This 14th century barn converted into a contemporary B&B is located in the quiet, lush Tuscan countryside, only a short drive away from Florence, Arezzo, Siena and Chianti wineries.
How would you describe Locanda al Colle in a nutshell?
Locanda al Colle is a welcoming 12-room bed & breakfast on the Italian coast, in Pietrasanta just north of Pisa. Come here to find a familiar and inviting atmosphere with shared dinners, delicious buffet breakfasts and a self-help bar. The house is decorated with the owners’ private art collection and hosts art exhibitions of local artists.
Why have you opened Locanda al Colle?
Well, I was in the fashion business for 20 years and I used to travel a lot. I’ve worked in Paris, in London, in the States and the last post I had was in Buenos Aires. And then I got tired of it and I had this in mind. I just wanted to work from home, to relax and not to travel that much anymore. I wanted to work at a quieter place and come back to Italy because I’ve never worked in Italy before. So there has been a big improvement in my quality of life. I have lots of free time in winter and I can do what I want to do, greet the guests, entertain them, chat with them, and I still get to meet people from all over the world. With the difference that I don’t need to travel anymore, they travel to me now.
And you have just recently refurbished Locanda al Colle?
Well, we had the guesthouse business for 9 years in the property and we now refurbished the property next door to it, which is twice the size. So now the business has moved into the new property. The restored property is still an old property, it is a Grade A-listed building, which has been all redone using solar panels etc. You will still see the classic materials of Tuscan architecture, but with a more contemporary cut. We have also added a swimming pool and the rooms are more comfortable, they have all been done from scratch. You know, we have upgraded and the old property has gone back to be a private home. And we have also just refurbished a new wing of the building to include 3 more temporary rooms.
Tell me about the style of the house.
The décor at Locanda al Colle is eclectic, it is a mixture of 30s, 40s and 50s furniture within an old shell. The floors are all made up in stone, all the ceilings are in chestnut beam as in the Tuscan tradition. We’ve created a shell using traditional earthy colours and we put this collection of furniture inside, which could be in a Manhattan apartment by the looks. And the decoration comes from a collection that I had from various places where I’ve lived before. And the rest I’ve been scouting in markets and antique fairs, which I like to do anyway, independently from having the guesthouse.
So part of it is from my private art collection. And, what we have done now is to give local artists the opportunity to exhibit some of their art. And every year we have a new artist.
What would you recommend as a must see?
Pietrasanta. Because it is a nice little centre, which has not been spoiled by tourism. And also Lucca. Those are two places that our guests definitely have to see. And, if they really want to go to Pisa, I tell them to go late afternoon when all the buses of tourists have gone and they can see the square empty and in its beauty.
If they like to walk, they can go to Cinque Terre, going from village to village and I tell them which village to avoid. You know, the ones where all the buses go to. Or have a walk on the promenade of Viareggio to see all the beautiful buildings. And, of course, if they’re interested in shopping, there are some very good local markets that happen certain days of the week. You know, those are the main things.