giovedì 29 dicembre 2016

Useful infos: Public Transportation, ATM, Doctors...

Hi Guys, 

this post could be a little bit "boring".  I'm going to talk about useful places and useful infos in Montaione, and You know, something useful normally is boring, isn'it? ( Probably a winery is more interesting than a post office...).
But during an holiday You may need of this places, so let's have a quickly look.

ATM: life in the Tuscan countryside is not so expensive, and  90% of hotels and similar, restaurants , etc accept credit cards (normally Visa and Mastercard; American express is much more rare). But You may need to take some cash with You, here where You can find ATM machines:

Banca Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze (1,5 km far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Piazza  Cavour 14

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (2 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Via Vincenzo da Filicaja 8

POST OFFICE:  (1,5 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia) Ok, in 2016 probably the post office is no more so important than in the past. But, do you remember the feeling You had when You received a postcard from someone next to your heart? Beautiful...

Poste Italiane
Piazza Cavour 18

PHARMACY: (2 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia).  It's inside the historical center (at the beginning), You can't park in front of it. But You can park few meters far.

Farmacia Priamo
Via Roma 43

DOCTORS AND PAEDIATRICIAN:  (3 km Far from Borgo La Casaccia)
Villa Serena
Viale da Filicaja 18
From Monday to Friday: You can reserve an appointment by phone (0039 0571 878582) or You can go directly there and wait for your turn. Visits start from 09h00 until 17h30
On Saturday,Sunday and on public holidays (and the day before):
In Montaione at the Health Centre in Via Filicaja 18
On Saturday and day before public holidays: 10h00 - 13h00
On Sundays and Public holidays: 08h00 - 13h00
In Certaldo at the Health Centre in Piazza Macelli 10
On Saturday,Sunday and on public holidays: 16h00 - 19h00

This is difficult. You have to consider two things: - that We are in Italy - that We are in the countryside.
So You can't expect a wide range of service , and You absolutely need your car. This is really a must. Sometimes some clients arrive here at Borgo La Casaccia without car , but after some hours They decide to rent it. The problem is that the nearest Rental is in Pisa or Florence.. so, if You really want to enjoy your holiday , remember the car!
Moreover , places like San Gimignano, Volterra, Certaldo etc... are beautiful but small medieval towns. So No public transport there.
Don't consider Taxi; only one (yes ONE) exist in the area and it's in Castelfiorentino. As You can imagine it's always busy.
Don't consider busses: They depart next to Cafè "_I Divino" (Piazza Cavour 22)  but there are few lines.
The only Public Transport You can really enjoy is the Train.
The Train station is in Castelfiorentino (12 Km far from Borgo La Casaccia) and from there You can easily take the train to Florence and to Siena (You can check timetable at: Remember to chose only direct trains (where You don't have to change train) and rememeber that the "Santa Maria Novella" train station is inside the historical center of Florence; outside the train You can start to walk and to visit the city; Siena Train station is 15/20 minutes walking distance outside the historical center. Consider this when the temperature is high or when You have kids with You.

You can buy train Train Ticket in :
Agenzia Beautiful Travel
Cafè Stazione
Cafè Ridolfi  
All places are in Via Ridolfi near the station, or by the cash machine inside the train station (You need cash, no credit card).
How to reach Castelfiorentino Train Station:
From La Casaccia, outside the dirt road.
Turn right , direction Montaione Historical Center.
Follow the main road.
Then The road starts to go down.
When the downhill finished you turn left (there's the sign "Castelfiorentino" ) .
You follow the road for about 8 Km. Then you find a Stop Signal
Turn Left
Go ahead and turn left at the first traffic light you see.
You are in Castelfiorentino. Go ahead you find the train station
You can left your car in the park near the station

 PARKING:  But if You prefer to go there with Your car (I can understand with infants, or rain, train could be not the easy solution) here You find the best parking:

Best Parking in Florence:
Piazza della Stazione
The parking is big (3 levels underground) and really in the heart of the town (it's under the Train Station)
Euro 3 per hour 

Best Parking in Siena:
Parking  “Santa Caterina”
It’s near the “Duomo”  and near the historical center
There is a direct link to the center with mobile-stairs
Address: Via Esterna di Frontebranda –
3 floors
512 parking slots
Open H24
2 Euro per hour

Parking “Stadio-Fortezza”:
It’s in the area “Fortezza Medicea”. Close to the historical center and to the stadium “Artemio Franchi”

2 floors
709 parking slots
Open H24
Two entrances:
SIDE “FORTEZZA”: Closed on wednesday
SIDE “STADIO” :Closed during footbal matches of the team” Robur Siena”
2 Euro per hour

Well I think it's enough .. a lot of informations here, but of course , You can always ask to our reception for more and more questions.. 

Francesco Pellegrini 

mercoledì 28 dicembre 2016

Restaurants: the hard choice

Hi Guys,

this post is difficult. I'm going to write about restaurants; and in a land like Tuscany, where enogastronomy is one of the biggest cultural heritage that We have , it's an argument to treat with respect.
Here I simply collected the nearest restaurants to Borgo La Casaccia. Trying to speak about them in an objective way.
We have to remember the personal taste, and the fact that , generally speaking, the quality is medium high almost everywhere. It's very rare to have a very bad experience in the countryside; in Florence? pay attention, in Siena? Pay attention , but here the risk is low ; Remember also that restaurants in Montaione and surroundings are both for locals and turists. There are no "traps for tourists".
And for the moment, prices are ok , pay attention with the wine that could be very expensive

All restaurants are really close to us; sometimes my clients ask me: "why don't you create a restaurant inside the Borgo?"  But the nearest restaurant is 60 seconds far by car ... So I prefer to maintain the core business and let restaurateurs do their job, probably much more better than me.


Via Mura 19 
Tel: 0039 0571 677 130 
Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn left.
After 2 Km on the right (pass an orange speed trap camera)  you find the restaurant. Typical Tuscany dishes (no fish no pizza).  Very good quality, good prices, typical atmosphere. (price 20/25 euro per person)


Via Chiarenti 46 
Tel: 0039 0571 69552 
Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn right, direction historical center.
Follow the road , you pass a "Stop"  signal and go ahed. You find the sign of the restaurant  on the walls at your right. You have to park the car (I suggest you to park in the main square, near Bar Aione) and enter in the historical center by foot.
You find meat, fish and also pizza.  Good quality place with "large areas"  useful for children.
For me it's the best choice for the first "dinner outside". Because it's inside the historical center (so You see also the town) and it has a nice panoramic terrace. (price 18/30 euro per person)


Via Chiarenti 14 
Tel: 0039 0571 69 010
Same direction as   I CIAMPA. You find the restaurant in the historical center.
it's quite small and the reservation is a must. Very good fish specialities, they have also some meat-dishes but the choice is small. (The seaside is only 1 hr far from us, so it's not a surprise that they have fresh fish). (price around 30/35 Euro per person)


Viale Vincenzo da Filicaja 65
Tel: 0039 0571 69 7888
Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn right. You follow the road and as the road began to go down you find the restaurant at your left. You find both meat and fish and the quality is very good. The atmosphere is a little bit more "old style" than the other. Excellent list of wines. (Price around 30 euro per person) 


Via San Vivaldo 21
Tel: 0039 0571 69264
For this restaurant You have to drive a little bit more (15/20 minutes).Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn right. You follow the road  and you will see that at a certain point  the road go down. At the and of this road   you find a sign "San Vivaldo" . Turn Right. You follow the road and after some Kilometers you see at your left a chapel. At that point you have to turn right and you will find the restaurant after 300 meters on your left.   Typical Tuscany Dishes, Good quality, Country atmosphere.   Need reservation  because it's very busy. This is really a "Trattoria", simple location. (price around 20/25 per person)


Via Leonardo da Vinci 73
Tel: 0039 0571 697941
 Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn right. You follow the road  and you will see that at a certain point  the road go down. You have to go ahead, direction Gamabssi Terme. Follow the road again and , after the curve, You will see an oil station. The restaurant is there. Yes, inside an oil station and I can imagine your thoughts. But believe me the experience is good. The restaurant is sophisticated, modern and dishes are accurate. (Price 35/40 euro per person)


Via John Fitzgerald Kennedy 
Tel:0039 0571 697866
 Outside the dirt Road, you have to enter in the main road with asphalt and turn right. You follow the road and as You will see that at a certain point  the road starts to go down. Turn left in the first road You see (it's a very small one) and then find parking. The Restaurant is in front of You. Here You find pizza , pizza and more pizza. The owner is expert in Vegetarian,Vegan,Gluten free diet. The location is very simple, they have a big choice of pizzas. (price 20/22 euro per person).

Then You can imagine there are hundreds of restaurants simply driving 10 minutes more, I haven't experienced every place and consider that part of the holiday could be also to try new and different solutions. ( depends from childrens, probably..) 

Finally Remember: if You find some nice and good places...let me know!!!!   

Francesco Pellegrini 

martedì 27 dicembre 2016

The Coffee-Bar: The Must of the Italian Lifestyle .. and the ice cream too

Hi Guys ,

in this post I'm going to talk about the "heart" of Italian Life-style.  A place  that YOU MUST visit at least once , if You want to experience the Italian way of life:


It's more than a place where to drink a coffee. It's the place where people meet together to speak about (in this order) : - Sport (90% football) - Politics  (90% against the government doesn't matter what part it is) -Personal facts of other people in the town - General Gossip.
Of course it's a meeting place for friends , but it's also the place where You can meet new people , new friends, build new relationship and maybe You can find the love of your life (very rare ..)
So, the bar it's part of the culture of Italian people, Bars are crowded in the morning for breakfast ("un pezzo dolce e un cappuccino" is the standard ordination; it means: a cappuccino and a small pie) for lunch (You can't really finish a lunch without an Espresso) and at aperitif time (there's a great choice of aperitif , my best choice is "Negroni" or a glass of red wine)

But , the ordination, in an italian coffee bar is not so simple, what it means "a coffee"? Well we have:

- Espresso: it is my favorite. It's strong, served in a tiny cup. Usually I drink 3/4 espresso coffee per day. I LOVE it

- Caffè Macchiato. It's an espresso with a little bit of milk. Of course the flavour is sweeter and not so strong. Pay attention: it could be "caffè macchinato caldo (warm)" or "caffè macchiato freddo (cold)"; it depends from the temperature of the milk.

- Caffè Corretto: it's an espresso with an alcoholic beverage. Usually Sambuca or Grappa, but You can ask, it depends from your taste (if You ask Caffè Corretto with wine probably You will receive looks that kill)

- Caffè Latte : Hot milk and coffee. A perfect Breakfast beverage.  "Latte e Biscotti" (Milk and Biscuits) is the must

- Cappuccino: You know. Espresso with milk foam , served in a large cup. It is the king of Breakfast

The "social role" of the Bar exist in every part of Italy: From North to South, from Milan to Naples. But , You can imagine, in small towns like Montaione this role is much more strong.
Really ALL the town meet itself inside bar: Young and old.

and of course, There are several bars in Montaione.  Distance from Borgo La Casaccia (1-2 Km)

Bar I divino

Piazza Cavour nr 22
It's the easiest to reach, and the one You can't miss. With Your car You will pass in front of it many times, because it's in the main square, from where starts all directions.
It's small , with a gazebo outside where You can sit. The heart of the town, ruled by young local girls.

Bar Tuba

via Ammirato nr 38
Inside the historical center, so You have to park your car (for example in Via Vincenzo da Filicaia, in Piazza Antonio Gramsci or in Via Aldo Moro (Coop parking) ) and reach the bar by foot. Only 5 minutes , and it's a nice walk in the historical center

So, You have a choice , I can't tell You which Coffee Bar is the best, because it's really a personal taste, the quality is medium-high everywhere.
I still rememeber that some years ago,  an American client spoke to me at the end of the day :"Francesco, we had such an amazing time! Walking in the narrow streets , seating in the square and take a coffee under the sun, it was amazing" . At that moment I understood the meaning of working in tourism: What is standard for me, it's an experience for another and viceversa. So , the password is: Experience. Try it, take an italian coffee, and then we will talk about it

Very often, in a coffee bar You can ask the ice cream.  The ice cream is another italian must and You can find it, as we said, in coffee Bar or inside the "gelateria" that is the place where You can buy only ice cream or similars (cakes or Yoghurt with Nutella...yummy....)
In Montaione I loved the ice cream from "I Divino" bar , or, if You want to drive a little bit more, I suggest You to visit San Gimignano and there You find:

"Gelateria Dondoli"

Piazza della Cisterna 4
San Gimignano
is inside the historical center and it's the ice cream world champion for years 2006/2007 and 2008/2009.
Try's amazing , but be prepared to wait a little bit in line; San Gimignano is crowded, and the gelateria too.

My personal taste? Stracciatella  (milk cream with small chocolate pieces), Hazelnut and dark chocolate....what else?

Francesco Pellegrini
Owner of Borgo La Casaccia

lunedì 19 dicembre 2016

Supermarkets in Montaione

Hi Guys,

One question that You may have in Tuscany’s Countryside is:

How far are we from any kind of services?

In effect , the risk could be that  You sleep in a beautiful place (for example a beautiful villa) but  “in the middle of nothing”. And You have to drive at least 15 minutes for an ice cream or a coffee.
This could be a part of the holiday, when some people prefer to stay in an accommodation far from everything or everyone, but very often this isolation could be a problem.

Here at Borgo La Casaccia we have apartments. And apartments mean a self -catering solution. Moreover, at 90%, apartments mean families, and families mean kids.
In few words:  You absolutely need services: Supermarkets, Shops, Cafè , Restaurants, banks, pharmacy and so on

Well I’m happy to inform You that we are 800 meters /  1 Km far from Supermarkets, cafès, restaurants, historical center etc… This is one of the most important “point of strenght” of Borgo La Casaccia:  The proximity to services.

Now, Let’s talk about Supermakets:  It seems strange to say it , but in a small town like Montaione we have two supermarkets.
This happens because the town is  very famous from the touristic point of view, and from May to September we have an huge number of visitors.

Supermarket nr. 1
Via Comiti 12
It’s inside a small commercial center called “I Cipressi”

It’s the biggest Supermaket in Montaione and  You can reach it from Borgo La Casaccia in about 20 seconds… The parking is big and Just in front of the Supermarket.  You find a good bakery and meat angle, while there is not the fish-area .
This Supermarket has a nice history:  Two years ago the  situation of this Supermarket was difficult and the employees risked to be fired. So they decided to buy the activity by themselves and now they rule the Supermarket. The case has been showed  in national TV too.
In the commercial center “ I Cipressi”  You find: A Cafè (ok also for brunches at lunchtime), a Clothes Shop, a Coffee-machine Shop and a small inflatable game.
Opening Time:
Monday - Saturday : 09h00 - 20h30
Sunday: 09h00 - 13h00 / 16h00 - 20h30 

Supermarket nr. 2
Via Aldo Moro 4
It’s a little bit smaller than Pam, but prices , generally speaking, could be a little bit lower. They have a good bakery and Meat angle, but they don’t have the fresh Fish angle. The parking is enormous and in front of the Supermarket.
Coop in Tuscany is an institution , it’s probably the most powerful Supermarket chain in Italy.
The Supermarket is located just outside the historical center. So the parking could be a nice solution if You want to visit the historical center of Montaione
Opening Time:
Monday - Saturday: 08h00 - 13h00 / 15h00 - 20h00 
Sunday: 08h30 - 13h00 

Outside Montaione there are other solutions:

Just 12 Kms far from Montaione You find the town of Castelfiorentino and You find: 

Via Leonardo da Vinci 36 

The Supermarket is very big and You can find  almost everything. Honestly You don't really need this Supermarket during a 7-nights holiday in Montaione, but for a more complete shopping experience is nice. For example I go there when I want to eat some particular thing like Swordfish tartare or particular brands (for example some particular toothpaste..ehm ..) 

Finally, the definitive shopping experience is in the town of Empoli (40 minutes far by car) 
Via raffaello Sanzio 199 

This is a big commercial center: there You find: Shops, cafès, restaurants, Supermarkets, pharmacy and so on. In effect it's not "typical" or "local" but it's a good way to spent half a day and buy something, for example during a boring , rainy day. Empoli Itself is nothing special. A modern and commercial city. There are some nice clubs for a drink at night but , during a short holiday, I can't reccomend the visit of this town 

So, this is an overview about the supermarkets in the area, and now You know  You are not alone!  Next posts will talk about other kind of shopping (because it's nice to buy vegetables at Supermarket but probably it's much more nicer to look for a bottle of wine in between wineyards..) 

Francesco Pellegrini 
Owner of Borgo La Casaccia

mercoledì 14 dicembre 2016

The bakery and the bread

Hi Guys,

at the age of 36 , Here's my first blog of my life and I hope that it will be useful and "understandable" in my bad english (in the end, don't forget that I'm italian..).

So,  Why You Should read another blog, even written by someone that is not use to do it?
Well, as owner of a Touristic accommodation, I tried to imagine a "standard week" of an Hypothetical Client, (maybe You)  and the questions that he will might ask at reception.

So, the aim of these few lines is to show to my  clients , where can they go, Where they can buy some things, in few words, what is possible to do during an holiday at  Borgo La Casaccia .. let's start...

DAY 1 

You  wake up in Your bed  (ehi yes, for this week the place is yours) and soon You have to arrange the first meal of the day, the Breakfast!

A very common question from my clients is

"Where Can I buy bread?"

The easiest solutions are:

"La Bottega del Fornaio
23/A Via da Filicaia".
From Borgo La Casaccia the distance is .... 30 seconds by car; From the parking,  drive the dirt road, enter in the main road with asphalt. Turn right and follow the road. You will find a stop signal, let's go ahead again and follow the road; There is a panoramic terrace with a monument, then a Cafè called " I Divino", go ahead again and , on the left, You will find the bakery "La Bottega del Fornaio". In front of the bakery there's a bank office.... You never know...

The other solution is:
"L'Arte del Pane
10 Via Garibaldi", inside the historical center of the town. If You like to walk a little bit (3 minutes) You can park the car next to the cafè "I Divino" and walk in the street that You find in front of the cafè. After 50 meters there is the main square of the town (with the Church of San Regolo, not so special, but nice to see if open) , and then there is the Bakery.

Moreover, in both Supermarkets of Montaione (I'll talk about them in another post) You find the "bakery angle"

Bakery in italian is  PANETTERIA , in case You need to ask someone; Montaione's inhabitants are able to speak english or German or French, but this happens in shops, restaurants and so on... along the streets You could have some interesting conversation...

But I can tell You that the tuscan bread is made without salt. Unique in Italy. This because of the salt blockade enforced by Pisa during the numerous wars between the medieval city-states in the 1.100. So people simply stopped to add salt in the bread. You can think that, in next 1000 years Tuscans would have the feeling to put salt back again into the bread. No! Tradition is tradition , and this explain to You a lot of things about Italian people ;)

Francesco Pellegrini
Owner of Borgo La Casaccia