CHESTNUTS Lupinaia the village above La Collina del Sole is hosting the Festa della Castagna this weekend. The humble chestnut is responsible for keeping the population alive in the area of Lucca Villa Rental during WWII as there was little else to eat. You can see the why in the Museo della Liberazione During WWII the chestnut trees of Garfagnana continued to yield their fruit. In order to eat the naturally sweet chestnut that continues to be so abundant in the woods above Holiday Villas in Lucca you first collect the chestnut or Castagne then they are dried gently over a ”Metato” for 40 days. A metato is either a two tier rustic building erected during the chestnut harvest in the Apennine area where you find villas for rent in Tuscany or sometimes the “metato” was an integral part of the house in the kitchen area which in the autumn and winter became a meeting place. Although nowadays when you rent a villa in Tuscany the most attractive feature is the scenery and sunspots a few decades ago the most inviting part of a home was the warm meeting place near the kitchen, where the chestnuts were placed to dry on reed scaffold or planks of wood or cane close to the kitchen hearth which ensured a constant heat. Not a normal feature nowadays in any of the villa rentals in Tuscany ! The chestnuts then dry up over 40 days in a gentle heat, once dried, the chestnuts were shelled with a vigorous beating that shredded the skin off nut shells inside sturdy bags. Nowadays “metati” have disappeared as they have been transformed into storage rooms or large cupboards.From the Middle Ages until the present day, the chestnut has been central to the nourishment of mountain dwellers, as evidenced by the numerous laws over the centuries, for the protection and regulation of the exploitation of chestnut trees. The Statutes of Gavinana of 1540 for example stipulate that the chestnut harvest by the owner of the woods ends with the month of November, after which the poor could freely reap the remaining nuts. Once dried the nuts would be taken to the mill to be turned into chestnut flour, as this flower is naturally sweet there is little need for additional sweeteners and is made into fried tranches of chestnut flower or castagniaccio, which is chestnut flour mixed with water, rosemary, orange peel, pine nuts and walnuts, raisins, milk and olive oil. Chestnut flour was also used for bread and polenta. Chestnuts could also be either roasted and called necci or eaten boiled and called balucci. Even the most mundane food when said in Italian has a special ring to it !
As a frequent visitor to La Collina del Sole we have been fortunate enough to visit many Italian Palazzos and Villas in the area of Villa rentals in Tuscany and Palazzo Piccolomini which is in Pienza a 2 ½ hours’ drive from our Lucca Villa Rental is a star among them all. It is Welcoming and cool, a hallmark of Italian Villa architecture which you would expect to see in all Villas for rent in Tuscany It is full of one of a kind treasures, a real treat to visit when you Rent a villa in Tuscany it is grand yet sober and unassuming and so we consider it a star attraction when you are in Holiday Villas in Lucca Palazzo Piccolomini was donated to the state by the last in line of the Piccolomini family, along with many of the family treasures, this family provided two Popes, Pius II who was born in the Palazzo and his nephew Pius III The Palazzo itself is marvellously simple and sober, most of the rooms are lightly decorated with a few very special items, like a small drawer cabinet decorated in Agate fronted panels that look like landscape from 1 metre away but in fact are the result of salt deposits on the stone, which has been cut in slivers. There are only 2 other such items of antique furniture in the world. There is a fresco painting of the family tree on a very large and impressive wall that depicted the family up to the 1800’s, and off the main reception room is a small alcove that was for the Duchess of Piccolomini, situated beside the fireplace, the alcove has decorated walls and a sitting area in plush red velvet with small portraits of the family and with a window, this is where the Duchess would retire to read as the Palazzo was very cold in the winter and this was the only way to keep warm while reading a favourite book.
At the entrance room there is a table called the “Arms rest” where all weapons aka arms would be placed upon as you came into the Palazzo, you can also admire family portraits, beautiful gold and silver inlay leather wallpaper given as a wedding gift by Catherine of Aragon, collections of arms and armour hanging on walls. The Pallazo houses the bedroom of Pius II with a portrait of him on the wall painted while he was alive, a very elaborate baroque bed which dates from a later time, and 3 items of furniture that belonged to Pope Pius II, one a 4 sided revolving bookstand, a short drawer armadio and a receiving chair with a very high back which also served as a commode [ talk about multitasking ! ] there were in another room many books some of them dating back to XIII and a few star gazing apparatus and treatises. The Palazzo has a terrace on the 1st floor with a commanding view of the Val D’Orcia declared a world heritage site and protected by UNESCO, and a simple garden, with Roses walled in by a box hedge. All had a wonderfully sober and uncomplicated feel. The Palazzo had been saved from looting during WWII as the German Commanding officer upon taking control of Pienza and the surrounding countryside during WWII issued a protective order for the Palazzo and its contents, the document can still be seen framed on the walls. On the way out and throughout the Palazzo you can spot the coat of arms of the family - a cross with 4 crescent moons which signifies the 4th crusade to which this family went to.
The sun has been glorious at La Collina del Sole ! As expected when you rent 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 source. First place on the Forbes list goes to the small island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea (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… 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 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 between 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 particular 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
Have you ever wanted to do something that has not been done for centuries? 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 Cielo”Sienna 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 Siena has wonderfully [almost ] carless streets and walkways, where 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. 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 !
Reflecting on our recent long weekend at our favourite Lucca Villa Rental the tranquil La Collina del Sole an idyllic place when you Rent a Villa in Tuscany We congratulated ourselves on our forethought of booking a rental car from home, having learnt our lesson a few years back [when we had been charged 15% of the cost of a new car for an impulsive weekend rental] so upon our arrival at Pisa and collecting the car in order to reach our Holiday villas in Lucca We had a bit of a shock when GOLDCAR rental wanted to charge a surprise non-refundable €120 diesel charge and a €90 insurance charge or a €1,600 deposit for the car even if the print in the English booking service said insurance was included, we refused to proceed, and as we were looking forward to putting our feet up in our choice Villas for rent in Tuscany we brushed up on our Italian, rented a Smart car from Avis who were very decent on their rates and we zipped off to our Villa Rentals in Tuscany Moral of the story: rent a car from a reputable and well known dealer, we had fun and found the following phrases to be useful: You must be joking ! Stai scherzando Staee Scare-zhan-doh Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? Par-la Een-glay-zay I don't understand Non capisco Non Ka-peesk-koh I'm sorry Mi dispiace Mee Dees-pee-yat-chay How much is it? Quanto costa? Kwan-toh Cost-ah That's too much É troppo Ay Troh-po car automobile Ow-toh-mo-bee-lay gas benzina Ben-zee-nah diesel gasolio Gah-zoh-lee-oh Fill it up, please al pieno, per favore Ahl Pee-yay-noh, Pair Fa-vohr-ray Where is... Dov'é Doh-vay ...the highway l'autostrada Lout-oh-stra-dah ...the state highway la statale [written "SS"] Lah Sta-tahl-eh ...the road for ... la strada per ... Lah Stra-dah Pair ... to the right à destra Ah Deh-strah to the left à sinistra Ah See-neest-trah straight ahead dirito Dee-ree-toh keep going straight sempre diritto Sem-pray Dee-ree-toh thank you grazie Grat-tzee-yay please per favore Pair fa-vohr-ray yes si see no no no Have a great journey buon viaggio Boo-on Vee-ah-gio
Have 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. Where is?... Dov'é Doh-vay 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 and 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.
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, Mascagni, 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”
When you rent a villa in Tuscany it is a good idea to learn a few basic Italian words to get around the Villa rentals in Tuscany or the area surrounding Holiday villas in Lucca unless you would like to end like my friend whom, with a smattering of Spanish and staying at Villas for rent in Tuscany became perplexed, when he was told it was impossible to get what he thought was butter, turned out he was asking for a donkey! Not the best introduction to an idyllic stay in Lucca Villa Rental We found that at La Collina del Sole there is a dedicated Italian language teacher whose charming services you can engage from €20 per hour and who will make learning Italian the most wonderful experience ever ! If you are pPlanning to travel in Italy, the railroad system is very good and extremely reasonable, you must remember to not only buy your ticket before you board the train but to validate it too, otherwise you could face a on the spot €50 fine. So let the train take the strain, Italian trains are 99.9% on time, there is not hassle, no parking, you are taken to the centre of all important towns, it is clean and great fun. A few useful phrases to help you on your way are:
Where is? Dov'é Doh-vay The train station la stazione Lah Stat-zee-o-nay A ticket un biglietto Oon Beel-yet-toh two adults due adulti Do-ay Ahdool-ti one child un bambino Oon Bam-bee-noh one student uno student Oon-oh Stoo-dent-ti one senior un pensionato Oon Pen-see-o-nah-toh How much is it? Quanto costa? Kwan-toh Cost-ah
First class prima classe Pree-mah Clah-say Second class seconda classe Say-con-dah Clah-say
One way solo andata So-low Ahn-daht-tah Round trip (return) andata e ritorno Ahn-dah-tah Ay Ree-torh-noh track binario Been-ar-ree-yoh train treno Tray-no information informazione In-for-ma-tzee-oh-nay departures partenze Par-ten-zay arrivals arrivi Ah-ree-vee the bathroom il bagno Eel Bahn-yoh Luggage storage deposito bagagli Deh-poh-zee-toh Ba-gah-lee thank you grazie Grat-tzee-yay please per favore Pair Fa-vohr-ray yes si see no no no the museum il museo Eel Muh-zeh-oh the church la chiesa La Khi-e-za the cathedral il duomo/la cattedrale Eel Du-oh-moh / Lah Ka-te-drah-leh When is it open? Quando apre? Kooh-ahn-doh A-pray When does it close? Quando chiude? Kooh-ahn-doh Key-ooh-day Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? Pat-la Een-glay-zay I don't understand Non capisco Non Ka-peesk-koh Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh I'm sorry Mi dispiace Mee Dees-pee-at-chay Goodbye Arrivederchi Ah-ree-veh-dehr-chi ROMA!
Italians 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.
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. 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.
Here 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-noh 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-zee 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 !
This 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 with 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 freshly 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 !
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.
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