martedì 10 gennaio 2017

The excellence: Wine,Olive Oil, Cheese

Hi Guys, 

This time I would like to write about the most beautiful products we have in Tuscany, and where You can buy them in the surroundings of Borgo La Casaccia. Everyone of You know this products, and believe me, We are really talking about excellences.. So, take Your time during Your holiday to taste them.
Let's go... starting with his majesty:


One of the most requested question in my tourism's life is: "Where can we buy a good bottle of Wine?"

The answer is not easy at all.

First of all: I'm not an expert or a Sommelier (but are You sure that You can always trust in sommeliers? No, my friend), I'm simply a man that drink wine and I like it. So, "personal taste" is the word.  If every "experienced" drinker tells You that a specific wine is beautiful, but You taste it and it's awful , it's ok.  Your taste is the judge

I don't know every producers or every wineries: They are thousends;  it's part of the holiday simply to stop your car in a place that looks nice while You are driving  and try it. Often, in this way, We discover hidden places with amazing products.

From the Tourist's point of view , it's important that the experience is as more complete as possibile. This means: When You arrive, and You ring the bell, someone arrives (and You don't have to wait 20 minutes); the person who arrived speaks at least english (and not a strange mix between latin-Italian-Spanish-English); the person who arrived welcome You and offers to You a seat and so on.
So, the place must be "custumer oriented" in a right way.

Generally Speaking:
In both Supermarkets in Montaione (Pam and Coop) You find nice bottles of wine. Not a shame to buy something there , when You want to try only the product.

The range of price: between 8-30 Euro per bottle is ok. You are buying a nice (or good, or very good wine) Under 8 it's a risk, over 30 You are buying something "more" (the brand for example).

In Tuscany, we reach the maximum quality with Red Wine. Some white or rosè are unexpected good surprises, but they are more rare.

It could be a good idea give to You some explainations about the legislation in Italy about wine. So You can understand what Doc,Docg and Igt means.
In 1960s born a national regulation called DOC (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata). The aim was to create a framework and to fix some rules: quantity of grapes per acre,How and When to harvest the grapes,Storage Time, Alcohol content.  Pay attention: DOC does not mean High Quality for sure. It means that certain rules are followed.
In 1980s born a new classification: DOCG (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata e Garantita): production requirements and control conditions were made more stringent (from governement-licensed specialists)
IGT is the newest classification (Indicazione Geografica Tipica). IGT is more vague, and it embraces an universe of wine: there You can find a pleasent table wine, or a Super Tuscany renowed. No chance here, IGT wine must be drunk to understand.

The Tuscan vine harvest takes place in late September/October, and You can imagine how important it is.  Quality of wine is made by Terroir (soil conditions,Geography,grape characteristics...), a lot of sun, harvest process. The moment of the harvest is crucial. Temperature in Tuscany's Autumn is still warm and the grapes must be transported quickly to a cold cellar. the risk is the fermentation in the fields.

The other leading actor of Tuscany table is :
Olive Oil

Olive Oil si called also Liquid Gold. Not only for its color, but also because according to old Tuscan tradition, the olive picker is not remunerated in cash, but with olive oil. Like for the wine, We have a classification that is:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: the free acidity of this oil must be less than 0,8% and produced entirely by mechanical means at low temperature
Virgin Olive Oil: free acidity must be less than 2%
Olive Oil: here it is permitted the use of chemical solvents. The maximum free acidity is 1%.
The pick of olives is made at the beginning of November; tradition says: "by hand". I used to do it when I was a child. I remember this work as the hardest of my life.
Very big producers use machines that "shake" the trees, so the olives fall to the ground and are collected in a net.

I suggest to You Two places where You can taste (and buy of course) wine and olive oil:

Azienda Agricola Corbucci (15 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia)

Via Sant'Andrea a Gavignalla 25/A
50050 Gambassi Terme (Firenze)

Azienda Agricola Tamburini Emanuela (20 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia)

Via Catignano 106
50050 Gambassi Terme (Firenze)

From Borgo La Casaccia, before You meet Corbucci, and then Tamburini.
Don't ask me which one is the best,  because these places are really good for me. Their products are amazing but overall the experience will be great, and You will bring back home good memories, I'm sure about it.
The wine tasting is free but it's necessary to book (one day in advance is ok)

Let's go on with another "star" of the Tuscan enogastronomic panorama:


Tuscany is a green land.  While You are driving our winding roads, You will notice for sure how fields are well maintained, and how  our hills look like a painting. That's because farmers know very well that our landscape is our lucky. And in this landscape , sheeps live like kings and queens!
If You want to taste good cheese You can try:

Azienda Agricola di Camporbiano (20 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Località Camporbiano 8
50050 Gambassi Terme (Firenze)

Honestly, I'm not a man that looks only for "bio" products,  or a man that eat only "natural and healthy products"; I'm a man that sometimes like to eat in McDonald's.. You know..
But the best cheese that I ever eaten in my life, I found in Camporbiano. That cheese and that milk is amazing. The place could be really really nice also for children, because they show you the whole farm, with cows,hens, and so on, but it's absolutely necessary to book two days in advance for the visit. The shop is open and you can go there without reservation.

I hope I gave You some ideas about our enogastronomy. But don't forget to tell me when You discover other good places! I'm still learning...
Francesco Pellegrini
Owner of Borgo La Casaccia

lunedì 9 gennaio 2017

In the middle of Countryside: what can You do??

Hi Guys,

now imagine to be in Tuscany, in a warm sunny day. The nature is blooming ... a question holds your mind: "What Can I do today?"

Luckly You are in Montaione, and believe me, we are REALLY in the heart of Tuscany. I usually use these words as claim, for advertise, and this is normal, but I'm happy that I can tell the truth, because in the middle of the region there are so many possibilities:

First of all: the most natural, probably the most obvious: Take Your car and visit all the beautiful towns that surround Borgo La Casaccia. (Here I will not write about what You can do in each different town: You will find a lot of informations on internet, my aim here is to give You some suggestions)

Florence (1 hour far from Borgo La Casaccia):

You can't miss it! Consider one whole day to visit it.  By car or by Train as You prefer (check other post in this blog)

Siena (1 hr far from Borgo La Casaccia):

 The same, You have to visit it, and You need one day, from the morning to the late afternoon. The Best Solution is get there by car, but You can use the train if You don't mind to walk 20 minutes to reach the historical center.  If You have energy and time, I suggest You to spent 30 minutes in Monteriggioni, a beautiful Medieval town on the road to Siena.

Remember, Florence and Siena are Warm cities, so, be prepared in summer...

San Gimignano (20 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia):

 The Town of towers. It's another must. Unique in the world, it is crowded almost every day of the year. But , it's a joy for your eyes. Half day is ok for the visit

Volterra: (30 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia):

 The town of alabaster, it's the other player of the match. In fact 50% of clients prefer Volterra, the other 50% prefer San Gimignano. of Course there is no a winner, I can say that "in my opinion" , the town of San Gimignano is more beautiful, but the landscape of Volterra is really amazing. Oh, don't forget to buy an alabaster owl in Volterra. It's the typical gift.  Half day is ok per the visit.

You can visit San Gimignano and Volterra in the same day. It's possible, but You will be very very tired at night..

Certaldo (15 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia):

 A town that is not known from mass tourism but it's beautiful! After You pass through its doors it seems to enter directly in the medieval age; it's not crowded, and it's small. So for me it's a good solution to visit something different, close to us, and very typical. Spend just 1 or 2 hours there, no more. Remember, You have to visit Certaldo "Alto"  only (the high part of the town). Certaldo low is modern and there's nothing to say about it.

Pisa (1 hour far from Borgo La Casaccia):

Pisa is "Piazza dei Miracoli" , the square with the tower. But not only the tower: Dome, Baptistery, Cemetary, the whole square is breathtaking; then...stop... don't spend more time in Pisa; Usually I suggest to my clients to visit the square in about 2/3 hours and then drive to ...

Lucca: (1 hr 15 far from Borgo La Casaccia):

A city builded for wars and it has never did a war in its history: so , the architecture of the place is really original and beautiful! You can do a walking tour of the walls, it's a nice experience (by bike also)

If You want to drive a little bit more, and You want to enjoy the seaside (1hr 20 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia), we have the solution!

The nearest seaside is "Marina di Pisa"; but , believe me, if You drive only 15 minutes more You will reach Viareggio and the Versilia Coast that is much more better. Versilia is an "area" on the coast and Viareggio is the biggest town; then, You find several towns next to Viareggio, like Forte dei Marmi, Marina di Carrara,Lido di Camaiore etc... all of these places are along the coast.
Why I prefer Viareggio? Because the atmosphere is really like the "dolce vita"; imagine the road with palms and buildings in liberty style, next to the road there's the parking, then a very long walking path with shops and restaurants and clubs, and then the beach. Remember that in Italy we have "clubs" on the beach. So You have to rent an umbrella, sunbeds and so on (medium price: 30 euro per day). But there are also some spaces where You can sit in the sand for free (In Viareggio this place is next to the Clock Tower, You can see it from every place of the walking path).
So Viareggio is a right solution between sea,shops,comfort etc....
You may ask:  Is the sea clear and beautiful? it depends from the day, but in general it's not the sea that You may find in Sardinia , for example. It's not "the beautiful sea" You can imagine in Italy. For that You have to drive south , for example to Grosseto or Porto Santo Stefano, but it takes 2h30 to get there..

Close to Montaione You find the town of Gambassi Terme (15 minutes far from Borgo La Casaccia); honestly, the town is really small, the landscape is nice, but the town itself cannot be compared to places like San Gimignano , Volterra etc.. but in Gambassi Terme there are The Therms:
Terme della Via Francigena -

Therms are quite small, You will find an open air swimming pool (don't go there for that, Borgo La Casaccia has much more bigger pools ;) ) , a covered and heated swimming pool , and then the "wellness path": Sauna, Turkish bath, Cold Shower . Check the website and I let You decide.

Sometimes You could find (cross fingers) a day of bad weather: rare but not impossible. Some clients asked to me for a place where kids can have "fun with water , but covered"
Here's my suggestion:

Hidron (45 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia, about 1 hr)
Campi Bisenzio, Firenze
It's a big center with: covered swimming pools, Wellness center, Fitness club, open air swimming pool (VERY big) , park, Restaurants and coffee shop. In few words it's an acquatic park that can be used also during rainy days.

It's beautiful to visit places, but what about the experiences You may live? Sometimes they are the most beautiful memories we have about an holiday.  Also from this point of view We have something to offer and I would like to give You my ideas:

Enogastronomy: the top of the top. Wine, Olive Oil, Cheese, Meat, local products.  In Tuscany the range of possibilities is really wide, and it's difficult to say to You :"this is the best place to go" because I haven't experiences every place and , overall, when we talk about "eat and drink" the personal taste is fundamental. However I can give You some suggestions and You will find them in another dedicated post. But,  in a a way or another, While you are in Tuscany, don't miss to visit a wineyard, and to taste local products!

Trekking and Mountain Biking: In Montaione there are 30 Km's of Trekking paths, and Borgo La Casaccia is on one of these paths. Exactly the path number 2. Last year, some mountain bike lovers create a nice website: . They rent bikes and they do guided tours too, but overall , in this website you find a section where ALL of these paths are showed, with distances, heights and so on. Very useful. The APP Wikiloc it's really well done too.
The Track number 2 on which we are it's quite hard. From Borgo La Casaccia by bike it's really difficult, much more better by run.
Remember that the landscape here is "up and down": it could be very hard from people coming from places like Denmark, for example, where the landscape is more "flat". So, don't start Your excursion at 11h00 in July because it could be very hard!
There are Two places for bike rental:
Landhill (3 km far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Via J.F.Kenney 10

or through the website that we already said:

Quad:Yes, we have also this possibility. (5 kms far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Via Leonardo da Vinci 14
There are really several opportunities, from the single rent to the guide tour with lunch outside.
My first experience with Quad was in Lanzarote (Spain) and from then I started to love it. If You want to see countryside from a different point of view it's a good choice. (Not really cheap, take a look at the website for prices)

Guided Tour, Cooking lessons, Truffle hunt: If You are looking for some really peculiar experience I suggest You to trust . I cooperate with them when clients ask me to organize a cooking lesson in Certaldo or San Gimignano and I love to work with Elisabetta and Claudia. They are really professional and clients love them. They have a wide range of tours, not mass-market oriented. The price, as usual is not cheap, but , in my opinion, there's the value for money.

So we have: visits to cities, to the seaside, to therms, visit to  a winery, taste of cheese, Bike tours,Quad Rental, Cooking lessons.... but... Remember You are on holiday so relax Yourselves.
Sometimes enjoy the pools of Borgo La Casaccia, sunbathing while you drink a glass of wine taken from our cellar it's the best way to spend the day.....

Francesco Pellegrini
Owner of Borgo La Casaccia

mercoledì 4 gennaio 2017

Montaione's Nightlife? ... let's talk about it!

Hi Guys, 

Today I'm going to write about Nightlife! Nightlife in Montaione..nightlife in the middle of the Tuscan countryside. Well, before You think I'm crazy , let me explain to You that of course Montaione is not Manhattan! Accommodations are like Borgo La Casaccia; this mean apartments; so 70% of clients in the town are families, and after 22h00 , kids ask to sleep (luckly).  So usually the nightlife is a coffee or an ice cream after dinner..


There are two places in Montaione where You can easily spend the night , drinking , listening good music and have fun

Lo Strettoio Pub (2 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Via Chiarenti 8

It's inside the historical center, (next to the restaurant "Osteria del Pesce Rosso") and it's "the old heart" of Montaione's nightlife. Is there since 20 years and it's an Irish Pub, really well done.
You will enter in a narrow passage (that is the meaning of words : lo strettoio) and after few stairs You will be in the pub, that is big.  Good choice of beers, Cocktails, snacks and so on.

Casablanca Garden Bar (5 km far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Via delle Colline 3

This place (born in 2015) is a  discoteque, a restaurant,a place for listening live music,  Dj's set , apertif. it's famous in the area, people came from Florence to spend the night there, so You can imagine what it mean. Location is panoramic and  there's a parking, but not so big, so You maybe need to park the car along the street.

Then, of course, in Florence you have millions of possibilities , and You will find in internet a lot of informations about Florentine's nightlife .. but remember, Montaione is much more than what You expected!

Francesco Pellegrini
Owner of Borgo La Casaccia