COMPULSORY Tuscan Travel Tips - Car & Communication

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 Diving into the Infinity Pool LA Collina del Sole 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 La Collina del Sole viewas 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-koh557779_3360581848740_16050715_n 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-vay396817_3360556408104_736038112_n ...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

Useful Italian to you don t get a donkey instead of butter!

When you rent a villa in Tuscany it is a good idea to learn a few basic Italian words to get Vineyard - La Collina del Solearound 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 545086_3360556088096_738593696_nwhose 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-vay396817_3360556408104_736038112_n 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-vee315363_3360576728612_405384444_n 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! La Collina del SOle Pool

What IS it about Tuscany?

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

Sunset View from La Collina del Sole

Even more press exposure for La Collina del Sole !

Wedding.18.03.13.image SMALL 2The jewel in the crown of Villa rentals in Tuscany  - La Collina del Sole is featured again ! this time in the latest issue of wedding magazine  which as you can appreciate in the feature, commands a view to rival most villas for rent in Tuscany from any vantage point in this lovely Lucca villa rental  you get the most glorious views, which are described in the guest feedback. You can also just glimpse the award winning salt water infinity pool; a unique feature within the Holiday villas in Lucca So when you look to rent a villa in Tuscany and enjoy tranquil mountain views consider this beauty!Wedding.18.03.13.image SMALL 1 La Collina del Sole which recently joined the ranks at Tripadvisor and has already received 4 reviews from past guests is set in one of Italy’s National Parks where tranquillity and natural beauty are outstanding.  As enjoyed by many of their guests you can stroll to the local bar and general shop or drive 20 minutes to medieval market towns with all manner of tempting local food produce or within 1.30 hours you can enjoy sophisticated Florentine shopping or be at Pisa Airport.

The wonderful facilities and experiences at La Collina del Sole were also highlighted in The Lady magazine  and the Villa Collina Del Sole WED Mag Full Article. WEBSITEin-depth look at aspirational destinations in the world in the January /February issue of wedding magazine.  Splendours mentioned were the award winning infinity pool, spacious out door eating areas, one of which is within the main veranda and the other set in pergola dripping with wisteria and virginia creeper on the side terrace complete with fountain. The wonderfully equipped kitchen whcih is a delight to cook in, the deliciously comfortable bedrooms complete with mosquito nets if required, the fabulous BBQ and state of the art wood burning pizza oven where most guests have chosen to learn how to make a Pizza from scratch with the pizza experience to the many experiences available atThe Lady Magazine Website image.Small.15.02.13 this fabulous Lucca Villa Rental like wine and Olive oil tasting where coincidentally the fashion team also shot a feature, a stroll in Ceserana one of our local towns featured alongside il Vecchio Mulino, walking along the mountainside, learning to speak Italian join the vendemmia, hunt for funghi porcini, to cook like Mamma, or simply to chill and watch the swallows enjoy a drink at that AMAZING pool.

So if you are thinking of having a wonderful and restful  “get-away from it all”  holiday, have a little look at what guests have written regarding La Collina del Sole on the independently verified Tripadvisor website it is well worth doing your homework in order to get the very best out of your Lucca Villa Rental holiday ! See you next week when we will bring you hot off the press news of what’s on in Garfagnana Arrivederchi !

Feeling cold ? … Eat Ice Cream !

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

The best Gelaterias are :La Botega del Gelato

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

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

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

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

More Press exposure for La Collina del Sole !

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

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

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

New Year’s resolutions with a difference …

Christmas has been and gone, you had a wonderful time, enjoyed La Collina del Sole - Rebecca Jensenbeing 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 andLa Collina del Sole view 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, sampleRestaurant 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 ! Sunset at La Collina del Sole

Stuck for Christmas present ideas?

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

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

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

•    For the ever hungry teenagers the fabulous diversity of Pizzerias

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten reasons to dig deeper while planning a holiday

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

view from La Collina del Solevineyard and pool

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

    Flowers at La Collina del Sole

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

Ten vital ingredients for the perfect Tuscan Holiday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A month in the life of ...

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

Now for the beautiful images from Rebecca Jensen, they show La Collina del Sole in different moods, the images speak for themselves

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!!

Thank you again for opening up your home to us and being so gracious!! … It was amazing! Beautiful house, pool view! Best vacation ever ! We really had a wonderful time – Thanks !

… so what are you waiting for !  book your stay at the most beautiful Lucca Villa rental the one and only La Collina del Sole  !

A little help from our friends!

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.

Here is the view of the Tower of Castelnuovo aka the tower of the “New Castle”

Here is the overview of Castelnuovo

Here is the view looking towards the central Piazza of Castelnuovo from the North.

As we have the freedom to travel and enjoy our surroundings. Come and enjoy Life in true Italian Style visit Garfagnana one of the few undiscovered parts of La Bella Italia !

Time to eat some more !

As you enjoy the autumnal feel of the Garfagnana while you Rent a villa in Tuscany  … I don’t know about you but my mind turns to food, and close to La Collina del Sole   the very special Lucca Villa Rental there is a pocket of lovely small restaurants. Fifteen minutes drive from your chosen  Villa rentals in Tuscany  is La Vecchia Lanterna in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Another favourite restaurant is in Silico, and can be seen from the horizon as you look north from La Collina del Sole your very special Villas for rent in Tuscany, it is run by 2 sisters whose cousins run La Credenza , in  Castelnuovo one of the best Pizzerias in the local town of your Holiday villas in Lucca   a.k.a. Lucca Villa rental here are our suggestions : Vecchia Lanterna, on the corner of Via Nicola Fabrizi and and Via G Pascoli in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Telefone 0583 62643 They are on the South West part of town, on the outskits going towards Arni and the Carrara Marble Hills , roughly a 8 minute walk from the centre of town – Good food, well priced with a homemade Ice Cream Bar.

Then there is The restaurant at Silico, there is only one …. Run by Roberta e Clara, their number is 0583 662173, Located just outside the town of Silico, 30 minutes drive from “ La Collina del Sole “ It has really good  home cooked food, is well priced,  with tables out of doors. Closed on Wednesday.  DO walk in the lovely medieval town of Silico afterwards, it was written about earlier as it hosts many medieval festas from June through to September. If you feel like a trip to Lucca on the 14th of September there is the festivals held in honour of the Virgin Mary’s Birthday and the “Santa Croce”.

On September 9, the town of Seravezza holds the  "Fiera del Nove o dei Becchi"  , on 16 of September the gastronomic event of  " Norcini al Castello " happens in Ghivizzano (Correglia Antelminelli ) Soon it will be time for the festas dedicated to truffles and funghi ...

As august ends ... the Wine Festivals Begin !

As August draws to a close, just around the corner is the MOST beautiful month as you rent a Villa in Tuscany, it is September when alongside La Collina del Sole your favourite Lucca Villa rental who produces their own wine, dozens of other vineyards both independent and with Villas for rent in Tuscany and Italy for that matter blossom into wine making.  So while you are in a Holiday villas in Lucca  why not try your hand out at grape picking, if you pick the right  Villa rentals in Tuscany you should be able to join in the fun, The vendemia dates change from year to year so do check in with us at Lucca Villa Rentals when it is happening and we will gladly book La Collina del Sole at the right time for you, now after a hard days picking grapes we have the perfect restaurants to suggest : Pavoratti loved this place so who are we to argue… Within a 50 minute drive South from La Collina del Sole  an oasis among the various Holiday villas in Lucca   you will find the Locanda di Sesto in Vis Ludovico Sesto Moriano. Telephone 0583 578181 & 0583 406 303. It was established in 1300 on the outskirts of Sesto Moriano, AMAZING food, it consistently has rave reviews.. Closed Saturday, and most of August for their summer holiday. With lovely high ceilinged rooms. Everything we have eaten here has been exceptional, definitely worth the drive but PLEASE make sure you book in advance.

For Unusual Italian food head further towards Lucca and you will find the restaurant named Butterfly on Via del Brennero on 12, 55100  their Telephone is 0583 307573. They are located in the outskirts of Lucca, on the road to Marlia. As you drive towards the town of Lucca it is on your right hand side after the roundabout which has turnings to Lucca and Altopacio & Marlia. It is named after Puccini’s famous opera and has a Michelin star. Butterfly specializes in taking well known dishes and cooking them with a difference like Prawns in cocoa butter, risotto cooked with vodka, smoked salmon, lime and green apple, it even has a sweet that is made with Foie Gras we have included the link so you can tantalize your taste buds.

Firmly based on traditional Tuscan cuisine is Trattoria 4 Leoni in Via dei Vellutini 1/R, Piazza della Passera, 50125  in Florence aka Firenze, their telephone number is 0552 18562 It is over 1.5 hours’ drive from La Collina del Sole and is loved by Al Pacino several sports and media celebrities as well as all the locals and many tourists too !  We normally would not send you to a restaurant 1.30 hours’ drive away, however this place is worth it especially if you are visiting Florence.  It is very central on the other side of the Arno from the Piazza Signoria, walking the streets in this area offers a good sense of Florence a few years ago. Although Trattoria 4 Leoni is frequented by a long list of celebrities, like Al Pacino,  it remains surprisingly unaffected, reasonably priced and just plain nice.   The interior has high ceilings good decor and the delicious food and several Florentine Specialities.

Festas also take on a more autumnal feel: on the 25 & 26 August there is the Festa della Bistecca in Pieve Fosciana, on the 25th of August in San Pietro in Campo near Barga,  there is the Sagra del Maiale  a food based feast based on all things piggy, On the 1st of September Castelnuovo di Garfagnana has both a Cheese Fair “ Fiera del Fromaggio “ .  As autumn gently makes its way the Autumn colours come out in force and the landscape is a sea of gold, rust and red!

Schools are out in Italy it is time to play !

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

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

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

Festa time approaches !

As evening approaches at La Collina del Sole your favourite Villas for rent in Tuscany during June, July, August and September ......  the whole region explodes with “too many festas to count” the season of fun begins so find your favourite Holiday Villas in Lucca  as all round the villa rentals in Tuscany festas pop up everywhere with villages transforming themselves into medieval fortressed towns, or playing hosts for a good old "fun times" festa.So when you look to rent a villa in Tuscany we would like to point out that there are 4 different types of festas: Art and artisanal events with local customs on show Medieval extravaganzas Music Festivals and then …. the good old FUN parties for all the locals to  go a dance and “be” together,  where you can show off your foxtrot, tango and waltzing abilities. For an updated and comprehensive list of “Festas” see the English translated hand-out given at all the shops in Castelnuovo. Some festas celebrate particular types of local food, like Festa della Trota [trout], Festa della Porchetta [roast suckling pig], Festa della Bistecca, Festa della Polenta. All the Food will be homemade with great Pride so guaranteed to be spectacularly good. You can also find local art exhibitions and local photography shows which are held in larger towns, like Castelnuovo and Barga. Most importantly, local artisanal produce gatherings happen alongside festas or town events. These gatherings abound in the region and show a rich variety of handmade terracotta, textiles, wax, hand stitching , woodwork, glass and all manner of fascinating and compelling works.

Here is the Calendar of Medieval Medleys

In July • Casoli (Bagni di Lucca)  Medioevo in Val di Lima with Medieval scenes • Coreglia Antelminelli  Notte nell’antico borgo evening event set high up in the hills Correglia hosts an unforgettable evening • Sillico (Pieve Fosciana)  a Bandits dinner during Ariostos time in Garfagnana, remember poor ol Ariosto was attascked by bandits during his tenure at Castelnuovo HIGHLY RECCOMENDED also a yummy restaurant just outside town !

August Trassillico (Gallicano)  The siege of 1512 in Trassillico is re-enacted • Castiglione di Garfagnana  A Medieval day in the Castle of Castiglione a spectacular backdrop for the event • Lucchio (Bagni di Lucca)  A medieval day • Sillico (Pieve Fosciana)  "Silico bandits in Ariostos Garfagnana ... at dinner This is one of the best festivals around, held 3 times from end of july and first weeks of august, aprox 15 euro per person allows you to enjoy a three course meal and medieval romps with great views • Gombereto (Bagni di Lucca) Giornata Medievale sulle Rocche in other words A medeival day ... enjoy the perfect anitidote to a lazy day by the sun !

Keep on Walking !

The Idyllic walks surrounding La Collina del Sole are worth exploring at your favorite, Villa rentals in Tuscany as discovered by Rachel Graham our first guest this season!  Do check her photos on the Facebook page La-Collina-del-Sole as well as their fabulous Pizza making! We would recommend walking north to La Villa and Ceserana which belonged to the Este dynasty from Modena in the 1452; although they both belonged to the same principality they have long had an amicable rivalry going on.

LA VILLA With lovely views and a central plaza which many of the houses look onto. Both La Villa and Ceserana can be walked to by road going from La Collina del Sole to Fosciandora, then dropping down and right at the Casa Rosa, a bright pink house and following the well-trodden “Sentieri“or walkways which travels behind houses, down a ravine and up to the back entrance of La Villa follow through the village going down and left and you behold ….

CESERANA Of particular interest in Ceserana is the Rocca di Ceserana or the Fortress of Ceserana; You have a gorgeous view of it from La Collina del Sole the jewel among Holiday villas in Lucca, the Rocca di Ceserana is a Romanesque church of Saint Andrea, built on a stone outcrop, the fortress was an important Military garrison and stronghold in the XIII and XIV centuries, it was used to combat the “Salt Pirates” who inhabited the Apuane hills and in particular had their HQ in Fornovolasco. Salt whcih is used to purify our pool water [ whcih means you can open your eyes underwater with no stinging sensation !] was a very precious commodity in the middle ages as it was the only way of either preserving things or keeping them cool and therefore fresh for longer, Gelato which was invented in Florence durign the Renaissance, was dependent on the cooling properties of Salt. The fortress of Ceserana built on a stone outcrop, includes a cave which housed the locals during air raids in WWII and was re-opened in 2008. Going South just below La Collina del Sole  one of the  Villas for rent in Tuscany with great charm and character is Riana and Trepignana  both of which belonged to the principality of Lucca.

RIANA & TREPIGNANA A lovely afternoon walk about 2.5 hour there and back, with lovely views. There is a tiny cafe and small shop in Riana. To get there walk down the sentiero on the South side of La Collina del Sole  and keep walking down until you get to a tarmac road, depending of which path you took you might find yourself very close to the ….

SANTUARIO “Madonna delle Stelle”  which has newly been reopened as a monastery in May 2012. On this site,  stood a place of worship to the Virgin Mary in 1167. It is said to have been destroyed by an earthquake. The ruins were found in 1798 with a Fresco of the Madonna which dates back several centuries. On this site a new church was built and consecrated in 1827 and attracts pilgrims from many miles around.

Once you have passed the Santuario keep heading South to Riana entering via the car park make sure you have a good walk around it is a very unspoilt village,  Once you are ready keep heading South upwards towards Trepignana on the tarmacked road, you will pass a very large building full of the bullet scars inflicted during WW II, keep going you will reach the very quiet and solitary village of Trepignana,  From there you can take the road back or go cross country and go past a desolate stone garrison, and the hidden German HQ at the bottom of the ravine just by La Collina del Sole however please make sure you have a guide with you as it is very easy to get lost in the woods …………… like Little Red Riding Hood !

So we suggest you have Francesco to guide you the best way to contact him via his girlfriend Alina + 39 331 39 85 869  at

If you wish to have long leisurely walks when you Rent a villa in Tuscany,   Check out La Collina del Sole !