None of us knew what to expect. The photographs on the website looked wonderful. Our friends who weren’t traveling with us were jealous and astounded at our luck in finding this castle on the hill. The joy of our trip to Italy hinged on everything being true.
The Castello di Pastine was everything we had dreamed about. We were transported back in time and became landed gentry . . . visiting royalty. The castello was virtually perfect.
Our apartments were in one building facing west. This building was originally the barn hundreds of years ago. The main house is still being restored and I'm sure it will be nice, but it won't have the same view as our aparments. Each evening brought a beautiful sunset. Each morning brought hills shrouded in fog and dew.
Peg and I took apartment number one, which has three bedrooms upstairs. One bedroom was for us, while Jan and Mike took bedroom number three. Bedroom number two was empty. Downstairs we had a living room, a large dining room, and a kitchen with a fireplace.
I enjoyed either standing out our bedroom window and looking at the countryside, or reading on the bed and occasionally looking up at the view.
Each window was shuttered from the inside and every window I tried worked. It seemed like there was always a breeze available to cool us off. Of course this was easier from our apartment, which had windows on two outside walls thereby creating a cross breeze.
Rob and Vickie took apartment number two, which had one empty bedroom and their bedroom. Downstairs they had a living room (with a door that opened out to the terrace) and a kitchen.
Donn and Debbie took apartment number 3 with a bedroom for them and one for Randy and Sue. Again, downstairs had a living room and a kitchen.
Apartment number one had a door off the living room and a main door that opened into the dining room. All three had doors and windows facing a center court and lawn. A long hallway connected the apartments upstairs. We chose to keep the doors upstairs unlocked so people could freely access any apartment from anywhere inside the building.
Bathrooms were plentiful . . . except at shower time. Each aparment had its own bathroom. Outside under the terrace is the laundry room, which also has a bathroom and shower.
The grounds contain a wide lawn with a huge pool, lounge chairs, and landscaping. Sloping away from the pool area is a grove of olive trees. The knarled tree trunks are so interesting to look at. A tree lined lane borders the front lawn as it curves to meet the bottom of the grove. The lawn, trees, and shrubs are constantly being cut and trimed, which reinforces the feeling that everything is done for the enjoyment of the guests. Valley views show up almost everywhere, even through a window cut into the hedge.
New roads have changed the original driveway a bit. The original roadway was cypress lined and includes a fishpond with a large number of goldfish. Hidden amongst the trees and vegetation is a view of the local church bell tower across a small valley. There are olives, figs and vineyards as well as herbs and spices growing everywhere.
The castello is a gated compound and feels quite safe and secure.
With our two weeks in Pastine we only met one other couple staying there. They were from the U.K. They joined us one evening for stories and wine. Other than the maids and a gardener, we were pretty much left by ourselves, so we made ourselves feel at home.
Often I wrote in my journal at a desk in the living room. There was plenty of light from a window facing the courtyard and a small desk lamp illuminated my pages. The chair was comfortable and the desk was sturdy and nicely built. The work space was nothing like my desk at home. It was uncluttered.
We usually had a communal breakfast in our dining room. The dining room table accomodated our ten people four to a side and one on each end. We had to adopt chairs from the other apartments along with plates and glasses, but we returned them before leaving. The roomy kitchen made cooking fairly easy although it was a little crowded around the refridgerator.
Early risers got the coffee going. Breakfast for many was milk or yogurt and cereal with fruit. Sometimes we got a little more elaborate and came up with French toast or scrambled eggs and bacon.
Lunch and dinner was sometimes a home affair, but often we ate away from our home base when we were off on an adventure. If we were home early enough we ate on the terrace, which was a wonderful place to meet, eat, and talk.
Personally, I enjoyed the view from my bedroom window and really enjoyed staying at Pastine reading, relaxing, writing, and napping, while everyone else went sight-seeing.
Although we thought of Pastine as fancy, it was no Buckingham Palace. It was more warm and comfortable than a palace. It was relaxing, and we filled it with laughter and good times. That would be hard to do in any palace.
One day while sitting on the terrace and drinking a little local Chianti a barn swallow dropped a deposit on Donn's leg (He had to check to make sure that was the only deposit he had.). That would never be allowed to happen in an exclusive resort. Here we accepted it as entertainment in a laid back world and part of nature.
We all felt close to nature at Pastine: a crawling snail on the wall, the sound of clucking from barnyard chickens across the valley, and the call of pheasants in the orchards and groves.
While we called Pastine home, we were able to explore much of Tuscany and beyond. The castello was a great staging center and an excellent castle away from home. Would we go back? In a heartbeat.