Casa Mario Dei Pini – Review by E J Frank
About the House
The first thing to say about Casa Mario dei Pini is that I cannot praise the house enough! I would have no hesitation in recommending it to friends and family. Situated in a quiet residential street, away from the main sea front, its modest exterior is deceptive. Once you open the door, you are greeted with a vast spacious and bright interior. The ground floor has a large open plan living room, with comfortable sofas, dining table and chairs, large TV screen and even a piano. The kitchen is modern and was fully equipped with everything we needed for our stay including cooker, microwave and fridge. There is even a washing machine, which is located in the utility room in the courtyard. There are 3 bedrooms in the house. There is a downstairs bedroom with a double bed and a downstairs bathroom with toilet and shower. This is extremely useful for people with limited mobility, as they do not have to go upstairs to use facilities.
The first floor has one double room and one twin, a large bathroom with bath and shower and another small seating area.
There is an outside private courtyard with a table and chairs for al fresco dining or just sitting in the sun whiling away the hours.
The house is decorated in a tasteful Mediterranean style, with wooden floors, marble staircase, shutters and gentle pastel blue and beige tones. It is obvious that a lot of thought and care has gone into decorating and furnishing the house and it has the atmosphere of a real family home.
About the Location
The town of Viareggio itself seems to be largely unknown to the British tourist, which I found unusual, as it is a lively resort with a sandy beach, clean sea water and a range of shops, amenities and activities. The house itself would be ideal for families with young children, as there is little or no noise from outside at night. In contrast, you get the best of both worlds, as it is 4 mins walk away from Essalunga – a huge supermarket selling anything you may need for your stay – and very reasonably priced, 10 mins walk from the local park and 20 mins walk from the sea front, which, itself, boasts a wide range of shops, restaurants, bars and ice cream or cake shops on every corner! We found it an ideal location, as none of my family drive, and most places in the town itself were easily accessible either by foot or local bus. The train station is also close by and you can travel to locations such as Lucca and Pisa for extremely reasonable fares (3 euros 50 for a 2 hour ride!)
About the People
We found everyone we came across in Viareggio to be extremely friendly and helpful. Most spoke English well. A few not so well, but they were very polite and patient and we had no problems with making ourselves understood. It is here that I must single out our driver Enrico – (see website), who drove us around for about half of our time in Italy and had an endless amount of patience for our numerous toilet stops! My Dad fell and broke his foot and Enrico spent time helping him up and down steps and with getting about in general. By being driven around, we were able to see many more places than we would have been able to get to on public transport. Notably Pruno – high up in the mountains, with fantastic views, and Carrera, where you can be driven through the mountains, see marble sculptures and learn about how the marble is collected and carved. The price for this worked out quite reasonable between 3 of us, but may not be an option if you are on your own.
Other points to note are that Viareggio is reasonably close to some of the bigger tourist destinations like Pisa and Florence, where it is possible to spend a day and return in the evening, and that I would heartily recommend the house, the town and the people. We all want to return next year – 10 days was just not long enough!
I stayed at Casa Mario dei Pini for 10 days last month for a much needed family holiday, and all I can say is that every expectation I had was utterly surpassed.
I have done a fair bit of travelling in my life, but rarely have I stayed in a place so exquisite, spacious, homely, immaculately clean and so reasonable in price for all that is offered.
Attention is paid to the tiniest details. The inner decor is warm, tasteful and stylish. I loved the paintings, flowers and marble floors. The downstairs and upstairs sitting areas are perfect for luxury lounging after exploring all the area has to offer, and I found the beds to be beautifully comfortable.
My elderly father was able to rest in comfort after hurting his foot in Florence, and we were so grateful for having all the amenities right on hand in the house for looking after him.
There is a very well equipped kitchen, and both bathrooms were sparklingly clean. There's also a lovely outdoor area for resting and reading in the sun!
What I was also struck by was how well situated the house was. It's in a quiet, pretty part of Viareggio with no disturbances, yet only a 5 - 10 minute walk to the train station, 4 minutes to the local bus stop, 5 minutes to the pine wood, and a pretty 20 minute stroll to the promenade and seafront.
There's so much to see in Viareggio itself and I was surprised that more Brits aren't aware what a great base it is to explore Tuscany. By train it's 20 minutes away from Pisa, 20 minutes outside of beautiful Lucca, and just over an hour from Florence. There's also some breathtaking villages at the foot of the Apuan alps, and beautiful places a couple of hours away (such as Volterra and San Gimignano) that we were able to see with the help of the amazing local driver Enrico, whose big smile and even bigger heart helped make our holiday as truly special as it was!
I will 100% be returning to Casa Mario dei Pini and I cannot recommend this place enough.