The perfect little villa overlooking the Serchio Valley.

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www.thegregarioushouse.com

 

 

This post has been a long time in coming.  But it is so nice to re-visit this magical place with you months after we first set foot into its charming  walls.  Firstly, I’ll answer what most people ask, “Where/how did you find out about this place?”.   My husband, Matthew actually came across it when he was surfing the internet for local wineries.  (Interesting juxtaposition of today’s high-tech capabilities to expose to us a 300 year old gem!)  The winery owners had bought and renovated the villa in 2004.  It was not cheaper than renting most other villas, but the thought of staying in this out-of-the-way spot intrigued me.  A stay in any villa in Tuscany would be spectacular, I’m sure!  But this is the story of “our” villa, Casa Clara…

We arrived late in the evening as we had driven from Rome with a few stops along the way including:  Pisa, a brief stop in Lucca and any fabulous spot a photo must be taken. (in other words, we stopped a lot!)   With only a couple missed turns, the owner’s written directions and our newly acquired GPS brought us safely, winding up the mountain to our week’s getaway.

You can see the last leg of road leading to the villa where many blissful days and nights were spent here.

There was just enough light for us to find our way to the front door,

allow Matthew two trips back down the hill to the car for luggage,  and then finally a glimpse of our view before darkness completely gave way.

Our first glimpse from the villa bedroom.

There was so much in this lovely little place that we adored.  From the very generous size of the key which opened its very old door…

 to the inside locking mechanisms on the door itself.  (which took me a bit of time to master and I never mustered the muscle to tackle alone.)

The living room  was perfectly sized and smartly furnished.  Only the necessities here: cozy furniture, blankets to snuggle under, and music and books to entertain.   And, of course, charming and romantic.

From this perfectly situated room we had a spectacular view of the stone patio.

And  that was the most gorgeous and (once again) romantic place to enjoy a meal.

One minor issue was that the bathroom  socket didn’t seem able to handle enough electric current for my curling iron.  But I didn’t really mind.  Because each morning I would stand at the window of our bedroom and use the reflection of glass as a mirror to style my hair.  Here you can see the lovely view I was bestowed  with each day.  If only it could have captured the sounds of the children playing in one of the nearby homes, or their mother calling out to them, the sounds of their roosters and chickens or of the morning a gentleman came singing up the road with a long, log of some sort balanced on his shoulder.  Or if there were some way to playback for you my memory of the elderly couple walking back home from the market with their bags in tow   At times I felt as if I’d lived her all my life because this place had begun to feel so much a part of us.  In a short week, we began to know the nuances of the place and expectant of the sights, sounds, smells and the fog hanging over the mountains each morning.  I never woke with the feeling of being out-of-place.   I was always refreshed, peaceful and content.

It was from Casa Clara that we spent the week making day trips to Lucca, Cinque Terra, Florence, Barga, and  other quaint towns.   Each day we eagerly set forth down the trail (from the villa to the car below) to a day filled with adventure .

The trail leading to the villa passes further beyond the home at the top of the photo.

And each night we trudged, tired and happy back up to our nestled nest 1600 feet above the valley.

Taken near our parking area at the first part of the trail up to the villa.

The second night of our stay, when rain threatened as we finished up a bike ride around nearby Lucca, we stopped at a nearby grocery and planned a dinner in.  The view  as we watched the storm move in  over the valley was spectacular to say the least!

We left the eat-in kitchen’s windows open wide to allow the sound and view of the rain in; a feeling of sublimness set in as dinner was prepared.

But before even one bite was taken, Mother Nature bestowed upon us another of her majestic wonders between the opened shutters!

Oh, and she didn’t stop there!  Not only did she provide the entire spectrum of rainbow colors but it was a full arch with its twin shimmering alongside!

High probability of finding a pot of gold!
Double blessing!

This endearing little piece of heaven bestowed on us many moments of tranquility.   There was an olive grove just outside the door for a quiet, contemplative walk.

We could while away a morning or find relaxation after a day of exhilarating  exploration.  Casa Clara provided it all!  On our last night there we wandered into the vineyards just behind her.  The color of the night sky provided a rich backdrop for the ripened suspended fruit.

The next morning, our last morning in this enchanting villa, we lingered further out into the vineyard.  We just couldn’t bear to part from this mountain top.  We allowed ourselves the delight of  tasting some of the ripened grapes.  To describe them would be shameful.  There are no words that could depict their sweetness and it would be spiteful to make you endure it  if we did as nothing I’ve ever eaten has tasted so perfect.  I relished each one and held them like gold in my hand.

Slowly meandering through the rows we came upon other villas of Gromignana; the little town that Casa Clara is part of.

We took in every last moment we could as we finally made our way back to the car.  It was hard to leave these vistas, but Venice was waiting.

There was no way anyone could not enter under Casa Clara’s chestnut beams and onto her terra-cotta floors  without feeling light as air and with any and all worries just dissolving away. The quiet, unhurried pace and serene surroundings steers you to it.   Time melds into long spans of time to contemplate all the wonders but with each minuet morsel absorbed deeply into our conscious.  This was a trip of a lifetime.  And romantic, cherished memories of Casa Clara shall remain in ours for exactly that.

"Our" Casa Clara
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11 thoughts on “The perfect little villa overlooking the Serchio Valley.

    1. Thanks Susan! It truly was the trip of a lifetime…one I would love to repeat. Although I must admit I return often via memories and photos! 🙂

  1. Beautiful post, I shared it with my family, as my grandparents were from Gromignana and we have restored one of the homes that actually appears in one of your pictures. We go there a couple of times a year and have the same feelings for the place that you expressed so well. It was a day brightener to know that someone appreciates this beautiful corner of the Garfagnana. A presto, AP

    1. Grazie, AP! How blessed you are to know Gromignana so intimately! My husband and I were just going through our photos again last night and we are amazed how much that beautiful area has remained such a part of us. We plan to visit southern Italy some day, but we both agree it will be hard not to make a return visit and stay in the villa. I’m so glad you stumbled across my blog and took the time to let me know about your ties to it. It truly made my day! A presto, DeeDee

  2. Hey DD!! It’s Vickie Harris Smith – hopefully Christie has told you we work together…….your trip to Italy looks fabulous! I loved the little chalet in the hills…you have my interest piqued for a wine trip to Italy! It was fun to see pictures of you & Matt – neither of you have changed a bit! Thanks for sharing.
    Vickie

    1. Hey girl! Great to hear from you! Yes, Christie told me. I’m hoping to write a bit more about the trip soon. We had a fab-u-lous time and I’d highly recommend a trip there. (and hoping we get to make a return trip!) So glad you popped in here. Stop by anytime!

    1. Thanks, Sarah! I must say writing this made me wish myself back there again. Hopefully one day we will both find ourselves traveling there once again. Thanks for stopping in!

  3. What a lively trip! You captured it so well here! I want to be THERE!!!
    Thanks for sharing! And it was definitely worth the wait! 😉

    1. lol..thanks Tera! You would so love it. And so would your camera. 🙂 Although we took thousands of pictures sometimes it doesn’t seem we took enough!

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