Il Casale is in fact, two charming old stone houses, almost side by side and a 15 minute walk from the bustling centre of Cortona. The houses are offered as a matching pair and together sleep up to 10 people (5 bedrooms & 5 bathrooms). Il Casale di Cortona, with simply stunning views, offers the perfect blend of pleasant privacy with happy togetherness for a large group in search of a seriously stress-free holiday.
Frances Mayes loves Il Casale - and no wonder, it was her comfy refuge while the builders made mayhem restoring Bramasole, the house she made famous in her book "Under the Tuscan Sun". Frances learned the ins and outs of life in Tuscany from the wonderful couple who own Il Casale (which is a short walk from Bramasole). Paola and Lapo, farmers and shepherds for 4 generations, make cheese, wine and olive oil on their farm 2 km. from Il Casale (Paola was born and grew up at Il Casale and is a mine of local lore). Lapo is a master cheese-maker and he'll be delighted to show you his skills! Paola is a fine cook and she'll be every bit as delighted to cook you dinner (45 euro per person with abundant "house" wine included) or give you cookery lessons (65 euro per person includes your culinary masterpieces for supper). Lapo keeps rabbits, hens and donkeys and he's even created a little museum dedicated to Tuscan farm life on the family farm - and you'll ve very welcome to vist. Frances Mayes learned much from these caring owners and their two daughters. You'll find Paola and Lapo will also take you under their wing and generously share their Tuscany with you. A holiday at Il Casale isn't just about a lovely villa in stunning surroundings, it's about stepping into an authentic Tuscan experience that will fill you with happy memories for years to come !
When you arrive at Il Casale you'll find the office first - a handy spot with a computer and printer that you're welcome to use. The office is also liberally stocked with Paola's and Lapo's home produced goodies. You simply help yourself to wine, grappa, vin santo and their olive oil as you need - make a quick note in the office diary and pay at the end of your holiday. If you want to rent a bike, book in for horse riding, call a cab or organise baby sitting while you indulge in romantic fine dining in Cortona, your capable hosts will fix it for you.
Having checked in on arrival, you'll want to settle into your new homes. "Villa Wisteria", where Paola was born, dates from the 14th century and seeps up to 6 guests in its 3 bedrooms (each with en suite bathroom with hairdryer). This handsome old house is beautifully renovated to offer you every comfort. The front door opens into the sitting/dining room. Terracotta floors, a huge old open fire and solid oak beams maintain the ancient atmosphere while the satellite TV, air con and wifi bring the 14th century into the 21st century. The kitchen is across the hall and it's small, but brilliantly well equipped with its oversize oven, dishwasher and huge stone sink (check out the photos!). There's a fine double bedroom just beyond the sitting/dining room. This is the Blue Room, with a canopied double bed and an en suite bathroom in hand made, rose coloured tiles. Head downstairs and you'll find the ancient olive oil store has been transmogrified into a smart lobby. If you ask in advance, a single bed can be squeezed into the lobby if you need space for an extra guest. Off the lobby there's a twin bedded room (note the antique bedside tables which once served to spin the wool used to make winter clothes). Naturally, there's an en suite shower room, while across from this bedroom there's another double bedroom with its own bathroom with extra large shower. Both of these bedrooms have doors opening directly out to the terrace for those intent on popping over to the pool for a late night or early morning dip.
"Oak Tree Villa" is a century or two younger than the other house and sleeps up to 4 more guests. Double doors open from the sitting room onto the long garden, with views from the terrace down to the pool. The sitting room is spacious with its working fireplace handy for cooler evenings, satellite TV and wifi of course. The kitchen/diner is tucked into one corner of the sitting room and it's nicely equipped with all you could need. Two short flights of stairs take you to the top floor and a cute double bedroom and a pretty bedroom with twin beds. Both bedrooms have en suite bathrooms with showers. The atmosphere is one of old world charm with lots of nice, traditionally Tuscan touches like old fashioned wash-stands, a framed fan and even a cunning ladder which once gave access to the otherwise carefully guarded pantry - strictly out of bounds to all but mama, who had to ensure summer's hoarded bounty would see the family through winter!
Il Casale di Cortona offers every comfort, stunning views and outstanding owners who will work hard to ensure you get only the best from your next trip to Tuscany. Don't take our word for it, check out Frances Mayes book "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" and you'll see Lapo's wine and his advice on how to use ricotta cheese are featured! Cortona itself is a handsome hilltop town looking down on Lake Trasimeno, just across the border in Umbria. You'll get the best of stunning Tuscany and picturesque Umbria and you'll have wonderful hosts ready and willing to ensure this will be a truly memorable holiday!