I Nostri Ospiti

HEY Wow! What a beautiful experience staying with this wonderful family, with delicious homely dinners and exceptional breakfasts - this really is a truly special place.
Both Sylvia and Michelangelo were the perfect hosts who welcomed us into their life and home to share a slice of Tuscan tranquility. We cannot wait to go back!
Debbie and Mark

Winchester - Ottobre 2019

We stayed with Michelangelo and Silvia for 3 nights. Our only regret was that it was too short.
The view from the clean and charming bedroom was wonderful. Hot showers were a delight as was the rustic kitchen where we spent most dinners chatting with the both of them about life at the farm and everything under the sun.
Nearly all of the food we ate come from their farm, including the olive oil and wine.
We had the opportunity to see Michelangelo make grappa, walk around in the garden and the woods, and check out the vineyard. We very nearly were able to join the harvest but alas it rained all

Singapore - Settembre 2019

We stayed with Michelangelo and Silvia for seven wonderful nights during our trip to Italy and could not have imagined a more perfect experience.
Truly charming farm, ideal for exploring Tuscany and experiencing quintessential tuscan life. Each day we were treated to the most amazing food, fresh cakes, delicious homemade tuscan dishes & fruit, vegetables, honey, olive oil and wine all from the farm.
Silvia & Michelangelo are such wonderful, cultured and kind people - we feel extremely lucky to have met them and spent time on the farm.
We miss it already and we will be back!
Jack & Catherine

Liverpool - Settembre 2019

The perfect balm to counter the madness of London.
Silvia and Michelangelo are completely charming. A bushel of deep fried elderflowers and sage leaves were laid before me on evening one. A communal table can be daunting but the hosts speak excellent english and can translate when needed. Woken up by a cock crowing. What could be better.
Lots to explore in the area without having to dedicate too much time weaving through the crowds of Florence.

London - Maggio 2019

p> Hi Michelangelo,
We arrived safely in Toronto last evening, and will spend 4 days here (my wife on business) before we head back to the west coast near Vancouver.
Thanks again for an enjoyable visit to your home. The meals were the highlight for us as we relished the food and fellowship. Our thanks to you and Silvia for all your work to make it so. You asked for pictures of your olive trees. Here are the best ones. I hope the crop is as fruitful as the blossoms!
Should you get to western Canada some time, do not hesitate to contact us and plan visit for a while.
Sincerely, Bill

Vancouver - Giugno 2018

We spent a wonderful 4 nights at Podere la Casellina.
Our room was simple, but beautiful. The location was great for exploring Tuscany and beyond and Michelangelo and Silvia were kind and generous hosts who both spoke excellent English, having lived in the UK for a time.
For us the real star of the place was the food and Silvia's cooking, which was in keeping with the local traditions and the slow food movement. Michelangelo's wine was great and Nonna's cakes at breakfast were a delicious start to the day.
If you want a break from a hectic life and you like good food, this is the place.

Bath - Giugno 2016

Wonderful overnight stay. You could not hope for more friendly, relaxed, kind or generous hosts than Silvia and Michelangelo.
The food we ate there: chestnuts roasted on the large open hearth, pasta with wild mushrooms from the nearby woods, sausages, delicious homemade cakes and jams, huge breakfast... - was the best during our 10-day drive down Italy.
Simple, spotless rooms, with views over the rolling hills near Florence. We were sad to leave and will definitely go back.
Thank you to Sawdays for finding these small gems.

Frankfurt - Ottobre 2015

This is a great place to stay. Off the beaten track and not luxurious, but the welcome is very warm indeed and Valdarno is a great base from which to tour the area.
Sylvia and Michelangelo were very friendly and both speak good English.

Ottobre 2014

We had a wonderful times staying with them and relaxed in the wonderful countryside.
Rooms are full of character, and host family are one of the nicest people we have ever met. Full of Tuscany charm, and I had good time helping in the kitchen and learn some cooking from Silvia

Ottobre 2014

A very welcoming and friendly place! Silvia and Michelangelo are the perfect hosts.
Beautiful countryside, good food and wine. Memories of our walks through the hills, surrounded by wildflowers, still linger.


Una raccolta indimenticabile, alla fine del 2013: gran quantità di olive e olio di ottima qualità, ma soprattutto, due gentilissime signore che sono venute dagli Stati Uniti per aiutarci

Michelangelo, Silvia & family,
Here are just a few photos of my memories of my stay with you.
I will be forever blessed by the experience. There is no end to the thanks I have for your opening your home to me and making me feel so welcome and comfortable.
Being among your family and the olive trees this past week has left a deep imprint on my soul.
Thank you! Happy Holidays!
And now - to practice my Italian! :-)

Molly - Des Moines, Iowa -

Hello Michelangelo and Silvia,
I just wanted to say thank you again for the wonderful time in Figline.
It was a great week and one that I will never forget.
Could you please send me you mailing address as well as that of Marissa? I would like to thank you for the nice surprise at the train station Saturday morning!

Chicago - Dicembre 2013

Hi Michelangelo & Silvia!
There must have been something in the water in Italy - we came back to Canada and I was pregnant!
We had a lovely baby boy on June 23 and we named him Rowan James Little.
We still talk about all the lovely food, figs and company at your wonderful home.
We hope to visit again.
Tara & Peter

Novembre 2013

Hi Michelangelo and Silvia,
I just wanted to drop you a little note to thank you both for our lovely stay at Podera la Casellina.
Me and David had such a lovely time and will be dreaming of Silvia's cooking until our next visit!
I have a small blog where I write mainly about our house renovation, but I couldn't resist sharing our trip to Tuscany. Below is the link in case you fancy a read: http://housenumber59.wordpress.com/
I hope you and the family have a lovely holiday in Greece!
Very best wishes,
Charlotte and David

Londra - Settembre 2013

We are on our way back to Roma for our last night! We had a WONDERFUL time in the agriturismo in Figline Valdarno! We rented a car not a motorcycle:).....and drove the countryside checking out the beautiful vineyards and walking around Greve.We even got to harvest the grapes at our host's vineyard! They shared delicious meals of fresh vegetables, fruits, and their own olive oil, ....as well as grilled meats cooked over a open fire! Amazing experience!
Love, Bets & Frank

Usa - Settembre 2013

Sylvia & Michelangelo,
I phoned to Herman to be sure the little wallet was really his....
He told me he was looking for it everywhere.... So I am sure now.
He thanks you for keeping it!
Also thank you for the nice evening! We come back someday
I think we know people who know people
Viva agriturismo
Leen & Rik

Belgio - Agosto 2013

Hello Michelangelo and Sylvia
Just a quick message to assure you that we got home safely and easily, and more importantly—the wine and oil were intact!
Thank you again for making our stay so enjoyable and interesting, and for Sylvia’s lovely cooking. You live in a beautiful part of the world which I feel we really did explore.
I hope you and the children have a happy year, the weather becomes ‘ normal’ once more and the harvest is good!
With best wishes
Caroline and Alan

Kent, UK - Maggio 2013

Dear Michaelangelo and Silvia,
"Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased... " and so I do not try to fix in words the wonder of Podere La Casellina.
I wish I had been there another day, another week--
Silvia, I would love to cook with you, pick salad leaves in the woods, learn your recipes. Thank you both for a most memorable time in your home, for your warmth and authenticity, for allowing us to see Italy from the inside....
Quoting again from Calvino "...seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space."
Podere La Casellina is this space, discontinuous from the geography of Canada, yet continuous and fixed in my memory of Italy.
It is now 20:50 in Italy, and you are most likely enjoying good food and good conversation with your guests!
Thank you so very much for everything!
Warm regards,
Liisa and Erik Salonen

Aprile 2013

Dear Michelangelo and Silvia,
We are enjoying our time in Umbria having visited quite a few places including Perugia and Assisi.
We wanted to thank you for a lovely few days in your home with your delightful family.
Your hospitality was appreciated.
We do hope that Orlando has come home again!
Thank you also for the wine which is as good as ever.
We hope Lars is enjoying the podere and Tuscany and feel free to give him our email address should he wish to have it or that he may one day come to Australia.
Once again many thanks for a great few days and we hope you enjoy your week's holiday.
Best regards
Pam and Jim McCracken

Melbourne, Australia Settembre 2012

Dear Michelangelo and Silvia,
My husband Christian and I stayed at your place a couple of weeks ago.
We are the french canadians living in Switzerland...
We are back home, in Lausanne, but we keep a very fond memory of our stay
at Podere La Casellina! You live in a such a beautiful place!
As I promise, here is the picture my husband took of me with both of you. I had some more pictures I took around, which I think might interest you: olives, the abbey nearby, the pigs and the cats (because they are too cute).
Thank you again for your hospitality.
If you come by Lausanne, please, feel free to contact us!
Your truly,
PS I made some fresh pasta recently, so we drank your wine with it. It was very good, thank you very much!

Giugno 2012

"My family and I stayed with Michelangelo and Silvia in April for several days,
basing there for our brief exploration of Tuscany.
We could not have wished for a better experience.
Not only were they absolutely perfect and friendly hosts, but they served the most lovely food, grown/raised right there on the farm.
They speak excellent English and have a very worldly view. They have chosen this life, and it certainly shows in the readily apparent love of how they live.
The rooms are comfy, and the large kitchen with open hearth is simply not to be missed. "

un commento trovato su un sito internet
Aprile 2012- Daniel Ackerman - Pennsylvania

Dear Michelangelo and Sylvia,
we're almost back in our lives with all the work and preparation for audition, but we are thinking about our great time in Figline V. and the Podere la Casellina.
I baked some cakes with your recipe and it went very well.
We wanted to thank you again and hope to see you again sometime!
Wish you all the best!
Kind regards,

Ulrike and Steve dalla Germania
Agosto 2011

Chers Michelangelo et Sylvia,
We are back from Menton last Sunday.
We went to Vintimiglia & San Remo: two very nice places.
Here,the weather is different: cold & rainy!
We are very sorry for the harvest but we are sure that it will be better next year! We will be very pleased to help you for harvest 2011 (only for 3 or 4 days) but if it's not possible, no problem!
If we help you, we would like to pay for the meals.
We are very happy for the olives: you will expect a good result for the oil. Now ,here,it's the "wood season"too,but it's a beautiful season with the apples,pears,chestnuts...
We hope Sylvia & your children are fine, and you, of course.
Amitiés des Normands.
Michèle& Michel
PS We are going to start the Italian lessons ,tomorrow morning...

Agosto 2011

Hey Michelangelo and Sylvia,
We are the two Canadians who stayed at your lovely farm in May.
I was just looking through some photos from Europe and came across these and thought you might like them!
I hope everything is going well with the farm and your family

Monique and Amanda
Maggio 2011

Michelangelo & Silvia
We loved our short stay with you and thank you for the hospitality.
We admire what you are trying to achieve and may try to stay again sometime.
Your wine and olive oil are both wonderful!
With best wishes

Maggio 2011 - John & Sally Huggins - Dorset

Cari Michi e Silvia,
Vorremo ringraziarvi per averci permesso di partecipare all vostra famiglia meravigliosa per due giorni la settimana scorsa.
Non abbiamo avuto la possibilita di salutare Michi (Le piante chiamavono) e volevamo prendere questa opportunita.
Ci siamo sentiti totalmente a casa con la vostra ospitalita, bambini meravigliosi e la vostra filosofia di vita….. e bello trovare un’posto dove I valori basilari di famiglia, tradizione e amicizia sono cosi evidenti.
Speriamo di tornare a trovarvi al piu presto.
Un’abbraccio forte a tutti I bambini.

Nikkie e Georges Kass.
Novembre 2010

Dear Sylvia, dear Michelangelo,
we enjoyed once more our delightful days at your home, as we saw the pictures of little Olivia and Ari. Hope, you like them also. If you want a picture a little bit greater, please return us a email, and we will send it to you.
Sincerely yours
Petra, Peter& Ari from Germany

Ottobre 2010

Agosto 2010
Il sig. Edward Park, ha soggiornato da noi per qualche giorno di "frenesia mangereccia": cucinare e fare fotografie da mattina a sera. Poi, finalmente, sedersi per cena.
Il risultato è il libro "Tuscany", pubblicato qualche mese dopo da Phaidon, e tanti piatti squisiti che Silvia ..... cucinerà di nuovo, chissà.

Hi Sylvia and Michelangelo,
I wanted to let you know that everything has gone really well with the book - the publisher likes the pictures very much, so thank you again for working with me.
I'll send some sample images from the book to you soon.
I took the Olympus lens to the repair workshop, it will be ready any day now.
Let me know if you have anyone travelling to Figline from London and I could arrange to give them the lens.
It has been a memorable summer staying with you, and I'd love to see you again next time I'm in Tuscany.
All best wishes,
Ed ps attached another picture of my darling Isabelle!

Dear Silvia and Michelangelo:
We hope that everything is fine for you and your familiy and we would like to thank you
for the wonderful days that we spent staying at your place.
We really enjoyed it and are looking forward to seeing you again. There are still so many wonderful places to be discovered. So one holiday is not enough. We have to come back.
Best regards from Berlin, Germany

Erika Eilers-Villarreal Burkhard Lück
Maggio 2010

27 Ottobre 2009: è nata Olivia!

Settembre 2009
Di nuovo, Millicent Young da Charlottesville – Virginia - US
Questa volta è venuta per esporre la sua arte alla Biennale di Chianciano Terme
E per stare con noi

ciao dear ones,
it is hard and wonderful coming home. David's reports continue to be inconclusive and troubling.
Thank you so deeply for the time with you on your land and the generosity of your hearts. You will never be alone in your struggles and your joys.
I will send you a check for the euros that Marisa paid. Can I send you a personal check
(in dollars) or should I get a bank check for her in euros?
today and yesterday has been heavy with rain .. which of course delights me
love to yous mil

Vendemmia - Settembre 2009
Questi due "precedenti" ospiti speciali dal Canada, sono ritornati

Hello Michelangelo & Silvia,
So nice to hear from you!
Sorry that I have not responded more quickly, but we have been very busy because Neill and Ruth are visiting us right now!!
It is the first time that they have been to Canada, and their stay of two weeks has been very tightly packed with activities.
As much as we enjoyed and often retell the grape harvest time, we will not be able to join you for the olive harvest this year. We are soon leaving for a visit to Warren's elderly aunt and uncle in Albany New York, so that will be our travel this fall.

We have been in good health and had a warm and wonderful summer here.
How are the children? Hope all is well with you also.
I will have not time to send all the harvest pictures to you before we go to the US for Paolo.
I have not quite figured out how to send multiple photos and have them correctly sized. So I will make a CD and send all the pictures from our last visit there. You know how slow the mail system is, but I will send them.
Marilynn & Warren

Luglio 2009
Per celebrare i nostri 10 anni di agriturismo….. abbiamo pensato di invitare Ian e Claudia, i nostri primi due ospiti: quelli che non si dimenticheranno mai.
Soprattutto ora che vengono in Toscana e si fermano da noi tutti gli anni, con i loro due bambini.

Dear Michelangelo, Silvia and "ever-growing family"!
We were so pleased to hear from you last week and are very excited about your idea for a holiday together.
When you got in touch, we were just about to book a week's camping holiday in France, but it didn't take much to change our minds.
At the moment, we are trying to work out how to fit in all the things we need to / want to do over the summer.

Our plans are now taking shape and definitely include spending some time with you, if you are sure that's ok.
We are hoping to combine a visit to your own little piece of paradise with a camping holiday somewhere else in Italy. It's proving quite difficult to get onto a campsite at the moment, as we have left it quite late and many of them are already fully booked. So we are not exactly sure when we could come to you, but we are working on it.
Ideally we would be with you at the beginning of August for a few days - does that sound ok?
Is there any time that is not so convenient for you, or when you have already got bookings? How long were you thinking our "holiday" should be?
Just let us know and we'll try our best to work around you.

We really are very excited about the idea of meeting up and just need to sort the details out now. We'll be in touch as soon as we know more.
Loads of love,
Ian, Claudia, Elena and Luca. PS - We've attached a few recent photos - just so you'll recognise us!

Buongiorno Michelangelo e Silvia!
Come va? Anche vostri bambini? Isotta dovrebbe essere ora una grande sorella come un capo di Oliviello e Isola.
Sono una giapponese che e andata da tua casa 2 anni fa con mio marito. Non ho dimenticato qualche giorni da vostro albergo.
Questa volta, vorrei domandarti una cosa.
Spero di fare la vendemmia o la racolata di olivo questo anno. Se conosci qualcuno che ha bisogna di aiuto per questo tipo di lavoro, fammi conoscere per favore.
Certo, se posso farlo nella vostra fattoria, sara felize. Sara stupendo se posso veerti anche questo anno.
Stiate bene! A prosto!!
Madoka Saint-Dizier

Maggio 2009

Dear Michelangelo & Silvia,
It is now 8 months since our stay with you in Brollo.
You were still finishing your renovations on your home and we were amazed with the work you were doing - when we were there you were still doing the bricks on the floors.
We enjoyed very much our week with you and your family. I am attaching the photographs we took when we were there.
I'm sure the Izotta, Oliviero and Isola have changed very much since then. It was Isola's first birthday and we were happy to be able to celebrate that. They are three wonderful little ones who were happy to give us a big welcome when we were with you..... we loved that.
We enjoyed the rest of our travels in Italy and are keen to return some day. Until then we want to see some other parts of the world, although the world economy is not very encouraging for vacations these days!!!
I am also attaching in my email a few pictures of our family. Our grandson, Nathan, was born in July - a big reason that we had to get home. He lives 10 minutes in one direction and the girls are 10 minutes in the other direction, so we see lots of them - the girls come for sleepovers quite often which we and they love.

Ken and I would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and the very best of good wishes for 2009.
Thank you for being a part of our wonderful memories and I hope we will have an opportunity to return some day. Merry Christmas,

Ken & Joan Reynolds Delta (Vancouver), B.C.
Dicembre 2008

Dear Michelangelo and Silvia,
Just a note to thank you for the nice time we had when we stayed at your house 15 and 16 September.
The four of us talk about the good meals and the good wine and the fun we had while eating our evening meals and visiting with you.
When we think of Italy we will remember the two of you. You are nice people and we wish you a good life. We enjoyed our vacation in Italy.
Melvin and Arlene Krueckeberg Ron and Deloris DeLong

Ottobre 2008

Dear Michelangelo and Silvia,
Thank you for a wonderful stay at your home-away-from-home.
We very much enjoyed meeting you (and Orlando) and learning a little about your farm
and the trials and tribulations of farming organically. It was most interesting,
and a striking contrast to the time we spent in Rome, Florence and Venice as “tourists”
overwhelmed by art and architecture.

We have fond memories of the excellent dinners you prepared for us, Silvia – many thanks for all your hard work. We are sorry we didn’t meet your children, but hope your trip to fetch them gave you both a chance for a tiny holiday.
After we left you, we traveled to Venice for a few days in the tourist hordes, then our friends Bob and Sue returned to South Africa, and we traveled north by train to Chiesa in Valmalenco (north of Sondrio) for four days. I have a good friend from NZ who has two daughters married to men from that village (!) so we went to visit.
That was another interesting place – a tiny mining village in the mountains, with steep streets and houses with roofs made of the local schist rock, such a contrast to your area.
Then we spent two nights in Stresa, a real holiday resort.

Our son met us at the airport and drove us home – to find the whole family gathered for a welcome home dinner.
We had been traveling for 18 hours so really only wanted to go to sleep, but we gathered up the remaining dregs of energy and chatted about our adventures for a couple of hours.
It was 5.30 a.m. Italy time by the time we finally got to sleep.
Would you believe we then got up and went to work – and lasted the whole day, what’s more!

We are just sorting our photos and remembering all the happy details of our visit.
Thanks to you both for giving us such a warm welcome and for making our stay so comfortable. If you ever have time and energy, we would love to hear news about the farm and the hunters and Orlando and the olive crop and….and….

Margaret and Roger Campbell
Canada, Ottobre 2008

Ciao Michelangelo e Silvia !
Siamo di nuovo a casa dopo le nostre avventure in La Toscana
Per ci era la vacanza al Podere La Casellina la migliora esperienza. Ci sono piaciute la frutta e la verdura organica, cotte si bene nella cucina e sul fuoco. Mangiare al tavolo di famiglia era molto interessante e piacevole.

Although I would like to try to write more Italian, I don't want to look at my grammar notes and the dictionary all the time, so I will finish in English.
It seems that during our time in Italy, this country has had some good weather, and today has been really warm, just like our days in Italy. The English are very grateful to have no rain after the wet summer.
We shall think of you as the days pass, and wonder which jobs you are doing. Now we are thinking about your grapes and the extraction of the juice in your large press.
We want to say---grazie mille per l'ospitalita alla casa nostra, and wish you fruitful and productive autumn days.
Our very warmest regards and thanks,
Jackie e Alan.

Settembre 2008

Hi Michelangelo,
It has been over a year but David and I still speak of your fabulous B&B.
We travelled throughout Italy and the experience we both had with you and your family have left us with beautiful memories. From the kitchen to the bedrooms to the farm, it brought to us an Italy of years gone by.
We slept peacefully there, and it was such a joy to be woken by Orlando your donkey.
I have attached many photos for you that we took of your beautiful place. They do not do the justice that your place deserves but they give an indication.
We will be back..
Many thanks for your kind and warm hospitality Dave and Pat Morgan Australia

Sydney, Luglio 2008 Sono tornati, un anno dopo, e ci hanno scritto direttamente, questa volta.

Dear Michelangelo, Silvia and family,
We were just thinking back to our trip to your wonderful farm and remembered that you were expecting an addition to your family. We were just wondering if you have a new son or daughter?
Our eldest son had a boy this past March which has made us very happy. Children are such a blessing.
We pray that everything is going well and you are having a busy season. We talk often of our time with you and would love to return again some year. We traveled in many countries during our month in Europe and our stay with you is at the top of our list.
We had a very cold winter here in Kansas and we wondered at times how the winter in Tuscany was for you.
Don't be surprised if you hear from us again in a year for another reservation.
Mike and Virginia Morris
Caney, Ks.
Oh yes, thank you again for the wine and also letting us help pick the grapes. How is the donkey

Giugno 2007

What a fabulous peaceful place.
The old fashioned kitchen, the cosy rooms which were spacious and spotless.
Silvia is a brilliant cook and I took quick notes of her pasta making.
What can I say? I sat and read a book by an open window, with the Tuscan countryside attempting to distract me. Michelangelo was tending the fields, the chicken keeping their distance. My husband practicing his Italian with Orlando the donkey.
Its a place that never leaves your memory.
Calming, friendly, cosy, with no need for modern equipment.
Back to basics. Heaven on earth. Will definitely go back.

Aprile 2007 - Pat and Dave from Sydney

16 Aprile 2007: è nata Isola Marta!

Congratulations and best wishes to all of you.
We hope that all went well and Silvia is ready for the chalenge of running an agriturismo with you and raising three children.
I am sure that you will agree with us that she now deserves some new helpful gadget in the kitchen. Or a live helper? Maybe I should apply!
We love the name, it will give the girls a great excuse later - I thought you said Isotta...I thought you said Isola!
Hugs and kisses to all of you.
We hope to see you soon.
Mario & Hana
Time to use the camera, Michelangelo!

Dear Michelangelo and Silvia,
How are you both and the children???? Hope everything is well and your lovely parents.
Hope you still remember us we are the couple which arrived in a blue bus with big yellow lettres with the company name "Kaal & Co."
Its quite a long time ago maybe 5 or 6 years that we visit "podere la casellina". It was a short stay of 2 days (too short for us), but we had a great time, with wonderful food, i still remember your parents cooked for us. (lovely, charming people).
Theo fixed something for you do you still remember????? The oil and wine we bought were delicious!!!!
I was surfing around on sites about agriturismo in Tuscan where we could help on the farm with the olives or other stuff around a farm, then suddenly i saw the name podere la casellina. So i entered your webpage and then i remembered the lovely time we had on your podere.
So please send me some info about the rooms and prices for this summer.
Hope You both are very well and send my greetings to your lovely parents and "baci" for the children.
With love,
Theo and Toska The Netherlands

Gennaio 2007


Novembre 2006

Dear Michaelangelo & Sylvia,
Thankyou both for allowing us to have such a good holiday in Tuscany and giving us the opportunity to taste the real Tuscany.
It was such a contrast after Sorrento and Rome, and so relaxing in your beautiful countryside.
We really enjoyed the food which you prepared and was so typical to the region. We also include Marissa your special Mum who made us so welcome and spoilt us with her delicious cakes and cooking. Please remember us to her, and say that we are thinking of her caring for your father.
We both hope that the children are now settled back into routine and that Sylvia's pregnancy is progressing well.
We also hope that you have a good harvest and if you need any help let me know !
We will send you some photographs in due course.
Our good wishes
from Neill & Ruth Thompson

Uk - Ottobre 2006

Michelangelo and Silvia,
I wanted to thank you for your hospitality during our visit.
Even though the weather was not great, La Casellina warmed our hearts.
Brent A. Williams,

New York - Ottobre 2006

Chers Michelangelo et Silvia,
Nous sommes bien rentrés à Toulouse, la tête pleine de souvenirs: les douces collines du Chianti, l'excellente cuisine toscane, les superbes villes de Florence et Sienne. Les vacances étaient évidemment trop courtes!
Nous avons passé de très bons moments à la Podere La Casellina, entre Canadiens et Italiens; encore merci pour votre accueil sincère et chaleureux!
En tout cas, nous pensons déjà revenir en Italie, qui sait, peut-être un jour aux alentours de Florence?
Nous vous souhaitons le meilleur avec Isolta et Oliviero; Armel et Myriam les embrassent.
Nicolas et Céline.

Agosto 2006 - Tolosa

Dear Silvia and Michelangelo!
We came back on May 5th...
The first week or two, both my father and I kept having traveling dreams -- long streets lined with grand buildings, arched bridges, wide or winding stairways and so on. After a month-long journey, it was strange to get back to regular things. Now and then I would look at familiar places around here from a suddenly a different angle, as if still traveling. Then, the reality has set in and the stream picked us up and carried along.
Finally, I found time to sort out the photos. You will receive an invitation to view them online.

I hope things are doing well at the farm, and everybody is busy and healthy and happy. Silvia, I think I told you that when I was young, I had a dream of having a lighthouse that would also be a guest house and my job would be both to keep the light and to keep my guests. That's sort of what you are doing, and busy and demanding as it is, it is a fine thing to do with one's life. I send my love and gratitude to both of you. Hope to once see you as 'my' guests here in California.

Feel free to put this up on your web site. After all, it was the letters from your guests that I read there that made me want to also become one.
I also hope the evil powers to be will not stop people in their desire to travel. To go and see other, different places and people who are different from ourselves, to listen to them and make friends with them, so that our own lives get bigger and have all these other places and other people inside them.

My parents, Violetta and Anatoly, send their hugs to you and the children.
Love and thank you,
Irina (and Violetta and Anatoly),
12 August 2006, Santa Cruz, California
PS: Good friends of ours, Eugene and Elena, are going to Italy in late October... They probably will write to you soon ;)

Greetings Michelangelo and Silvia
Well I am back to the daily grind of things.
It was definitely a wonderful experience to have meet you and to be able to share with you a glimpse of your life.
My sister and myself had a fantastic time and the memories that we were able to create are unforgettable.
Thank you again for opening your doors of your house and life. I hope to be able to make that trip again in the future.
Many blessing to you both.

Chicago – Giugno 2006

Dicembre 2005:
per la Bienale di arte a Firenze, la scultrice americana Millicent Young e i suoi amici, sono stati nostri ospiti
Qualche giorno, di quelli molto freddi, trascorso intorno al fuoco e alla tavola.

Dear Michelangelo and Silvia,
hey there! This is Bill and Mill writing on a grey and chilly Sunday afternoon.
The fire is crackling low and we are thinking of you...
Your wine is drying up but is being dearly enjoyed and we are assembling a multihued collection of your bottles.
We gave a bottle to our local favorite restauranteur, Tomas, soon after New Years who was delighted by it, and admired it.
We gave one of the jars of honey to Allie, a wonderful waitress there who grew up in Italy and is very familiar with Tuscany.
Your honey is best she has ever had (and a honey afficienado is she). So much so that she would like to purchase a case of it.

We are slow in getting off our package to you, though the pile is growing and we think you, and Isolde and Oliviero too, will be pleased.
Are you getting any vacation time from tourists? Are you doing any traveling, even small trips? Are you working too hard on the farmhouse projects?
We have such fond memories of our time there, with you, and a wishing that some of our conversations could have gone on longer so that we could have come to know the two of you better.. ..

We wish that we had had more time with you and Silvia around the fire and table. Speaking of the things that are alive for us in the moment.... what would our conversations about politics and anarchy and sustainability look like now? What of Wendell Berry's did J. send you?
So we look forward to hearing from you and someday soon our package will arrive.
Let us know about the honey.
with love,
bill & mill


M: hope everyone is well.
Likewise, recollections of our good conversations--and your hospitality--are still quite strong, for me visiting with you and tasting the Renaissance has been, continues to be,
a very stimulating experience, and I look forward to the next time.
Snow! Did you pictures?
You said it never (almost never) snows in Figline, and to have a snowman, that's great.
I had to go to Chicago last week to see snow, it's unseasonably warm here right now, over 60 F.

I did send over some books, had a hard time picking from WB's work, so sent you more than you may care to plow through, but he's been thinking and writing about these issues for a while and the development is interesting-
-the other book by the anthropologist is far Southwest, but another example of how an American academic gravitates toward certain methods, subjects, and values.

You think first two weeks of Nov for the olive harvest?
Were I to do it, wd try to arrive on a Sat and depart the next Sun, about what time of the year do you begin to know when you will harvest?
Best, J
Jeffrey Plank


Dear Michaelangelo and Sylvia,
Snow and freezing rain fell as I walked to work the day after my return from Italy.
I peered at the familiar sidewalk from under a bolied-wool hat ... all was glistening.
Dogwood berries shiny and red, coated in icy wonder_insulated and beautiful.

Upon reflection of my visit to your wonderful Toscana. It was a life changing experience. This past year has been difficult for me being a new widow. I felt "stuck", unable to move very effectively in any direction.
Rediscovering man's abilityto create beauty and leave a legacy that has endured centuries is something I needed to experience - to take a long hard look at how I live and what the last chapter in my life will be... however long it lasts.

Many of us in the states are disillusioned. we get up each day to careers we've been conditioned to think give us security or success. We live our lives not realizing the things that really matter. We lose sight of our choices and live with a false sense of what we in America call the "Quality of life".

Listening to you talk about the things that challenge your lifestyle to grow olives and grapes, (from where I sit) is a good challenge. I hope you are able to stay the course and be true to your ideas no matter what your friends say. You are so fortunate to have an extended family - to have mothers and fathers and uncles and aunts all working to help you fulfill your legacy at Podere La Casellina, the house of your grandparents.

I find myself still saying grazie, prego and ba bene. Jeffrey even answered the phone with "pronto" yesterday: it doesn't take that long to absorb a culture. Man is so adaptable. It's one of the good things about humanity. Staying with your family for this brief time gave us all a much richer experience than we ever hoped for. It did us all good!

In the stone street of Firenze and Arezzo I was drawn to the many paintings of Madonna con Bambino Gesu and stone angels. I was stirred to rediscover the faith I seem to have misplaced along the way. I cried in the chiesa of San Francesco. I knelt before the statue of the Virgin mother and wanted so much to return to the faith of my youth. I used to pray to her for things...... but alas my intellect makes me doublt.
"How to remain an independent thinker with faith" is the question Jeffrey posed to me yesterday. I've taken this as my new challenge for 2006.

You have beautiful bambinos. I loved Oliviero's smile and Isolde's antics. they are a gift. I enjoyed them very much.
I want to thank you for understanding about my money situation. My credit card company would not authorize a cash advance because i didn't tell them I was in Italy. They saw the card being used in a way I have never used it so they assumed it might be stolen. I learned a good lesson and will take care to bring cash with me next time.
Enclosed are the 200 Euros for Ciro. I would give anything to apprentice with an artist like him. Please tell him for me that he made me a very happy woman. I got the stone pieces home safe and sound as well as the olive oil. I would appreciate it if you could get the money to him and perhaps give sylvia a chance to meet him and see his work. I wish you two would take a day together and have a date to see the art in firenze again. Its good for the soul to see man's greatness and God's goodness.

I'm enclosing my husband' RB's CD. He was a wonderful man. He would have made you laugh and sang you a song and kissed all the women twice. I'd like to share it with you.
I'm also enclosing a picture of my garden in the city to show you I like to get my hands dirty.
I'll stay in touch and in the meantimeI will continue to learn Italian. Who knows where life may bring me. I'm open to anything. Jeffrey and I would love to return for the olive harvest if you'll have us. we're good workers and would love to experience.
Bona Natale and wishes for an inspired New Year 2006.
A big hug and kiss for the children and your family.
Love, Francine.

I just wanted to send you a note thanking you for taking such good care of us when we were there.
We took the bottle of wine your mother gave us and drank it with friends in Venice.
They were quite impressed.
We also gave them a bottle of you olive oil.
The second bottle of the olive oil went to friends in Munich, and the last bottle now sits happily in our kitchen here in Seattle.

Are you the proud parents of a new baby yet?
Your mother did a great job of running the place while you were away.
Anyway, thanks for everything. You and the rest of your family made our vacation very special.
Gregory H. Russell and Paula

Maggio 2005 Columbia, SC - US
Un altra coppia di ospiti davvero cari: erano a cena quando si chiamò dal centro nascita a Figline per annunciare che era nato il nostro secondo bambino

29 Maggio 2005: è nato Oliviero Poldo!

Antonella da Figline Valdarno – una nostra cugina, ospite da sempre (e per sempre) del Podere La Casellina

Oggetto: AUGURI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Messaggio personale per Michelangelo BENSI.
Buondì cugino,
Ti volevo fare tantissime congratulazioni per il tuo secondo figlio, MASCHIO per giunta, così non sei costretto a fare come il nonno GINO, che ha dovuto attendere fino… al 5°… per avere questa grande soddisfazione!!!
Ma hai "seguito" il suo consiglio e la sua tattica o non è stato necessario???
A parte queste frivole curiosità, ti volevo solo abbracciare e farti gli auguri; lunedì sono venuta a vedere OLIVIERO ma te… quale lavoratore indefesso tu sei, eri a trattorare anche quel giorno!!!!!
A proposito, complimenti per il nome!!! A me piace, sarà perché è il nome del mio babbo e quindi per me è molto orecchiabile…
ma SOPRATTUTTO ha spazzato via l'incubo di aver un cuginetto da chiamare POLDO!!!!
Infine, cosa più IMPORTANTISSIMA, hai creato un bambino in sicuramente più felice….
Un abbraccio forte forte.

Dear Silvia,
I have been meaning to write to tell you how very much Gail and I enjoyed staying at your lovely agriturismo, but I put it off because I was waiting for the Slow Travel site to post my trip report.
They have just done so (the link is http://www.slowtrav.com/tr/TripReport.asp?tripid=608), and I hope you'll be happy with the review I wrote, and that it will send you some more guests. We really could not have been happier!

Aprile 2005

Dear Michelangelo and Silvia,
I hope all is well with your family. We visited you in October and we so enjoyed your beautiful farm and the country side.
We purchased your delicious wine. It is remarkable - full, robust favor, it is not tart or too dry. I am by no measure a wine expert but I so enjoyed your wine.
Of course, my bottle is now empty. If I were trying to find something close to your taste in a commercial wine, what grapes would I look for? What type of wine? What is yours similar to -- if I am shopping for Italian wines??
I hope to visit you again and I recommend your farm to anyone I know traveling to Tuscany.
Peg Straus ( I was in Diane Collin's group in October, a group of 3 women)

Novembre 2004

Settembre 2004: una settimana che rimarrà indimenticata.
Se ci si può immaginare una casa colonica in Toscana, dove non viene parlata neanche una parola di italiano, per via di questa forma di colonizzazione che va sotto il nome di turismo
Due coppie australiane, due americane e due inglesi. E noi, che viviamo qui.
Anche noi ci siamo divertiti, tantissimo!

Hello Michelangelo e Silvia,
We would like to thank you for your kind hospitality.
We all enjoyed our holiday very much. And especially we enjoyed Silvia’s and your delicious cooking.
I have just sent an e-mail to Paul’s colleague telling him we had a lovely holiday, and asking for the name of the lady who gave him your card. As soon as I find out I will let you know.
We will be recommending your place to anyone who is planning a holiday.
Many thanks again
Best wishes, Jacqui Cooper Australia


Dear Michelangelo and Silvia,
We surely hope all is well with you and your growing family and your wonderful B&B.
We had such a wonderful time staying with you, we will never forget you or Podere La Casellina. We talk about you guys and your place very often.
We think it was a once in a lifetime trip. Such great people with a beautiful B&B who make their guests feel so very much at home.
We hope to visit again one day...perhaps we won't stay so long next time!
And we made some great new friends while staying with you. We have been to London twice to visit Jacqui and Paul and consider them good friends now.
They will be going back to Australia some time this year, and we hope to meet up with them in Vienna before they go.

We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and wish you many blessings in this new year.
Please give little Isotta and Oliviero hugs from us. Take care and please keep in touch.
Love, Cookie and Russ Usa

Dave e Margaret, la coppia dall'Inghilterra, scrive solo lettere vere....
E, a proposito: non avevamo una camera libera e li avvisammo che avremmo offerto loro, una delle nostre, dove l'impianto elettrico.... non era stato ancora sistemato.
Loro vennero ugualmente e si presentarono con David che teneva in mano una torcia!

Quando tornarono, qualche anno dopo, ebbero la camera migliore, naturalmente.

Dear Sylvia And Michelangelo!
It has been almost a year since we spent four magnificent days at your place and now that we are planning this years holliday, we realize how lucky we were to find your little visitcard on the Internet.
We often talk about the great evenings in your extraordinary kitchen, the friendly atmosphere and especially the great feasts that we were served! We still enjoy the honey and oil we brought back home.
We have encouraged our friends and family to go and stay with you and we sincerly hope that they follow our advice!
We have wanted to write you for a long time - but hey, it's never too late...
We hope to able to com back and stay at Casselina some other time.
All the best, Signe & Mikael Denmark
By the way - thank you so much for the New Years card!

Luglio 2004

3 Marzo 2004: è nata Isotta!

Detto fatto!!
Le invio il testo richiestomi con allegati suggerimenti per l'intonazione.
Distintamente la saluto

Isotta Isotta dai che ce la fai > > > > > > > > > (ritmato stile balilla)
strombetta metti la marcia e vai > > > > > > > > (ritmato con brio...Sergio)
il tuo pilota azzurro tornera' > > > > > > > (da cantare con il cuore in mano alla Merola)
e poi ti guidera' > > > > > > > > > > > > > > (con aria sognante)
là nel suo favoloso garage > > > > > > > > (da cantare tutta d'un fiato!!!! )
Rally di miele a Montecarlo e via > > > ( pura apoteosi...o alla francese"avec grandeur")
I chilometri piu' romantici della tua fantasia > > > > > (a sfumare...ma poeticamente)

ALFIO da Martellago - Venezia

l'anno nuovo - 2004 - cominciò con una coppia dal Texas che venne, pare, per filmare la tenuta di Sting, qui vicino..... Finirono col filmare la nostra piccola casa colonica

Michelangelo and Silvia!!
Ciao!!! Come' sta?
Yes we did make it back... Back to our hectic life. But it does help us to slow down and remember how much fun we had with you both in Bella Italia!
We can't begin to tell you how much fun we had staying at your place!
The house is beautiful, the land is breathtaking, and the hospitality was magnifico! We really feel we have gained some close friends with you and Silvia.
We will most defiantly be keeping in touch with you over the years. We really are interested in your new baby, the home renovation project as well as your new vineyard.
We will take some pictures of Il Poggio Secco and send them to you soon, so you can see our land. We will keep you up with our building project as well.
Thank you soooo much for two bottles of your wine. It is just wonderful. We are holding on to these for special occasions!
We were happy leave the extra books for you and your future guests! Enjoy the sugar bowl as well. A little present from Deruta.
Our love to every one in Italy, Silvia and the cats!
Please keep in touch and let us know how your projects are coming along.
Thank you again for such a beautiful and fun week!
Jim and Peggy

Bonjour Michelangelo,
Tu m'avais caché que tu parlais français...et même très bien d'après mes parents.
Ils sont revenus très enchantés de leur séjour en Italie. Très belle région, et la nourriture excellente.
Je note ton adresse pour le jour où on se décidera à venir à notre tour en vacances en Italie (pas tout de suite car nous rénovons une maison pour l'instant, cela prend du temps, et de l'argent).
Ci-joint une photo du gite tirée par mes parents.
Salutations de Belgique.

Novembre 2003

Siamo andati a visitare il vostro sito e abbiamo rivisto con piacere i vostri luoghi splendidi.
Invidiamo il vostro mondo e la vostra filosofia di vita.
Se vi servono foto nuove potete contare sulla mia disponibilità, tra poco tempo le pubblicherò nel mio sito.
Un cordiale abbraccio "la torta era favolosa, ne abbiamo il ricordo ancora adesso!!"

Federico, Mino e Rosella Ramella
Imperia - Liguria
Novembre 2003

Dear Michelangelo and Silvia,
Just a brief e-mail to thank you all for such excellent hospitality.
We loved our holiday and then best bit was staying in your home.
Delicious food, kindness and warmth; we couldn't have asked for more.
Today it's back to normal. I tried a wobbly run with the dog in the early sunshine and then went to work in Petersfield. Tonight I'm cooking, and it's a dull fare, bangers and mash..
Thank you - all of you - for a lovely week. All the very best, Judith
Judith and Eleonor from Hampshire UK

Ottobre 2003

Dear Michelangelo,
we still remember the days at your very nice place last summer.
We have enjoyed it so much. Unless our night in the car... (We are the Dutch family Brassinga who arrived too late and slept in the car - untill your mother came by...)
This year we will spend our holidays in Spain. But we will come back another year, if you don't mind!
I wish you a very nice summer with very nice guests!!
Best wishes, also for your mother, Ida Schuurman (and Ron, Marc & Irma)

Luglio 2003

Michelangelo and Silvia,
Sarah and I have made it home, safe and sound, memories of our trip still distracting us from our jobs.
I just wanted to write you a quick note to tell you, once again, what a special and woderful time we had at your farm.
Your hospitality was the perfect medicine for our stressed-out lives. I can't tell you what it meant to us.
I'll remember our dinner with your friends, and your mother's lasangne, forever! In fact, we want the recipe!
We also want the recipe for Slyvia's pasta with spinaci and arugala. Sarah tried it the other night, and .....well...it wasn't the same.
Sharing a meal with you and your friends was the highlight of our holiday, believe it or not.
I think meeting new people is the best part of traveling, and the people we met around your table were great.
We plan to send a box off to you in the next few days, but I'm sure it will take weeks to arrive.
I took a picture of Sarah in your cellar before we left.
Remember, you've got a place to stay if you ever make it to California. And I certainly hope that Sarah and I will, one day soon, return to podere La Casellina.
Our very best wishes,
Peter and Sarah

Giugno 2003

ciao Michelangelo, ciao Silvia!
il nostro viaggio di ritorno è stato un po' lungo ma abbiamo evitato gran parte delle "code" che hanno invaso tutte le autostrade.
Ci siamo fermati a Lucca fino alle 19.00 e ci siamo avventurati .......dopo aver percorso circa mezza pianura padana siamo arrivati a casa all'una passata.
Il primo pensiero delle mie bambine questa mattina è stato per voi e per i vostri micetti. domanda di Veronica: Chissà se Michelangelo è nell'orto a quest'ora?
un grosso saluto e ...... buon estate! magari mentre andiamo in umbria ci fermiamo a salutarvi.
margherita & clan

Giugno 2003

Hi Guys
Hope all is well with you and your family.
Quick note to thank you very much for your gentle hospiltality - the kids loved it.
Have sent you a few pics. First attempt with OK camera so theres lots of room for improvement I know
Keep in touch.
(Was reading thru some prev comments - are we talking about thee Joe Jackson?)
Kind Regards
Philip and Family - from Ireland

Giugno 2003

Dear Sylvia and Michelangelo,
We arrived safely back in the UK after our tour of Italy.
We had a super time not least of which was our brief but immensely enjoyable stay at the Podere.
Thank you for your generous hospitality, we really enjoyed the evenings with you and your fellow guests.
Do you recall the two families from Napoli that came to stay on our last night? I think they were Doctors.
Is it possible for you to give me a contact E-mail address or postal address, I have some information for them on B&B in England which I wish to forward to them.
Hope to visit you again, I would love to bring my sister perhaps to help with the Olive harvest.......what time of year would that be?
Our very best regards
Roger and Sue Parker

Giugno 2003

Rob and I got home late last night, some seven hours later than planned due to the inefficiency of Swissair (!).
We followed our plan - went straight to the coast and found a nice little hotel in Viareggio and spent the day on the beach, resting and breathing.
We had a wonderful trip, and one of the best parts was meeting you.
I have described you to our friends and relatives here as "Renaissance men(women)" (since you are not only warm and friendly people but also multi-lingual, great cooks, readers, farmers, gardeners, hikers, web-based business people, etc.).
I had told my father how much I was looking forward to that part of our trip, and he recently looked at your web site and gave you a great complement.
His wife, my stepmother, died two years ago, but the two of them traveled a lot. He told me that your farm seems like the kind of place that he and my stepmother would have loved to visit.
He is now 81, but he still likes to travel, so you may yet have him as a guest.
We will take our pictures in today, and within a few days should be able to send you some shots of the farm, the hike, and you two.
Thank you for your hospitality -

Maggio 2003

Ciao cari Michelangelo e Silvia,
siamo ritornati alla nostra vita di sempre.
Devo dire che gli effetti della nostra piccola vacanza si sono fatti sentire stamattina: sono rilassata, non me la prendo, sono supergentile con i colleghi, se le mie ragazze non fanno esattamente come le dico... non importa poi così tanto...insomma per farla breve dovrei fare una vacanzina così tutti i mesi! Voi vi siete riposati ieri? I castagni sono arrivati freschi come se niente fosse, speriamo che attacchino. Oggi a 1/2 giorno Vittorio andrà ad innestarli.
Grazie del relax che ci avete regalato e soprattutto sono contenta che abbiamo già un'occasione per rivederci ad ottobre!
Ogni volta che si parte da un posto in cui si è stati bene la regola è crearsi già il motivo per tornare! E la grappa mi sembra un ottima scusa!!!
Saluti a tutti e soprattutto a tutti i micetti!
Ciao Marida

Aprile 2003
Marida e Vittorio sono tornati davvero, ad ottobre... ed è stata la prima grappa del Podere
La Casellina, perlomeno degli ultimi 70 anni

Dear Michelangelo
Getting back to work took some adjusting.
It is much easier traveling around in Europe, especially when Brandon is driving.
From the three of us, thank you very much for making our visit to Tuscany so enjoyable. You can rest assured that we will certainlyr ecommend Podere La Casellina to all our friends.
We had some of your wine in London with some friends and everyone enjoyed it. Toni has decided to keep the rest until Estelle and her husband come around for dinner.
The pictures of Tuscany are really good and the ones taken on the last day, with you included, came out very nicely.
Please give our kind regards to your parents and we look forward to seeing you in South Africa one day.
Kind regards
Toni, Brandon and Tony Tidbury

Ottobre 2002

Hi Michelangelo,
Thanks for your email, with my attachment on "Chicken curry pies"!
After leaving you, we had another full day and evening in Florence (doing all those last minute touristy things like climbing up the Duomo cupola, which I must admit was worth the 400 over steps for the sheer experience and view) and at Mr & Mrs Cote's suggestion, some of the museums at the Pitti Palace.
Since I returned to Malaysia, there's been plenty to catch up on, assignments to complete, correspondence to attend to, etc. but I've finally managed to sort through most of my pictures.
As promised, here are some taken at your place. They are not "big" pictures (as I was trying not to use up too much memory space on my camera), but relatively clear.
Please feel free to download/ use them if you wish.
Thank you once again for a lovely stay at Podere La Casellina and for being such an accommodating host (especially the countless trips to and from Figline train station!).
When I get organised enough, I promise to send you some of my cookbooks!
Take care and please give my best wishes to your parents and to Sylvia.

Ottobre 2002

Dear Michelangelo,
Sadly, we have arrived home in Canada, farther away than we would like to be from bell' Italia.
The rest of our trip was filled with rich experiences wherever we went
We climbed the 300+ steps to the top of St. Peter's for the best view of Roma, sipped 15 year old scotch in Piazza Pubblico in Siena under a full moon, and watched the sun set into the sea in Sperlonga, not to mention the delicious food which at times approached the standards of Podere la Casellina.
I also had the pleasure of meeting my Italian cousins in Benevento which, for my family here, was the first time in about 30 years that we had been together.
I'm writing to you on behalf of Catherine and myself to extend further thanks for the short but very sweet time that we shared with you and your friends at the Podere. We actually ran into Jill at the train station the next day and felt that we were seeing a friend. We'd love to return sometime and spend more time in the area so I'll keep your address, and in the meantime I'll try to send as many people as possible to your oasis.
Good luck with the olive harvest. We'll raise our next glass of chianti to you all.
Sincerely, Warren and Catherine x/x

Settembre 2002

Hello dear Michelangelo and Sylvia,
We're back in Belgium and are really unhappy to be not in Italy anymore.
We already mis the good food (your meal was delicious!!!!), the hospitality, the ice-cream, the beautiful landscape, the good wine, etc. of Toscany.......... (but not the Italian way of driving).
We had really a splendid time in Podere la Casellina and we're sure to come back.
We hope we can stay at your place again. We hope you're both doing well and hope to see you soon again!
Jeroen and Katrien.
N.B.: Always welcome in Belgium! Really, when you want to visit some place in Belgium, France, the Nederlands, ... don't hesitate to contact us.

Agosto 2002

Rivalta Bormida, lì venerdì 9 agosto 2002
Cari Michelangelo e Silvia,
grazie per il bellissimo soggiorno che abbiamo purtroppo appena terminato presso il vostro agriturismo.
Vi volevamo innanzitutto ringraziarvi per i bellissimi giorni trascorsi da voi e per l'eccellente cucina!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ora a distanza di tre giorni vogliamo porgervi una domanda: ci adottate? Si sta veramente bene nel vostro casale, l'accoglienza, la simpatia e la gentilezza (e il mangiare) sono davvero al top e ci è dispiaciuto tantissimo dovervi lasciare, con la promesse comunque di ritornare a farvi visita, speriamo ancora quest'anno…
Per quattro bellissimi giorni ci avete fatto assaporare il piacere della vita contadina, in mezzo alla natura e al di fuori delle rumorosissime e grigie cittadine dove viviamo; il cenare tutti insieme all'aria aperta alla sera ci ha fatto ricordare i pranzi che facevamo da piccoli con i nostri nonni, senza ipocrisia e rancori ma con tanta sincerità ed accoglienza.
Assieme a questa e-mail ti inviamo anche la foto che abbiamo scattato insieme il giorno della nostra partenza, noti delle differenze?
Comunque grazie ancora di tutto, e un arrivederci a presto: se non riusciamo a venire ancora quest'anno, sicuramente ci rivedremo l'anno prossimo…
Ciao a tutti
Marco Piana e Katiuscia Bertoia
P.S: l'olio è veramente buono!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We did not take one BLOODY picture of your parents! (We regret that now.)
How is everyone, how are the cats, the mice, the chickens, (we miss the rooster in the morning)..?
The bus-ride to Urbino was incredibly beautiful. It is only 5euro, so if you have nothing to do one day, it is worth it (one bus goes at 5 in the morning, so you could even make it back the same day).
Urbino is also beautiful. Small (that is a good thing.)
Our bloody time on computer is running out, alora (?), we will try again domani.
By the way we are trying to find a place in Capri for a week before we go to France.
Ciao, Hana & Mario

Maggio 2002

Cher Michelangelo,
Nous sommes de retour en Alsace après un trajet sans problèmes.
Merci pour votre accueil et pour tout.
Une affectueuse pensée à la mamma et à Sergio.
Il va falloir maintenant faire du régime pour perdre les kilos en trop.
Nous garderons un souvenir ému de la Podere la Casellina. A propos, que veut dire "podere" ?
A bientôt peut-être. (Si vous passez par Strasbourg, n'hésitez pas à appeler)
Daniel & Jocelyne

Maggio 2002

Dear Michelangelo,
Maybe you remember us. We visited Podere la Casellina at the beginning of April. (I send u some pictures)
First of all we want to thank you and specially your parents for the incredible stay we had in your house.
It was the 4th time we visited Toscana but this one we we allways remember.
Please say hallo to your parents (also from Ellen). Tell your mama that I often prepare some of here excellent meals over here.
But, I write you this mail because i have a question.
When we where in podere la casellina Sergio explained us about Nocino (that is is always made on San Giovani 24/06 with nuts picked by the local virgins)
I found the recipe for Nocino in Artusi's "la scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangiar bene" and since we have a big walnut tree in our garden I want to try it out.
But: June in Belgium is not like June in Italy.
I know the nuts still have to be green, but at this time the nuts in Belgium are only as big as a bean.
So could you explain me about what size they have to be?
We Wish you and your family a nice summer and a very good nocino on San Giovani.
I hope to be reading you Soon.
Petra , Dirk and Ellen Huibers

Aprile 2002

Eccomi qua!
con enorme sorpresa verso mezzogiorno ho trovato una crostata di crema pasticcera nel forno: anche a Castellanza le torte si fanno da sè, incredibile!
Mi sono portata via un po' di magia dalla Toscana, chissà se vale anche per il lavoro: se si facesse da sè ogni tanto, ti immagini quante belle vacanze? ho già una lista lunghissima di posti da vedere e ti dirò che per come sono messa in questo momento (vispa ed energica, senza più malattie) salirei in macchina subito subito!
I miei omaggi all'agriturista che produce un olio a basso contenuto di acidità... che io non ho comprato!!!!!!

Gennaio 2002
Elena, Claudio, Giovanni, Luca, Ambra, Max, parenti ed amici: l'ultimo dell'anno indimenticabile!


Toronto, Ottobre 2001

Michealangelo & Maria
Thank you very much for a lovely holiday at your house, we enjoyed ourselves very much. We also had another good week near Volterra, did more walking and siteseeing plus being lazy by the swimming pool.
Hope you are enjoying a quieter week or 2 with less visitors. We recommended your place to a couple of friends so they may come another year.
First week back home weather not too bad but has now gone cold and grey and the clocks have gone back so dark before 5pm. Wish we could have captured the Tuscan sun to bring back with us!!!
Could you send us the recipe for the grape cake / flan you made while we were visiting. we have been given a lot of grapes by our neighbour who has a vine in a greenhouse, not quite enough to start up in wine competition!!!
The offer for any of you to come to visit if you get to England is still open, hope one day we will see you again.
Will send photos as soon as we have them back
Best wishes to you all, Joseph sends a big smile and a hug to Maria

Lis, Steven and Joseph Ottobre 2001 *Maria è la mamma, Marisa

Dear Michelangelo
Just a short email to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Also to thank you for looking after my friends Geoff, Meredith and Dugal so well when they stayed with you.
Their time with you was one of the highlights of their trip.
All the best

Sydney, Settembre 2001

I just got back to Seattle last night.
I referred a man from Japan and his wife to you. I hope he was able to visit you (and spend money!).
So how about a list of your Joe Jackson collection, in case I can add to it?
Dave Richardson

Sorry for the delay in my reply. I was hoping to find time to write more, but you know how we Americans are always too busy doing nothing.
Thanks you for the kindness.
I have written a story about our holiday for the US Moto Guzzi owners and I mentioned your place. Hopefully some will contact you for reservations! Same with my local wine expert.
We will soon have some nice illegal copies of Joe Jackson CDs to send you with our compliments.

Dave e Lana Richardson, Seattle, Settembre 2001
Dave e Lana verranno a sposarsi sul lago di Como, fra due anni.
Tornarono, nostri ospiti - era l'ottobred del 2003 - e ci scrissero:

Dear Silvia and Michelangelo:
Rome was an adventure for us in many ways.
We stared with an 8-hour tour arranged by Lana's friend on the trip, Rebecca.
Rome is difficult for one's head. Indeed, the immense achievements are beyond belief. Then again, it was all built by slave labor.
Still, the simple quantities of stone and marble are beyond my comprehension.
The Pantheon captured my imagination the most. We had 1 rude moment when a drunk took exception to Americans in his piazza. With all that the US has done to the world in recent years, I cannot say that I blamed him!
I am not a Christian but I wanted very much to see the Vatican. Again like Rome, the pleasure contains a pain. Yes the art collection was expansive and enjoyable but it was mostly the spoils of war.
My most anticipated site in all of Rome was the Sistine Chapel, and yet, it was a disappointment, largely due to the constant reminder not to talk. How can one view such beauty without a murmur?!
My greatest surprise was my reaction to the Pieta, which of course was familiar to me from photographs. Your namesake has a remarkable way of getting beyond simple history to display the very human emotions behind it. Here was simply a mother whose son no longer lived. I cried in the joy of such power as I am crying now. How does one view such a thing and then eventually walk away, knowing it will most likely never again be viewed in one's life? Obviously, though, it stays with me. And it helped me realize that for me a lot of so-called art is more like craft or skill without inspiration, and so not art at all.

We looked forward to a grand conclusion of our stay in Rome with their all-night celebration of the arts called la Notte Bianca. Best of all, we had to be on our shuttle to the airport at 4:00 the next morning, so why not stay up all night?
We got to hear opera for the first time in our lives for free at the Rome Opera House! I have seen pictures of such grand concert halls but never in my dreams did I think I could ever visit one, due to the cost of entry and the need for fancy clothes. But on this night, the common man gleefully filled the seats and boxes.
Afterward, there was a break before chamber music, requiring a separate admission, so we went outside for coffee. There we saw the baritone, who we saw in the program to be the only performer with an Anglo name, talking with a few people. We waited our turn to thank him, only to discover that he is from Seattle, too!

The night of course ended in unexpected ways when the big power outage turned it into la Notte Nera!
We were lucky, as our wake-up call came as expected at 3:30 and the power went off 7 minutes later. Imagine the difference 10 minutes would have made, as the telephones quit working as well!
The shuttle arrived on the expected minute. Lucky for us, Rome isn't Seattle, as back home traffic would be completely stalled without working traffic lights. In the Rome traffic system, lights are almost without purpose; we easily got to the airport, which like the hotel was operating under emergency power from their own generator.
The adventure did not end with the plane, as I sat next to an older nun from India on her way to Africa.
She told me of her many joyful years of helping the poor and loving Jesus, all the while not being all so very happy with the church and its history. So here through this woman I learned to respect this huge institution like all others with good traits as well as ones not so good.

And so we are home with our memories, planning our official wedding for 12 October.
Staying with you was the greatest joy to all of us after the pressure of the cities. Traveling on to Rome only confirmed that your home was for all of us our favorite place in Italy. Our thanks as well for the special gifts and considerations for our wedding. It was especially nice to return to visit an old friend.

As promised, here is the poem about Silvia. Usually we only hear recited the first 8 lines, not also the last 6. If you have difficulty understanding its meaning, please ask and I will try to help.

Excerpt from 'Two Gentlemen of Verona"

What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?
What joy is joy, if Silvia be not by?
Unless it be to think that she is by
And feed upon the shadow of perfection
Except I be by Silvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale;
Unless I look on Silvia in the day,
There is no day for me to look upon;
She is my essence, and I leave to be,
If I be not by her fair influence
Foster'd, illumined, cherish'd, kept alive.
I fly not death, to fly his deadly doom:
Tarry I here, I but attend on death:
But, fly I hence, I fly away from life.
William Shakespeare, 16th Century

Ciao, Dave and Lana

Ottobre 2003

Dear Michael Angelo,
Here we are safely back in Berkhamsted after a good journey home.
We bought some nice wine in the Castello di Querchetto which we found easily thanks to your directions, and we bought some more in a French town called Sault near the Mont Ventoux so we have a good lot in the 'cellar' for drinking in the winter.
I am going to ring Sylvia later on today and get her wine round to her. We may meet in the gym!
We really enjoyed staying with you very much and were very pleased to get to know you a little and also to meet your mother. We shall be thinking of you at this difficult time.
We have come back to rain, rain and more rain. Ugh!
With very best wishes
Ellis and Suzie

UK, Luglio 2001

Saranno di nuovo nostre ospiti, un anno dopo, a Novembre. Ospiti "lavoranti", questa volta, poiché trascorsero tre giorni nei campi, con noi, a cogliere le olive.
Una delle loro lettere che seguirono:

Dear Michaelangelo
in haste a brief note to say we got back safely (seems like a long time ago!) and enjoyed ourselves very much.
Haven't heard from Kate yet, but that's not unusual she's always so busy. She really had a good time, which was important.
Can you give any advice about those olives? I put them in water for 9 days, changing every day, then in salt water, but they are still quite bitter and not like 'real' olives. HELP!
Ciao! Greetings to everyone, it was so nice to get to know them.
PS Don't put this on the website! I'll do you something better if you really want. The photos haven't been developed yet.

Ciao Michelangelo,
speriamo che non ti sei dimenticato di noi!?
Devi sapere che non appena siamo entrati in autostrada, volevamo fare l'inversione ad U. Daniela ora sta continuando le lezioni di scuola guida ed ha scoperto che non si può fare l'inversione ad U in autostrada ....
Abbiamo ripreso le nostre rispettive attività, ma spesso ricordiamo bene e volentieri quei giorni trascorsi presso il tuo podere e nella tua beata terra toscana.
Abbiamo bevuto il tuo vino ( 1999 ) a pranzo con i ns familiari ed ha avuto un gran successo.
un affettuoso saluto da Tullio e Daniela.
PS1 un saluto a tua madre
PS2 un saluto anche ai tuoi gatti
PS3 prossimamente saremo in grado di inviarti le foto.
p.s. hai letto l'articolo su "Specchio - la Stampa - Sting: da Newcastle alle colline Toscane"?
l'articolo, la foglia d'acero campestre che ci hai inviato ed il ricordo dei giorni trascorsi da te
c'hanno messo una nostalgia… facci sapere se ci sono delle occasioni per comprare (tipo capanna da 20milioni…)

Giugno 2001
Tullio e Daniela hanno trascorso la loro luna di miele qui da noi

Vogliono vi dire che abbiamo passato une maravillose vacanze en la sua casa La casellina.
Abbiamo fatto molte bene il viaggio di ritorno. Ho datto la tua indirizzo a molta gente, sopratutto a la mia professora di italiano anche a molte persone del mio lavoro che stanno molto interessati per andare li. Abbiamo fotos ma Cesar deve passarle per il scanner per inviartelas.
Come sta la tu encantadora mama ? Me e piacutà moltissimo la tua mama. Dale molti bacchi da parte di Paul e de mi. .Come sta il tuo babo ? Speró che migliore.
E tu ? Con molta gente in la tua casa perche siamo sicme in estate.
Grazie mille per cuestas vacanzes que ricordaremo per sempre.

Isabel, Cesar e Paul - Zaragoza, Maggio 2001

Michelangelo & Family, Kerrie arrived back safe last night. But, her bags went to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia!
She did not stop talking until about 2am this morning. It is very obvious that she had a great holiday. Italy to her was all she needed for a culture fix.
She really enjoyed the time at Figline. I feel that you made her very welcome which helped her relax and enjoy what was around her. It was the perfect place to stay for the tripping about that she did. I'm glad you made her welcome and happy.
Thank you for looking after her and thanks to your parents. Kerrie hasn't stopped talking about your Mum's great cooking! (And, the delicious coffee!!) Kerrie does talk a lot. Saves me from worrying about what to say.
Hopefully, one day soon, we will be able to meet. It would be a great pleasure. All the very best for Christmas, and may your New Year be prosperous and pleasurable. Again, thanks from myself. I appreciate all you have done.

Pete, Sidney, 11 dicembre 2000

Ciao Michelangelo, We are back home, unpacked, and mostly readjusted to California.
Our memories of staying at your farm are still in our mind, and one of the best parts of our 4 weeks in Italy. Just tonight I fixed some "bruchetta" using your olive oil and some pepper mushroom stuff we bought in Calabria. The wine we drank while we were still in Rome. It was delicious. Thank you again.
We hope to see you in person again some day.

Mitch and Mary Keil, San Francisco, 28Nov2000

Hello Bensi family
First of all we want to thank you again about your hospitality. We enjoyed it very much!! We didn't write until now because we try to contact you through the email, but the site of agriturismo in Italy is allways under constractions.
Our travel in Italy was great. Italy is very beautiful country. We are hope that the nice place you are building will be successful and that you will have a lot of guest.
You are very invited to visit in Israel at anytime. We will be happy to hear from you. Arividechi

Alon & Yael, Israel, Ottobre 2000

Ciao Michelangelo, Thank you for all your help, it was really wonderful to get some local assistance.
My search for a house was unsuccessful. My photos of your house and the house/church next door have been much admired and I have copies for you in the mail. Is there any news of the bishop closing the church? It would be wonderful to have an adjoining property to yours!
Cheers for now, Give my best wishes to your family, Barrie

Luglio 2000 - Barrie da Sydney

Ciao. Come va? Io bene. Ti invio le foto del 'Podere La Casellina'. Lo conosci? Io ci sono stato, anzi te lo consiglio! A presto. Carissimi saluti.

Claudio, Marisa ed Emanuele Tosi. 18 novembre 1999

Dear Michelangelo, I hope you're doing fine, and that your grandmother has recovered from her injury.
So, how are the olives and how about those lovely granates. If I close my eyes and imagine I'm having breakfast in your house, I can still smell the fresh apples, the granates and the passionfruit.

06 Ottobre 1999 . Marcel e Monique, dall'Olanda.
Si fermarono per far riposare la loro vecchia Fiat. Non erano sicuri che sarebbero riusciti a tornare a casa, a Nijmegen. Per fortuna ce la fecero!

Ciao Michelangelo Come' stai?
Grazie per il tuo email. Abbiamo ricevuto la settimana scorsa.
Mi dispiace per non scrivere prima di addesso. Il mio nuovo lavoro e' stato molto intenso. Non ho avuto il tempo per niente. Pero', Geoff ed io pensiamo di te spesso.
Come' la tua famiglia. Dice Buon Natale a loro per me.
Anche dai un grande baci a Marisa da me.
Spero' che puoi leggere questo email.
Buon Natale a' te. Molti baci da me Linda
PS. Beveremmo la bottiglia scorsa di tuo vino stasera con Luca e diremmo Grazie e Salute a Michelangelo.

30 Settembre 1999
Linda e Geoff Balmer si fermarono per una notte, durante il loro viaggio in Italia.
La mattina dopo, fecero colazione e partirono per Venezia.
Nel pomeriggio chiamarono: "Michelangelo, ciao, sono Linda. Siamo sempre a Firenze e si pensava di tornare a stare a La Casellina per qualche altro giorno."

Comunque non ti abbiamo dimenticato
abbiamo passato un tempo bellissimo da voi, come sai!!
Purtroppo ti ho 'rubato' le chiavi e le ho trovato solo un paio di giorni fa quando la mia sorella voleva prestare la valigia.
E da voi, invece? Com'è il vino quest'anno? Hai ancora molto da fare ora?
E come va l'agriturismo? Abbiamo raccontato già a tutti i nostri amici del tuo bellissimo posto e spero che qualcuno deciderà di andare in vacanza da voi.
Anche noi vorremmo venire il più presto possibile, ma sembra che non sarà prima del prossimo estate.
Intanto ti mando delle foto delle vacanze e spero che ci rivediamo presto, forse anche in Germania se hai voglia di venire!
Un abbraccio, Claudia. (e Ian manda tanti saluti)

Agosto 1999
Claudia dalla Germania e Ian dall'Inghilterra trascorsero la loro luna di miele, qui.
Qualche mese dopo, Claudia ci inviò una busta con una lettera, qualche foto e la chiave della camera!