The Curious Luca Cava

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Curious Luca Cava

If you’re planning a holiday at any of the fantastic villas in Tuscany, then you may want to consider visiting the nearby Luca Cava. Luca Cava is a place that will certainly make some people curious. Have a think about it whilst you are walking through the charming villages of the Chianti valley! Getting to the Chianti valley from your villas in Tuscany should be fairly straightforward.

The pit’s history dates back to the late nineteenth century and it was created by the owner of a tavern located in the small village of San Gusmè, about twenty-five kilometres north of Siena. His name was Giovanni Boneci and he became tired of cleaning up the streets around his shop that were left full of excrement by the late-night diners. The landlord considered it essential to devise a solution to the problem. He decided to invent some sort of public convenience indicating a specific area where people could ‘free up’ their bodily needs. But he had a problem to be reckoned with as the citizens of San Gusmè were mostly illiterate. So after much thought he came up with the idea of building a small statue of a man intent on carrying out their physiological needs! He placed this on the designated site: now nothing could be clearer than that!

Unfortunately, in the 1930’s other areas around Italy got to know about the ‘pit.’ The inhabitant of San Gusmè were ridiculed and humiliated and so they decided to get rid of the statue and it was demolished.

In the 1970s things changed. Silvio Gigli, a well-known television director, was intrigued by the story of San Gusmè and commissioned a new statue to be built by the potter Marcello Neri. Next to it was placed sign that reads: "King, Emperor, Pope, philosopher, poet, peasant and working-class man in his daily functions. Do not laugh, you think to yourself".

Over the years it has also created a prestigious literary prize entitled “Luca Cava.”

Any holiday at villas in Tuscany would be incomplete without visiting this intriguing place.
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The Mysterious Abbey of San Lorenzo

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Mysterious Abbey of San Lorenzo

Holidays at a Chianti villa rental would be incomplete without a visit to the Abbey of San Lorenzo. The Abbey is located in Gaiole in Chianti. It was founded in AD 1049 by the Firidolfi family but soon came under the Order of the monks of Vallombrosa who were founded by St. John Gualberto. Over the centuries the Abbey had periods of great expansion and it came to have even more power than the nearby abbey of Ardenga Spineta. In 1810, an announcement from Napoleon decreed the suppression of all religious orders. Consequently, the Abbey was emptied and sold off to individuals who transformed it into a farm. After various changes in ownership the house now belongs to the Stucchi-Pinetti family.

The complex itself consists of the monastery, a church dedicated to San Lorenzo and a garden of great value, enhanced by an impressive 20 metre tall cedar from Lebanon which was added to the list of monumental trees in Tuscany.

So what is so mysterious about this place? Well, inside the Church, under the high altar, are housed the mortal remains of Blessed Benedict Ricasoli, who died January 20th of 1107. The tomb, as you can imagine, very soon became a place of worship where devotees would gather. Not by chance, on the night of January 19th, peculiar and unsettling things started to happen to the Abbey. It was reported that you could hear the distant echoes of Gregorian chants and religious services. The luckiest onlookers swore they saw a group of monks in procession paying homage to the Blessed Benedict.

Who knows what you may encounter when you venture out from your Chianti villa rental to explore this mysterious monastery? Today the abbey has been transformed into a Wine Resort. If you require more information, you can visit the official website:
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Visit Chianti’s Brolio Castle

Friday, February 3, 2012


“Castello di Brolio”, Brolio’s Castle is located near Gaiole in Chianti, a small town twenty miles north of Siena. A Chianti villa rental will give you easy, convenient access to this historic monument. The castle was originally Lombard, but little or nothing now remains of its original appearance. From the twelfth century it was home of the Ricasoli family who continue to be the owners to this day. The Ricasoli, one of the oldest Florentine families, immediately engaged in the strengthening and fortifying the castle. The reason for this was the castles location on the border between the territories of Siena and Florence and therefore in the middle of a recurrent struggle between the two sides. Over the centuries the castle became the victim of numerous attacks by the Sienese who for short periods also managed to conquer it.

The recent history of the castle is closely linked to that of the Italian political Bettino Ricasoli, who was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy and also the mayor of Florence. He was nicknamed "Iron Baron" for his ruthless character. In 1835, against many people’s wishes, he entrusted the architect Peter Marchetti to reconstruct the nineteenth-century castle in neo-Gothic style. Baron Ricasoli was a noted scholar of viticulture, the study of and the production of grapes. This is the explanation for why there was an expansion and exploitation of the many surrounding vineyards and the invention of the formula for Chianti Classico, which is virtually unchanged even today.

There is no coincidence that even today the Ricasoli are among the main producers of the great Tuscan wines.

Even after his death, the Baron Ricasoli has continued to be talked about. According to many people it is not difficult to catch a glimpse of his phantom on horseback attempting to walk the walls of the castle followed by a pack of hunting dogs.

But there's more....If you venture to the Baron’s bedroom early in the morning, it is not uncommon to find discarded smoked cigars and empty glasses of wine. Maybe this does not sound too abnormal, yet every time it happens nobody claims to have bought wine or cigars the night before...

It’s worth taking a day out from your Chianti villa rental to explore this impressive castle, which overlooks the southern Chianti Classico countryside. However, it’s important to note that public transportation does not go to the castle outside of the academic school year, so make alternative arrangements before leaving your Chianti villa rental.
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