Beautiful, historic hillside cottage in a tiny, peaceful hamlet in the Appenines between Bologna and Florence. This rustic, C17th stone house has chestnut-wood floors and ceilings, antique furniture, open fireplace, bedrooms with views and wood store. It has a patio, two terraced gardens, a tiny orchard and is surrounded by chestnut woodland, all with mountain views. You can read more here: http://italycottage.weebly.com/
The house is in an idyllic mountain setting away from tourism. The hamlet and its traditional way of life has been unchanged for hundreds of years. It is within 10 mins of village shops and a train station and is within easy reach of Pisa, Lucca, Florence and Bologna (all 1hr or less), and 25kms from Pistoia. It is ideal for people with a spirit of adventure who want to experience an authentic glimpse of rural Italy in one of the last corners of Tuscany/Emilia still untouched by tourism. The small road leading to the house from the main road is a steep drive (about 1km). The property is a home, not hotel. It is quirky. More here: http://italycottage.weebly.com/
Ski, walking, hiking: There are 3 ski resorts close to the house. Abetone, 30 kms away, is the best in the Appenines with stunning views of Emila and Tuscany. It has an extensive network of slopes mainly for intermediate level skiers. Closer but smaller are Lizzano in Belvedere and Corno alle Scale, both approx. 30-mins drive. Specials deals are available on ski passes. For info, call (0039) (0)534 51052. Some ski equipment (salopettes etc.) is available at the house and can be borrowed with the owner's agreement.
The Appennines have an excellent network of marked trails and mountain refuges organised by the Italian Alpine Club which has a main branch in Bologna (0039) 051 234 856. A recognised national footpath passes by the house and takes walkers to as high as 1441m to mountain ridges offering stunning panoramic views of the Appenines, Emilia and Tuscany. From one local peak, visitors can see both coasts of Italy and as far as Mont Blanc!
Food and drink: Emilia Romagna is Italy's finest culinary region, home of balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese and parma ham and Tuscany is renown for its fantastic wine, making this house perfectly placed for foodies. Maresca, 20 mins away, has a top-class restaurant listed in Italian best-food guides, which serves seasonal, delicious and very reasonable local food and wine. Carmignano, less than 30 mins from the house, is known for wines that marry Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Cabernet grapes (as well as local olive oil and grappa) and wine tasting are available in lots of local vineyards. Excellent wine can also be found in all local enoteche (specialist wine bars). Because of the area's superb culinary traditions, there are a profusion of food festivals (sagre) all year round, ranging from chestnut sagre to the famous white truffle sagre, held in Marradi, about 1hr from the house, in Autumn. In the summer local sagre in near-by villages include polenta, wild boar, venison and ravioli.
Festivals and markets: The area is home to many music festivals in the summer, including Italy's best blues and jazz festivals. Pistoia holds the world famous Pistoia Blues festival every July, as well as the Giostra dell Orto, a jousting medieval processing also held in the Summer. Porretta holds the Porretta Jazz festivals each summer, with past guests including the likes of Buddy Guy.
Many local towns also throw medieval parties in the summer - joisting, parades, processions - and Prato has an annual national Comic Book Conference in the spring and Prato Estate (July/August) is a living arts festival including open-air theatre, concerts and films held each year.
Nearby San Miniato is home to antique and craft festivals on the third and first Sundays of every month. An antique market, often including a stall selling only fascist memorabilia to the strains of military music, as well as antiques and paintings, is held every Sunday in Pracchia's town square (15-minute drive).
Wild swimming: there are a profusion of wild swimming options close to the house, including streams, waterfalls and plunge pools in the woods surrounding the house and, five minutes' away, a large river (Reno) with small peddly beaches along its shores. A lake half an hour away has small beaches, pedalos, cafes and sail boats for hire.