[caption id="attachment_926" align="alignnone" width="300"] All breakfasts should be like this one at Napiaia b&b.
I’ve just had a very problematic stay at the Waldorf Palace Rimini: it may deserve a write-up of its own later. The silver lining is that fleeing it brought us to lovely Padova by accident. The stresses of the Waldorf Palace have sharpened my nostalgia for two wonderful places that I stayed in Tuscany recently, as part of the 2013 Wish Versilia blog tour.
The first, Casa Vacanze Napiaia, is hidden away in the tiny village of Metato in Camaiore. Once you’ve parked your car, you follow the rustic stone paths 400 metres up to find the converted stone farmhouse. The guest rooms have a homely but quietly elegant feel, with views of the lush Tuscan countryside outside the window. The house can be divided in two ways depending on your party’s size, either as two or six rooms for bed and breakfast. The swimming pool on site is a particularly special place to admire the view from.
The warm and witty owners Rossella and Amleto ensure that you feel entirely at home, and serve up an inimitable fresh breakfast, laced with great coffee and irresistible local facts. They have, for example, one of the few remaining examples of a “metato”, which was a place to store and dry chestnuts, and which has granted the village its name. They also do their own organic farming.
They set up their oasis five years ago, having bought a house in Metato but wanting views. They certainly got them. Amleto pointed out that on a clear day you can see Corsica far beyond the lovely valley of Camaiore and the glistening blue sea. The more immediate panorama is formed by a valley which was once a lake. He also shared the wonderful idea that the mountain resting supine behind the guest house, Mount Prana, is meant to have an energy, to breathe, indeed, in Sanskrit, its name means “to breathe”. “It’s a magical place” concurs Rossella. It’s no surprise that their steady stream of guests comes from everywhere from Holland to Canada, Germany to Australia.
[caption id="attachment_927" align="alignnone" width="300"] The farmhouse is just as welcoming at night.
The couple were also kind enough to book a table at Osteria Candalla, a captivating and romantic restaurant offering wonderful home cooking just around the corner.
[caption id="attachment_925" align="alignnone" width="300"] Preparing one of the best steaks ever as bloggers look on in awe
Metato is an unbeatable base for walking and hiking this part of Tuscany, and I was sad to leave.
La Casa Del Forte was my next stop, a stunning bed & breakfast run by Francesca Bulgarini, who has quite an eye for style. It’s got a very different vibe to Napiaia b&b, but manages to be just as charming. Francesca and I shared a laugh about a huge sports car show taking place on the waterfront, the joke being that in affluent Forte dei Marmi, you might see twenty Lamborghinis lined up in any regular car park, no need for a show.
The interior of the guest house is beautifully styled. My room was vast, perfectly colour-coordinated, and extraordinarily peaceful, with a large, appealing terrace.
[caption id="attachment_928" align="alignnone" width="300"] View from the terrace at sunset
Francesca undertook a full refurbishment five years ago, creating a really high spec finish in the bedrooms and bathrooms. I left both my vast comfy bed and gleaming power shower with some reluctance.
[caption id="attachment_929" align="alignnone" width="300"] Cured my insomnia for two nights
The generous and tasty breakfast is served in a very light and airy room, with views into the garden.
It’s a relief to be in one of the quieter back streets, Via Francesco Carrara, in chic-but-crazy-busy Forte dei Marmi. It’s still a very easy walk or cycle ride (bikes are available from the guest house) to the sea front and main shopping and dining area.
[caption id="attachment_931" align="alignnone" width="300"] Wallets at the ready, the shopping is legendary.
The walk takes you past streets of pretty but normal houses, a welcome reminder that real people live here as well as the summer jetset. Even so, on reaching the seaside you can grasp what draws the cognoscenti here - it’s essentially an idealised version of every childhood beach holiday, with rugged mountains behind for some scenic drama.
[caption id="attachment_930" align="alignnone" width="300"] It might be obvious by now that Forte dei Marmi sunsets are pretty special.
Though the location of both of these dreamy properties is peaceful, it’s not far at all to such globally recognised hotspots as Pietrasanta, Pisa and Lucca, and after a hectic day taking in all their attractions, it’s lovely to crash back at Napiaia b&b or La Casa del Forte.