If anywhere sums up laid back undiscovered Tuscan charm, it’s Altopascio. I’ve mentioned before how much I love an out of season getaway and after a quick flight into Pisa driving past rolling green hills dotted with terracotta coloured houses, meandering past farms, irresistible restaurants and orchards we quickly arrived at our beautiful family home for the week.
I’ve been dying to tell you about this place since the moment we first arrived.
Villa Cerine, Altopascio
Siting proudly up its own private driveway its hard not to fall in love with Villa Cerine’s traditional cosy charms. Immaculate, crisp and clean with cool smooth stone floors my brothers, my Mum and I were a little overwhelmed and in awe of this villa, and we all knew we’d quickly feel perfectly at home.
Surrounded with olive groves and far enough from the rest of the town to fall completely silent at night, but close enough that we could be at the shops in five minutes by car or a ten minute walk to one of the local restaurants. It’s also worth mentioning at this point that even though we had a hire car the local train station is a five minute walk away and easily one of the most convenient ways to travel around Tuscany.
Ditching our cases we followed our enthusiastic and charming host, Loradena, taking in as much as we possibly could, all secretly claiming which bedroom we liked the most, and if it was too late to consider having a dip in the pool which was shimmering perfectly in the setting sun.
I settled for this pretty bedroom with a large sumptuous king sized bed, two double windows basking the room in warm flowing sunlight and my own en-suite big enough to host a dinner party in. Traditionally furnished with a vintage wardrobe and a dresser for all my trinkets I knew that this room was for me.
There are actually four bedrooms, all of decent sizes, and two bathrooms upstairs, one bathroom downstairs and a spacious kitchen we could all dance around each other in. Coffee is always brewed early with breakfast eaten on the patio.
There are pretty little lounge areas for guests to snuggle into with books…and the odd Bellini. Lemon trees, a massage room (yes, really) a playroom and large park for children and two (one outside, one inside) huge dining tables to feast at. I can’t go any further without telling you about the massages we all had, one word – Belissimo!
We’ve been sleeping with our windows open listening to the wind blowing through the trees and waking with the sun rising to the east of the house slowing basking every room with the most perfect natural golden glow.
These are our moments of happiness.
Food, glorious food!
The local supermarket itself is a pocket sized dreamland. Stocked with the freshest and most glorious of foods, some being totally new and things you all of a sudden need to have. We’ve stopped by every day or so to stock up on drinks, lunch and of course the necessary nibbles and treats. You may remember from my Sicilian villa post how much I love to cook in a real Italian kitchen so keep your eyes peeled for a feast related post.
One thing I’ve learnt on my travels around Italy is that the people here are probably the most hospitable people I’ve ever met. Genuine, welcoming and always keen to share their love of their country. We stored some excellent recommendations of local restaurants and attractions to add to our itinerary.
We found one local restaurant to be particularly special. ‘La Loggia’, originally the oldest tavern in the region with exceptionally good spaghetti and with only seven tables giving a cosy and intimate atmosphere. Its here we also learnt that Altopascio is most famous for its bread. For over 1,000 years it has been known as a place for pilgrims to pass through for somewhere to relax and rest before continuing on their journey. Its un-spoilt, utterly irresistible and with home-made desserts to die for you’ll easily want to return. This chocolate pistachio tart is now a firm favourite of mine and I can’t wait to re-create.
The menu is traditional and always cooked to the faithful Tuscan traditions. It’s all in Italian, but don’t worry, the owners will happily explain the dishes for you and recommend their favourites too. Plus, it gives you a chance to gesture wildly, smile a lot and mutter in whatever Italian you can manage. My Mum and brother had the Ragu and the noises they made whilst eating we’re enough to know it was good.
This part of Tuscany most certainly deserves a pin in your map of places to go. History, architecture, food, drink, relaxation and classic traditional beauty. What more could you possibly ask for? I can’t wait to show you more of where we’ve been exploring.
Here’s to simple times and days spent with those that matter the most – family.
If you’d like to take a peek at Villa Cerine in more detail then click right here. If you enter HelloCuppies at the checkout you’ll also receive a £50 discount off of a booking of £500 or more.