Everyone loves hot chocolate, it’s one of the best things about winter. It’s just so amazingly warming and comforting, like a big snuggly hug in a mug! What hot chocolate does for me is bring back my childhood memories…like autumn holidays spent at La Collina del Sole our very favourite Lucca Villa rental . Where among the many experiences we enjoyed like walking in the chestnut woods funghi hunting and visiting places of interest or checking out the locations where wedding magazine had taken the press shots in the area… Happy memories of holiday villas in Lucca with fabulous feasts brought in by Maria - surely the best outside catering found in any of the villas for rent in Tuscany So with such fond memories I thought today we could investigate how to make the Italian version of this comforting drink. Italian hot chocolate is very different to the hot chocolate that we English are used to. Italian hot chocolate is rich, thick and decadent. It has an almost pudding-like consistency with an incredibly bold chocolate flavouring. It’s made with just 4 simple ingredients (4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate which is 70% or higher, 1 1/2 cups of whole milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of corn starch) and takes less than 5 minutes to whip up on your stove. It will warm you from head to toe and make your smile wider with every sip – why not add a twist to your hot chocolate by complimenting it with rosewater, orange blossom or a sprinkling of chilli peppers… I personally enjoy drinking a healthier version, which is equally so perfectly thick and creamy, and as sweet and chocolaty as ever. This is a super-food hot chocolate which not only tastes incredible, but will leave you feeling fantastic afterwards…The two main ingredients are almond milk (which you can buy at the Coop in Pieve Fosciana the closest health food providing supermarket to La Collina del Sole the best among villa rentals in Tuscany ) and cacao powder. Cacao is full of disease-fighting antioxidants, as well as lots of the hormone serotonin, which acts as a natural mood booster and anti-depressant. Almond milk and almond butter give you lots of energising plant protein, heart healthy fats, and an incredible dose of vitamin E, which is amazing for healthy hair and glowing skin. You will need: - 1 cup of homemade or bought almond milk - 2 tablespoons of maple syrup - 2 teaspoons of raw cacao - 1 teaspoon of almond butter Simply place all the ingredients into a saucepan and heat gently whilst stirring to ensure all the ingredients mix together and the almond butter doesn’t get stuck at the bottom. Enjoy whilst you snuggle up in front of the wood fire at La Collina del Sole a jewel among the welcoming spots when you rent a villa in Tuscany !
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 !
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 !
Tuscany is FULL of amazing sites to visit when you rent a villa in Tuscany today we focus on Siena which is situated on the far south of the area when you are looking for Villas for rent in Tuscany Siena is well known for the Palio held on July 2nd and August 16th each year. It is a daredevil, world famous, bareback horse race which lasts around 90 seconds held at the heart of Siena located a 2.5 hour car ride from La Collina del Sole The Palio races are run in the Piazza del Campo, a fan shaped town square which has a steep incline making it a death trap for many a horse and jockey who ride bareback. The race is FULL of passion and Italian bravado, so after the excitement of the day it is good to retreat to the tranquillity of a Lucca Villa Rental with a view of the Carrara marble hills in the heart of the best Villa rentals in Tuscany if you would like to see the Palio it is well worth booking now as spaces to watch it go fast, Siena is well worth a visit when you explore while staying at Holiday Villas in Lucca here are 4 secret treasures to find in Siena, if you woudl like more contact us at Lucca Villa Rental Siena is not only famous for the Palio as described before where each horse and rider represent a district or ward of Siena or “contrade” there are 17, each one is named after an animal or symbol, each with its own long history and complicated set of heraldic and semi-mythological associations. Other marvellous sites are Torre del Mangia, from where you get THE MOST amazing views of Siena. Other important sites are the chapel of St Catherine and the Duomo, which is set to one side and on a hill within Siena. The following reccomendations are 4 hidden local secrets in Siena, that deserve a visit when visit this beautiful town. The Candle Shop, in Via dei Pellegrini, 11, Siena, Province of Siena, Italy. Where they hand carve and create intricate designs in front of you, explaining the process as they go and even personalising your candle for you if you wish.
The Tea Room, is a quirky place with a relaxed atmosphere which is great fun for tea and cakes, live music and even a game of cards or a board game, enjoy it in Via di Porta Giustizia 1, Siena, Italy
Il Pomodorino, is a haunt for Pizza recommended by all the locals of Siena, so you can’t go wrong. They even do gluten free options and are in Via Camporegio, 13 - 53100 Siena
Ristorante Enoteca Millevini is a gourmet restaurant set in the old wine cellars of a Medici fort. The food looks incredibly experimental, the taste is EXQUISITE and will please even the fussiest diners, you will find it within the Fortezza Medicea, 1, 53100 Siena, Italy
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 !
The 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 !
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 the 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 favourite 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 !
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.First 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 ! First 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 o 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 scratch 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 Camping (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 walk 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 ! 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. o 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 featured as aspirational destination ! La Collina del Sole is the chosen Italian Villa among Villas for rent in Tuscany in this month’s Wedding Magazine profiling the ideal honeymoon or wedding venue, the best Lucca Villa Rental amongst Villa rentals in Tuscany gets a full two page spread highlighting the advantages of the award winning saltwater infinity pool the only amongst all the Holiday Villas in Lucca the cozy and romantic log fire and the beautiful veranda where you can eat al fresco A MUST when you rent a villa in TuscanyWhen you open the February / March issue of Wedding Magazine whose website also includes a “thriller” on getting there you will see not only the double page spread which spells out the delights of the facilities at La Collina del Sole the Concierge service the in house dining menu the place where you can have the wine and oil tasting experience or recreation horse riding or exploring the area around in the places of interest
You will also see in this issue that the front cover has a beautiful Classic double strand pearl necklace created by Coleman Douglas Pearls the business founded by La Collina del Sole s pool designer. You can also find two stories which were shot while the fashion team stayed at La Collina del Sole one in a nearby villa using several bestselling pearl designs and another showing how a bride can combine her big day with a touch of yee haaaaaaaaaaaaa ….
The next wedding magazine will feature a shoot that took place at our favourite wine and Olive Oil tasting venue il Vecchio Mulino where Andrea the owner got to feature alongside the models … For all those brides who enjoy good wine alongside their husbands. La Collina del Sole also boasts a handbook detailling the most amazing array of experiences which are introduced in the suggestions we love and include Experiences or for the hungry the recommended Restaurants & Pizza Stores with the most amazing Food and which stock local delicacies like wild boar sausages, truffle salt, Fughi Porcini in Oil, funghi porcini pasta and chestnut tart. The best Bars and Cafés then there is a list of nearby Places of Interest and Recreation so you never get bored, a list too of Special dates so you know when is best to book your holiday in order to suit your preferences and a list of general shops for all those essential necessities that we take for granted. Then there is also the floor plan for the forward thinkers who want to bag the best room in advance !
With 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 cluster 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 spectacular 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 celebrations 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, their 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 facing 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.
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.
If you, like me, are sitting looking at the snow gently falling from a leaden sky; although I admire its beauty, my heart longs for those lazy summer days soaking in the gentle late afternoon sun. So feeling like a little escapism I searched for Villas for rent in Tuscany and in particular Holiday Villas in Lucca and alight on La Collina del Sole a beautiful Lucca Villa Rental with every facility you could want; from an award winning Salt Water infinity swimming pool, to a floor plan that allows you to plan ahead and bag the best room ! This Villa rentals in Tuscany has it all from Experiences like trekking along the Carrara marble hills to learning how to cook like Mamma, learning how to make a Pizza from scratch, joining in the Wine making, learning Italian and watching the swallows have the bedtime drink, when you rent a villa in Tuscany you really want it to be like this ! So here is what impressed me they have a list of favourite restaurants with feedback testimonials that back the choice and even give further suggestions, all the people who have stayed at La Collina del Sole have left heartfelt and happy reviews.
They also have a section we love Bars Patisseries and Ice Cream right up my street with places to laze with a glass of prosecco and watch the world go by in the summer, or as I am jolted back into the reality of snow, a fab warm Ponche de Mandarino a warm alcoholic beverage that tastes like rich mandarins in syrup when added with a spot of exotic cinnamon and a slice of lemon perfect !
There is a section devoted to we love Food where directions are given to find the best local Italian Specialities like Funghi Porcini, TRUFFLES and a truly local speciality all things made with Chestnut, like chestnut pasta, chestnut bread, chestnut flour, chestnut cake even Chestnut marmalade all especially delicious setting by the roaring fire with a nice tumbler of Ponche al mandarino
Hey Italy is good in summer AND winter !
Following from last week’s Skiing suggestions for the Villa rentals in Tuscany area, where we highlighted the closest ski 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 !
From 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 Milan 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 …
As a new year commences we look at all things new:Babies ! 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. 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.
Our favourites are: Abetone - one of the better known and largest winter 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 highest 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 cross-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 way 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 ….
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 !
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
La Collina del Sole ! ... Have you ever wondered what happens to a Lucca Villa Rental house or Villa rentals in Tuscany when autumn sets in … well if the Villas for rent in Tuscany happen to have vineyards, then wine takes over the focus of activity, if the Luxury Villa happens to be picked among the Holiday Villas in Lucca for its outstanding beauty and amazing services, then Photo-shoots take place, and if you rent a villa in Tuscany to enjoy serene beauty and unspoilt charm then you take photographs like Rebecca Jensen did this year. The Wine at La Collina del Sole has now been decanted, as after approximately 10 days of the squeezed grape juice along with their skin being allowed to settle a crust has formed and the “juice” is ready, then when the moon waned the juice was “svinato” or transferred into 5 gallon glass demijohns, the skin crust is now used as fertilizer. The organic wine at Lucca Villa Rental has now been left to settle for just under a year, as sediment within the wine demijohn settles the wine needs to be transferred into a clean demijohn every 2 months roughly, this transferring of the wine is always done when the moon is waning. Good wine like women are best left to get on with life peacefully and not rushed. One important point is that you need to keep an eye on what the moon is up to as when the moon is waxing the fermenting wine augments and gently re-boils. During October Wedding Magazine visited La Collina del Sole and did several shoots this week we would like to share the Cowboy themed shoot. Yehaaaaaaaaa
Here is the feedback from the Jensen’s stay at La Collina del Sole. It says it all:
We so loved the house and our whole Italian experience. The leisurely dinners where the five of us sat outside and talked for extended periods of time was completely worth the trip! You have found gems in the whole staff. Everyone was so nice and helpful! And that pool!!! It is to die for!! Absolutely loved it!! We were in it every day!!
This week we look at the nearest town to La Collina del Sole , the most beautiful Lucca Villa Rental , it is Castelnuovo de Garfagnana steeped in History, wonderful wines and food and full of fun ! The area where you find Holiday Villas in Lucca has a rich historical background especially during WWII check out the Museo della Liberazione de Lucca which is also on Facebook as is the pick of the crop for Villas for rent in Tuscany check out Facebook for Villa Rentals in Tuscany for real inspiration on where to rent a villa in Tuscany and add a dash of fun, glamour, edification, great food and wine ! Castelnuovo has a lot to offer: Food First ! There is a marvellous bar / Osteria called il Vecchio Mulino Osteria where the owner Andrea Bertucci, will be delighted to guide you through the best wines and olive oils of the region and prepare samples of local cured meats. Our guests at La Collina del Sole from Wedding Magazine held a photoshoot in his premises a week ago, you can see Andrea both looking on and between the models ...having fun.
They are located on Via Vittorio Emmanuelle 12, their telephone is 0583 62192 and you can book your wine or Tuscan olive oil tasting session, call giving 2 days’ notice, a minimum of 2 people is required and the cost of tasting starts at Euro 10 . This Historic “Osteria di Garfagnana” was built into the lower walls of Castelnuovo the town closest to Lucca Villa Rental and has been in this location for several centuries. This 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 wines to book speak to Andrea, the Osteria is closed on Mondays and if you would like to see what is on the other side of the photographers lens check the photo we took of it earlier an Aladdin’s cave of Bottles!
Castelnuovo is the town where Ariosto was banished to by the Este court when he fell out of favour having asked to be paid a fair wage so … as punishment they sent him to be the governor of Castelnuovo where he lived in the “ Comune” opposite our favourite Chocolate shop [ more about that later …] However in recent history Castelnouvo was the scene of bitter fights in WWII and if you travel to the nearest LARGE town to Lucca Villa Rental you can check out the museum of the Liberation of Lucca you will see many reminders of the bitter battles that raged to rout the Nazi army from Northern Tuscany.
Now for Fun! Thanks to the GORGEOUS Rebecca Jensen we can share noteworthy images from Castelnuovo, one of our favourite ones is of the little girl …and dog on their way to La Botega del Gelato … Our favourite at La Collina del Sole !
La Botega del Gelato is very central on the main Piazza Umberto. It is the most established and yummiest Gelateria in town. With a concise selection of freshly made Gelati. In La Botega del Gelato each gelato is freshly made in the little room at the back of the gelateria our favourite is Grapefruit (pompelmo) , Straciatella (delgithful light vanilla base with big Chunkso of chocolate mixed within it) Cioccolato ( deep rish dark chocolate ) Melone ( fresh and light) and … too many gelatos to recount. They also sell delicious freshly baked pasties …
Now fortified with yummy sustenance we can think of serious matters like WWII If you are interested in the recent History of WWII the area around Lucca Villa Rental all you have to do is to walk around the area it is lettered with bunkers, gun posts, shelled out houses, and war memorials, we came across these images of Castelnuovo which show images before and after, may they serve as a reminder that nothing good ever comes from war.
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