Tuscany farmhouse accommodation, Italy

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Responsible tourism: Tuscany farmhouse accommodation, Italy

Environment

We are very conscious of doing our best to protect this outstandingly beautiful place. There is an abundance of natural resources here which allows us to offer a very light carbon footprint to our guests. This is a footprint which can be offset against the carbon consumed in travelling here. We list below our efforts at keeping the environmental impact of your holiday to an absolute minimum:

Whilst guests are here - electricity - no carbon generated, fruit n' veg 10 yards from the front door - no carbon generated. Water from a spring - no carbon generated. Wood burnt in the colder months - a genuine renewable. Everything grown on the land is totally organic and free of all pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The swimming pool is a salt water pool and therefore chlorine free.

Utilities
Solar panels: The electricity supply is entirely generated by solar panels fitted by a local Pisa firm to the roofs. These generate up to 7 kw of solar energy, sufficient for the two guest farmhouses and for our house and our recording studio and swimming pool. In this respect we are more than carbon neutral - we are carbon positive.

We are connected to the National Grid and are in effect a micro power plant. The panels cannot be seen as they are on the roofs, so there is no detrimental impact upon the architectural beauty of the stone-built farmhouses. We are the first on these hills to do this and our efforts have already resulted in two of our near neighbours following in our footsteps.

Energy reduction: We use energy efficient light bulbs and turn off our lights and electrical appliances. We ask guests to use dishwashers and washing machines only when full.

Recycling: All glass, plastic, tins, paper, tetrapaks are separated and recycled.

Water: We share a natural water spring which bubbles out of the rock up the hill from the farmhouses and provides water to both the houses and the swimming pool. It is natural mineral water, professionally analysed and safe to drink. We collect rainwater from the roofs which we use to water the garden and allotments during the drier months. The overflow flows into the grove and is directed around the base of some of the olive trees. The farmhouses are supplied with eco- washing up liquid, clothes washing liquid, floor cleaners, surface cleaners - free of charge. The local cleaning company also use eco-cleaning products.

Heating: During the colder months, the farmhouses can be heated with wood which we offer to guests free of charge (this is in addition to gas central heating).

Local people and amenities
Local employment: The solar panels were fitted by a Pisa firm and the project was designed by our neighbour, Tommaso. As a rule any works needed are done by either ourselves or local firms/suppliers. The cleaning firm are from the local village. During the restoration and any further works we have always employed a local builder, Salvatore, along with plumber Massimiliano and architect, Alessandro.

Shopping locally: If you choose not to hire a car, or even if you do, we can reduce your footprint still further – prior to your arrival we’ll do your main shopping for you; just send us a list a few days before you arrive and we’ll provide you with the goods and receipt upon your arrival. Daily provisions can be purchased in the village a 30 minute walk away – or indeed, catch the bus and walk back (or vice versa!)

Using public transport: Using trains and buses one can easily get to Pisa and Lucca, and from there onto Florence, Siena, Vinci and many other wonderful places. We live in a separate house on the land and are often on hand to help our guests in every way possible. From booking a table at a restaurant, to helping out with tickets for the many and varied sights the area has to offer, and general guidance on how to make the most of your holiday.

Nature
We are completely organic. For fertilizer we use the wood ash burnt from the winter. This we store and use periodically on the allotments. In addition, we use locally collected horse manure. Our hillside is in an environmentally protected zone. There is no heavy industry nearby.

Seasonal and organic fruit and veg:
- Winter/early spring fruit and veg: Oranges, Lemons, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Fennel, Leeks, Winter Salad, wild asparagus
- Spring/early summer: Lemons, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Salad, Tomatoes, Fennel.
- Summer/early Autumn: Tomatoes, Aubergines, Salad, Peaches, Pears, Apricots.
- Autumn/early winter: Olives, Lemons, Pears and then back into the winter cycle of brassicas etc.
- All year: herbs – sage, rosemary, parsley, wild fennel (similar to dill), wild mint. Seasonal – oregano, thyme. Medicinal – Aloe Vera

Wildlife: We encourage wildlife by not blocking it or poisoning it; our land is not fenced in. We are on the lower slopes of a hill covered in acres of olive grove; above us is forest. We have birds of prey, wild boar (shy creatures who don't tend to bother us). There are a few deer on the hill, even if glimpses are infrequent. We cut the grove grasses late, after they have flowered to encourage the insects; in May and June the place is a riot of fireflies by night.

Nearby is the lagoon lake of Torre del Lago, a bird sanctuary. We have learned a lot about the trees from a now good friend Massi Giusti, also a fine artist, sculptor and didgeredoo player! Talking to the local guys about the land has helped us enormously in working the allotments. Chatting with Mauro at the bottom of the hill is always useful for tips about when to plant, when to prune and when to take cuttings.

We hope and believe our enthusiasm for what we do rubs off onto our guests and vice versa as tips from our guests are always welcome. Looking over the guests comments book attests to this.

Community

We always use local skills for everything we do. Local builders, local plumbers, local help for the olive grove. We source locally all our foodstuffs and wine. We support local restuarants , local guides, local suppliers. We also support Wwoof. 'Worldwide organisation of organic farmers'.

Reviews of Tuscany farmhouse accommodation, Italy

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 29 Aug 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The location, views, hosts (Colin & Luisa) and quality of the house. Waking up to birds signing and drinking a coffee looking out at the leaning tower of Pisa is a pretty special way to start your day.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do not hesitate just book a stay, it is truly beautiful and exceptional value for money. It looks good in the photos and description on the internet and is even better when you are there.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely. Not only do local people carry out work in and around the property for Colin & Luisa they also have clearly thought about the environment in how they obtain their water and harvest their energy for the houses and also their own.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


For my family and I it was 5 stars. Beautiful Location, wonderful accommodation and friendly and welcoming hosts. The house was exceptional value for money in peak season. It is a holiday that none of us will forget and we will definetaly be back in the future. Italy is a beautiful country with friendly and welcoming people.

Reviewed on 28 May 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The elevated position gives views across the fields and plains of Tuscany, with Pisa in the distance, in fact you can easily see the leaning tower of Pisa on a clear day. We also fondly remember the fireflies - our private light show and so fascinating (we visited in late may)

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


A small car will make the drive up to the apartment easier..a few corners take two attempts even in a small car but is totally safe and do-able as the road sides are not too steep or scarey!
Use the barbeque / pizza oven on site - loads of wood to use and a great fun.
For local restaurants visit Villa di Corliano. The restaurant is situated behind the impressive villa just 5mins in the car. We thought this would be way beyond our means but in fact the menu is extremely well priced and the food & service was excellent. Cost us £80 for main course & dessert & bottle wine for 4 pax..

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes - lots of local restaurants close by to use.
Recycling is paramount, well organised and well explained when we arrived.
Solar panels installed
Colin & Luisa are full of local recommendations including locally owned restaurants, canoe day trips etc.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Loved it! Really chilled out & has everything you would need and more. Just go!

Reviewed on 17 Jun 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The views are stunning, the smell of the jasmine and the evening fireflies are memories we shall savour. This was a laid-back and relaxing holiday, packed with fantastic places to visit.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Smallish car with some power to get up the steep slope when fully laden! First time up is slightly nerve wracking, but the views are worth it!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We shopped and ate locally and we were very kindly invited to use the home grown produce available. Instead of using the less environmentally friendly aeroplane, we traveled from North Yorkshire, England, all the way to Pisa, Italy via train! This was a 27 hour journey with small breaks.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fabulous holiday, relaxing and we hope to return again soon. Luisa and Colin are
warm, welcoming and are perfect hosts.

Reviewed on 22 Apr 2012 by


1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Waking up to views over to Pisa in one direction and the sea in the other was the perfect antidote to hectic urban life. Choosing between great local restaurants or picking vegetables from the garden to cook at home was the kind of choice you want to have.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure to have Sunday lunch at Villa Bongi just down the road and definitely cycle around the city ramparts of Lucca.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We obviously did our bit to support the excellent local restaurants and the local shops when we ate at home. Recycling was much more sophisticated than even our reasonably progressive London borough and the land around felt unscathed by tourism. Getting back from Pisa to London by train was extremely straight forward even with two young children, and cheaper than by plane.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The accommodation is the perfect getaway with easy access [by car] to deserted beaches, Pisa and the relatively less crowded Lucca. The kids loved the freedom and security of the land around the house. We weren't bored for one minute and came home restored and ready to start the grind again.

Reviewed on 10 Oct 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The view from the farmhouse, so beautiful.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you don't have a big wide car, the smaller the better for the roads and the hill up to the farmhouse.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Tourism provides local people with jobs so yes!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


10/10 fantastic and plan to return.

Reviewed on 18 Aug 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The view from our bedroom window: we could see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and all the way to the sea. We saw some migrating European bee eaters.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Access to the property is quite difficult with a large car. Some of the hairpin bends required three point turns.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I think it probably was environmentally OK; I don't know about benefiting local people. I am aware there are issues with water in Tuscany

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


We really enjoyed it. Colin and Luisa were friendly and helpful above and beyond what was necessary. Because the property is isolated it was not very sociable, although we got on well with the other couple staying in the adjacent property. I did not feel confident to take the car out because of the hairpin bends and the size of our car, so I was a bit restricted.

Reviewed on 04 Oct 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The gorgeous farmhouses, with stunning views, made this a wonderful and relaxing family holiday. We hired both the farmhouses for a week with our extended family and were not disappointed. The children (aged 2 & 4) loved the freedom to run around the area, including the vegetable garden, and the path down to the pool.

The swimming pool was great and seemed bigger than the photographs indicated. Its in an enclosed area and you have to go up steps to enter it, so it was safe for the toddlers. Luisa, Colin and Max were the perfect hosts. Luisa left large boxes of toys out for the children, which went down very well. The farmhouses were well equipped and we enjoyed sitting out most evenings with pizzas from the woodfired oven or food from the BBQ.

We also took a 4 month old baby, which was fine. We enjoyed days out to the beach, Lucca and Pisa, which are within easy distance from the farmhouses by car, but the location was so beautiful that we were happy to spend some days doing nothing.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The road to the farmhouses is steep and windy so you need to hire a car (and driver!) that can cope with that. Remember to take mosquito spray and something for bites.
A torch might also come in handy.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


The farmhouse makes use of solar panels and gets some of its water from the mountains. They also grow their own vegetables and herbs (and you can help yourself). They have a compost bin and recycle.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastic holiday - I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Reviewed on 25 May 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing fireflies for the first time ever, enjoying the spectacular view, and exploring beautiful Tuscany.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


We found the location to be great for exploring Tuscany - we made it as far as Siena, which we highly recommend. Other favourites were Volterra and San Miniato.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


The farmhouses use spring water and solar panels, and we separated our waste for recycling.

We hired a car, which is not ideal environmentally, but it was necessary with 2 children under 3 years old. However, the fact that baby equipment is available in the farmhouses (stairgate, cot, highchair, not to mention the big box full of toys) meant that we did not need to take too much luggage.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


We had a wonderful family holiday. The house is lovely - the baby equipment invaluable and the box of Max's old toys was greatly appreciated!

Luisa and Colin are very friendly and helpful, and it was good to have them nearby.

Reviewed on 08 Apr 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Waking up in the morning, and stepping onto the balcony; from where the views were stunning. I've seldom experienced a place where the tranquillity is almost tangible. Our two daughters couldn't wait to go outside and play and explore all day with Max, our hosts' son, and a fantastic playmate. Leaving us to just relax. Blissful!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If you have a sat. nav. then ask the owners for the geo. coordinates, as the final part of the journey can be a little tricky, especially if you arrive after dark as we did!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, we shopped locally for bread and other groceries, and ate out in local restaurants. The water supply was from the mountain spring and we cooked with the seasonal veg. and herbs from the garden. All our waste was recycled.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastic! We will certainly return!

Reviewed on 12 Sep 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Our visit to Carrara for the Post Monument sculpture biennale and then trying to find the slow food restaurant recommended by the Rough Guide in Colonnata - worth it! The challenging drive up the hill to the accommodation, which was great fun once we got used to it. Filling up our water bottles from the spring water tap at the bottom of the hill. Watching the changes in valley over the day.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Use the sandy beach recommended by the accommodation. It's close by, reasonably uncrowded even in August and fantastic for children. The beach is backed by protected sand dunes and there are no buildings or big roads backing onto it. Nothing less than a 1.3L car. Don't hold back on mosquito repellent in August.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


It certainly benefited the local economy. Not so sure about minimising the impact on the environment as you had to have a car.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


We had a great time. Luisa, Colin and Max were very friendly, helpful and welcoming. The surroundings were beautiful and tranquil and the house is well located to visit Florence, Siena and Cararra.

Reviewed on 21 Mar 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The hair-raising drive up to the house, followed by the breath-taking views back down into the valley surrounded by the Tuscan mountains & out to the Tyrrhenian Sea. We could just see Pisa's leaning Tower & her magnificent Duomo in the early evening haze, yet could wind down from our journey surrounded by olive trees & birdsong. Tuscany truly is beautiful in Spring & it meant that we could benefit from the quieter, calmer low season whilst visiting Pisa, Florence, Lucca & San Gimignano, all in one short week. Undoubtedly a holiday to remember.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


We took our 16 month old son &, whilst Luisa & Colin did everything they could to make our stay comfortable, the very nature of the setting meant that we couldn't take our eyes off him for a second - the house is on a steep terrace with the constant temptation for a toddler to toddle off down the hill.... it actually meant that we were keen to get out & about rather than to relax around the house which was a good thing considering there is so much to see, but I would probably hesitate to take more than one very small child in the future - it would have been good to have had a safe play area.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Luisa & Colin are obviously part of the local community & work hard to create an ecologically sound home & holiday retreat.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A wonderful cultural interlude from a rather busy, fast-paced urban life.

Reviewed on 16 Jun 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Beautiful part of Italy, views fantastic, local places of interest very much seeing, lovely food; we particularly enjoyed visiting Lucca and Pisa as both were nearby and we went to both late afternoon/evening which was a good time to go with children.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Florence was quite far and very busy and hot, Vinci was worth visiting but again leave early to allow enough time. Enjoy the places nearby!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Buying food and eating out is the usual benefit of tourism. We hired a car so we didn't minimise our impact on the environment!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Four stars, the location was great and it was a bonus to have a pool. Great views and peaceful place to be. Good for children, especially the smaller ones.

Reviewed on 02 May 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Picking the juiciest oranges I've ever come across from the trees outside our cottage, cycling round the medieval city walls of Lucca, eating too much ice cream, looking down onto San Gimignano from one of the towers, the kids climbing olive trees in the grove around the cottage....I can't choose just one!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


This is a wonderful place for a family holiday. Luisa, Colin and their son Max (the family who own the two holiday cottages on the farm) are wonderfully generous and welcoming people, and we really enjoyed staying with them. The views from the cottage are amazing - throw open the shutters in the morning and gaze across the olive groves to the valley below with the leaning tower of Pisa in the distance - just fantastic! The olive grove was a wonderful place for the kids to play - climbing trees, playing games, letting off steam and seeing nature close-up. The farm is midway between Pisa and Lucca, both about 20 mins drive away. We enjoyed exploring both, but especially Lucca, which had an amazing atmosphere (despite a lack of parking spaces!). Renting bicycles for a lap of the city walls was a perfect way to spend the afternoon for adults and kids alike!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


The cottages have solar panels on the roof; the water comes from a private spring; fruit (amazing oranges!), salad and herbs are available to be picked by guests from the gardens; and the waste is re-cycled, so hopefully the environmental impact is as small as possible. We certainly ate-out a lot in small, family-owned restaurants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The holiday was just what we were looking for. The cottage was wonderful - perched on a steep hillside (6 hairpin bends to negotiate on the way up through the olive grove!) with fantastic views. The children were constantly entertained by the nature around them. The accommodation made a practical base for exploring northern Tuscany, with Pisa and Lucca very close by. Florence was only an hour away by toll-road. We also did a couple of day-trips to Vinci and San Gimignano (worth it, despite being quite a long drive).

Reviewed on 21 Apr 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


We went this Easter with our one and five year olds. We loved watching our children running around the yard and olive groves, playing with Max and his friends and listening to the bells ringing form down below. Eating out in the sunshine and walking up the olive groves through the wild flowers were especially memorable. The farmhouse is in a great location to visit Pisa, Lucca and Florence. We really felt that we were able to relax and chill out for the week.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Transport is pretty essential. We hired a car from Pisa airport and drove there which took about 30 mins. Be aware that the driveway is steep and has 5 hairpin bends. our car coped well but a think that in bigger cars it can be a little hairy!! We were glad to arrive during the daytime! However - do not let this put you off. You gain some serious height and therefore get fabulous views down to Pisa, the surrounding countryside and ill and even the sea.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


The owners are very much part of the local community, and they run the farmhouse and land as ecologically as possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A lovely escape to a fabulous region of Italy. The owners are very kind, friendly and accommodating. They have a special kind of energy - and lots of it which makes the stay so much more comfortable. The actual accommodation is very generous in size and very well equipped including an outside pizza oven and open fire in the kitchen. In the summer there is a pool which the children must adore. We would recommend visiting in spring/early summer if you have little children as the wild flowers are at their best and the temperatures are warm enough to eat outside but cool enough to enjoy visiting Florence, Pisa and Lucca.

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