relaxing holiday”.