A photo journey to a Tuscan villa

Published 12:26 pm Friday, July 22, 2011

This week we will visit the small hilltop town of Castelmuzio in the heart of Tuscany.

You can be there in all its glory too, because I will give you a website and Google links where you can visit this 13th Century town of 200 people, and luxuriate in a newly restored villa opened this spring, the highlight of this visit.

There are more than 30 professional photographs for you to visit on the villa. Read the history of the villa, the town, and the region, visit with the husband and wife team who labored for seven years to offer a real Tuscan experience in unquestionable beauty. After clicking on the website, be sure you scroll down for full information.

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In our trip to Italy covering most of June, we visited Castelmuzio three times, wandering its narrow streets, nodding to the locals, viewing the farms of the valley from a high overlook. Each time, we were the only tourists in this Tuscan Medieval town.

Part of our one week Tuscan stay was in the Agritorismo called Cretaiole near Pienza. It was managed by the same family who restored the villa in Castelmuzio, only a few miles away. Part of our stay included participation in an evening with a professional Italian chef, demonstrating his skills and explaining the food while he prepared for us a seven-course meal.

My daughter, Tricia, and I participated in this event.

The chef prepared the meal at the restored villa in Castelmuzio.

As you go through the website, which I will give you before we leave here today, notice the photos of the kitchen. The chef cooked on a magnificent red gas stove. See the table in the center of the room. Tricia and I and eight others gathered around this table, sampling wines, and discussing the menu as the chef and his teenage daughter prepared the meal. We also were supplied with a printout of all the recipes he prepared that evening. We dined outside on the patio.

At the website you also will meet your hosts, Carlo and Isabella Moricciani, and come into the villa they restored, Casa Moricciani. The villa is designed with two apartments, one up and one down. Each apartment can accommodate two to four people, and each rents for a minimum one week. Through the website, you can request the rates, but be prepared.

Interiors were designed by an award-winning Italian company blending antique and modern Tuscan furniture with draperies, fabrics, marble, stone, lighting fixtures and large modern baths. You will see a living room chair restored to its 300-year-old splendor.

Isabella and Carlo award all their guests in each of their other accommodations with a basketful of products they produce on their farms, which includes white and red wines, extra virgin olive oil, pecorino cheese. It means they are jamming corks on more than 5,000 bottles a year for their guests.

If you stay in the newly restored villa, they will do the grocery shopping for you, plus add fresh seasonal fruits, pastries, fresh butter and bread, locally produced red Orcia Rosso doc wine and Proseco sparkling wine.

How good is that?

To arrive at this small hamlet, you will drive through Tuscan landscapes and farms, through winding and meandering roads, past olive groves and vineyards and unfenced fields of wheat and grains.

You will not see old rusting abandoned cars in yards, mobile homes new or old, trash along the roadsides, ramshackle buildings or shacks of any kind.

You will come to Castelmuzio high on top of a volcanic hilltop, a mesmerizing medieval hamlet with most of its buildings dating back to the 1200s.

OK. Here’re your links: www.casamoricciani.com.

Also, Google Castelmuzio for more about this village. For a photo slide show, click on: villagio di castelmuzio—youtube.

Enjoy your trip.

Jim Smith writes a weekly column for The Post-Searchlight. Email him at bainbooknook@yahoo.com, or phone 229-254-2753.