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I would like to make European Stars and Stripes readers aware of an excellent, family-friendly resort in northern Italy that would be a great site for military and government families looking to vacation in Italy.

The villa is named Monsignore Della Casa. It’s about 30 minutes north of Florence in the town of Borgo San Lorenzo and 15 minutes from the major Italian highway, autostrada A-1. It’s well located for anyone wanting to tour northern Italy. Bologna is an hour away by car, and Venice is 2½ hours away.

It has a mixture of small rooms, large rooms, suites and even two separate vacation houses. It’s set in the Tuscan countryside, with a nice view of the nearby mountains and farmers’ fields. The resort is an old restored villa. The old barn, stables and other outbuildings have been turned into modern rooms and suites. We stayed in an old watchtower that’s been transformed into a charming four-story apartment that sleeps four.

The owners speak excellent English and bend over backwards to guide tourists toward the best sightseeing in the area. They can arrange wine tastings at the many nearby vineyards, plus horseback tours or visits to local sites. There’s even an excursion train that goes through the countryside. In many cases, the resort staff can call and make all the arrangements for you.

The villa has two pools, a workout center (daily fee is charged), bikes for rent and volleyball/soccer nets. Laundry machines on-site. Most rooms have full or mini-kitchens.

The resort offers a bread, milk and newspaper service each morning, for a fee. Also, the resort has a restaurant and winebar that are open every other night. Borgo San Lorenzo, five minutes away, has several supermarkets, restaurants, banks with ATMs, bakeries and coffee shops. I believe most rooms have satellite TV — I know ours did. Great place for kids.

Room prices seem reasonable. We went in September and our apartment (one of the more expensive ones on the site) cost about $1,000 for the week. It was designed for four people. Most of the other rooms cost much less.

I heard about this place from some families at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. So, I’m returning the favor by passing the word to you. I’d recommend it to any American family that wants a good, fairly priced home base from which to tour Tuscany.

Monsignore Della Casa’s Web site is: www.monsignore.com.

Army Maj. Donald SmithThe Pentagon, Washington, D.C.


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