The Hall (16 sqm), with its impressive traditional Tuscan ceiling of terracotta tiles and chestnut beams, leads from the Kitchen past La Camera Verde (Green Bedroom) to the stairs to the Upper Floor and doors to the garage, storeroom and La Camera Rosa (Pink Bedroom). The floor is laid with original Tuscan terracotta tiles - as is the whole villa, except the oak-floored soggiorno, and tiled ancillary & garage areas. Furnished with a traditional Tuscan wooden chest and photographs, the Hall houses the thermostat for the lower floor temperature controls and is lit by spotlights controlled by dimmer switches.
The bespoke, large farmhouse Kitchen (20 sqm) is fully fitted with Carrara marble worktops and splashbacks, and glass-fronted wooden units above. Doors lead to the Hall and Dining Room, and French windows open onto the Drive and Lower Terrace. With a traditional terracotta tile and chestnut beam ceiling, and original terracotta tile floor, the kitchen is lit by dimmable spotlights and lights under the hand-made units.
A large farmhouse table with 5 chairs stands in the middle of the room, which is lined elsewhere with other shelves and cupboards.
The Kitchen is equipped with:
- Stainless steel Smeg hob, 90cm oven, microwave and dishwasher
- Stainless steel Siemens extractor fan hood
- Stainless Samsung American fridge-freezer with ice-making facilities
- TV linked to central satellite and DVD system (as are all TVs in the villa)
- Food processor, juicer, citrus extractor, whisk and mini-liquidizer
- Full range of the usual manual implements, bowls, dishes, jars, etc.
- Other equipment, plates etc for 14+ settings
The equipment, crockery, etc. envisages catering for some 10-14 persons inside or outside.
Through a door from the Kitchen, with French windows to the Lower and South Terraces, the Dining Room (18 sqm) is furnished with an antique glass cabinet, English antique dining table (seating provided for up to 10), side tables and traditional Tuscan chairs. The working fireplace is flanked by a log basket. Dimmer switches control the lighting. The floor is laid with original terracotta tiles and the ceiling made with the traditional combination of chestnut beams and terracotta ceiling tiles. A selection of prints hang on the walls.
La Camera Rosa (Pink Bedroom), The Principal Guest Bedroom Suite is a large, south-facing room (29 sqm) with French windows opening onto the Lower Terrace, giving direct bedside views to the distant Leaning Tower of Pisa (clearest in winter - bring your binoculars!). This off-white lime-washed room is furnished in pink with fabrics from Busatti, leading designers of traditional Tuscan artisan fabrics. The floors are laid with terracotta tiles. (N.B. the ceiling beams have been temporarily concealed by white plaster in La Camera Rosa and the adjoining area, for local red tape reasons connected with our application for permission to build porticos - see floorplans below.)
A large antique wardrobe will store your clothes and more. The beds may be arranged as a super-king size double or 90cm twins.
An entrance lobby by the window is furnished with a marble-topped antique dressing table. Modern essentials, such as air-conditioning and under-floor heating are included discreetly. A comfortable armchair rounds off the furnishing. Lights are controlled by a dimmer switch. Because of its large size, some of our guests prefer to use this room as the Master Bedroom: it is normally the coolest room in the summer and warmest in the winter.
The En-suite Bathroom, in Carrara marble and terracotta-coloured stucco, includes a walk-in marble shower and under-floor heating, as well as a bathtub with shower, basin, WC, bidet and hair-drier.
La Camera Verde (Green Bedroom), a west-facing bedroom (17 sqm), with hillside views from French windows opening directly onto the Lower Terrace, also furnished in green with fabrics from Busatti, set against light grey lime-washed walls. Magnificent chestnut beams and terracotta tiling adorn the ceiling, completing the traditional feel. The beds may be arranged as a super-king size double or 90cm twins. An antique wardrobe completes the furnishing. Modern essentials, such as air-conditioning and under-floor heating are included discreetly. Dimmer switches control the lighting.
The En-suite Bathroom in Carrara marble, includes a bathtub with shower, basin, WC, bidet and hair-drier and is lined with terracotta-coloured stucco.
The Hall also leads to Ancillary Bedroom 1 (5 sqm), spartanly furnished, with a bunk bed (sleeps two). This room is more suited to short-term guests, kids or staff. N.B. This room does not have a window nor any clothes storage facility. The main fuses for the house are behind the door. In he case of family use, the young-uns normally share their parents' bathroom in La Camera Rosa, which immediately adjoins, or the Master bathroom upstairs if used as a family bathroom (see description of La Camera Grigia, below). If occupied by staff, the Ancillary Shower Room off the laundry is normally used.
Also off the Hall is a door to the Office area (6 sqm), with small desk/table, Epson professional A3 photo printer and paper and other office supplies, beyond which is the entrance to the Garage (20 sqm, which is for the garden tractor and not available for guest parking), off which are storage facilities and the plant room.
Beyond the office is Ancillary Bedroom 2 (5 sqm), also spartanly furnished with a bunk bed (sleeping two) and cupboards, the Ancillary Shower Room (3 sqm), which may effectively be used en-suite with Ancillary Bedroom 2 and the Laundry (5 sqm), equipped with basin and Bosch washing machine and a Bosch tumble drier. Ancillary Bedroom 2 requires the use of an electric heater during winter months, and is serviced by the air-conditioning system (or a fan) in summer.
Tuscany - Villa Macario: Detailed Specification & Floor Plans
Villa Macario is beautifully presented and interior-designed in traditional Tuscan style, touched by modern luxury. All with a tasteful mix of antique and modern furniture (the latter often enhanced with Farrow & Ball paints), plus fabrics from Busatti, the distinguished Tuscan artisan fabric designers.
These are the latest plans, which show new porticos (marked as 1 next to the dining room, and 2 making a new entrance through the office), for which we have just obtained planning permission. We have no plans to construct them for, or during, the current season.
Stairs lead from the Hall to the magnificent large-beamed Soggiorno (living room). The remarkable central feature of the villa's restoration is this splendid room (52 sqm - approx 10m x 5m in dimension). The spectacular central cross beam, and ancillary beams are fashioned from chestnut, supporting the traditional terracotta tile ceiling. (The tiny fluffy toy gnome, which appears to hold the whole structure up, was left there by the builders, as a good omen: he has remained there ever since...) The oak floor is designed to aid the musical acoustics of the room.
The soggiorno is furnished with a sofa, a double sofa-bed, armchairs, occasional and coffee tables, bookcases, Persian carpets and working fireplace. Hi-tech entertainment is provided by a 32" flat-screen satellite Dolby 5.1 home cinema TV system, linked to international programmes by satellite and supported by a 250 DVD film library. In winter months the cushioned teak exterior armchairs and sofa (just visible in one of the photos) provide additional seating within the room. The room also houses a Welmar upright piano, which is available for guests' use.
French windows lead to the Upper Terrace and hillside alley. The small Owner's Kitchen (4 sqm, open to tenants only by special arrangement) also leads off the Soggiorno. A door from the Soggiorno leads to the Lobby/Upper Corrider (8 sqm), off which is a small Guest WC (2 sqm) and French windows to the East Terrace. A corridor leads to the other two bedrooms.
First off the corridor, La Camera Gialla (Yellow Bedroom), a west-facing guest room (17 sqm), with grey lime-washed walls and hillside views from windows overlooking the Lower Terrace, is furnished in yellow with fabrics from Busatti. Magnificent chestnut rafters and terracotta tiling adorn the ceiling, completing the traditional feel. The beds may be arranged as a super-king size double or 90cm twins. An armchair and an antique wardrobe complete the furnishing. Modern essentials, such as air-conditioning, and under-floor heating are included discreetly. Lights are controlled by a dimmer switch.
The En-suite Bathroom in Carrara marble is finished with yellow stucco and includes a bathtub with shower, basin, bidet, WC and hair drier.
Finally, approached through a chestnut-beamed Dressing Room, La Camera Grigia (Grey Master Bedroom Suite), (32 sqm), comprises a large, east-facing room with French windows and railing overlooking the Lower Terrace, also with views to the south through the traditional 'mandolata' barn wall tiles, one of which has been removed to give a keyhole view directly over the olive grove and valley to the distant Leaning Tower of Pisa. The room features cream limewash and grey appointments, including wall-fabrics from Busatti.
The traditional Tuscan farmhouse ceiling, a spectacular blend of chestnut rafters and terracotta tiles, completes an elegant recollection of the simplicity and beauty of historic Tuscany.
A large antique chest of drawers (and wardrobe in the en-suite dressing room adjoining) will store your clothes and more. There is also an armchair. The beds may be arranged as a super-king size double or 90cm twins. Modern essentials, such as air-conditioning and under-floor heating are included discreetly. Lights may be operated using a dimmer switch.
The En-suite Bathroom, in Carrara marble and yellow stucco, includes a walk-in marble shower, bathtub with shower, basin, bidet, WC and hair-drier. (If so desired, leaving the Dressing Room door open enables this bathroom to be used communally, without disturbing the privacy of the master bedroom itself.)
Note: at Villa Macario the four Guest Bedroom suites are en-suite and double beds comprise two twin beds fixed together.
Accessed from the upper floor Lobby, the lawned East Terrace (over the garage) is an excellent place to enjoy the morning sun. A wooden breakfast table and chairs are there to facilitate this.
The large Lower Terrace, paved with local stone, features a large traditional artisan style wrought iron dining table with wrought iron armchairs, and cushions (stored inside overnight), for up to 10, sited on terracotta tiles laid beneath a pergola, fronted with shrub beds and flanked by a small water cistern.
The smaller Upper Terrace (30 sqm), paved in terracotta, lies partially beneath a pergola. It is furnished with teak armchairs & sofas and two marble-topped metal dining tables with 10 metal chairs (summer season). In the summer, the Upper Terrace is generally used for pre-dinner cocktails before guests descend to dine on the Lower Terrace. Both terraces have extensive views towards Pisa (including the distant Leaning Tower).
Grassed paths from both terraces lead up to the 12x6m Infinity Pool with stunning views over house across the plain of Lucca to the Pisan mountains, distant Pisa and (on a clear day) the mountains of Elba (almost 100 miles away). The facilities include children's paddling pool, terracotta patio, paved sun terrace and grassed shaded terrace with sun-loungers and chairs, bench, wooden table and a 5 sqm wooden cappana (to house cushions etc overnight, and also equipped with 2 portable mini-fridges for drinks). The pool complex is protected by a system of fencing (1.2m high), hedges, walls and gates.
The ruins of La Villa Padronale are also closed off by a fence. We are gradually removing all the re-usable parts of this building, in advance of restoration.
Guests are welcome to enjoy some 25 acres of Woodlands, Olive Grove and Disused Vineyard, with traditional terracing and pathways.
Villa Macario is approached by a un-metalled Driveway (just short of 1km, and with short-cuts for those on foot) first running past a seasonal waterfall, then through woodlands and finally olive groves. Occasional lighting is provided from the olive grove to the villa.
- solar-powered under-floor heating system;
- air-conditioning/heating system;
- solar-powered hot water system;
- solar power is supplemented by a gas boiler;
- mains water (filtered) and electricity;
- wireless broadband internet access;
- UK Sky satellite TV system with freeview channel access (Sky Sports package available by special arrangement in advance);
- Italian domestic TV system and FM radio;
- burglar alarm.
Period terracotta-tiled flooring throughout, except soggiorno (oak) and ancillary facilities (modern terracotta tiles); all bathrooms/WCs with stucco walls and Carrara marble surfaces/splash-backs. Marble work-surfaces& splashbacks in the kitchens. Traditional-style chestnut beam and terracotta tiled ceilings in most rooms.
Important notes: you will be holidaying in rural Tuscany, not The Four Seasons downtown!
Villa Macario is a restoration, presented in traditional Tuscan style, not as a city hotel. It is normal in rural Tuscany occasionally to experience water and power shortages, although generally only in extreme weather conditions.
To minimise one such disruption, the owner has sunk a borehole, which provides an unlimited supply of fresh water in addition to the mains water, which we obtained by laying a trenched pipe from the monastery some 800m above the villa. We also installed two 20,000 litre modern cisterns in the woods above the pool, as an additional water-store.
There are legal and environmental restrictions on the extent to which temperatures may be reduced by the air-conditioning. Please do not come to stay at Villa Macario if you are seeking to enjoy the kind of air-conditioning that can reduce the temperature down to the 60s F (high teens C), because we are not permitted to deliver such a service. Our system serves to take the edge off high temperatures, which from mid-June to mid-August can reach into the low 40s C (100F+). Most of our guests do not use the air-conditioning because they prefer to fling open doors and windows, in the spirit of the place. Of course, the air-con system is there and you are welcome to use it. (If it helps you to understand from our own normal practice: we have it on if we are staying at the villa in very hot periods whilst on business, but off if we are in holiday mode.) We also provide fans for overnight use in bedrooms.
The un-metalled driveway runs for a little under one kilometer through woodlands, up through olive groves, with two hairpin bends within 100m of the villa. Although we have surfaced parts of the drive (including the hairpin bends), this is the natural habitat of the Fiat Panda 4x4 (our favourite mode of transport for Tuscany - it helps here to have both 4 wheel drive and a very small car: small is indeed beautiful in towns and villages with narrow streets and tight parking opportunities). Vehicles with very low ground clearance are inadvisable, as the driveway can be very uneven. Those who reserve 4x4s have an advantage (especially if small like a Panda), but they are not essential. In the past, our guests have generally used standard hire cars of all sizes (e.g. from Fiat 500 to Mercedes 9 seater mini-buses/limousines). If there is heavy rainfall during your stay, this is likely to affect the surface of the road, though not render it impassable, and our practice is to effect repairs once the road has dried out sufficiently to enable us to do so. (Never in 7 years of letting has a guest been unable to get to or from the villa, but we prefer to be open about the powers of Nature.)
Because of the rustic location, we have instaled a team of home-bred friendly cats to keep down the mice, but they do not live inside the villa: we are allergic to cats! We welcome guests who bring their own pets, by advance arrangement.
Our contract includes a ceiling on utilities included within the price. This is because utilities, especially electricity, are very expensive in Italy, especially compared with prices enjoyed in the UK, France and the USA. With its modern under-floor heating and solar energy system, Villa Macario can be a very 'green' property. However, if the air-conditioning is used, large bills can easily be run up. For this reason, we reserve the right to charge (at cost) if more than a pre-defined sum has been incurred during your stay.