Tuscany farmhouse accommodation, Italy

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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

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. We list below our efforts at keeping the environmental impact of your holiday to an absolute minimum:

Photo voltaic solar panels generate electricity - no carbon generated.
Fruit n' veg 10 yards from the front door - no carbon generated.
Water from a natural 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 12 kw of solar energy, saving over 15 tons a year of CO2 emissions, 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,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, even Rome and Venice and many 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

The Impacts of this Trip

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'.

Climate

6 Reviews of Tuscany farmhouse accommodation, Italy

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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.

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