Villa Granchiaia is a recently renovated property, a long dirt track drive of 500 metres brings you to a mid level positon overlooking the valley. The main building offers 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms all ensuite. The Villa is placed in the municipality of Montopoli in Valdarno (province of Pisa) and was built in the second half of the 18th century as a farmer’s house, then restored in the 20th century and reshaped as it looks now in 2004.
The countryside around the building is typical of the lower valley of the Arno river (which crosses Florence and Pisa and flows a few kilometers far from here): you may see that the surrounding hillocks (covered with woods, or with olive tree cultivation) slope gently down to the plain where corn, barley, maize, sunflower, etc. are grown.
The farmhouse is composed by the main construction, which was modified in order to render our guest’s life more comfortable as possible; the barn, where once the crops were stored and now has become a play area, and finally, the swimming-pool.
a) The main building, a simple square construction, is arranged on two floors. On the ground floor a very large space, which once housed the stable, has maintained its original size. Now a part of it constitutes the living room another part the dining room. They were not separated in order to maintain unaltered the original breadth of the room and the atmosphere given by a solid rustic arch dividing it in two. Two entrances (one from the swimming pool side and the other from the parking side) give access to it. This large space is adjacent to the kitchen, and to a double bed room with ensuite showeroom and a stair case leading to the upper floor. At the top of the stair case one double bedroom is available on the right also with ensuite showeroom while on the left a double bed room communicating with a room with two bunk beds which share a bathroom. Further the stair case will lead you to a small sitting room provided with a rustic fireplace and furnished with a sofa in order to allow a pleasant rest. Besides, this room is adjacent to the last bed room a twin with ensuite showeroom.
b) the barn, once used as a hay and straw shelter, was modified and equipped in a such way to create a wide and suitable place where our guests could play and relax. A ping-pong and equipment are available, and comfortable sitting places to follow from above the game have been drawn from existing structures. The area adjacent to the side closer to the house is covered by a pergola suitable to have pleasant meals in the open air.
c) The swimming pool was built on the side of the Granchiaia area where the slope of the hill rendered it possible. Its surface measures 14m long and 3.5m wide and it is framed by peculiar stones of the region. More externally a rustic wooden base surrounds the pool. This is the area where the bathers may lie on adequate cushions or deck-chairs. Pool towels are provided.
Some historical information of the house it has belonged always to the florentine family of the Baldovinettis (and their descendants) it may be interesting to give some historical news drawn from the family archives. The Baldovinettis presence in Marti, the small country village which may be seen from Villa Granchiaia, is recorded since the beginning of the 15th century. This can be explained by the fact that in such years, Florence conquered Pisa and many country places allied with Pisa, amongst which Marti, at the time an important fortress. Such events caused the complete loss of political strength of Pisa (ruled then onwards by florentine governors), and allowed many important families of Florence (the Medicis, the Capponis, the Baldovinettis, etc.) to install themselves in the Pisa region. The Baldovinetti family increased their properties during the following centuries around Marti, their activity being mainly based on agriculture. The land was runned through an economical system called metayage, according to which all farmers, with their families, lived on the land they cultivated on behalf of the property. Of course they lived in a house that the land owner placed at their disposal and were compensated with a fifty/fifty sharing of the crops. The metayage system came to an end in the late sixties of last century, when the industrialisation of Italy caused a sudden rush of the rural people to industrial towns. No workers were any more available in the country side. Agriculture remained in deep crisis for at least two decades.
New opportunities were then given by the turistic market, whereby many of the houses which gave once hospitality to the farmers, were converted in suitable accomodation.
The name of the house derives from the name of the stream (rio Granchiaia) running in the small valley neighbouring the Chiecina river, affluent of the Arno river. The name of the stream refers to the fact that the water flowing in it was so pure, that crabs (in italian “granchi”) could live and reproduce themselves in huge amounts. It may be said that the valley is also known because of archaeological findings, mainly Etruscan which were collected, described and now exposed in the Montopoli Museum (a couple of km. far).
Marti itself is worth of a visit because of a church (Santa Maria Novella) with admirable frescoes of the beginning of the 18th century. Some suggested excursions from Villa Granchiaia allows the guests to reach easily the most important art-towns of Tuscany. 40 km. far from Florence, 30 from Pisa, 70 from Siena and 50 from Lucca, the Villa is equidistant from the most famous towns. Here, besides Museums, one could visit specialized exhibition of classic and modern art, hear good concert or opera music, make sight-seeing with specialized guides.
Smaller centres, extremely rich in art treasures and expression of a high level civilization, are worth being visited. We suggest towns such as San Gimignano (40 km.), San Miniato (20 km.), Vinci (birthplace of Leonardo, 45 km.), Volterra(60 km). Of course we also suggest to dive in the Tirreno sea, the shores of which are not very far, ( around 40 Km the beaches near Pisa or Leghorn). These are rather popular, if someone wishes a more selected (and less cheap) beaches we recommend those of the Versilia region going from Viareggio to Massa Carrara ( around 80 up to 90 km. from here).
All towels and linen are provided, beach towels are given the change over is every Saturday. Daily maid, babysitter, cook, mobile telephone all on request.
We can organise any sort of activity from wine or olive oil tasting tours, olive picking or wine harvesting, guided tours of the historical towns, cookery courses, pottery classes, truffle hunting excursions, hiking, walks, mountain bike rides. Also daily maid service and cooking services at the villa on request.
The nearest beaches are the ones of Livorno, Pisa about 35 km. Forte dei Marmi, Camaiore, Viareggio is about 1 hour. The most beautiful spot on the coast is Golf di Baratti due to it being a natural bay and a protected area is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Elba is about 1 hour and half drive to Piombino and then an hour ferry across.
The nearest airport is Pisa Galileo Galilei international airport about 30 mins from the house.
Florence international aiport Amerigo Vespucci is around 45 mins drive away from the villa.
Hire car is essential.
Nearest train station in Pontedera, trains to Pisa and Florence every 30 minutes.
The village of Marti is very near by, it has a butcher, baker, little supermarket, newsagent, hairdresser, bar.
Also on the way to Marti there is a larger supermarket.
The area is well served and large supermarkets are all around in Pontedera, San Romano, Empoli, Navacchio.
The area is full of very nice restaurants offering from Pizzeria type cuisine to high end food, Michelin guide restaurants.