The miracle benefits of salt water swimming pools...

Italy Blog - Salt water cureThe miracle benefits of salt water swimming pools, a luxury available at La Collina del Sole Many of us have been told that salt water is good for us. We have been told that “the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea”. All of us are made up of water. Our bodies are about two thirds water, and the only mineral that we can ingest is salt. All of us have elements of salt water within our systems, so why not reap the benefits of salt water by swimming in the salt water pool of La Collina del Sole as it counts an infinity salt water pool as one of its many facilities and is a jewel among the Villas for rent in Tuscany .First of all salt water is much softer on our skin than traditionally chlorinated water. This means less itchy, dried-out skin, and hair, you can keep your eyes open underwater when you swim in the pool of your Lucca villa rental not to mention, you don’t have the smell of chlorine or the burning eyes that also come with a traditionally chlorinated pool. Why not see the benefits of salt water while you rent a villa in Tuscany as salt water is a miracle treatment for acne and semi-permanent scars. Instead of using harsh chemicals that can damage pores and cause scarring the salt water rids the skin of foreign toxins and cures cuts in a gentler manner. Salt water also acts as a natural shampoo. Have you noticed that your hair is extremely dry after coming out of the water? This is because salt water cleanses all the oils from your hair. If you have a particularly greasy scalp, then salt water is an excellent way to strip those unnecessary oils from your hair making it more voluminous. Salt water even gets rid of dandruff because it acts as an exfoliant to your scalp. Finally, swimming in salt water helps you stay fit. This is perhaps the most conventional of the benefits of a salt water pool. When you are swimming, you use muscles in your shoulders, arms, and legs which aren’t used in any other activity. That’s why swimming is often recommended as a great way to exercise. Even treading water will burn 590 calories an hour! This way you can work off all those calories enjoyed while eating at one of the restaurants and bars recommended in the suggestions section of La Collina del Sole one of the best appointed Lucca villa rentals within Villa rentals in Tuscany There are also many experiences at La Collina del Sole which have been tailor made by the owners of this exquisite Holiday villas in Lucca

LUCCA the MOST beautiful place in Italy - Forbes Magazine !

The sun has been glorious at La Collina del Sole !  As expected when you lacollinadelsole1rent a villa in Tuscany and my … what a treat when expectations are met as you stay in your villas for rent in Tuscany Should you wish to check out the weather we suggest www.meteo.it   as having lived in Italy and specifically in the mountainous area of Lucca Villa rental in Italy for over 24 years we have found it to be very accurate,  a huge help when you are on Holiday villas in Lucca Now for the FANTASTIC NEWS that Lucca the main town closest to our villa rentals in Tuscany has been voted by Forbes magazine the best place to live in Italy  and in 2nd place within Europe !The Tuscan inhabitants of Lucca have charm, fashion sense, antiques [more on that later] and are unspoilt what more could you ask for. Here we share a few words from the article which can be seen on the Collina del Sole Facebook stream. “Of course, the people of Lucca have always thought their city was the best in Italy and now it has been confirmed by an official sLucca San Micheleource. First place on the Forbes list goes to the small island of Patmos in the Aegean A FeastSea (aka the “Holy Greek Island of Patmos”). Third place in the Forbes  ranking is Saignon, a peaceful little village on a cliff in Provence, Southern France. Below are excerpts from the Forbes article written by Parmy Olson: “To create our list of the most idyllic places to live in Europe, we asked a panel of experts in the fields of travel and relocation to choose their five favorite simple, unspoiled and near-heavenly locations to take up residence. Many of them will seem unfamiliar because they have yet to be pounced on by hurried, mass-market tourism…Ariostos Seat in Castelnuovo Following Patmos at a close second on our list is Lucca, a medieval city within a city in the region of Tuscany, central Italy. It has "all the Tuscan charm of its neighbours Pisa and Tuscany but without the crowds," says Gillian Pearsall, marketing manager at Intrepid Travel. Tour busses are not the norm here: It's "blissfully cut off by its perfectly preserved Renaissance walls," says Schultz. "This is a quiet, though classy town, with lawyers and housewives peddling the narrow cobblestone streets past thousand-year-old churches and made-in-Italy fashion Antipasto De LUXE boutiques," she says, adding that you can visit the outdoor antiques market every month to furnish your Tuscan farmhouse. The larger city of Florence is just 45 miles to the east; both the beach and skiing in Abetone are about an hour away, in opposite directions. Foreigners who buy into the area tend to be professionals from Britain or other parts of Europe, and some of the most sought-after properties are within the walls of the medieval city. An apartment in the epicenter can set you back betwDSC00110een 300,000 and 500,000 euros ($428,700 and $714,320), depending on how much restoration needs to be done. It's difficult to find a house there, so a good entry point is to find a property within the walled city for the winter, where you could be sheltered from the cold and not worry about electricity outages. Though if you can find it, a house in the hills just outside the city for the spring and summer would be appealing, but prices range from 500,000 to 800,000 euros ($714,320 to $1.1 million).

A couple we know own the top flat in the house where Puccini lived within Lucca … oh to be there in the sunset !

For Antique hunting while you enjoy villa rentals in Tuscany and in Bargaparticular Garfagnana we suggest you visit Within the centre of Lucca an antiques market is held every 3rd Saturday and Sunday of each month Castelnuovo di Garfagnana  - There is an antique market every 1st Saturday and Sunday of every month Barga There is an antique market every 2nd Sunday of every month


When you rent a villa in Tuscany there are several treats you can look forward to as a “only la collina del sole salt water pool + jacuzziin Villa rentals in Tuscany experience”  like a RELAXING TREAT picture yourself relaxing in the jacuzzi within the pool at La Collina del Sole the only salt water infinity pool available within the choice of Villas for rent in Tuscany sipping some prossecco looking at the surrounding area and felling the warmth of the sun caress your skin …. There are VISUAL TREATS like the wild flower covered terraces of DSCN1648Lucca Villa Rental in the early part of Summer May June and July is a riot of Poppies, Buttercups, Tassel Hyacinths, Crimson Peas, Black Medic and all manner of wild flowers that abound in the area of Holiday villas in Lucca Some of which have medicinal properties or hidden culinary uses and from this point we move onto … SPOILING TREATS like having a gourmet Italian feast cooked Al Ritrovo del PlatanoFrontagefor you at La Collina del Sole and served on the terrace and cleared up for you while you enjoy the sunset behind the infinity pool…. Then there are FOODIE TREATS like our new found star restaurant Osteria al ritrovo del Platano which we wrote up on our Foodie Treasure Trove  Found blog posted 25 of May the food is wonderful and VERY reasonable  Keeping on the Foodie theme there are also EPICURIAN TREATS  like wine DSCN1658and Olive Oil tasting at il Vecchio Mulino and if you fancy a light meal order the taster menu with the  cheese taster plate and the local cold meats palter or as they say in Italian le piatti di assaggi di formaggio e di salumi.There are YEARLY TREATS like seeing the Chestnut woods that cover the mountainous region of Garfagnana literally carpeted DSCN1656in Chestnut Blossom, the huge profusion of Chestnut trees means that there are many speciality Chestnut Foods many of which can be found in Aia di Piero from Chestnut pasta to chestnut marmalade to chestnut cake and bread. In fact Chestnuts were one of the few edible items that kept the population from starving during the WWII occupation and the years beyond when Italy was poor due to the almost complete destruction of crops, Evening  light on Pool La Collina del Solemanufacture or any other money making venture.  Continuing this reflective mood there are MEDITATIVE TREATS like watching the swallows drink their evening libation and reflecting that God takes care of all His creatures while sitting by the infinity pool at sunset, one of the highlights of the experiences section of the Lucca Villa Rental site Still on a pensive note but a little more active we can enjoy the PEACEFUL HUNTING TREAT like Funghi Hunting in the chestnut woods in late summer early and mid-autumn.   Then we can enjoy the ENERGETIC TREATS like joining in the Vendemmia at La Collina del Sole a once in a lifetime experience unless you live in the area in which case it becomes a LA COLLINA DEL SOLE SideTerraceonce a year experience as described in the Viva La Vendemmia blog posted on October 6th 2012  The feeling of satisfaction when you sit down to a well-earned vendemmia feast has no compare. There is the GO FAST TREAT  like renting a Ducati, Maserati, Ferrari and Lambhorghini driving as described in our La Collina del Sole  it is all about the va va voom post dated  April 6th Or a truly ONCE IN A LIFETIME TREAT like peeping through Heavens window !

a ONCE in a LIFETIME experience !

Have you ever wanted to do something that has not been done for IMG_0584centuries? Well… while you Rent a villa in Tuscany you can do just that... go through  Heaven’s door or “La Porta del Cielo” in Siena, not bad if you are staying at Villas for rent in Tuscany as Heaven’s door has not been opened since the Cathedral in Siena was built in the first part of XXIII.  With spectacular architectural vistas - an everyday occurrence when you enjoy Villa rentals in Tuscany as this region is steeped in majestic cathedrals, graceful towers, a joy to wake up to while on Holiday villas in Lucca  and fabulous fortresses and fortressed churches of which two fine examples stand near La Collina del Sole So if you are  visiting Lucca Villa Rental  between now and 27th October we highly recommend you check out “La Porta del CieloSienna not only has a very beautiful Cathedral built in the traditional black and white horizontal striped decorated walls, it has the very famous Central Piazza where the Palio is held of which we wrote in our focus on Siena blog giving a few of our favourite places and eateries View from Cathedral Siena has wonderfully [almost ] carless  streets and walkways, Vendemiawhere you can see the original seat of the once might Bank Monte Paschi di Siena which is very austere façade. When you drive to Siena from La Collina del Sole  it is a great opportunity to swing by and check out Montalcino of “Super Tuscan Wines fame, and by the way Montalcino is not only about wine the town itself has many treasures to discover. Cathedral But let’s Focus on the once in a lifetime opportunity of walking through Heavens Door, for €25 you get to see the cathedral from the giddy heights of the walkways close to the ceiling, where only the builders who built the Cathedral and their overseers got to see, in many cases you find drawings and sketches which were directly drawn onto the walls by the cathedrals architects and overseers.   You get to see the internal walls of the Duomo, the multi-coloured stained glass windows by Ulisse De Matteis,  the corridors and altar as from a bird’s eye view,  You will also get the most spectacular views of Siena itself and the Basilica di San Domenico, la Fortezza Medicea, and the whole cupola of the chapel of John the Baptist.  WELL WORTH the climb, the money and the special effort to get there and once you have descended from the giddy heavenly heights you can tumble into Gelateria Grom where you can find wonderfully rich ice creams, which are proudly made from ethically sourced ingredients and even ice creams for lactose intolerant clients, so you see life on earth can be rather good too  ! GELATO ! ! ! by Rebecca Jensen

Charm your hosts … the Italian way !

Alina at La Collina del SoleItalians are suave, debonair, elegant and CHARMING !  We suggest that in order to get the best of your stay at Holiday villas in Lucca you learn the lingo… this way the hosts of your Villa rentals in Tuscany will be charmed and show you an even better time while you rent a villa in Tuscany   You have two options you can learn Italian at La Collina del Sole as if you stay at this amazing Lucca Villa Rental you can learn Italian with a friendly, engaging and creative approach, with Alina d’Amelia who teaches Italian as a second language and is available for private tutoring  to see this option check the experiences section of www.luccavillareantl.com . This is the easiest way to learn “Italiano” when you stay at villas for rent in Tuscany Learn many useful expressions at the same time as getting to grips with Italian culture. From absolute beginners to advanced levels, improve your communication skills, in order to get the most from your stay in Italy. Lessons upon request at La Collina del Sole  tutoring fee is €20 per hour which includes preparation time.award winning infinity pool in different seasons

Your second option is to buy a phrase book, a notoriously laborious and often frustrating  method, the third is to start now so here are a few useful expressions, here is a starter portion we have divided them in the word you would like to say, how it is written in Italian and how it is pronounced if you have a English/American accent. view from La Collina del Solevineyard and pool First up to get Maximum Brownie points … greeting people. The ubiquitous  Hi or Ciao is hardly ever used, only while dashing past someone with no time to greet properly, so to gain most points greet properly, greet them with the time of day.

Castelnuovo Dreamin ! by Rebecca JensenHere is how to catch peoples attencion to ask directions to the suggested watering hole farmacy, food shops, walks,   Pizzerias  or places of interest written up in the Villa handbook Good day     Buon giorno     Bwohn  Juor-nohIl Pomodorino Good evening     Buona sera    Bbwon-ahh   Sair-rah Good night     Buona notte     Bwon-nah   No-tay Goodbye     Arrivederci     Ah-ree-ver-dair-chee Or if you want to be very formal for Goodbye  - Arrivedela  ah-ree-vehdair-la At a bar and need an extra prosecco ?? Excuse me (to get attention)     Scusi     Skoo-zeeMari Chiara Terrace Bar Migliano I would like a glass of Prosecco– Vorrei un bicchiere di prosecco  Vorr-hey  hun beak-khiere dee Prosecco When searching for the perfect scoop of ice cream  [gelato] and have to look past a queue 3 deep use  -Excuse me (to get past someone)     Permesso     Pair-meh-so When searching for the best restaurant in town use Where is the restaurant ?     Dov'é il ristorante    Doh-vay  Eel  Rhis-toh-rant-eh What do you say if soemone lets you into a super secret special date for a festa  Thank you     grazie     Grat-tzee-yay How to begin asking where you can find the Olive iol and wine tasting experience ? please     per favore     Pair fa-vohr-ray What do you say if you found the suggestions in the Villa handbook helpful ? yes     si     see What MUST you say if asked if you woudl like to go home ? no     no     pronounced as it is said … no When asked if they would like to come back to La Collina del Sole our guests have always said an emphatic SI  … do join them ! LA Collina del Sole Walkways

What IS it about Tuscany?

Is it the light?    The beautiful rich terracotta quality to the sunsets that you perceive when La Collina del Sole viewyou rent a villa in Tuscany ?    Is it the View? That reminds you a still serene moments as you savour your holiday villas in Lucca ?      Is it the Tuscan food?  That brings the tinge of pleasure as you remember your beautiful Villas for rent in Tuscany when you next taste Funghi Porcini in your home town?     Is it the culture? That surrounds you at every step when you get acquainted with the surrounding area of your villa rentals in Tuscany ?  Is it the kindness of all the help you get when you stay at La Collina del Sole ? is it the amazing experiences you live when you stay at Luca Villa rental ?Well we would like to think it is a combination of all the above, without doubt Tuscany has Evening  light on Pool La Collina del Solethe most amazing colours for those who are artistically sensitive you cannot fail but to appreciate the crisp morning light so beautifully captured by the gifted photographer Rebecca Jenson on her last visit,  to the deep terracotta sunsets pictured by every guest at La Collina del Sole  the surrounding heritage is also astounding from the most amazing ruined fortresses surrounding  La Collina del Sole to the seat of civilization in Florence and the home of pageantry in Sienna.  From the delicious Funghi Porcini and Black truffles that are indigenous to the countryside around Lucca Villa rental brought to your table at the A Feastexcellent food found at Boninni’s  or at Casa del Pescatore  to the fine Tuscan dinning  found both at Ristorante Millevini in Siena [Fortezza Medicea, 1, 53100 Siena, Italy  tel +39 0577 247121] our new favourite with specifically Tuscan cuts of Beef and Tuscan vegetables they have one thousand wines on display in their excellent event cellar below the restaurant, the wines here are wonderful and the food is to die for, and in one of Pavarotti’s favourite eating stops Antica Locanda di Sesto in Via Ludovico in Sesto Moriano, telephone 0583 578181  & 0583 406 303 where we can guarantee you an unforgettable meal with excellent wines. The friendliness and inclusiveness of the Tuscan people and in particular the people around Gina the SheperdessLucca Villa rental is exceptional, this warmth is testified in the tripadvisor feedback whcih La Collina del Sole has attracted, where with one halting Grazie you open the doors to the special Tuscan smile, and their extreme goodwill, it is not unusual for people to accompany you miles out of their way to make sure that you arrive at the right place, and this they do sharing their knowledge and love for the area, and then of course there is the views…….. which are outstanding, peaceful and have a historical charm about them When you are in Tuscany you are WELCOME indeed !

Sunset View from La Collina del Sole

Make 2013 a year of Firsts !

RianaAs Easter approaches I thought it would be interesting to describe the truly Italian events that happen in the area of Villa rentals in Tuscany as Easter week approaches, firstly in the entire region of Holiday villas in Lucca there are a myriad religious processions that occur on Palm Sunday, the nearest procession to La Collina del Sole will be Sunday 24 March from Ceserana to La Villa both villages are a gentle walk downhill from this Lucca Villa Rental  then on Easter Friday the procession of the Via Crucis which commemorates the stations of the Cross will be in Trepignana.  Why not make this year a first in discovering the area around Villas for rent in Tuscany which is rich in all types of tradition, as Tuscany is steeped in history, legend and tradition both religious and secular, which means that Prade Lupinaia Garfagnanawhen you rent a villa in Tuscany  you will also have a huge choice of places of interest  experiences and recreational activities. While we are on the religious aspect of this season,  it is also worth reflecting that for the first time the Pope who is the head of the Catholic church is Latin American, Argentinian to be precise, another first is that he is not European, he is also known a Francis the First, or Francis the humble after St Francis of Assisi, and already on his first days Francis the First has shown refreshing humility in dispensing with the papal limousine and going about his daily routine very much as “one of us” he has also explained his reason for taking St Francis of Assisi’s name  and as a Jesuit priest he is known for his charisma and humility, a welcome breath of fresh air has arrived !Serchio Valley

Other special treats that happen at this time in the Garfagnana region is the baking of the Easter cake called Passimata it takes 3- 4 days to bake and uses, flour, bread yeast and raisins together with aniseed, it is delicious and very distinctive, and is very much THE Easter sweet of the region, whereas in the rest of Italy they bake a type of panettone bread in the shape of a dove. Traditionally on Easter Sunday lamb is cooked as the main meal, and eggs are boiled with either violets and yellow onion peel wrapped around them so the design of the violet is “stencilled” throughout  the time it takes to hard boil the eggs, or for a less labour intensive method the eggs are hardboiled alongside red onion, yellow onion and / or red cabbage leaves to tint the egg shells, using the natural colours found in these vegetables. Another FOOD at La Collina del Sole activity on Easter Sunday is to play the “rotolino delle uova” or a hardboiled egg race, in which a round area is prepared where there is a gentle incline, each participant brings 6 eggs and teams are formed, the trick is for your egg to hit all the other eggs as it goes down the incline. This year it will be held at Ceserana a 15 minute walk from La Collina del Sole  On Easter Monday all the families of the area have a massive open air pic nic ... a great way to get to know everyone in the area ... and who said Italians don’t know how to have good clean fun !

A mangiare, the Italian way !

Feasting at La Collina del SoleItaly and Good Food are synonymous … Such a bonus if you are planning to rent a villa in Tuscany Italians know how to live well and eat well!  As we chose the location to be among the Holiday villas in Lucca one of the main considerations was an abundant choice of Truffles, Funghi Porcini and fresh pasta all of which are super abundant in the area around Lucca Villa Rental  another  consideration was award winning restaurants that are reasonably priced … think fresh sliced truffle topped fresh angel hair pasta for £15, or an amazing grilled steak, thankfully the Villas for rent in Tuscany that we chose had a comprehensive list of recommended restaurants  Our favourites in the area of Villa rentals in Tuscany were casa A Feastdel Pescatore, Boninis, Il Ponte di Ceserana with a fabulous fish menu on fridays and Pozzo, others in the villa handbook of La Collina del Sole were Butterfly , Triti, Aia di Piero whcih is also the best Italian speciality delicatessen in the entire region, La Bottega del Fattore,  Osteria Vecchio Mulino where they also do Olive Oil and wine tasting sessions, La Ceragetta, Antica Locanda di Sesto where Pavarotti was a frequent diner,  Trattoria 4 Leoni where Al Pacino likes to hang out when in Forence.La Collina del Sole also has a FABULOUS catering team that either bring you a feast from Pizza making at La Collina del Soletheir suggested menu to eat so all you have to enjoy no washing up either!  or they can leave you a ready prepared meal, with freshly picked ingredients and freshly cooked for you to enjoy at your leisure, they can teach to you cook “ a la Italiana”  or they can show you how to prepare and cook a true Italian Pizza from scratch which is a real Pizza Experience  !

The feedback of guests is fabulous on the Pizza experience as it is on the fabulous feasts form the suggested menus prepared by Maria and her team. Guests at La Collina del Sole FOODMain ImagePizza Oven in full swingMINI

Lights … Camera … Action La Collina del Sole magazine feature !

La Collina del Sole featured as aspirational destination ! La Collina del Sole  is the chosen Italian Villa among Villas for rent in Tuscany in this month’s Wedding Magazine profiling the ideal honeymoon or wedding venue, the best Lucca Villa Rental  amongst Villa rentals in Tuscany  gets a full two page spread highlighting the advantages of the award winning saltwater infinity pool the only amongst all the Holiday Villas in Lucca the cozy and romantic log fire and the  beautiful veranda where you can eat al fresco A MUST when you rent a villa in TuscanyVilla Collina Del Sole WED Mag Full Article. WEBSITEWhen you opLa Colllia del Soleen the February / March issue of Wedding Magazine whose website also includes a “thriller” on getting there you will see not only the double page spread which spells out the delights of the facilities at La Collina del Sole the Concierge service the in house dining menu  the place where you can have the wine and oil tasting experience or  recreation horse riding  or exploring the area around in the places of interest

Wedding feb.mar2013LargeYou will also see in this issue that the front cover has a beautiful Classic double strand pearl necklace created by Coleman Douglas Pearls the business founded by La Collina del Sole s pool designer. You can also find two stories which were shot while the fashion team stayed at La Collina del Sole one in a nearby villa using several bestselling pearl designs and another showing how a bride can combine her big day with a touch of yee haaaaaaaaaaaaa ….

The next wedding magazine will feature a shoot that took place at our favourite wine and Olive Oil tasting venue il Vecchio Mulino where Andrea the owner got to feature alongside the models … For all those brides who enjoy good wine alongside their husbands. Vecchio Mulino shoot for Weddign by Alina Concierge at La Collina del Sole La Collina del Sole also boasts a handbook detailling the most amazing array of experiences which are introduced in the suggestions we love and include Experiences  or for the hungry the recommended Restaurants & Pizza  Stores with the most amazing Food and which stock local delicacies like wild boar sausages, truffle salt, Fughi Porcini in Oil, funghi porcini pasta  and chestnut tart. The best Bars and Cafés then there is a list of nearby Places of Interest and Recreation so you never get bored,  a list too of Special dates so you know when is best to book your holiday in order to suit your preferences and a list of general shops for all those essential necessities that we take for granted. Then there is also the floor plan for the forward thinkers who want to bag the best room in advance ! Cowboy Bride Photoshoot

Think … Fun & Food in the Sunshine

Vendemia FeastWith grey leaden skies above me I cannot WAIT to go on my holiday when I rent a villa in Tuscany and find foodie treasures while feeling sun kissed, my favourite Lucca villa rental among villa rentals in Tuscany is La Collina del Sole a beautiful Holiday Villas in Lucca situated in the heart of the main area for villas for rent in Tuscany at  La Collina del Sole you find an award winning salt water  infinity pool amazing staff, a fabulous Villa handbook stuffed full of ideas of where to go, what to do or not and where to eat so without further ado let’s get down to FOOD and where to eat like a king and pay like a pauper. The nearest restaurant is Claudios ‘Il Ponte di Ceserana, located at the entrance to the Il Ponte Ceseranacluster of villages where La Colllina del Sole is located, close enough to villages but in a secluded spot.  Their number is 0583 66 20 05. The owner/cook, Claudio, comes from Ayr in Scotland. He has recently started offering a delicious and incredibly well priced Fish Menu served every Friday lunchtime. Our guests have highly recommended it in fact they have even written about it, the menu changes according to the best fish available on the day, one of the favourites is a “Fish and Chips” with a twist of elegance, the menu is €10 per head a bargain for the quality and quantity of food and the amazing locally made grappas of different flavours which Claudio produces at the end of the meal. His wife Clementina and children help run the restaurant and bar.  Booking preferred Monday is his day of rest.

Our gourmand choice has recently had a facelift so looks elegant and the food is still BONINI Newspectacular it is Trattoria di Bonini Pier, in Monteperpoli, his number is 0583 639 425, During all working days there is a very good lunch Menu for around €10, excluding wine. There is also the a la carte dining which is spectacular, roughly €25 plus wine. The menu changes with the season but if you see Tagliatta of Beef with Grilled vegetables or game do indulge they are exceptional. Pier the owner has an impressive list and knowledge of wines which are well priced. It is closed on Tuesdays.

Il Pozzo in Pieve Fosciana is also a favourite, very popular for weddings and other large POZZOcelebrations their number is 0583 66 63 80.  It has a delicious antipasto [mixed starter] dish in the area. Giordano and Maurizio founded Il Pozzo in 1985 and have formed part of the “Slow Food” movement from its inception. They are passionate about the origins of the food they prepare and have won several awards. They also have a “menu del giorno”, the restaurant is usually busy but capacious. Their wine list includes some from Lucca, Tuscany and further afield. They close on Wednesdays apart from August when they open seven days a week.

Our next Foodie Heaven is Casa del Pescatore in the village by the Lago Isola Santa, Isola Santatheir telephone is  0583 639408. This is possibly the BEST kept Foodie Heaven secret of all time, if you like Truffles and Funghi Porcini, local cheeses and open wood fire grilled meat you cannot get better and it is ridiculously cheap affordable. In the heart of the Marble Hills a 50 minute drive from La Collina del Sole . Gabrielle Matzei set up his own small restaurant in Isola Santa a small village part of which he has restored and brought back to life. He also can dispense the permit you will need to buy if you want to fish for the succulent local trout of the lake. He is one of the most gifted cooks of the area and has had extensive write ups in gastronomic magazines including “Bon Apetit”. It is TRULY worth the winding drive through the hills.

A new re-discovery is La Bottega dell Fattore in Castelnuovo on Via F Azzi on the corner TrattoriaDelFAttorefacing the Carabinieri station their telephone is 0583 62179.  This restaurant has been taken over by the daughter and her husband the food was always good with an excellent wine selection, the food is now excellent and the wine selection is still fabulous. The daughter has also newly enlarged the restaurant and added an outside terrace for al fresco dinning. We last had a fantastic beef with a reduced balsamic vinegar sauce… incredible.

FOODMain Image The most spoiling and fabulous gourmet experience is the Feast selection in the suggested menu available at La Collina del Sole,  or the Pizza Experience  all our guests have LOVED these and come back for more … So when you come to La Collina del Sole leave diets at home … enjoy the best food that Tuscany has to offer.


Let it snow …Let it snow … Let’s think of the sun !

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 lacollinadelsole1afternoon 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 ! award winning infinity pool in different seasons 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 reFOODMain Imageviews.

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 givelacollinadelsole21n 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  !

Ten reasons to dig deeper while planning a holiday

La Collina del Sole viewYou never know what the place REALLY looks and “feels” like, when selecting your dream Lucca Villa rental while typing Villa rentals in Tuscany in your search engine it will come up with a host of options for Villas for rent in Tuscany , you might refine your search by  LOCATION and search for Holiday Villas in Lucca or keep the search wide by entering rent a villa in Tuscany but whatever you look at make sure that the testimonial pages sound real and come up to scratch, one of the nicest guest feedback comments that La Collina del Sole received was from Joe from Kentucky in USA it reads like this:“ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR!!! Truly magnificent. Many times pictures of vacation homes look better than the real thing, but definitely not here.... “

view from La Collina del Solevineyard and pool

  • Reading between the lines is important too! Have the guests lacollinadelsole1stayed there more than once? From Rachel and Dick we read “We have been lucky enough to have stayed for the last five years – and we look forward to going back again this summer.  We hope that you will enjoy this lovely spot as much as we do.”
  • Staying on the “reading between the lines” point; check if there are truly Special moments to be had?  from Matt in London “sunbathing beside the mesmeric infinity pool, (which being salt water allows you to swim with your eyes open without a sting!) watching the beautiful swallows nose diving down to cool off their beaks, or happily snuggled up in front of the impressive open log fire with a hot chocolate.Swallow Happy Hour
  • Do the owners listen to feedback and act on it? From Christopher La Collina del Sole Sunset by the poolin London “It was evident from many things about the house and the information you provided that you have spent a lot of time thinking about your guests and how to give them the best possible experience.  We may well be in contact with you again next year for a return visit.
  • Do they intend to stay again? From Rachel in Texas “Thank you for sharing your little slice of Heaven with us! Now, if you could figure out how to bottle up the view and the fabulous natural scents and send them to Texas, we would be most appreciative! We very much enjoyed our stay and will be back with the entire family! The local hospitality was amazing! We can tell you have put a lot of love into the entire La Collina experience to make everything perfect! From deep in the heart of Texas, we send you a special heartfelt thank you! “

    Flowers at La Collina del Sole

  • Beverley in Dorset writes “What a beautiful villa you have in Italy, we so much enjoyed our stay and will definitely be back to Pizza Experience at La Collina del Sole enjoy the pool, views and tranquillity of La Collina del Sole”   From Natascha in Toronto “Having an incredible time (already planning our next Italy trip and definitely coming back to your most beautiful villa). This is paradise. The pizza experience was lovely and the three ladies are wonderful.” Or from Joe in Kentucky “We had a fabulous time! Can’t wait to come back. Everything was spectacular – villa, pool, views, culture THANK YOU !!!”
  • Is there AMAZING food to be had?  From Joe in Kentucky “Our Pizza making at La Collina del Solepizza night was a lot of fun, and our pasta making class on Tuesday evening was quite memorable! They are coming back to tonight to make us a farewell dinner which we are all looking forward to. Thanks again for making possible such a wonderful and memorable Tuscan experience!!! “ or  “If wild boar or heaps of truffle pasta don't tickle your fancy, you can get the best pizza you'll ever have 15 minutes’ drive away in the quaint yet vibrant town of Garfagnana.
  • Are there fun things to do?  From from Luke in London “Off to one of the restaurants recommended in your guide book this  Ginas pathway for her Goatsevening… Might do a festa towards the end of the week. All is well here thank you - we're all having a great time and the place is just beautiful! We had the pizza experience last night which was lots of fun” Or Anthony in Reading “Within easy rambling distance are a number of villages nestled in the hills which are great fun to explore, and everyone you meet along the way is so friendly and welcoming. Nearby Castelnuovo is a striking historic town with a delightful array of local shops including some wonderful bakeries, delicatessens and restaurants serving the most delicious food and local wines at very affordable prices.”  Lars in London writes “The house itself is lovely and has everything one needs over there and the garden/vineyard was very well kept and pretty, I hope you don't mind us taking a few figs here and there... The pool is outstanding and summer life Florence Ponte Vecchioclearly centres around it, as did our time there. We enjoyed a few minor trips around the nearest towns (Castelnuovo di G and Barga) and had a very busy but good day in Florence. A couple of your restaurant recommendations were closed when we tried but we did get to have Claudio's fish menu on Friday which I can recommend and was good value for money. Also thanks for the welcoming lasagne and the few bits (milk etc) in the fridge when we arrived”
  • Does the Villa have a STUNNING feature? according to Anthony “The swimming pool has to be seen to be believed, and whether Guests at La Collina del Sole taking a cooling dip, lazing on a sunbed by the pool or enjoying an al fresco meal on the terrace, you just feel the cares of the world slipping away. While I was there, the Icelandic volcano erupted causing havoc with flights, but for me there was no better place in the world to be stranded.” From Louann in Texas “You have found gems in the whole staff.  Everyone was so nice and helpful!  And that pool!!!  It is to die for!!  Absolutely loved it!! We were in it every day!!”
  • Can the Villa provide a life changing experience?  From Natscha in Toronto “I can’t even begin to tell you how much we loved your Diving into the Infinity Pool LA Collina del Sole place. Because of your pool my son has finally gotten the courage to jump in the lake at our cottage (which he has never done) and without the use of a lifejacket (something he never felt comfortable doing before) but three to five swims a day at La Collina has cured all that.”
  • Is it far from the airport? From Phil in London “The house was newly renovated to exacting standards resulting in exquisite La Collina del Sole - Rebecca Jensenmodern accommodation built very sensitively into the traditional environment. Views from the villa are breath taking. Day trips to the better known areas such as Florence or Lucca are all easily achievable. Pisa Airport is a 90minute drive away.
  • Would the guests recommend the Villa? From Carin in Dresden, Germany “The house is amazing… was really organized and clean and we really appreciate that. I would definitely recommend your villa to others. … Great week lots of fun” Would the guests recommend the Villa? From Carin in Dresden, Germany “The house is amazing… was really organized and clean and we really appreciate that. I would definitely recommend your villa to others. … Great week lots of fun”Flowers at La Collina del Sole
  • Do they write back saying they miss it so ? If the answer is no to any of the above then don’t bother looking anywhere else, La Collina del Sole awaits you with open arms!  Luke in London Evening  light on Pool La Collina del Solewrites “Back now thank you, and sad to not be waking up to the view of the mountains! Everything about the trip was brilliant and we all had such a great time - thank you so much” or from Natascha in Toronto We are already discussing our next trip to Italy and rest assured we will be back to your MOST LOVELY place! It was a treat to stay at La Collina del Sole and the kids definitely were yearning after the pool for the rest of our time in Italy they thought your place was the best of the places we stayed..             Missing the food, history and beauty of Italy...” Sunset at La Collina del Sole

Ten vital ingredients for the perfect Tuscan Holiday!

  1-    LOCATION  is vital when you rent a villa in Tuscany so while browsing through the villas for rent in Tuscany make sure you have a good view and a little seclusion although a nearby town to do gentle shopping is important, at La Collina del Sole the view is of the Carrara marble hills and the villa is close to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana.

2-    FACILITIES is the second ingredient like mosquito nets, enough sunbeds and shaded areas, salt water swimming pool so your eyes do not sting, soft and plush towels BBQ not easy to find this all under one roof when looking at Villa rentals in Tuscany

3-    GREAT FOOD and WINE is the next essential criteria for Holiday Villas in Lucca …who wants to cook on holiday !  at Lucca Villa Rental we have a handbook with over 50 excellent restaurants very close by, a few of which are on the Lucca Villa rental we love restaurants tab or you could try our highly rated outside catering 4-     LOCAL SPECIALITIES like Black truffle which is found in abundance locally and how about a plate angel hair homemade pasta with tons Truffle shavings on top which costs £15 at Da Gabrielles as opposed to £80 in central London … that is in itself is worth the trip.

5-    UNIQUE  EXPERIENCES like visiting disused marble caves, Pizza cooking lessons or full on Italian cooking lessons, or perhaps Olive oil or Italian wine tasting sessions at Il Vecchio Mulino

6-    GOOD CLIMATE temperate … hot in the day and cool at night … BLISS

7-    ENTERTAINEMENT -  walking through the Apuan hills, Funghi Porcini hunting, Festas galore with the whole of rural Italy literally exploding with parties, feast days and local produce markets at all times of year

8-    PRESTIGE like a swim whenever you want at a salt water award winning infinity pool

9-    UNIQUE MOMENTS which are irreplaceable and UNIQUE to that Special place like watching swallows swoop down onto the pool to drink at sunset or the firefly discotheque in May / June

10-     And finally HAPPY MEMORIES these only happen in special places, check out  La Collina del Sole Tuscany Facebook albums and Luca Villa Rental feedback section for a little taster... Arrivederci

OK we're hungry now … !

There is nothing quite like a great Pizza and when you Rent a villa in Tuscany it is only right that you either learn how to make the best Pizza in town whcih you can do at La Collina del Sole with our Pizza Experience or hunt down a great Pizzeria … or two within striking distance of your Lucca Villa Rental so we thought we might share a few special places near  La Collina del Sole    the exclusive,  award winning salt water infinity pool, Villa within the Holiday villas in Lucca . Pizza tends to be eaten in the evening in traditional parts of Italy, especially near Villas for rent in Tuscany , which means that Pizzerias tend to open only in the evening as the Pizza oven needs to be warmed up a few hours in advance. So a word of advice enjoy the sunshine when you are in your Villa rentals in Tuscany  and  then venture out in the cool to either learn how to make the best pizza in town or hunt a  pizzeria for a delicious wood baked Pizza. Our FAVOURITE is  “ Il Centro “ in Via Vallisneri, Piazza delle Erbe, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. their Telephone  numbers are 0583 644550 and 0583 66 20 32. Il Centro makes the thinnest wood oven pizza in town, DELICIOUS.  This Pizzeria is run by a family, Mamma, Papa and several children, just as well as it is usually very busy. You can eat there or order a take away, best to call ahead as waiting time for take away varies from 20 to over one hour, it opens late afternoon and evening only, closed on Wednesdays year round except in August.

Our other favourite is Pizzeria Clary, situated on the corner of Via O. Dini, by the gelateria Fuori dal centro,  Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Their telephone number is 0583 65 198. Clary opens late afternoon and evenings during the week & from noon on Thursdays. Pizzas are GOOD and very reasonable. Pizzas are cooked in a wood oven. The base tomato sauce they make is slightly saltier than in other places. Do try the Bruschetta Pizza and the Vegetable pizza, they are delicious and refreshingly different!

Another great Pizzeria in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana is La Credenza, which is very central on Via Farini 2, their telephone 0583 63 9332. This is a Pizzeria and Rosticceria, – with a wood oven, they make the richest of all the Pizzas in town, also delicious roast chickens, beef and pork. Located next to ”Castelli” Supermarket just after Piazza Umberto, which is the main piazza in Castelnuovo. Open late morning through to late evening. They are related to the wonderful cooks from the restaurant in Silico, clearly cooking delicious food runs in the family.

For a smarter if equally delicious Pizza in a restaurant setting then we recommend Il Pozzo in Pieve Fosciana, on Via Europa 2 /A, you have to book their telephone number is 0583 66 63 80. Il Pozzo in Pieve Fosciana is a 20 minute drive from “ La Collina del Sole ” it does great pizza although only for supper. This is also a great restaurant with the best antipasto [mixed starter] dish in the area. Giordano and  Maurizio the owners of “Il Pozzo” have formed part of the “Slow Food” movement from its inception, this relates to Good food eaten well rather than food taking forever to come to the table, they are passionate about properly grown and reared food and have won several awards. Usually busy and fairly capacious, they close on Wednesdays apart from August when they open seven days a week.

This week 11 -18 of August encompasses FERAGOSTO which is as important a holiday as Christmas and is the reason why Italy closes down for a couple of weeks every August. Our region literally explodes with Festas so we will concentrate on one only the one in our area, from the 11 to the 16 Fosciandora hosts Ferragosto Insieme or the Sagra dei Cigerani which night after night of feasting on homemade food, dancing to several different orchestras, and being part of Italy.

August … Italy ?... We MUST party and have Gelato

As you enjoy La Collina del Sole one of the few Villas for Rent in Tuscany with an infinity salt water pool. A unique feature among the Holiday Villas in Lucca and ... a real treat within the villa rentals in Tuscany - offering cool marble sunbeds on which you can sunbathe as you rent a villa in TuscanyAll in all a very cool Lucca Villa rental  however … wait a minute…. an essential ingredient is missing ...  Gelato the tantalizing word for ... Ice Cream

If you scream for Ice Cream, here are a few choice destinations.

La Botega del Gelato in Piazza Umberto, which is very central in the main Piazza of Castelnuovo, It is  the most established and yummiest Gelateria in town. Carries a concise selection of freshly made Gelati.


A great choice too is In... Gelateria, Piazzetta del Duomo,  almost opposite the Main Church in Castelnuovo, otherwise known as the Duomo their telephone number is 349 425 48 02.  It has delicious freshly made ice cream, frozen yoghurt, frappe, ice cream cakes or tortas, gluten free ice cream, brioches, crepes and waffles.  Yummy, yummy,  yummy... beware they are closed Tuesdays  but only during the winter.


A new addition is Fuori dal Centro with a nice little terrace to sit out on,  it is in Piazzetta O. Dini, just inside the east side entrance to the fortressed part of Catelnuovo,   very close to the Aia di Piero and Pizza Clary  they make gelato and frozen yoghurt.  They also make “Meringue” based ice cream which are lighter in weight and a different consistency to traditional ice cream.

Party wise there is a feast of choice On the 5 of August the VERY SPECIAL Festa dei Pastori in the Prade Garfagnine just above La Collina del Sole we have known over the years many people who made shepherding in these hills their livelihood. In Cascio within Mollazana there is the Sagra delle Crisciolette from the 3 to 5 of August In Fornaci di Barga from the 3 to the 5  of August there is Agosto a Fornaci with music, dancing and an opportunity to do your shopping in the cool of the evening.

On the 4 of August in Silico there is the medieval style dinner where the whole town plays host to   “ I banditi dell Ariosto all ora di Cena “ Brainchild of Dr. Roberto Nobili and organized by the Polis Sillico Association, the event "I Banditi del Sillico nella Garfagnana dell’Ariosto... all’ora di cena" is staged annually in late July and mid August. Characters in Renaissance dress (ladies, gentlemen, soldiers and bandits) move around the town and act a series of incidents related mainly to the conflicting relationship between the Moro (a bandit born in Sillico) and Ludovico Ariosto (Governor of the province of Garfagnana). Visitors are led in a gastronomic journey that allows them to taste ancient dishes. Silico is the village that you gaze upon while looking north from La Collina del Sole On the 4 of August there is the distant but very beautiful  Festa della Madonna dei cavatori

On the 5 August you can choose from a variety of interests from Casone di Profecchia plays host to the Sagra Pascoliana an cultural event celebrating the life of Giovanni Pascoli the Italian Poet and Classic Scholar. OR In Sillicano  the Sagra del Bomboloni  a.k.a the feast where they celebrate making fresh doughnuts… and you thought doughnuts were an American invention … think again ! OR A celebratory walk in Fabbriche di vallico  durign the 29 Passeggiata in Val di Turrite

On the 10 of August you can enjoy at varying distances from La Collina del Sole the Procession of the Fiera di San Lorenzo in Seravezza or The Festa di San Lorenzo in Vagli Sotto or An evening’s entertainment based on Giovanni Pascoli at Castelvecchio Pascoli or A Mexican party in Mollazzana or A Roast suckling Pig feast in Villetta in the area of San Romano or enjoy the 25th Trout feast in Valligori in Villa Colemandina

If you stay at Lucca Villa rental you are literally Spoilt for Choice !

OK enough FOOD let’s see the SEA part II

Having enjoyed the best festas of the week  just north west of Villas for rent in Tuscany, you find the stunning Cinque Terre and the “Old Money meets New Money” charming village of Portofino, so before viewing the delights of these popular places we offer a list of festivities near La Collina del Sole your favourite Lucca Villa Rental . The festas available this week as you Rent a villa in Tuscany,  are shortlisted below: Just a stones throw away north of Villa rentals in Tuscany you will find San Pellegrino in Alpe where on the 1st of August they celebrate “Cerimonia del Cambio della Croce” or the exchange of the Cross and literally on our doorstep, close to your Holiday villas in Lucca in Fosciandora TODAY there is the FESTA del Baccala a very fishy tasting salt cod. CINQUE TERRE [ 2.5 hours drive from La Collina del Sole ] Historically these small seaside villages - the “five lands” - were inaccessible by land, and therefore have kept their unspoilt character. A real sense of “La Dolce Vita” is found here. The five Lugurian fishing villages of Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Manarola, Vernazza, and Monterosso are all slightly different and all have a character of their own. Walking along the Cinque Terre is fantastic and you can always walk from one village to another and then catch the train back. Reaching the Cinque Terre is also possible by train. It you "rail it " it is best to drive to either Aulla or La Spezia and catch the train from there – trains go frequently and you can just jump off and on along the Cinque Terre as and when you wish. Why not walk from Monterosso to Vernazza and then stop for a drink or lunch, you could also go a little further to Manarola and have a delicious seafood lunch after a dip in the sea, you can then relax with a glass of wine looking across the Mediterranean... Heaven The Cinque Terre were damaged by landslides in November 2011 however all the guests who have visited tell us that they are being rebuilt very sympathetically and with great charm, and that they found it is definitely well worth the drive to visit !

FOSDINOVO With its impressive castle, Fosdinovo has splendid views to the coast and the Gulf of Poets. Shown here is a tower of the Castle that belongs to the Malaspina family, It was the seat of the rulers of the Duchy of Massa. The castle itself is impressive and full of historical artifacts

PORTOFINO This famous and stylish Riviera ‘town’ is most impressive and situated in a stunning location, it is also a stop off place for many of the smartest yachts in the world. The well-known Hotel Splendido sits above the sea with stunning views and is worth visiting if only for a cool glass of prosecco or a bellini ! The village of Portofino is a beautifully proportioned village, there is a stunning walk from the village to the “faro” or lighthouse.

OK enough FOOD let’s see the SEA [ Part One ]

When you rent a villa in Tuscany if one of your aims is to get a decent tan, you will know that salt water and constantly hydrated skin plays a big part in obtaining the perfect sun kissed look. At your favourite Villa rentals in Tuscany a.k.a La Collina del Sole  the pool is a salt water pool…so not only are you able to open your eyes underwater with no stinging but also get a golden colour into the bargain.  Having established that one of the requirements when you are looking for Holiday villas in Lucca or Villas for rent in Tuscany  is the sun and salt water and having sunbathed in luxury with marble sunbeds and no crowds in Lucca Villa Rental  if you fancy a change of scene we recommend … FORTE DE MARMI The English translation for” Forte de Marmi  “is “Marble Fort” and is west of La Collina del Sole , at the foothills of the Carrara marble hills, it is on the sea and marble is the material of choice, Armani has a villa here, as do many politicians, Andrea Bocelli lives here. A few years back the main Agnelli house on the beach with its underground passage was bought by and annexed to the Augustus Hotel Resort to provide further accommodation, a great place to have a drink or delicious meal. If you like the beach, then look no further than this beach resort town. As the Augustus only lets paying hotel guests take the sun here, if you are passign by you can find a very small public beach, or better still it is best to pay to have your spot in the sun There is a particularly nice Beach spot called Sud Est, run by the same family for years now, the current owner is Flavio Giannotti they also cook delightful food and delicious salads.  Please call and book beforehand, 0584 80 846 as smart Italian families take their spot for a whole week, and you might be able to book for a slot between one family and the next. If you prefer to travel further afield ther is:

LERICI The nearby Ligurian coast is absolutely stunning and well worth a visit. The Golfo dei Poeti (the Gulf of Poets) is where Byron and Shelley both lived. The main town, is delightful with its fish market, castle and excellent fish restaurants.

From Lerici you can take a boat to Portovenere across the bay and walk around this gorgeous town. Portovenere which is translated as the Port of Venus due to its beauty, is where you can walk through the town to the ancient church and castle and Byron’s grotto – a good place from which to swim and picnic.  There are also boats from here to the famous Cinque Terre.

Round the corner from Lerici on the road to Tellaro, there is a public beach at Fiascherino – there are steps down to this charming little beach with a café / bar where you can rent sun beds etc. Tellaro, a charming picturesque fishing village hosts as you would expect many excellent fish restaurants.

The Festas to look out for this week are: On the 23 of July the yearly Photographic exhibition starts in the nearest main town for La Collina del Sole in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Barga on the 24 to 25 July just south of us has the celebration to its patron saint San Cristoforo Sagra dei Maccheroni  from 25 to 29 July in Sillicagnana north of La Collina del Sole.

Sagra delle Crisciolette traditional bread made with are made with hard and soft wheat flour, this festa is held in Cascio where there is a tiny garrison as the centre piece of the Piazza. From 27 to 29 July. Shopping in the evening and other singing entertainment at Fornaci di Barga  “ Fornaci in Canto “ on the 27-29 July, this is quite fun to relax in the cool of the night after a relaxing day by the pool at your favourite Lucca Villa Rental A very special and unusual festa is one given for the Madonna dei cavatori   or the workers in the marble quarries, it is held in Minucciano from the 28 to 29 of July, people often stay the night in tents, the “miners” have historically lived a dangerous profession, there used to be many deaths a year, thankfully that is no longer the case, but MInucciano ‘s homes use marble as if it were gravel ... Silico  hosts I Banditti dell’Ariosto all’ora di cena on 28 July  this is a medieval themed evening with the town and inhabitants “dressed up” as a bandits lair in the time of Ariosto, a fun meal is to be had. If you are too tired to go you can always see the town brightly lit up from the Pizza Oven terrace at La Collina del Sole Camporgiano starts its folkloric festival with Mexican dancers and tango dangers on 29-30 of July The Festa del Baccala in OUR OWN village Fosciandora on the 28 of July, it is just a few minutes walk from La Collina del Sole If you prefer Pork Chiozza is hosting the Sagra della Porchetta from the 28-29 of July If you have a sweet tooth then Sagra della Torta is for you in Molazzana, 28-29 July For a traditional Festa check out Camporgiano on the 29 of July for the Fiera di Sant’Anna More seaside and partying next week Arrivederci !

Ready .. Steady … A mangiare !

As you lazily sunbathe by the La Collina del Sole  pool while you  rent a villa in Tuscany all that Vitamin D is bound to make you hungry, so ... We collated a short list of three very favorite voted restaurants near  Lucca Villa rental  whcih the guests who stayed at villa rentals in Tuscany, chose they might make you hungry for MORE … First the favorite of at least ten guests of La Collina del Sole who chose us among all the Villas for rent in Tuscany Is Triti situated In the centre of Garfagnana a great area for Holiday Villas in Lucca on the outskirts of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, and opposite the Opera / Theatre hall “ Teatro Alfieri ”, which by the way has a lovely view of Castelnuovo from its courtyard. Triti is on Via Roma 29/31, in the direction to Pieve Fosciana, their telephone number is 0583 62156. They are smartish dress code and have good food, you can enjoy grilled steaks which are sold by weight and can be … HUGE.  You can also try unusual dishes like barley risotto, an amuse-bouche in the form of zuchinni flowers fried in a light tempura batter, or traditional courses like tagliata - excellent steak with caramelisd onions and roast potatoes, or penne arrabiata cooked to perfection or even a humble pizza like a quattro stagione  - whcih is as good any we've tasted. They have a good selection of wines like the local Colle Luchesse red, delicious, it is popular with locals, sadly closed on Tuesdays.

Il Beretto in the centre of Castelnuovo on Via Farini 5, their Telephone number  is  0583 639136, website www.ilbaretto.org . Il Beretto is placed just off the Piazza Umberto, the towns central piazza, it serves full meals, or pasta only and can be used as a cafe. It has a tourist friendly menu, with specials like wild boar, goatand funghi, their staff are friendly and English speaking which combined with its central location and inviting exterior make it very appealing.

Many locals go to  … Marchetti Trattoria on Via F. Testi #10 this restaurant is situated within the “Loggiato” in Castelnuovo   their telephone is 0583 639157. They are well priced and always busy with locals - a good sign. Marchetti Trattoria is particularly special when it is hot as they have al fresco summer eating within the “Loggiato” or colonnaded courtyard, which also happens to house the town hall. It is closed on Sundays.

Now The festas of the week where you can eat drink and be merry are : Barga which is south of our beautiful Lucca Villa Rental continues with its “ Festa Del Centro Storico di Barga ” until 24 of July Particularly on the 20, 21 and 22 there is a fish and chips feast or “ Sagra Pesche e Patate Barga “ it makes sense when you realize that many of the inhabitants from Garfagnana went to Scotland to serve in Fish and Chip shops, and now Barga has a very lively Scottish contingent. Galiicano also south of La Collina del Sole holds “ Luglio Gallicanese ” from 14-31 of July with musical events and in particular the 21st of July there is a Flag Throwing  competition or “ Torneo Gallicanese della BandieraSillicagnana in the area of San Romano north of La Collina del Sole there is the macheroni feast or Sagra del Maccheroni on the 21 and 22 of July. Also on the 22 of July,  Sillico which is the village that you see looking north from our beautiful Villas for rent in Lucca has a painting exhibition and if you keep going uphill you will find the Lame di Capraia where the Shepherds Feast is held or “ Festa dei Pastori “ On the 22 July Vagli Sotto hosts “ mercatini delle Arte e dei Mestieri “ which is basically a handicraft and local “way of life” of old rural Italy.  So …. if you have any suggestions or feedback do feel free to share it on our Facebook La Collina del Sole Tuscany  page Ready … Steady … Have Fun !

Schools are out in Italy it is time to play !

This week brings great excitement to the region both gastronomically and musically, just a stone’s throw away from La Collina del Sole the beautiful Holiday Villas in Lucca you find Trepignana which hosts a musical evening with brass bands on the 24 of June, a little further away from your glorious villas for rent in Tuscany you will find Pegnana in the region of Barga hosting a gastronomic evening also on the 24th.  Other activities on the 24th of June to amuse you while you enjoy your Villa rentals in Tuscany are the traditional Fair of San Pietro in Piazza al Serchio, for the more adventurous canyoning in Pescaglia, a sedate musical evening in Ghivizzano part of Correglia Antelminelli. From the 29th of June when you rent a villa in Tuscany  like La Collina del Sole you will discover daily musical evenings in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, as it kicks off its Summer International Academy of Music program, or nearby in Mologno – Barga the Local Festa gets under way on the 29th, we highly recommend these as  it is when the whole town  comes out to chat, catch up, dance, eat and have fun.   Also on the 29th  if you drive 25 minutes from la Collina del Sole  you will get to Ghivizzano in Correglia Antelminelli when they will be celebrating the feast days of their patron saints Pietro and Paolo, again a highly recommended festa as you will see Italians in their element. On the 30th of June the local “Big” town near La Collina del Sole called Castelnuovo di Garfagnana hosts a philharmonic concert of Giuseppe Verdi. On the 1st of July the Feast of the Ravioli gets under way in Pieve Fosciana just 23 minutes’ drive north from your glorious Villa rentals in Tuscany , or you could attend the Mountain Festa in Pianiza in the area of Molazzana, whci is highly regarded.

Now if Festas are not so much your thing but food is then we recommend a place to eat that you could practically tumble into from the jewel of villas for rent in Tuscany  this is our very own local restaurant Il Ponte downhill from La Collina del Sole, it is in Ponte di Ceserana, 15 Loc Ponte di Ceserana, Telefone 0583 66 20 05

Located at the entrance to our area from the main Lucca – Castelnuovo Road. The owner/cook, Claudio, comes from Ayr in Scotland, he produces amazing locally produced grappas of different flavours at the end of the meal. His wife Clementina and children help run the restaurant and bar.  A good hours walk from the  La Collina del Sole , uphill coming home ! so you can enjoy the drink and work off the feast. Claudio speaks perfect English with a wonderful Scottish accent, closed Mondays, booking preferred. ENJOY !

Florence - Hmmm ....

Arguably the centre of civilization, 90 minutes’ drive from La Collina del Sole,  one of the most  beautiful Villa Rentals in Tuscany. So ... we compilled a list of fun things to do to whet your appetite even though you might have just begun to consider Vilas for rent in Tuscany   or Holiday Villas in Lucca . Our recommendations really depend on what you arelooking for:

Fun shopping with a little bit of culture ?  - The market in San Lorenzo is fun, has great silk scarves, leather jackets, leather bags, Florentine printed paper goods, Venetian carnival marks, gloves, and MANY other fun things, with low mark ups,  it also happens to be very close to the PHENOMENAL Michael Angelo’s marble statues of Night and Day, Dawn and Dusk which adorn the Medici tombs in the mausoleum of the Basilicca di San Lorenzo. There is one special sculpture of Lorenzo di Medici whose is in a pensive sitting position, this sculpture has the illusion of following you wherever you go in the room.  The larger Capella dei Principi houses the most amazing work of marble inlay where intricate designs of fruit and flowers shaped of marble slices in different colours defy belief.

Fashion ? well Florence is THE SEAT of Ferragamo who also own hotels in Florence in case you prefer to "Hotel it" rather than Rent a Villa in Tuscany  the Ferragamo HQ  is in the extensive Palazzo Spini Feroni in Via dei Tornabuoni so an excursion to this beautiful  store is a must,  you will find pictures of Salvatore Ferragamo fitting Audrey Hepburn’s shoes, among other memorabilia. On Via Tornabuoni  you also find  large Versace, Prada, Pucci, Cavalli, Gucci and Armani stores.

Romance ? Ponte Vecchio a medieval bridge complete with many shops along both sides. Is nearby and is well known for its silver with great views up and down the Arno.

Adventure ? Just spend time walking the little streets, alleyways and roads I can guarantee you will discover  vintage clothing shops,  artisanal workshops. Random water troughs as fountains ... now if all this walking is making you hungry then eat in the Trattoria 4 Leoni ,  and finish off with gelato at The BEST gelato place of all time  the Gelateria dei Neri, on Via Dei Neri,  close to the Basilica of Santa Croce In short Florence needs no introduction, it is beautiful, timeless, serene, interesting and above all inspiring city.  A few extra highlights are Piazza della Signoria [where the duel scene of “Room with a view” is filmed], the Baptistery, famous for its bronze doors by Ghiberti, alongside the Duomo. There is a fun Ferragamo Hotel called “Gallery Hotel Arts” telephone 055 27263 it is almost at the beginning of the Ponte Vecchio with a lovely terrace bar where you can sip cocktails and see Florence from the rooftops. Off the beaten track there is the Church of San Miniato a Romanesque church with the most beautiful Mosaic at the back.

Museum hunting ? Florence has many well know sites, the Uffizi Museum for example is amazing but you must book and arrive ON TIME for your slot otherwise it is gone, there is another Museum Museo dell'Opera del Duomo which houses monuments of the Duomo and works which Michelangelo’s progression as an artist, it is located behind the Duomo, and is one of our favorite museums, then there is the museum of the Academia where the original statue of the David is housed and the beautiful marble “prisoners”.  There are SO many beautiful sites in Florence if you are up to it stay there into the evening and watch the Arno you will feel like Helena Bonham Carter in “Room with a View”. If you are driving rather than going by train, a trip to Fiesole and in particular the Hotel Villa San Michelle - a converted convent designed by Michel Angelo is a “must” especially near sunset on a hot day, have a Belllini Cocktail at the bar, but do remember they expect smart attire.

Further South another highlight is SIENA– World famous for its “Palio” Siena  is a very interesting city, the main attraction there is the fan shaped piazza which is inclined. The Palio is held in this Piazza that riders which race each other on behalf of the different main families of the town battle it out for supremacy in a yearly race that lasts but a few minutes, and has claimed several lives, a very passionate spectacle, full of pomp, bravado and fearsome riding. The Cathedral in the main square is also worth a visit.

Then there is Arezzo is one of the gold producing centers of Italy, sadly all the work is done behind closed doors, or by house wives who work as outworkers for the many factories of gold chain, and gold findings. One Beautiful point of interest is the Piazza Grande. This Piazza and surrounding buildings are very picturesque; this town is full of heraldry. Harking back to the days when Italy was a conglomeration of many small and proud principalities.

Hope you enjoy this small list and take time to live the breathtaking experience of meetign Italy on its own turf !