'Looking across from Quintino it is as though someone has created an idyllic landscape especially for this house. In the far distance a row of black cypresses are silhouetted across the sky-line like carefully painted brush strokes. They appear to have no trunks, their bodies are suspended in the sky. Below them hills roll forward one after the other until details of olives, vines and woodlands take on green clarity, each one more inviting than the other.' (Invitation to Tuscany)
Is it for you?
Casa Quintino is not a normal tourist villa, but a unique home, lovingly restored by the owners to combine the timeless elegance of the Tuscan landscape with an ethnic taste, enhanced by paintings and furnishing from a lifetime in Africa.
The tranquility of Casa Quintino will only appeal to genuine nature lovers looking for their own space in the depths of Arcadia, away from the crowds, a place condusive to reading, writing, painting or if you are a musician, tinkling away on the old piano. There are no noisy neighbours, no shrieking kids in swimming pools, no motorways nor man-made sound to disturb the deep velvet silence of this hidden valley where the nightingales still sing in spring.
Volterra, the hill top Etruscan fortress, can be seen from Casa Quintino, etched on the skyline the other side of our valley. To get to Volterra, our entertainment centre, it is a 25 minute drive up a spectacular winding road whilst the nearby village of Gambassi Terme only 8 kms away is more convenient for household shopping. Heading north towards Florence, the fascinating medieval hill-top town of San Gimignano, one of the most popular tourist destination in Italy, is 20 minutes by car. Being just one hour equidistant from Florence, Pisa and Siena, Casa Quintino is truly in the heart of the cultural triangle of Tuscany, and yet for sun lovers, it is only an hour away to the goldern beaches at Cecina which stretch along the Etruscan coast to Popolonia. Ferries from Piombino and Lovorno go to Islands of Elba, Sardinia and Corsica. Cinque Terre, a spectacular stretch of five picturesque cliff-top villages, the 'Greece of Italy', is only a few euro away by train towards Genoa.
Cas Quintino consists of two seperate floors with their own entrances:
Le Stalle on the ground floor and Il Refugio on the 1st floor, both with the same spectacular view onto the hidden valley below. The whole house, Casa Quintino, sleeps 11 comfortably in four double rooms and is rented in its entirity. There are no nearby apartments so the whole valley is yours.
Il Refugio, with its own entrance to the first floor, provides space for a family and friends and can sleep up to 9 including 3 pull out beds. As in all farmhouses, you enter straight into the living room with traditional fireplace and a newly refurbished kitchen . The masterbedroom, has a kingsize four-poster carved Lamu bed, and there are two large (5x5m) twin bedded rooms with 3 extra pullout beds plus a newly retiled bathroom with shower, basin, wc, bath & bidet.
On the ground floor, Le Stalle were the original animal stalls typical of Tuscan farmhouses. The renovation has retained their unique features: the old travertine steps and double vaulted ceiling, and even the manger where the cows were originally fed, has been incorporated into storage space under the working surfaces in the kitchen. A round teak table made of railway sleepers, seats 8 on antique church chairs.
The large master bedroom (5 x 5m) is fit for a honeymoon, opening straight onto a long shady patio, with views across the valley. The living room is spacious (10 x 5m) including a piano, and the dinning area with large well equipped kitchen. Three arched doors open onto a long covered patio, overlooking the cypress circle and gazebo, water garden and unspoilt valley below. This room is where cooking courses are run three times a year.
To sit on the patio with a cool glass of wine, watching the moon rise over a classic line of cypresses is an experience you will never forget, especially in June when millions of fireflies light up the valley.
The property is on an ancient footpath through the oak forests used by crusaders walking from the monastry of San Vivaldo, heading south to Rome, and is on the 'white truffle route' which runs through Tuscany. The hardy friars are said to have built a small hermitage on the site of Quintino near the ancient spring that still flows below the house. Over five centuries later we can appreciate their labours from the amount of travertine stone blocks excavated from an ancient quarry to build the dry stone walls around Quintino. They also excavated a cave (cantina) in which they kept their food, wine and olive oil cool. The ruins of their tiny chapel of St Lorenzo can still be seen in the olive grove above the house, a good spot for a sundowner! When Quintino was built some 200 years ago, much of the stone seems to have been taken from the ruined chapel.
Despite the modernisation of farming, life continues as it has always done in Tuscany, with the seasons revolving around the production of olives, wine and wheat. Although only one kilometer from the main tarred road to Volterra (Via Volterrana, SP4), Casa Quintino still retains the isolation of those early hardy Eruscans who first settled in this fertile valley supplied the fortress city of Volterra with barley and wheat, two thousand years before Rome was even founded!
Casa Quintino was abandoned during the 2nd World War. It was in a state of total ruin overgrown with brambles, a fig tree growing through the roof, when it was brought by Anthony and Juliet Waterkeyn, a Southern Africa / British family in 1989.
Night Life and Wild life
There is no shortage of entertainment in the long balmy summer evenings. Every town puts on special events There are summer festivals held in the main squares of both Volterra and San Gimignano, where there is continual open air opera, jazz and drama. Volterra has a festival of light in July and two Medieval weekends in late August, when the locals convert to life in 1398. In nearby Liatico the internationally loved singer Andrea Bocelli, gives a unique concert at his own estate in late July. The summer long music festivals at Lucca and Fiesole, near Florence are also within range with a line up of top artists.
There is plenty of wild life at night in the forest around Quintino. Returning home along the farm road to Casa Quintino after a night out it is not uncommon to see foxes, deer, badger, porcupines and large families of cingiali (wild boar) in the glow of your headlights. There are hunter's hides below the house from where you can watch wild animals pay a nightly visit to our 'hog wallow', which can been seen with flood lights from the patio. In the early morning you can sometimes catch large families of cingiali (wild boar) and the occasional shy deer crossing the field below the house. By day, in late summer if you are lucky you may be guided down the tree-lined farm road to your destination by an African Hoopoe, recently arrived from the south. Quintino combines the wildness of Africa with one of the most cultural enclaves in Europe.