Did you know that the picture postcard rolling hill photo that you associate with Villa rentals in Tuscany comes from the route that is taken from La Collina del Sole to Pienza ? It appears in suitable postcards to send home when you rent a villa in Tuscany and on Calendars that you buy as Tuscan souvenirs when you choose to stay at Villas for rent in Tuscany it even features on plates and magnets that you can buy at the local market to Lucca Villa Rental on Thursdays, as it is the ideal rolling Tuscan hill reminder of your perfect holiday villas in LuccaAs you depart from La Collina del Sole you can drop into L’aia di Piero or Osteria il Vecchio Mulino in Castelnuovo and choose a few choice morsels for a pic nic to take with you on the trip. Or you could pop into Siena and visit the “Consorzio Agrario Siena” on Via Pianigiani to buy water, salads, vegetable frittata, “ribollita” of sodden bread in a mixture of fresh tomato, fresh basil and olive oil or delicious pasta with truffle and funghi porcini and drive on down towards Pienza which is in the heart of the gorgeous Val D’Orcia [ a world heritage site] passing through beautiful rolling hill countryside, poppy fields and newly harvested wheat fields. The very famous picture of the small white church in the middle of a sea of rolling hills is on the way. Pienza is a picturesque town, an example of an ideal renaissance city, with lovely vistas down alleyways, a beautiful main road and square with stunning views to the surrounding countryside of rolling hills which is a UNESCO protected site as far as the eye can see. In Pienza itself stands the main Palazzo, donated to the state by the last in line of the Piccolomini family, along with many of the family treasures, this family provided two Popes, Pius II who was born in the Palazzo and his nephew Pius III who commissioned the beautiful library to be painted in honour of his uncle at the Duomo in Siena. You can take a guided tour or a private tour of this amazing Palazzo which was originally built in 1459 by Bernardo Rosellino [ he had red hair !] and a student of Leon Battista Alberti. Really worth a visit and its own blog as it is a wonderfully sober, elegant and uncomplicated Palazzo. Next to the Palazzo you find the Duomo, a lovely simply decorated church, you can walk along the walls of the town past small houses that look over the incredible view of the fields beyond, there are many shops that sell cheeses, cold meats and wine including Montalcino and Montepulciano wine as both areas are very close to Pienza. A very appealing shop is called Porta della Cavina [ in Piazza Pio II tel +39 0578 749906] it sells house decoration items, home perfumes, small gifts and soft furnishings. The owner is very attentive and helpful, she even told us where the best gelato is to be found - outside the walls it is “Gelateria Toscana” a gelateria & biscoteria artigianale in Via Mangiavacci 3, Pienza, 53026. Tel 0578 748 538. It has a very good selection of normal ice cream and lactose intolerant ice creams with specialities like fennel seed gelato. As you leave Pienza you can drive to either Montalcino which is 25 km away or Montepulciano 10km away on the road there is a magnificent Fortress which sells vin santo and olive oil directly to the public, they have short opening hours though. Continuing towards Montepulciano, if you are lucky and drive as the sun is setting you are rewarded with the magnificent view of Montepulciano bathed in Liquid Golden evening light. The view from a distance is almost the best part, there are many wine stress where you can buy the delicious Montepulciano direct from the vineyard, in order to park best to leave the car at the foot of the town and walk steeply up, the main street runs along the town and is impossible to miss it will take you to the main square which is a huge central area surrounded by a church, town hall, bank and other impressive buildings. The Fortress of Montepulciano is at present undergoing restoration.
If you, like me, are sitting looking at the snow gently falling from a leaden sky; although I admire its beauty, my heart longs for those lazy summer days soaking in the gentle late afternoon sun. So feeling like a little escapism I searched for Villas for rent in Tuscany and in particular Holiday Villas in Lucca and alight on La Collina del Sole a beautiful Lucca Villa Rental with every facility you could want; from an award winning Salt Water infinity swimming pool, to a floor plan that allows you to plan ahead and bag the best room ! This Villa rentals in Tuscany has it all from Experiences like trekking along the Carrara marble hills to learning how to cook like Mamma, learning how to make a Pizza from scratch, joining in the Wine making, learning Italian and watching the swallows have the bedtime drink, when you rent a villa in Tuscany you really want it to be like this ! So here is what impressed me they have a list of favourite restaurants with feedback testimonials that back the choice and even give further suggestions, all the people who have stayed at La Collina del Sole have left heartfelt and happy reviews.
They also have a section we love Bars Patisseries and Ice Cream right up my street with places to laze with a glass of prosecco and watch the world go by in the summer, or as I am jolted back into the reality of snow, a fab warm Ponche de Mandarino a warm alcoholic beverage that tastes like rich mandarins in syrup when added with a spot of exotic cinnamon and a slice of lemon perfect !
There is a section devoted to we love Food where directions are given to find the best local Italian Specialities like Funghi Porcini, TRUFFLES and a truly local speciality all things made with Chestnut, like chestnut pasta, chestnut bread, chestnut flour, chestnut cake even Chestnut marmalade all especially delicious setting by the roaring fire with a nice tumbler of Ponche al mandarino
Hey Italy is good in summer AND winter !