It is impossible not to fall in love with the garden at Casa San Mario; the big chestnut tree offering shade on a hot summer’s day, the terracotta patio where hours can be spent enjoying a lazy lunch or dinner, the generous pool where you can cool off after a morning spent exploring Volterra, or, as in the case of my daughters, topping up a tan.
Younger children can enjoy making dens in the garden or exploring the shaded woods, and when the sun sets the whole family can take part in hotly contested ping-pong tournaments on our floodlit ping-pong terrace. For a unique experience, the garden boasts a truly Italian pizza oven, where we enjoy making pizza and bread.
The house is a large, classical Tuscan farmhouse. Because of its traditional building style and airy rooms the house stays pleasantly cool, even in mid-august. It is ideal for both adults and families, and has 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, as well as a separate toilet in the utility room. There is a living room upstairs, equipped with a large fireplace, where in the cooler seasons it is pleasant to play cards and chat, and two smaller sitting room/studies downstairs. Our favourite room in the house is the very large farmhouse kitchen and dining room downstairs, this room has a 14 seat hardwood table, and once the sun has gone down it and the adjoining terrace are often the hub of the house.
Volterra (4km from the house) is a very attractive, small hilltop town. The road from the house offers breath-taking views of Tuscany. Volterra was founded in pre-Etruscan time and flourished in the Etruscan period. It became important again in the Renaissance. Our house happens to be on the Roman unmarked road that leads to Florence. There is an impressive Etruscan Museum and a small, very pleasant, Art Gallery.
Walking in Volterra is always a pleasure thanks to the medieval architecture (fans of Twilight may recognise the piazza!), and there are plenty of interesting shops selling Italian leather, shoes, and clothing. There are also small grocery shops selling local produce, as well as a fantastic farmers’ market on Saturdays. If you are tired you can take a break at one of Volterra’s many cafes (we recommend l’Incontro, where you can have a proper Italian cappuccino, homemade ice-cream or pasticcini, and after dark enjoy wine tasting or sample their delicious cocktails).
The house is also close to Pisa, Florence, Siena and San Gimignano, as well as many interesting vineyards and farms. Why not explore Dante’s birthplace, or visit Fattoria Lischeto – supplier to Harrods – for a traditional Tuscan lunch, followed by a cheese-making class? And after a hard day sight-seeing, return to the beauty and tranquillity of Casa San Mario.
The house can accommodate up to 12 persons in comfort. Upstairs, on the first floor, there are three bedrooms with bathroom en suite and a large sitting room. Downstairs there are a large kitchen-dining room, a small kitchen and a living room, and two bedroom with one bathroom, and a utility room. Please see the house plan in the Photos section.
Swimming pool (Open May to mid October) seventy-five metres from the house. Green mosaic tiles. Width: 5m. Length: 13m. Depth from 1.4 to 2.6m. Surrounded by solarium of local stone and sandstone rocks and by the side of a small Oak wood providing shade.
Garden: Mature shaded garden and trees around the house, further away newly planted fruit orchard and open fields.
Garden and pool furniture. Barbecue, washing line, parking, table tennis table and bats, traditional bread and pizza oven.