At Lucca Villa Rental the Grapes have been picked and the organic wine production of La Collina del Sole has started, the 2013 vendemia is on its way. The Area around Holiday villas in Lucca is bursting with ripe chestnuts, wine grapes, Funghi Porcini Black Truffles and Ripe Olives so if you would like to have a different experience when you rent a villa in Tuscany we suggest you choose a once in a lifetime harvest during the autumnal Special dates at Villas for rent in Tuscany where you are guaranteed several exceptional only in Garfagnana and particularly only at la Collina del Sole experiences which are definitely worth sampling while you check out the Villa rentals in Tuscany Italy is known for its fabulous food which includes a olive oil rich diet, homemade pastas with a variety of sauces from Putanesca with tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers and garlic, to the simple pesto made of crushed garlic, basil, and pine nuts blended with olive oil and Parmigiano cheese to the even simpler black truffle steeped in Olive oil treat. A word of caution though ... do not buy truffle oil “off the shelf” as most of these oil have never been near a truffle but why not make your own ! buy a black truffle and finely chop the untidy hard exterior and leave them in extra virgin olive oil for 3 weeks and then taste the difference! Or if you are in Garfagnana go to La Casa del Pescatore one of our favourite restaurants and order the angel hair handmade pasta with truffle shavings, your will automatically be served with warm fresh bread liberally sprinkled with real truffle oil ! YUM Italian Wines have a worldwide reputation and they go from Super Tuscan labels like Brunello di Montalcino to the humble vino sfuso otherwise known as homemade wine like the organic wine produced at La Collina del Sole which is free from added chemicals so you can drink as much as you like [ till you are totally legless ] and it will not give you a headache the next day! If you would like to try the many varieties of Vino sfuso in Garfagnana the Festa del Vino will be held at our neighbouring village in Riana on the 3rd of October during a Festa, another great Italian tradition! Are you are mad about chestnuts ? one of the very garfagnese ingredients la Festa della Castagna is held on the 2nd of November at Lupinaia our neighbouring village going North where you can sample ll things made with the humble chestnut, from bread and pasta to jam and cakes. BUON APETITO!
This summer when you rent a villa in Tuscany choose UNUSUAL presents to take home after your stay at villas for rent in Tuscany like wild boar sausages ? Truffle Salt ? a chocolate horseshoe? a chunk of Marble as a paperweight? All found a stone’s throw from La Collina del Sole There are Marble caves, excellent delicatessens, super Tuscan wine tastings [and buying] in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana so your “coming home” presents from Lucca Villa Rental need never be boring Make the most of your catching up with friends after staying at your holiday villas in Lucca with the items listed in the shops we love the experiences we love the food shops we adore the bars we love as they too sell nice unusual presents. If you prefer to go further afield from your villa rentals in Tuscany say to Siena here are a few special and very unusual presents that we recently found.Following the excitements of the 16th of August with the last Palio of 2013 Siena –will go into a somnolent state, perfect to admire the dramatic inclined fan shaped central square preferably sitting at a table with a Bellini cocktail while enjoying the sunset on the Tower and entire Piazza, the whole scene will seem dipped in liquid amber, in the evening the evening streets of Siena are empty and will still be decorated with the Contrada lights, colours and flags, it is easy to imagine you are walking in the past as the buildings seem unchanged in centuries and the stillness of the night is almost complete. Now for the unusual shops my favourite is La fabbrica delle candele aka the handmade candle and wax dipped flower shop where a young woman dips silk flowers in wax and then gives them a smooth glistening finish, they are in Via dei Pellegrini, 11, Siena, Province of Siena, Italy. They also hand carve and create intricate designs within the candles in front of you, explaining the process as they go and even personalising your candle for you if you wish
My next favourite is a artisans ceramic shop where you can buy plates decorated with the shields of each contrada in Siena It is The Studio Artistico in Via San Pietro 22 - 53100 Siena, Tel+39 0577 288188 with an elderly couple that actually paint the plates in front of you and can even personalize it, we bought a magnificent HUGE plate with a dragon rampant.
Should you need a breather Siena has a fondness for “Osterias” and they ALL look really good, one we loved is, Osteria le Logge Due, Via Porrione 33, Siena, tel +39 0577 48013 They have tables both outside and in, used by locals and visitors. Should you need a “gelato break” go to GROM in Via Banchi di Sopra #11/13 their telephone # 0577 289 303 where they make the most wonderful ice cream “as it used to be made” using only ethically produced ingredients, like coffee from Guatemala, fresh milk and fresh spring water for sorbets, fruit only when it is in season like strawberries in summer and tangerines in winter my favourite is liquorice gelato. Nearby there is a beautiful paper shop with hand decorated paper cards with open windows showing drawings of the Siena Duomo and the Siena tower in the Piazza, or on Florence and Pisa, it also sells persoanlized seals and fun seals with sealing wax and ingenious bookmarks, it is called Il Papiro in Via Di Citta' #37, Siena 53100, Tel: 0577284241, they also have shops in Florence, Venice, Pisa, Cortona, Orvieto and New York, Palm Beach and Melbourne! So you can re-stock when you get home. Other fun spots in Siena are highlighted in the CollinadelSolewordpress blog Following your successful personalized shopping you might want to relax at the botanical gardens which are only open in the morning they are fresh, inviting, cool and calm, or if you prefer views and are in need of a breather nearby there is a lovely garden on a wall at the edge of Siena that overlooks the surrounding fields with a Phenomenal view, night and day. Or on the other side of town in Costa di Sant Antonio, another beautiful place to relax away from the hordes of tourists at midday in the centre of town you can head for St Catherine’s home which has been turned into a shrine go through a lovely Cortille of arches and turn left into what was her home and is now fully painted in wall to wall murals depicting different stages of St Catherine’s life, then follow the pathway going downstairs to find the bedroom of St Catherine which depicts murals of St Catherine’s life as a child and adult. Opposite what was the old kitchen is a church, with many murals depicting the life of St Catherine. It is a lovely haven of peace and tranquillity. Upon leaving you can reflect that you have discovered many parts of Sienna that few visitors knew existed with famous and exquisite works of Renaissance and Pre Renaissance art just there to be admired, and passages, palazzos, courtyards and churches full of calm and beauty.
On our latest escape to the land of “ Villa rentals in Tuscany “ we have discovered two AMAZING FOODIE finds just a stone’s throw from La Collina del Sole our favourite among Villas for rent in Tuscany the first is the “Osteria al Ritrovo del Platano” so named because Giovanni Pascoli - arguably the greatest Italian poet writing at the beginning of the twentieth century - met his literary friends here at the grocery store / bar near where his sister Maria lived. This area is filled with lovely Holiday villas in Lucca and gastronomic hotspots like il Vecchio Mulino which incidentally celebrates Slow Food day in Italy today 25 of May 2013 with a feast of Tuscan delicacies and wine tasting, Andrea the owner is a great friend of the owners of Lucca Villa Rental and Mauro Bertolini, the owner the above mentioned Osteria. Andrea with his affable personality is a bit of a celebrity in Garfagnana and hosts wine and olive oil tastings; so why don’t you meet him when you next rent a villa in Tuscany it is WELL WORTH IT. So let me tell you a little more about the wonderful Osteria al Ritrovo del Platano, well it has THE MOST AMAZING FOOD at unbeatable prices, do not be put off by the photo of a very smart looking chef on the website, or the advertising, he is very friendly and serves a “working” lunch menu on weekdays or “menu di lavoro” which for €10 gets you starter from a choice of 4, a main course from a choice of 4, water, wine and coffee ! and a jolly good one too ! for €20 you can choose the menu turistico which consists of a selection to choose from and for which you get antipasto, homemade pasta, main course, pudding [ SO YUMMY ] water, Wine and coffee, unbeatable really … the A la Carte is fabulous and SO reasonable you would pay 5 - 10 times in a metropolitan restaurant . Here is a small selection of our favourites, boiled egg with truffle, polenta with game topping, puff pastry with cheese and black truffle sauce, wild mushroom maccheroni, Goose Ravioli with truffle, Chestnut pasta with walnut and fresh Ricotta sauce, Bison meat Tagliata [grilled so the meat remains succulent] Guinea Fowl breast with mustard and green pepper sauce, Duck in Leek sauce, FAB veggies like roasted onions and sformato di verdure [a vegetable and potato mash], with a selection of cheeses and honey to top it off or a warm … yes warm tiramisu AMAZING so if you, like me are hungry at the thought of such delicious food, we recommend you go to the 445 that runs between Aulla and Lucca, and at the Ponte de Campia be prepared to stop in a hurry as it is ON THE EXACT fork where the road goes north to Castelnuovo / Aulla and right to Barga, blink and you miss it so … don’t miss it. The Osteria still has the two banana trees that gave it its name in Pascoli’s days, dating from this time too, you find a table that Pascoli used to sit at, many photos of the era and amazing food. Their address is Via Provinciale, Ponte de Campia, Gallicano, 55027, Lucca Tel 0583 68 99 22 Rock on in and give Mauro our very best wishes, he is super friendly !
Is it the light? The beautiful rich terracotta quality to the sunsets that you perceive when you 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 the 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 excellent 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 Lucca 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 !
Italy 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 del 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 their 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 !
Christmas has been and gone, you had a wonderful time, enjoyed being with your family, ate lots of turkey, sausages and … plum pudding, drank a bit and are generally feeling rather full. We have created a list of New Year’s resolutions at La Collina del Sole that you can look forward to and that we hope you enjoy Savour the most AMAZING food when you are in your Lucca Villa Rental either brought in for you to enjoy or cooked for you so you don’t lift a finger, like home-made Tagliatelle with Funghi Porcini sauce or wild boar on polenta. Read the visitors book while surfing the Villa rentals in Tuscany and make sure the villa of your choice has wonderful reviews and a “feel” that makes people want to return. Sample the culinary delights available near your Holiday villas in Lucca like truffle sausages, lemon scented olive oil, garlic cloves in oil with peppers. Take advantage of the once in a lifetime experiences available at the Villas for rent in Tuscany like swallow “happy hour”, picking the grapes at Vendemmia time, or learning to make your own pizza from scratch. Make sure there is PLENTY TO DO like sunbathing, swimming, walking and hiking, riding and funghi hunting. Plunge into a cool salt water infinity pool to relax and make the most of all the facilities when you rent a villa in Tuscany Book into at least three of the best restaurants in the region, sample their antipasti and every pudding on the menu Chill out with the locals in fabulous cafés drinking a freshly squeezed orange juice, and a pipping hot frothy cappuccino at breakfast and watch the world go by. Check out the local beauty spots, and historic villages Make the most of the time you are there by checking out all up and coming events on the weekly Blog and regular FACEBOOK updates Chill a lovely bottle of the wine, put your feet up and ENJOY the sunset !
One of the delicacies of the area when you rent a Villa in Tuscany and in particular a Lucca Villa rental like La Collina del Sole is the abundance of Truffles - black truffles in particular – In the area where La Collina del Sole is located with other Villa rentals in Tuscany Chestnut forests abound which creates the perfect conditions for both Funghi Porcini and il Tartufo aka Black Truffles . The perfect autumn "outing" as our last guest who chose La Collina del Sole among other Holiday Villas in Lucca found out; was a stroll in the woods and a catch of 2 KILOS of Funghi Porcini, followed by a wonderful meal cooked by Maria with Black truffle. Should you be in Villas for rent in Tuscany on the 14th October you could visit Castiglione di Garfagnana and attend the Fiera del Fungo, tartufo scorzone e castagna which promises to be a culinary treat ! The menu at the Fiera del Fungo, tartufo scorzone e castagna includes tartare beef slices with truffle thinly sliced on top, fried egg with tartufo scorzone, local cheese flavoured with … yep truffle ! Risotto with Truffle, Polenta with Funghi and roast beef with … you got it TRUFFLE !
Should you wish to eat at home while staying at Villas for rent in Tuscany we suggest you buy some fresh truffle or tartufo scorzone from our fabulous local veggie shop La Piazetta in # 12 Via Fulvio Testi, Telephone 0583 644520 and FRESH PASTA - whcih is such a treat from Arte de la Pasta, where if you wish the owner Valerio Adami will show you how he gets the fresh pasta ready for you, he has a real passion for his job and a beautiful little shop in the heart of Castelnuovo.
To find ask for L’Arte della Pasta, Via D. Pacchi, Castenuovo di Garfagnana, Telephone 0583 641464. L’Arte della Pasta has homemade pasta made by Valerio Adami which can be ordered or bought on the spot in any quantity, it is cut as you wait into any shape and thickness that you wish. They also sell freshly homemade sauces like Bolognese. It is worth the little walk, closed on Mondays. You will find it tucked away in Via D. Pacchi which is behind and under the main square, accessible through the hole in the wall in the main Piazza Umberto, going through the archway between the buildings.
Unlike Funghi Porcini hunting expeditions that you can enjoy while staying at La Collina del Sole , with our wonderful Francesco as your guide. Truffle hunting is a solitary affair best performed by one human and either a female pig or dog, with a good sense of smell. Why female you may ask ? Well because apparently the smell of an underground truffle reminds them of what interests them in the opposite gender … but don’t let that put you off.