Italian Feast

Eating is a necessity, but cooking is an art…

Light bulbWhen you rent a villa in Tuscany one of the highlights is eating out, or having a feast at your villa rentals in Tuscany cooked, served and cleared up while you sit back and enjoy the view at your Lucca villa rental recently we scoured the area around La Collina del Sole and found that in addition to the restaurants highlighted in the Lucca villa rental website all of which are fabulous there is an exceptional “eaterie” in the midst of Villas for rent in Tuscany it is called Locanda del Mezzo and is situated in the heart of Barga a beautiful historic town and on the “MUST SEE” list when you stay at Holiday villas in Lucca Upon entering this charming restaurant you might think you have accidentally stumbled upon a newly launched, up-market restaurant in Soho, London, as opposed to a Locanda (Italian for an Inn) in the middle of Garfagnana. Run by a young and up-and-coming duo the restaurant offers a welcomed daring take on traditional Tuscan cuisine. It is clear right from the offset that these boys know their stuff. They know how to treat their guests with not only a feast for their taste buds, but also an aesthetical one. The food tastes delicious and is presented in the most inventive and artistic manner. The atmosphere is equally satisfactory as one is waited on by the warmest and most knowledgeable of waiters. The chef takes a "minimalistic" approach to his cooking. He specially selects only the finest local ingredients to infuse together, therefore adding a very rare depth to his cooking. These innovative dishes are light, therefore you will easily be able to sample a dish from each section (starter, first course, second course and pudding) allowing you to really enjoy the whole tasting experience from the very carefully curated menu. If you are looking for a dining experience with a wow-factor this is certainly a destination to add to your “to do” list. I would even go as far to say this is my favourite restaurant in the surrounding area of La Collina del Sole due to its fresh take on the old classics. (Current menu) ANTIPASTI -Selection of local cold meats -Cream of bean with mussels -Beef tartar -Liquid salad with marinated mackerel -Richly cured hams

PRIMI PIATTI -Three tomato pasta -Watercolour Risotto, accompanied by mullet caviar and cream of clam -Velvety broccoli and potato soup with rosemary croutons -Cream of chickpea and squid artisanal pasta -Hand-made ravioli stuffed with three-time-roasted spelt, drizzled with butter and sage

SECONDI PIATTI -A selection of cheeses chosen by the famous Luigi Guffanti -Merlot infused braised meat on a bed of red-polenta and onion -Filet of beef with sautéed aubergine and spinach -Over-baked hake with seasonal vegetables and saffron sauce

DESSERT -Chocolate torte with a melt-in-the-mouth vanilla core -Marsala (sweet wine) laced custard-like pudding, topped with pistachios and almonds -Baked apples with mascarpone cream and honey-comb truffles -Aniseed infused creme brulèe Eat, Enjoy, relax and dip into the saltwater infinity pool at La Collina del Sole to top off the perfect day !

LCDS Pool360Degree

Where the wild things are...

Pumpkin CakeHalloween as we know it does not exist in Italy so if you are at Lucca villa rental expecting to go trick or treating you are in for a surprise!!! Italians celebrate all hallows day with a church service to commemorate the memory of dead relatives. A beautiful celebration is held at Santuario the local monastery to La Collina del Sole . A really worthwhile “dress up day” to enjoy when you rent a villa in Tuscany is the Carnevale a true highlight during the Italian special dates calendar. During this Italian fun day, people dress up and play practical jokes. The 'Carnevale' is usually in February, as it is held 40 days before Easter, a beautifully cool and crisp time of year to enjoy villa rentals in Tuscany. It is celebrated with parades, masquerade balls, entertainment, music, and parties. Kids dress up, go out and throw confetti and play innocent practical jokes on everyone. In true Italian decadent fashion they celebrate Carnevale for roughly one week. Children in Italy stuff themselves with pumpkin risotto and porcini mushrooms and Castagnole - instead of sugar filled candies – a healthier way to feast.If during your stay at holiday villas in Lucca you would like to learn the darker lore of the area, we found out from our guide when we stayed at La Collina del Sole that you can still find elements of the macabre, the famous Devil’s Bridge is a stone’s throw away from this beautiful villas for rent in Tuscany - Ponte della Maddalena, which translates as the Bridge of Mary Magdalene, is a bridge crossing the Serchio river near the town of Borgo a Mozzano in the Italian province of Lucca. It is more widely known as the Bridge of the Devil as legend has it that the villages on either side of the river made a deal with the devil in order to gain his help to construct the architecturally magnificent stone arch bridge that still stands today despite over 500 years of use, in order to facilitate the crossing of the river which was vital for the continuation of a medieval pilgrimage route. The devil agreed to build the bridge, but in return he asked to take the first soul to cross the bridge back to hell with him. After building the bridge overnight the devil was outwitted by his adversaries, the townspeople threw bread to lure a dog over the bridge first, which was last seen descending into the water, bringing peace to the community. The high arch in the bridge is supposedly due to the devil jumping in rage at being outsmarted by the townsfolk. It takes great wit to outsmart Italians ! Devils bridge Ponte del Diavolo

I’m dreaming of a …

white Christmas ! A roaring fire and a ponche al mandarino beckons. The local drink taken IMG_6103at Lucca Villa Rental consists of a sweet liquor made of mandarin fruit served in short glasses with hot water and a twist of lemon YUM ! For those enjoying villa rentals in Tuscany this festive season, the area around La Collina del Sole is full of surprises, first up  on the 15th of December there is the Presepe Vivente a particularly Italian tradition done in the areas where you also find villas for rent in Tuscany where all the inhabitants of a particular village,  in this case Trepignana  enact the birth of Jesus. Trepignana is one of the Places of interest near Lucca Villa Rental and for those who enjoy the Excitement of opening up Christmas presents left by Santa if you rent a villa in Tuscany you can genuinely have 2 shots at this delight because on the 6th of January the Befana hands out toys and sweets to each child in the village and to those stayingDSCN1461 in holiday villas in Lucca However you had best be well behaved as you will get nice surprises rather than coal that gets handed out to the naughty children. A special kind of “Coal” is found in sweet shops and it is a block of Fluffed sugar in a hard lump and in Black, remarkably coal-like.If you would like to have a stress free Christmas experience our lovely Maria would be only too happy to prepare a Christmas feast from the suggested menu of a Christmas special which will include Roast Turkey, and A FeastPanetone a very light bread like sponge cake with candied fruit and raisins or Pan d’Oro which is very similar but without the raisins. The menu will also include Turrón with candied fruit, Torrone otherwise known as Nougat is either a very chewy or very hard sweet mixture of heated sugar and beaten egg white with almonds and candied fruit pieces.  Vin Brulée will also be prepared with the organic wine of La Collina del Sole heated with orange, cloves, juniper berries, bay leaves, star anise,  and cinnamon. To find all the requisite food and shops for presents in Castelnuovo have no fear ! Most of the shops will be open until midnight during the week before Christmas, don't forget to ENJOY the experience by checking out the best Ponche al Santuario della S Stellamandarino in the various bars or the ice rink that is set up especially for these festivities and the cuisine at the truly fabulous restaurants that abound around   Lucca Villa Rental.    In Italy Christmas is mainly celebrated during Christmas eve,  so make sure you get most of the shopping done before 5pm, as people start going “home to Mamma” to start celebrating. The church service for the young is midnight mass which starts at 10.30 pm in the church of our Santuario near Migliano it ends at midnight, if you miss that you can join the older crowd at 11 am also at Santuario on the 25th Start preparing for a BUON NATALE ! WINTER PANORAMASMALL