Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1597: Grifoglia, Barn Apartment
apartments on a farm near Barga, north of Lucca, Tuscany North
June 2005, 1 week
We rented the "barn" at Grifoglia for our June 2005 trip based on the Oct 2003 review we read on this site. I don't need to repeat that review - it was not only accurate but what they don't say is that one week is hardly enough. It's a great place to stay.
You will find yourself relaxing. You may arrive wanting to "tour" - but you will find yourself napping by the pool, chatting with Pietro about gardening and Kerry about life in Italy, watching the mists rise in the morning, picking vegetables, and making simple delicious dinners. Before you know it, a week is gone. We arrived with a tight agenda of hikes and landscape painting in the mountains - the Apuan Alps and the Alpeninnes. Did we accomplish it all? Not even close - for a variety of reasons. But the stay was still wonderful.
Kerry, one of the owners, says that going to Italy is all about your state of mind - if you are open, you will enjoy it, if not, you will be unhappy wherever you go. I agree with this, but I have to say that when you find yourself in a place like Grifoglia with beautiful surroundings, generous hosts, an environment where tourists are few and locals are friendly - it's not hard to have a good experience.
The website for Grifoglia has tour itineraries for Lucca, Florence, Volterra, the Cinque Terre. Lucca is doable - but why think about Florence and beyond when you are in the Barga area? Stay a night or two in Florence, get your mad shopping and "must see" art stops out of your system then come to Grifoglia and relish the change. Instead of Vespas whizzing by - listen to the owls hooting at night. Take short trips to the picturesque villages that aren't in your guidebooks and would not be so lovely if they were. Stop your car at every turn and ponder the little shrines that peek out from mountainside cracks. Hike up an alp to sweeping views and have a luncheon feast at one of the many alpine rifugios. We could have stayed for weeks, exploring and enjoying this special world.
Downside? Well, for those of you who love your SUV's - in this area - less is better! Think windy, narrow one lane roads with steep sides. Think roads so narrow that when you go between buildings you pull up your side view mirrors. Rent the smallest car you can find!
There are a lot of pictures on Grifoglia's website so I will add a different one - Pietro and his pizza oven. A smile and a nice word will probably be all you need to get him to heat it up. Buy some flour and yeast at the market, let the dough rise when you are having a late day swim, top with garden veggies - and you will have a a real Tuscan dinner - and a great Tuscan vacation.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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