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   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

Essential communication the ITALIAN way

La Collina del Sole viewHave you felt right at home when travelling anywhere in the world? In Italy and in particular while enjoying Villa rental in Tuscany the secret is to communicate, and best done the Italian way while relaxing in Villas for rent in Tuscany get into the “mood” … chill out … think what you want to say and wave your hands in the air a lot while saying it, for example “ Where are the best Holiday villas in Lucca “ ? is best said waving both hands upwards and sideways as though you were encompassing the entire region of Lucca Villa Rental land, at La Collina del Sole they can organize Italian Lessons with a delightful fluent English speaking Italian girl called Alina who can show you the best gestures to accompany any comment you might like to share while you rent a villa in Tuscany  or “Where can I enjoy Opera in Italy” best to go to Lucca and ask  Dov'é la Chiesa san Giovanni? at around 6.30pm as they have a month long Italian Opera fest, which we explore further on, but first;  here is a short list of useful expressions and suggested body language to really emphasize the point.LA Collina del Sole Vistas Where is?...     Dov'é     Doh-vayLa Colllia del Sole Best to tilt you head a little sideways, if you have a photo of the church or museum you want to visit it is best to point to it at this point. When is it open?     Quando apre?     Kwan-doh Ah-preh When does it close?     Quando chiude?     Kwan-doh Key-you-day At what time...     A che ora     A Kay O-rah In all these instances point to your watch or your imaginary watch When do we eat?   Quando mangiamo ?      Kwan-doh Man-jia-moh Point to your wristwatch or where it should be and then purse your forefinger middle finger FOODMain Imageand thumb together and bring those fingers towards your mouth – A word of warning this hand signal can have aggressive connotations if used directed towards someone as it means “What do you think you are doing ! ! ! ! “ Yesterday     ieri     Ee-yair-ee Today     oggi     Oh-jee Tomorrow     domani     Doh-mahn-nee Day after tomorrow     dopo domani     Doh-poh Doh-mahn-nee Use your right arm and “bounce” it forwards for tomorrow or after tomorrow and backwards for yesterday, point to the ground for today.White Wisteria

If you love Italians, Music and mad waving in the air then I would suggest the Concerts and recitals during the Puccini Festival in Lucca. Tickets can be bought directly at the Chiesa San Giovanni in Lucca the performances start at 7 pm.  You can pick  what you like according to the day of the week Every Monday there is a Puccini and Mozart extravaganza with Arias and duets of these composers Every Tuesday “Puccini’s Women” performing arias and duets from the female characters in Puccini’s masterworks Every Wednesday a selection of arias and duets from Italian Operas by Puccini, Verdi, Evening  light on Pool La Collina del SoleMascagni, Donizetti and Rossini Every Thursday arias from works by Puccini and Verdi Every Friday Lucca concentrates on arias and duets purely by Puccini Every Saturday “ a Night at the Opera” with performances of major works from an Italian and International repertoire Every Sunday “Puccini and traditional Neapolitan songs ...  Enjoy ! and disappear into the sunset waving your arms around singing “Oh Sooooooooole MIO” 360 Degree from Pool La Collina del Sole

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 . 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

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

Feeling cold ? … Eat Ice Cream !

Andy & Chrissie - We Love pageThe owners of Villa rentals in Tuscany shared this ground breaking information while we enjoyed our winter break stay at La Collina del Sole  a little gem among Holliday Villas in Lucca  this is due to two reasons: ONE - when it is cold the body needs more calories to burn -  a great excuse to indulge in GELATO, which is found in several fabulous gelaterias a stone’s throw away from our Lucca Villa Rental the other reason our charming hosts, from whom we rent a villa in Tuscany from, told us is that if you eat cold food when the weather is cold the body boosts its own central heating  system naturally ! so if you enjoy Ice Cream a.k.a Gelato and Villas for rent in Tuscany we suggest you read on !GELATO ! ! ! by Rebecca Jensen

The best Gelaterias are :La Botega del Gelato

Botega del Gelato in Piazza Umberto right in the middle of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, It is our favourite ! and very central on the main Piazza Umberto.  It is the most established and yummiest Gelateria in town, offering sorbets and proper ice cream, favourites include grafepruit flavour, wild strawberry, dark chocolate and fresh whipped cream topping among their super fresh and concise selection of freshly made Gelati it has seats outside so you can chill and see the locals go by and you relax into your gelato.

Our next favourite has got to be In... Gelateria whcih is within the heart of the old town, in In Gelateriathe Piazzetta del Duomo, almost opposite the main church of Castelnuovo, their number is   349 425 48 02It has a super selection of delicious freshly made ice cream, frozen yoghurt, frappe, ice cream cakes or tortas, gluten free ice cream, brioches, crepes and waffles. They also produce soya based ice creams for those who are lactose intolerant, they also have 4 different varities of plain chocolate with varying intensities YUM ! the waffles brioches and crepes can be served with Gelato of course, this is closed Tuesdays during winter only.

A favourite with our children is Fuori dal Centro  which as its name suggests is on the outskirts of the centre of town, in Piazzetta O.Dini still within the walls of Castelnuovo.  Located just inside the east side entrance to the fortressed part of Catelnuovo, and very close to the Aia di Piero our Fuori dal Centrofavourite delicatessen. Fuori dal Centro serve gelato and frozen yoghurt.  They make Ice cream cakes  and also make “Merangue” based ice cream which is lighter in weight and a different consistency to traditional “gelato” they have one seating bench which is fun to sit in if you are lucky enough to find it empty.

Enjoy your gelato and remember that in the winter it is wonderfully GOOD FOR YOU !

Old Fashioned amusement for children and … Narnia visits La Collina del Sole

Thinking ahead ? looking to rent a villa in Tuscany or checking out the Holiday villas in Lucca  are there children or grandchildren in the party? do you wonder what they might like to do at the villas for rent in Tuscany  ? Well at La Collina del Sole they have come up with a few ideas while you relax and enjoy Lucca Villa Rental and  make the most of a break at Villa rentals in Tuscany  - La Collina del Sole has a long list of “only in Italy” experiences, and a well-researched list of favourite Restaurants and Pizza places as well as a favourite food and Ice Cream shops and recreational activities.Narnia at La Collina del Sole SDSC00110First up anytime is good to visit La Collina del Sole, whether winter, spring, summer or autumn there is a huge variety of activities in winter sledging, snowman building and toasting marshmallows in the fireplace, at Lucca Villa Rental there is no television,  which to many might seem a hindrance however once the abundance of activities is discovered the annoying intrusion of the television is gladly left at home, and the fun begins ! award winning infinity pool in different seasonsFirst call is what can be done at the villa which is in 2 acres of fenced and terraced vineyards, so ideal to play hide and seek, cowboys and Indians or even “battle” games there are water guns available upon request  other suggestions are: o    Swimming & pool based activities like playing ball, diving etc o    Ball games in the flat parts of the vineyard lacollinadelsole1o    Badminton rackets available upon request o    Hide & seek as mentioned above it has provided with endless hours of fun for young ones of all ages o    Learning how to make a Pizza from scratchPizza making at La Collina del Sole o    Learning Italian as a second language o    Having a Pic Nic within the grounds o    Learning how to make Italian pasta from scratch o    Having al fresco meals  with outside catering o    Watching the swallows dive in the pool to have baths and a drink o    BBQ evenings - there is a wood burning BBQ in the terrace o    CaWalking in the Woods Fosciandoramping (bring your own tent) the older young quite like to stay out and camp with the option of coming indoors if it gets too scary !

•    Activities in the neighbourhood without using a car o    Exploring ruined mill which was a WWII bunker and headquarters within the Gothic Line o    Exploring the walkways from La Collina del Sole to La Villa and then onto the medieval fortress church of Ceserana and walking back up to La Colllina del Sole o    Walking to Maria Chiaras bar 20 -30 minutes’ walk they have a lovely veranda sitting area they also do lovely Coffee. Ice creams and drinks and of course sweets ! o    Exploring Fosciandora the local village village, going to the swings and climbing frame plus discovering the tame goats ! Such FUN o    Green lane walMari Chiara Terrace Bar Miglianok to a second café in Riana

•    Day trips o    Beach at Forte di Marmi o    Fortezza hunting there are marvellous restored Medieval  fortresses at Cartelnuovo de Grafagnana the local town and the Verrucole which is impressive o    Abandoned village & lake (swimming, boating & fishing) about 40 minutes drive there is also THE most amazing restaurant it is La Casa del Pescatore they serve truffles and Funghi Porcini  at crazily low prices so adults can enjoy the outing too !Marble quarry Entrance o    Visiting an abandoned Marble quarry o    Visiting Bears at the Orecchiella Natural Park o    Eco Refugio Il Robbio for lunch after a 30 minute walk which is in the Carrara Marble Hills o    For a longer walk you can visit the Gothic Line bunkers and look out posts [ 30 minute drive and 2 hour walk] o    Grotta del Vento caves with Stalagmites and Stalactites and different length of visits with an intriguing shop with semiprecious  stones and fossils that can be bought very reasonably , the owner has written several guide books of the area. Monte Forato 2o    Longer walks to see the Monte Forato

•    Sports o    Tennis (open and covered courts) o    Riding (paddock & trekking)

•    Night life o    Italians love the pasegiatta so nightlife is for the whole family, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana has wonderful cafes and pizzerias which are buzzing in the cool evening air. During the late Spring through to early autumn there is an explosion of street parties and dances for the whole family, evenings with banner throwing demonstrations, dancing displays, art and hand-craft displays and even cheese round throwing competitions! o    Medieval themed evenings in at least 3 local towns held throughout the summer o    Jazz festivals in local towns 25  and 65 minutes’ drive away

So what are you waiting for???  Visit  La Collina del Sole for a well deserved holiday Garfagnana is still unspoilt by tourism and Italians LOVE children. La Collina del SOle Pool

More Press exposure for La Collina del Sole !

lacollinadelsole1This issue of The Lady Magazine features a focus of Italian holidays and suggests places where you can rent a villa in Tuscany  it highlights the best Holiday Villas in Lucca and the beautiful 5 bedroom villa  called La Collina del Sole is given pride of place among the Villa rentals in Tuscany The header article EXPERIENCE LA DOLCE VITA ! is written by the owner of the best Lucca villa rental among all the villas for rent in Tuscany so read on here is the full piece ! The Lady writes “ Italy has been a haven for British visitors for centuries, think “Room Ceserana from La Collina del Solewith a View” and you will envisage what a true Italian retreat can do for you!

Italy has the friendliest of welcomes where a halting “Grazie” with an English accent elicits enthusiastic praise. Not only are the Italians super hospitable they also know how to live well, and share their knowledge enthusiastically you will find a wealth of fabulous and well-priced wines, excellent cuisine  laced with delicious fresh tomato based sauces, homemade pasta and freshly baked bread  each day. Succulent treats like truffles and Funghi Porcini are commonplace as are The Lady Magazine Website image.Small.15.02.13freshly caught fish; Italians are a race of gourmands without the fuss. There is so much to do!  from Etruscan, Roman and Medieval treasure hunting, to Olive Oil & Wine tasting, from Italian cooking lessons  to eating the best ice cream in the world; invented in Florence by Catherine de Medici’s head cook.  You can walk for miles in the National Parks of the region or laze by the pool reading your favourite book. Italy can be boisterously fun and chaotically friendly  with wonderful un-stuffy food and a huge welcome. ITALY IS  LA DOLCE VITA!

We suggest you get your skates on and book the perfect dates for you  as with all the recent Wedding Magazine Bridal exposure and The Lady Magazine press its idyllic position  incredible wealth of experiences fabulous food shop suggestions, amazing restaurant selections it is bound to be a sell out  ! FullLengthSunsetCompositeViewFINAl

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  !

From Snow to Rock … & Roll

WINTER PANORAMASMALLFollowing from last week’s Skiing suggestions for the Villa rentals in Tuscany area, where we highlighted the closest sLandscape Winter 2012.13 (4)ki resort to La Collina del Sole  namely Abetone and our favourite pistes for more proficient skiers Cimone among others near Lucca Villa Rental like Corno alle Scalle and Cutigliano / Dognaccia All of which are all in your catchment area when you rent a villa in Tuscany  as are  Fiumalbo and Cerreto Laghi  In addition there are other areas to choose from when you are staying in Holiday Villas in Lucca for example  Schia Monte Caio with a snowboarding Club or Pratospilla and Zum Zeri where the Valli di Zeri association organizes snowshoe walks Never a dull moment while enjoying Villas for rent in Tuscany !

Snow at Lucca Villa RentalFrom the catchy name of Zum Zeri to Rock and all manner of music ...  there are some interesting concerts coming up in Milan which is a mere 3 hours’ drive from La Collina del Sole All these concerts are during the balmy months of June so you still have a little time to book your tickets for lovers of Bruce Springsteen’s music check out tickets to his concert on Monday, 3 June 2013 at Stadio Meazza - San Siro in Milan For the serious Bon Jovi fan on Saturday, 29 June 2013 at Stadio Meazza - San Siro in Milano Or a Robbie Williams aficionado his concert is on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 also at Stadio Meazza - San Siro  again in MilanLandscape Winter 2012.13 (2) For those who love a bit of Hard Rock KISS is playing on Thursday, 20 June 2013 at the Mediolanum Forum – in Assago also Milan.

Should you prefer to be closer to home, the Lucca Winter Festival Francesco de Gregori  has a concert on Thursday 21 of March for his Sulla Strada Album, to view his concert in Alcatraz check this link  and in the summer months so far confirmed are Leonard Cohen on the 9th of July you might remember his song Suzanne, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are live on the 11 July, Thirty seconds to Mars on the 13 July [ it will only take you 40 minutes to get there from La Collina del Sole ] then Mark Knopfler on the 19 of July and  Neil Young and Crazy Horse  will perform on the 25 of July See you next week … la collina del sole salt water pool + jacuzzi

2013 is Full of Promise - Snow, babies and spring!

As a new year commences we look at all things new:P1020497Babies ! are WELCOME at La Collina del Sole - the best run villa rentals in Tuscany, where babies under the age of one are free with cots, highchairs, toys and a playpen provided. Carin’s review of the Holiday villas in Lucca where she stayed with her family says it all, Lucca Villa Rental ticked all the boxes; it was clean, super friendly and fully equipped, she will be suggesting La Collina del Sole to all her friends. White Wisteria Another joy when you rent a villa in Tuscany in the spring is the new buds, the area around villas for rent  in Tuscany has masses of wild flowers, wisteria, azaleas and camellias

And as we are in winter … New laid snow ! Tuscany is not an area that one would normally consider for winter sports, yet there are some very good resorts offering skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe or Nordic walking, and ice skating.

WINTER PANORAMASMALL Our favourites are: Abetone - one of the better known and largest wintDSC00077er sports resort in Tuscany, located in the province of Pistoia. It has over 50 kilometres of runs and 22 ski lifts, it comprises four valleys. Abetone with its bars, restaurants, shops, hotels and markets is a hub of activity. The main ski areas are Val di Luce, Valle dello Scoltenna, Valle del Sestaione and Val di Lima. An 18 kilometre circuit is available for cross-country skiing and snow shoe or Nordic walking, and a snow park for snowboarders. There are dozens of snow machines to ensure snow coverage. Restaurants abound and there is also a children’s snow play area. The Scuola Sci Montegomito offers equipment hire and a ski and snow boarding school. Equipment hire is also available from shops in the resort. To get to Abetone, head towards Bagna di Lucca, either via Lucca or Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and then make for the border with Emilia Romagna on the SS12.

Cimone is 2,265 metres high and the highesDSC00052t point in the northern Apennines located in Emilia Romagna.  It has more than 50 km of linked trails, 31 slopes, and 21 ski lifts. It has two snow parks for snowboarders. Its snow-making equipment guarantees that almost two-thirds of the slopes have snow. Cimone can be reached by taking the A324 from Abetone

Corno alle Scale in Emilia Romagna due North of La Collina del Sole With six ski and drag lifts in total, it offers 36 kilometres of trails and a snow park for snowboarders. It also has two crDSC00110oss-country routes. It offers equipment hire and a ski school. To get there; head for the SS64 either from Bagna di Lucca or Pistoia. Follow it past Porretta Terme, turn left to Silla and take the SP324 to the resort. Alternatively take the SP324 from Abetone.

Cutigliana in Tuscany is a small resort  not suitable for beginners. It is located 8 kilometres from Abetone and has 15 kilometres of trails as well as a 5 kilometre cross country section, it has two ski lifts and three drag lifts. Cutiglianao is on the SS12 on the wDSC00076ay to Abetone.

Fiumalbo in Emilia Romagna is another small resort situated in Parco Frignano not far from Abetone. It has three drag lifts and five slops for intermediate and advanced skiers. Equipment hire is available, including snowboards, snowshoes, cross-country skis, and toboggans. There is a snow park for snowboarders, which is illuminated at night. To reach Fiumalbo, follow the SS12 from Abetone in the direction of Emilia Romagna.

Cerreto Laghi is on the border of Emilia Romagna in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park. It has ski lifts and a snow making machine. It offers around 30 kilometres of pistes, of varying in difficulty. You can ski, snowboard or cross-country ski. There is a ski school and an indoor ice rink for skating. Equipment can be hired on site.  To reach Cerreto Laghi you take the SS63 towards Fivizzano. For full information, directions, the latest weather and webcams, visit the website.


So we invite you to sign along Snow lay … deep and crisp and even ….

Stuck for Christmas present ideas?

Christmas DecoarationsWell … we have a few suggestions for you:  If you plan to Rent a villa in Tuscany in 2013 why not surprise the family and book your chosen week at La Collina del Sole  the jewel among Villa rentals in Tuscany  OR splash out and book a fortnight at the most beautiful Villa among Villas for rent in Tuscany  where we offer a special deal for multiple weeks with no loss of quality service as you would expect from the best Lucca Villa Rental among all the Holiday villas in Lucca Once decided on this amazing holiday of a lifetime, we have highlighted a few treats for each member of the family: •    For adventurous we have a wonderful range of walks from the local Chestnut woods to the Apuan Alps range. FOOD at La Collina del Sole

•    For the foodies who like to take it easy, or the hard working Mums, who cook away all day,  we suggest offering her an Italian feast every other day,   so she can enjoy delicious cooking without having to lift a finger.

•    For the  youngest members how about sharing with them the list of gelaterias nearby

•    For the ever hungry teenagers the fabulous diversity of Pizzerias

•    For the real Foodies who relax while cooking new and exciting dishes we suggest a showing them the amazinAntipasto de Luxeg variety of foody delights available at our local town in the we love Food Shops section of the website

•    For those keen to learn cooking how about offering them a Pizza experience where they will learn how to make Pizza from scratch and get to enjoy it OR learn how to make pasta like Mamma does.

•    For those who love to try everything why not a Wine tasting or Olive Oil tasting session?  La Collina del Sole  Pool Mounatin View from Pool&JACUZZI

•    For the very practical in the family show them all the facilities that La Collina del Sole offers, they will be hardly able to contain themselves!

•    For those who want to have fun we suggest looking at the We Love Special dates section

•    For those who LOVE Italian food we suggest checking out the we love restaurants section in the site, each recommendation is a gastronomic delight.

La Collina del Sole - Rebecca Jensen•    For those who love action we recommend checking out the we love recreation section.

•    For those who love to roam around we suggest they take a cursory look at the we love places of interest section

•    And for YOU rest assured that you will be treated like royalty, with the best un-intrusive care AND delicious food and drink awaiting you upon arrival at La Collina del Sole

See you in 2013 ! view from La Collina del Solevineyard and pool

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

Would you like to take a step back in time?

This week La Collina del Sole your favourite Lucca Villa Rental hosted several bridal shoots for Wedding Magazine it was chosen because of the awesome scenery surrounding the best Villas for rent in Tuscany It is perfect to mirror the amusing and  diverse aspects of a wedding with Italian flavour, and while considering other Holiday villas in Lucca  the editor at Wedding Magazine chose  La Collina del Sole as it stood out among all the villa rentals in Tuscany due to its stunning views, the charming villages that surround Lucca Villa rental and the character filled local shops that you expect to find when you rent a villa in Tuscany This choice was an endorsign mark of the Luxury Villa as many fabulous photographers have been inspired by the area surrounding Lucca Villa rental . Last week we brought to you the best recipe for a Pizza Experience and while we await to bring to you the action shots of the week long fashion shoot we concentrate on the beautiful photos of Rebecca Jensen and give you the link of this week’s pick of her amazing body of work. We would like to introduce this lovely old working dog, he is old and has gone nearly blind, he is Gina’s Dog and has done a lifetime worth of service as a shepherding dog This is Gina she is the last of the older generation of Shepherds in Fosciandora she wanted Rebecca to take these pictures of her dog so she might remember him when he dies.

Gina and her husband were both shepherds and they lived in the house just over the hill from La Collina del Sole they walked every day along cobbled pathways, verdant paths and roads to reach their grazing fields between the historical villages of Fosciandora. Gina’s husband died a few years ago.

Gina has a dry and witty sense of humour honed from many hours spent alone and reflecting on the stunning view around her, she has an unfailing directness about her and will not flinch at informing you that you have put on too much weight at the top of her voice, in the middle of a crowded room,  a fabulous frankness that only comes with freedom from conventional modes of behaviour. Gina knows the area of Fosciandora like the back of her hand, she lives simply and would wake up to beautiful views every morning, she is now retired and lives on state pension she often goes into Castelnuovo to do her shopping as this affords human company. We remember the early morning tinkling bells of the goats that belonged to Gina walking behind La Collina del Sole in the “ sentiero “ behind the Villa, very early in the morning and then late in the afternoon back home again. It is these gentle routine happenings that make life at La Collina del Sole so idyllic, relaxed and peaceful with regular punctuations in the day like church bells that let you know what time of day it is, or if there is wedding happening. Every cloud has a silver linning  and in rural Italy and Garfagnana in particular the new economic climate and social awakening in Italy has meant that a new generation of shepherds and land workers is emerging striving for a self-sufficient and organic way of life an example of these is Francesco who with his fiancée Alina are our guides of the region a trip out with them is a real treat as you can learn many of the innermost secrets of the region. Would you like to take a step back in time ? visit La Collina del Sole the most beautifully situated and appointed Lucca Villa Rental

The FUNGHI are OUT !

Are you a lover of Funghi Porcini ? and like Lucca Villa Rental well WE HAVE GREAT NEWS FOR YOU … just a short walk from La Collina del Sole your favourite Villa rentals in Tuscany there are woods full of these fabulous Funghi !  The Current guest at La Collina del Sole the star among Villas for rent in Tuscany reported yesterday “ 2kg of Porcini and three hours of fun “  … So if you are looking to rent a villa in Tuscany or checking out Holiday Villas in Lucca and Love Funghi Porcini read on ! This is great news indeed as Funghi are usually relatively easy to come by the Garfagnana, however this year due to its exceptionally hot summer and lack of rain they have been in very short supply, the secret is a short burst of rain, a gentle wind and ten days = funghi

Funghi hunting is not recommended for beginners as Funghi Porcini are very difficult to find, you can easily get disorientated unless you are with a guide. At La Collina del Sole we have a fully accredited nature guide who can take you  on walking tours in our immediate vicinity as well as longer tours in our marvelously rugged mountain ranges and valleys.  His name is Francesco and he offers a range of different walks, he is an expert on local plants, habitat and animals,  his partner Alina speaks perfect English should you wish to have a translator with you.

Francesco Pierrotti would be the best guide to show you where the precious Funghi are slumbering.  Some locals augment their income by selling Funghi and will not readily divulge good spots to each other let alone visitors, however if you do fancy a good walk then make sure you buy your “Funghi hunting” permit at the Ponte Bar at the entrance to our area from the main road as there will be people checking permits up in the Prate. There are some very attractive looking mushrooms that would make you feel very ill so please make sure that you check with Francesco, Maria or Alina whether the mushrooms you have picked are edible.

Favourite Funghi Porcini recipes are Risotto , Tagliatelle and Lasagna to name a few, for a list of restaurants that cook with these Fab Funghi you will have to check in on our Blog next week…Happy Hunting

Super Tuscan Wines and Super Tuscan Dining !

While you Rent a villa in Tuscany  enjoy the VERY best of Tuscan cuisine, 20 minutes drive west from  La Collina del Sole  is Trattoria di Bonini Pier, 20 minutes’ drive north from La Collina del Sole is the restaurant Il Pozzo In Pieve Fosciana, 40 Minutes from your Lucca Villa Rental is Casa del Pescatore Da Gabriele,  50 minutes South of your favourite Holiday villas in Lucca is Pavarotti’s favourite eatery; Locanda di Sesto, 55 Minutes from the jewel among  Villas for rent in Tuscany is Butterfly, which  is open during all the main holidays producing an interesting twist on stable favourites like mini tartare hamburgers, Foie Gras as a pudding. Finally one and a half hours away from the best among Villa rentals in Tuscany is Trattoria 4 Leoni in the heart of Florence so let’s begin First up is...

Trattoria di Bonini Pier on Via Monteperpoli 147 – Monteperpoli   55032 their telephone number is  0583 639 425 and  0583 62210. They are just finishing a total refurbishment so it will look more rustic than the picture you see here. It is highly reccomended, they have an excellent lunch Menu for around €10, including house wine. They also offer a la carte dinning which is best appreciated in the evening. Highly recommended are the homemade Linguini with Truffles, Tagliatta of Beef with Grilled vegetables, all the game dishes are exceptional. The owner has an impressive list and knowledge of wines which are well priced. Cost of a la carte meal is approximately Euro 25, plus wine. Closed on Tuesdays.  To get there allow 20 minutes drive from “ La Collina del Sole ” going towards Castelnuovo, just after the FIAT garage, turn sharp left towards Paleroso and Monteperpoli, keep left driving uphill towards Paleroso, you will see it on your left, it has limited car parking.

20 minutes north from your amazing Lucca Villa Rental is Il Pozzo – in Pieve Fosciana on Via Europa 2 /A, their Telephone # is  0583 66 63 80 It has a very good 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 [i.e. good food, sourced organically and cooked as in the “old days” hence best eaten leisurely. Their Menu Degustation has home-made pasta, home grown vegetables and herbs. Their list of approximately 120 Italian wines includes some from Lucca, Tuscany and further afield. They are passionate about the origins of the food they prepare and have won several awards. They close on Wednesdays apart from August when they open seven days a week.

My ultimate favourite although a little further afield 50 minutes’ drive from the jewel among Villas for rent in Tuscany  is: Casa del Pescatore, in Lago Isola Santa  their Telefone is  0583 639408 &  333 709 5763 [mobile ] situated in the heart of the Marble Hills a 50 minute drive from “ La Collina del Sole “. Casa del Pescatore was started by Gabrielle Matzei  it is a small restaurant with al fresco dining within Isola Santa,  a small village part of which he has restored and brought back to life. Specialties include local truffle which is sold very reasonably and Funghi Porcini, for mushroom lovers this restaurant is a must. He also has a 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”.

The remaining three are coming up next week ... however in case your dancing toes have not given up completely there are foodie festas, based on all things cooked with pig 18-19 August in San Pietro in Campo near Barga. On another note a Steak festa in Pieve Fosciana from 24-26 August and on the 25of August  there is a Medieval themed evening in Gombereto (Bagni di Lucca ).

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 !

Food + Joy + Music = La Bella Vita

Well, well, well following the publishing of the first 2 albums on the Facebook page of La Collina del Sole the most beautiful Lucca Villa rental and Rachel’s favourite villa from all the Villas for rent in Tuscany , we thought  we would tempt you with a photo of the antipasto recently served as a gastronomic feast to guests of Holiday Villas in Lucca  so we first of all let you into the secret of where you can buy most of the components on this antipasto platter served in the jewel among villa rentals in Tuscany  and then suggest a few Festas you can join in while you rent a villa in Tuscany  which is guaranteed to be fun and FULL of JOY ! This platter was made mainly from home produced meats and home grown ingredients, however you could cheat and buy the components from 4 different places: For cured meats, sauces and cheeses go to Aia di Piero – on Via Roma, by the Porta O. Dini, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana Telefone 05893 62519 Aia di Piero,  is a Delicious specialty local food delicatessen at the upper end of the price range, An Aladdin’s cave for “Foodies” you can also eat in, they have seats in what were the wine cellars or outside in the summer –delicious food worth the prices.  We have had great reviews from all our guests. The ingredients for the antipasto whcih were bought here are : Finocchiona and delicious soft fennel aroma salami Wild Boar salami Bacon and maraschino cherry rolls Funghi Porchini sauce on fried polenta {polenta in the Pizzeria more later} Wild Boar sausage sauce on fried polenta A freshly cut slice of sweet San Daniele Ham a type of Parma Ham - Artichoke hearts in Olive oil Salsa Verde, salsa di tonno e salsa di pomodoro all on small rectangles of grilled potato bread

Near La Collina del Sole we sourced the The Polenta and Roast chicken which was then mixed with veg and fruit came from  - La Credenza, on Via Farini 2,  in Castelnuovo their Telephone is 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

The Apple and Celery and Radicchio for the chicken salad and the Basil for decoration all came from La Piazetta – Vegetables , in Castelnuovo on 12 Via Fulvio Testi, Telephone 0583 644520. Located between the Loggiato and the Piazza del Duomo, It is an excellent veggie shop with specialities like figs, fresh locally picked berries, fresh funghi and other treats when they are in season; they also stock truffle salami, fresh local honey. Run by a husband and wife team. There is limited English spoken here they are very friendly and a firm favourite with La Collina del Sole incumbents.

The Meat came from our favourite butcher - Maccelleria Broggi , Via Vallisneri  12 on the Piazza delle Erbe in Castrelnuovo their Telephone  0583 644214. It carries excellent locally grown meats.  The young owner, Emanuelle, speaks good English and will prepare the meats to your specification. He cut Beef filet into Carpaccio slices. Macelleria Broggi also stocks a small selection of general shopping requirements and a good selection of cured meats, this is where we got the Mayonnaise for the chicken salad.

NOW onto parties ... Apart from the Festas that we mentioned last week which are still on going in Barga with the Opera Festival ,  Orzaglia with the throwing of Cheese rounds  -very quaint !  Pieve Fosciana with a Ravioli feast and Villetta with the Suckling Pig Roast The new additions are : Piazza al Serchio that is hosting a Fisarmonic International Festival from the 13 to the 15 of July. On the 14 there is the feast of the kitchen gardens  “ Festa delle Orti ” in Cerageto in the area of Castiglione di Garfagnana  north of La Collina del Sole Also on the 14th there is a Medieval Feast in Fabbriche di Vallico On the 15th just west of La Collina del Sole  Palleroso  is holding its festa in the old part of town , and on the 13 to the 15 of July in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana  the main town near La Collina del Sole  there is the mysteriously titled ” Leggere Gustando “  which is billed as a gastronomic and cultural event … Told you the Italians love their food !

Food Glorious Food and Music !

When you rent a villa in Tuscany there is an experience we REALLY want to share with you, Olive Oil and Wine Tasting !When you stay at La Collina del Sole just a 15 minute drive from your favourite Lucca Villa Rental you will find the  Osteria Vecchio Mulino which is run by Andrea Bertucci, it is on Via Vittorio Emmanuelle 12, their telephone number is 0583 62192.  This Historic “Osteria di Garfagnana” was built into the lower stone walls of  Castelnuovo the nearest town to your Holiday Villas in Lucca , It has been in this location for several centuries. The Vecchio Mullino Osteria is a destination for Italian wine lovers. It sells local and Super Tuscan wines alongside local products, it offers wine and oil tasting, you can choose from Local, to Tuscan, from Northern Italy or Southern Italian, He can also do non-Italian wines like Champagne, but why miss out on the fruit of the region where such glorious Villas for rent in Tuscany   are found.   To book your Italian wine or Tuscan olive oil tasting session, call giving 2 days notice, a minimum of 2 people is required. Cost of tasting starts at Euro 10, so very accessible ! to book speak to  Andrea, or email him at  the Vecchio Mulino is normally closed on Mondays.

Now that we have spilt the beans on our favourite experience how about the latest information on all the Parties !  Close to your  Villa rentals in Tuscany for the week coming up there are LOADS  of Festas  so many in fact that I will write it up by location starting with the closest to La Collina del Sole

As Castelnuovo is in the North we will start there, keep going north and in Pieve Fosciana there is the Feast of the Raviolo from the 1 to the 10 of July, Pieve also hosts the restaurant Pozzo featured in the we love section in our site.

Still north,  you find Orzaglia in the region of San Romano on the 1 and the 8 of July they have the “Cheese form round throw” a VERY traditional pastime. If you like wine on the 6  and 7 of July in Silico they have a wine feast called “Di…Vini Sapori”. Also going north of La Collina del Sole you find Camporgiano and they have on the 7th and 8th of July they have Street Artist evenings. Also on the 7 and 8 of July Villetta in San Romano hosts the feast of the Porchetta or suckling Pig with whole pit roast meat ready to eat. West of La Collina del Sole   you will find the Verrucolete in the region of Minucciano and on the 8 of July they host the Village fete.  Also on the 3 of July there is the feat of the patron saint of Calomini in the area of Vergemoli.

Going South of our glorious Villa Rentals in Tuscany  you find Barga, where on the 4 of July you will have an evening street market, on the 6 the 45th Barga International Opera Festival kicks off and continues until the  15 of July, ALSO on the 8 of July Barga hosts a antique and artisanal market. On the road to Barga you pass Castelvecchio Pascoli which has its Festa from the 6  to the 8  of July. Still going south If you stay on the main road going to Lucca then you will pass Galiicano where the church of the immaculate conception has a feast on the 5,6,7 and 8 of July. In the same direction you pass Turritecava in the region of Gallicano, whcih literally explodes with parties this week, first on the 5 of July there is the Ceremony of the Rosary, on the 6 a liturgical music concert, then on the 7 there is the procession of the immaculate conception and finally on the 8 there is a Street feast with dinner, music and DANCING ! Also in this region the inhabitants of Bolognana have organized a walk between the old water mills on the 1 of July, whcih should be charming and very special.