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Many people have written of San Casciano dei Bagni, one of the bright lights of Tuscany - a perfectly charming hilltop town frequented by the chic of Rome who consider this their private playground. The surprise of San Casciano is the range and quality of your options for a small village. All across Italy, the pressures of a global economy and shifting preferences are changing the way people live, work and shop. This is true here as elsewhere, no doubt. But it is barely visible, making the experience of local village life delightfully appealing to visitors. This town seems to be managing an effective evolution that amplifies the best of San Casciano, its charming dimensions and old-world feel.

The town is tight bundle of rosy beige stone buildings which from the north or west show themselves to be at the edge of the stone perch on which they were built. Improbable, you think, and wonder even how it was all constructed and how you get close enough to check it out. That turns out to be surprisingly easy from the other side, without steps or perilous turns. The village includes an excellent pastry shop/bar, local bread/focaccia maker, bank, two grocery stores, a butcher, a jeweler and a tourist office. plus a couple of gift shops. Daniela the local entrepreneur provides a stylish bread/pizza joint, tableware store, Bar and her eponymous fine dining establishment. San Casciano's piazza is the only one we have ever seen with a panoramic view. The Fonteverde Spa is an elegant and modern addition on the edge of town, with an ancient Roman hot spring plus modern treatments. If you have in mind to adopt a charming small Tuscan village, consider San Casciano dei Bagni.

This southern realm of Tuscany offers you an amiable combination of attractive day-trips to explore the rich history and everyday culture of Tuscany and Umbria. Beyond San Casciano dei Bagni there are other villages for shopping and dining; Piazze, Cetona, Sarteano, Chiusi and Citta della Pieve. Further afield is the spine of villages comprising Montepulciano, Pienza and San Quirico d'Orcia. Montalcino on its own hill to the west and is still very reachable from the ancient 'Cassia'. Siena and Orvieto are both worth including on your itinerary, large and diverse, they are substantial destinations of cultural interest. We recommend visiting Florence by train, a more relaxing alternative. For those with the energy and motivation, there is more than enough to fill your days. For others, the vacation comes from permitting no agenda at all, allowing yourself to simply enjoy the house and your beautiful and private enclave.

The owner of Casanuova San Casciano, himself a landscape and interior designer, purchased these 50 acres for the setting - an oak forest and woodland-covered hill which opens to the spreading countryside below; Monte Cetona, Monte Amiata, Radicofani and the town of San Casciano itself visible from the property. There are no other houses sharing the view, there will be no one dropping by unexpectedly. A rough dirt road brings you up to the top of the hill facing due northwest where the house sits, surrounded by well-kept and impeccably designed gardens. The restrained geometric formality of the gardens is a fabulous accompaniment to the house itself and serves as showcase for the open panorama which draws your eye from wherever you choose to sit or stand. The mustard yellow walls and gray trim are in perfect condition, softened by vigorous climbing jasmine and clematis. the various rough stone garden walls fully integrated into the design. There are potted hydrangeas and flower boxes lining the walkways. and Mermaid roses blooming profusely May through October. The wide lawn beyond the house edges into woodland just below so the trees do not obscure the view.

Everything about Casanuova San Casciano is fresh and impeccably kept inside and out. The carefully structured grounds are fully designed for practical use every day, with ample furniture for each of the four outdoor seating areas to be seriously used and enjoyed. The designer interior combines family heirlooms with good contemporary interior design that is uncluttered and focussed on the details. The linens are carefully pressed and the beds crisp. The local woman who looks after the house is friendly and aims to please, she is also an excellent cook, bringing with her another woman for table service. All together the sense of the place is of a casual luxury that derives from the really delightful aesthetic of the house and the grounds brought together with friendly service. |
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