In May this year our search for a venue in Tuscany for a family holiday was proving tricky. Everywhere seemed to be fully booked. But then luck and a vacancy arrived at La Casa di Nonno Mario.
Taken from the village below and with the zoom on my little camera turned up to max, the photo shows just how high on the hill the house was - the last one up on the windy, windy road to be precise. But however much of a challenge that drive was, particularly for the first time, there was a reward, or rather many rewards, around the final bend.
Built in 1772 and lovingly restored with two separate apartments on the top two floors and a large dining salon, third kitchen, bathroom and utility room on the bottom floor, the farmhouse was absolutely ideal for separate factions of the same family or groups of friends. And who needs an infinity pool with views like this?
After our first foray into the Penny Market down in the village of Borgo A Mozzano we soon made the farmhouse feel like home.
Or maybe it felt like home because the house had the instant feel of being a 'home'. I would have liked to learn a lot more, but we heard a little of the history of the house from Daniele, our 'host'. It had been left to him by his Grandad, whose dream it was to restore and convert the farmhouse into a home. With almost a tear in his eye, Daniele told us that sadly his Grandad had not lived to see the conversion completed.
Downstairs in the salon was the framed certificate of Grandad's Italian Order of Merit. When I asked Daniele about it he was suitably modest, brushing it off as something of Grandad's from after the war. But for me it was one of those little touches that gave the house its special spirit.
There were a few hints of the farmhouse element of the house's history, such as the possible animal trough on the terrace where we occasionally dumped the hose,
and a thick iron tethering ring embedded into the wall of the downstairs salon. I wondered what sort of animals drank, slept or were milked or shorn there? If we ever go back I may find out. In the meantime we grew so fond of the place we ended up deadheading, watering and caring about the garden.
But the vineyard, copious fruit trees, speciality roses overlooking the pool and the rest of the garden surrounding the house were all lovingly cared for by Daniele's dad, who occasionally crept in on tiptoe at the crack of dawn to weed, water or prune.
With such a welcoming family atmosphere from La Casa di Nonno Mario, I like to think that Grandpa Mario somehow knew how much Grandma Sue, and Grandad Tim, enjoyed his farmhouse - and their holiday in Tuscany surrounded by all their family.
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That's it - for now. There may be more.. about the village of Corsagna.. and..