Perched high in the Apuan Alps, above Camaiore and Pietrasanta, Argento looks out over stunning views of the Mediterranean sea, all the way to Corsica. It is set in a fold above the village of S.Anna di Stazzema, a famous centre of Partisan resistance during the second world war, the story recently told in a film by Spike Lee. The house is part of an small group of buildings once used for the nearby medieval silver mines. Now many of the houses are no more than ivy clad ruins, but Argento has been beautifully restored by the London based owner and is a stylish retreat, either as a base for invigorating mountain walks, a welcome home after a day by the beach only 25 minutes away, or as a restoring refuge from city life. Sitting in the Jacuzzi on the large terrace, gazing out of the sea over 600 metres below, worldly cares fade into insignificance. The house is divided into two: the top 2 floors are the main part, with a small apartment below. The whole house may be rented, sleeping up to 6 people, or just the upper section sleeping up to 3. In any event, no-one else will share the property with you, so you are guaranteed privacy.
Approached by a gravel path, steps lead down to a blue front door, which gives directly onto the light-filled living room, with a curved-front fireplace, typical of the area. To the left is a well-equipped kitchen with another open fireplace, and a dining room with a window to the view of the sea. Because of the slope the house is built upon, these ground floor windows are actually high above the slope, giving a wonderfully airy, high feeling to the rooms. Turning right after the front door, a flight of stairs lead to a large master bedroom with a curved-edge double-ended bath and a double bed. A small W.C. and basin is also off this main bedroom. There is also a further bedroom with a queen size bed and a shower room. Both bedrooms enjoy the stunning views of the coastline and sea. To reach the other bedrooms one must leave the house and descend the steps to one side of it; the apartment is tucked under the main house, with its own kitchen, a bedroom with a queen size bed and a shower-room. The kitchen-living room also has a large and comfortable double sofa-bed. To the right of the house a large wooden sun-terrace has a warmed Jacuzzi in its centre, with sun-loungers surrounding it, and a shower housed nearby in a small cave carved out of the silver bearing rock.
The Apuan alps are a great undiscovered playground of walks, climbs, restaurants, and historical villages. Reaching as high as 1700 metres (over 5500 feet) these are the mountains from which Michelangelo had carved the marble for the David, astoundingly white and still highly prized. The quarries may still be visited, and nearby Pietrasanta is a centre for sculptors, with a lively programme of exhibitions throughout the year. For a more lively experience, Versilia has been the Florentines coast playground for years, and has miles of beaches, lined with trendy bars, fine restaurants and discotheques. Lucca and Pisa are also under an hour away, with architectural and artistic delights. Lucca is an antique lovers paradise, with regular markets and many shops. The Church of San michele is also a delight, with rising ranges of differing columns supporting the facade. For opera lovers the famous Festival Puccini runs from June to September, with performances at Puccini's own house and in the open air on the lakeside of Torre del Lago. For a spectacular taste of the religious traditions that underlie Italian culture there is the Triennale di Gesu' Morto a Camaiore every third Easter,where the illumination of the whole town, with traditional lanterns made from glasses filled with olive oil, is atmospheric beyond description. This is not limited to just the centre of the town, but extends onto the surrounding hills which, lit by thousands of flickering lights, adds hugely to the atmosphere during this celebration. Every June on the occasion of Corpus Domini, Camaiore continues the picturesque tradition of lining its streets with rich carpets (known as tappeti di segatura) made of flower petals and coloured sawdust. These are laid down by local men and boys throughout night before the celebration. On Sunday morning a chanting procession, led by the priest and followed by the small children who have recently taken their communion, passes over the carpets destroying them and leaving the streets behind them filled with the smell of incense. And, after all these excursions, slipping into the warm Jacuzzi with a glass of Champagne to watch the sunset will set the world to rights....Read more
Left on 05/17/2011 for a stay in April 2011 | OliReviewed May 17, 2011Stayed Apr 2011
The breathtaking view on arrival did immediately override the somewhat scary roads up the mountain. We had planned beforehand lot of travels around the area but found ourselves dismissing that schedule and stayed most of the time in and around the house.
The house was well equipped and there was good selection of books, music and board games to enjoy. There was even a full strength 3G signal so emergency work could be done from the house instead of finding WiFi spot somewhere.
Still breathless when I think of the view, location and the enjoyable week there.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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