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

Lights … Camera … Action La Collina del Sole magazine feature !

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 TuscanyVilla Collina Del Sole WED Mag Full Article. WEBSITEWhen you opLa Colllia del Soleen 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

Wedding feb.mar2013LargeYou 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. Vecchio Mulino shoot for Weddign by Alina Concierge at La Collina del Sole 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 ! Cowboy Bride Photoshoot

Alternative Christmas Presents …

How does the idea of Chocolate hammers or truffle sausages grab you? Well when you stay in a Holiday Villas in Lucca tChocolate Horseshoe & Spannerhe chances are that you will be close to these delicacies, all are available in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana which is very close to La Collina del Sole the “star” among Villas for rent in Tuscany. Castelnuovo is located in the middle of a variety of Villa rentals in Tuscany where FOOD is an essential ingredient to “good living”. We at Lucca villa rental believe that food is an essential part of enjoying life and we hope that you enjoy our discerning list when you rent a villa in Tuscany  First up Chocolate is always a favourite! at the Antica Pasticeria the owners make their own chocolate you can buy a very realistic hammer, scissors, and other tools for a humorous treat to all those DIY enthusiasts.Chocolate Gingerbread Man .

For those who just love Chocolate but do not want a tool kit to devour then how about a gingerbread man in pure chocolate or for the purists out there pure plain chocolate by weight.

For those who prefer truffles, garfagnana where La Collina del Sole is conveniently located is right in the heart of truffle growing woods, and the locals have invented a thousand and one things that can be made with the delicious truffle aroma. The is the expected Truffle sauces, and truffle sausages, truffle pasta, truffle paste, truffle oil and Aia di Pieroeven Truffle salt all available at the magnificent Aia di Piero located by one of the main stone gates into Castelnuovo, they are open almost every day at normal working hours, and you will find amazing cured meats, delicious pre-prepared meals and all things made from Chestnut another staple of the Garfagnana area, from chestnut flour to chestnut marmalade …

Now for the truffle salami our favourite spot is the husband and wife run vegetable store which is in the heart of Castelnuovo, La Piazetta a stone’s throw away from Aia di Piero going into the town, has all La PiazzettaFruit&Vegsmanner of delicious home grown vegetables and fruit and a great assortment of Marmalades, and sauces and Dried Funghi Porcini another local delicacy … Have a VERY BLESSED Christmas !

Stuck for Christmas present ideas?

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

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

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

•    For the ever hungry teenagers the fabulous diversity of Pizzerias

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten vital ingredients for the perfect Tuscan Holiday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 !

Inspiring Pizza experiences !

In the coming weeks we will take our inspiration from our guests at La Collina del Sole , Rebecca Jenson whose family were looking to rent a villa in Tuscany checked out Lucca Villa rental where their friend Rachel had stayed. They decided to opt for this beautiful villa for rent  among the many villa rentals in Tuscany as Rachel’s feedback had been so enthusiastic.  As Rebecca's family booked the Holiday villas in Lucca Rebecca’s love of photography was mentioned so we asked that she might share what inspired her while staying at La Collina del Sole the family wanted to savour “La Dolce Vita” while staying at Villas for rent in Tuscany so … they booked Pizza making and cooking classes, walks in the surrounding woods, they planned trips to Florence;  the nearby marble quarry and sampled the delights of Migliano our local village and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana the local town, while leaving enough time to enjoy all the delights of La Collina del Sole . The Photographs which Rebecca sent are truly inspired. We first look at the Pizza experience, firstly you need to prepare the Pizza dough, this can be done by mixing BY HAND  bread flour, or spelt flour or plain old OO flour, with warm water,  salt and some yeast, at La Collina del Sole we prefer to use“lievito madre” or natural yeast which has been nurtured for one month and if maintained can be kept for life. If you do not have “lievito madre” at home you might want to use powder yeast which is quicker. The Pizza dough needs to grow for at least one hour if using fast powder yeast and anything from 3 hours to overnight if using “lievito madre” aka natural home grown yeast, the longer the dough rises the easier it is to digest. The dough is ready when it looks “swollen” and is at least twice the volume it was originally. The risen dough should feel very soft with a springy smooth skin surface.

The Pizza base is usually tomato sauce and mozzarella you then add the topping or toppings of your choice, for best results choose a variety of Pizza types which can be sampled by all, the toppings can be chopped up while the dough rises here are a few suggestions: Prosciutto cotto – Ham Funghi - Porccini mushrooms - locally found Salamino piccante - Spicy sausage Olive – Olives Verdure - Home grown vegetables - highly recommended Formaggi - Mixture of cheeses Cipolla – Onion Speck e mascarpone - A type of parma ham and mascarpone cheese.

In order to make Focaccia al rosmarino - Pizza dough bread with rosemary, you will need to add olive oil to the pizza base.

Light the Pizza oven, at Lucca Villa rental it takes approximately one hour to get it up to the correct heat, other ovens might take a little longer. You light the oven by placing one bundle of kindling wood at the base, light it, close the door and make sure the ventilation fan is on. Wait patiently while dreaming of your favourite Pizza.

Get the whole party to roll the dough, this can get MESSY but it’s fun, the dough seems to have a life of its own as it is rolled out and shrinks back, When the shape of the pizza tray is roughly rolled out, you can place it onto the pizza dish if it does not transfer intact never mind … plug the holes by shifting it around on the baking tray. Once the oven reaches 300 degrees, put the tomato sauce on the bases but not too much or the whole thing will be too soggy then add your favourite toppings, the  great temptation is to add too many different flavours however the most successful Pizzas have a maximum of 4 different toppings and usually have 1 or 2, locally the preferred pizza is the one that celebrates each individual taste of the topping, hence it is uncomplicated tothe palate but DEIICIOUS to eat.

The Pizzas will take about 20 minutes to cook, at La Collina del Sole several can be cooked at once. To check it is ready the crust needs to lift up from the dish as one, and should feel "croccante" or crispy.

The Italian way is to have one person, usually Mamma continually cooking while the others feast, so you get a steady flow of hot delicious Pizzas, it is also great fun to share, so you get to try many different combinations.

Once all the Pizzas are cooked you can use the oven to cook a full Lasagne or even a meat roast, as the searing heat will seal the flavour in and the slowly cooling oven will cook it to perfection.

Tempted ? what are you waiting for book your Pizza learning experience during your next stay at La Collina del Sole the best Lucca Villa Rental !

Viva la Vedemmia !

If you wondered where the Lucca villa rental organic house wine came from, while you sipped it at La Collina del Sole , the most beautiful among Villas for rent in Tuscany… well it started in the vineyards surrounding this luxury villa which is the best among holiday villas in Lucca. During the autumn the Vendemmia occurs in the hilly region which surrounds villa rentals in Tuscany with beautifully rich soil, temperate winters with occasional snow, the odd shower and fantastic sunshine all summer, in fact the perfect weather when you rent a villa in Tuscany At La Collina del Sole the “pick of the bunch” when you rent a Villa in Tuscany we hand pick all the grapes that go into our wine,  we do not use large grape picking tractors, as the carefully tended terraced vineyard would be damaged, not to say ruined.

During the Vendemmia each bunch of healthy clean grapes or grappolo d’uva is handpicked and placed into buckets. To produce these bunches there needs to be the perfect combination of sunshine to render the grapes sweet, and rain to render them juicy, but not too much rain; otherwise the harvest is ruined. Hail rips the skin of the grapes and renders them useless; other unusual occurrences like a birds nest would also render that particular bunch hard to use !

The Vendemia is carried out when there has been enough rain to swell the grapes, and before too much water is ingested by the vine. The grapes are then taken in their buckets to a pressing machine. I am sure you will be pleased that the pressing of the grapes is no longer done by foot !

The wine press leaves the skins relatively undamaged while extracting all the juice, the skin is left to mature with the juice in the large vats. The combination bubbles away fermenting for around 10 days, when you put your ear to the large barrel you can hear the gentle sound of “boiling”. White grapes will produce white wine and dark grapes will produce red wine, this is due to the pigmentation in the grape skin. A highlight of the vendemmia is that after all the hard work of picking the grapes and juicing them  a celebration meal is enjoyed !

After aproximately 10 days the skins will have formed a crust and the “juice” is ready, then very importantly ONLY when the moon is waning is the juice transferred into 5 gallon glass demijohns or “svinare” . The skin crust is then used to make Grappa or homemade hooch, but La Collina del Sole does not do this, we use it as fertilizer.

The wine is left to settle for around a year, sediment within the wine demijohn settles, and so the wine needs to be transferred into a clean demijohn around 4 times over the few months it takes to mature. This transferring of the wine is always done when the moon is waning, as you can see it does not do to be in a hurry with wine making !  One interesting fact is that when the moon is waxing the fermenting wine augments and gently re-boils, so is best left alone to simmer !

When the wine is ready and the moon is waning, it is transferred into wine bottles, very gently and carefully, the bottles are then labelled and HEY PRESTO! You have your delicious La Collina del Sole wine !

Italians have had centuries to improve their techniques, and we have learnt not to interfere with the wisdom of our friends who know so much about the processes of wine making.  So next time you drink a lovely mouthful of organic house wine, think of all the love and care that has gone into it, SALUTE !

Where there is Funghi … Truffles are not far behind !

One of the delicacies of the area when you rent a Villa in Tuscany and in particular a Lucca Villa rental like La Collina del Sole is the abundance of Truffles - black truffles in particular – In the area where La Collina del Sole is located with other Villa rentals in Tuscany Chestnut forests abound which creates the perfect conditions for both Funghi Porcini and il Tartufo aka Black Truffles . The perfect autumn "outing" as our last guest who chose La Collina del Sole among other Holiday Villas in Lucca found out; was a stroll in the woods and a catch of 2 KILOS of Funghi Porcini, followed by a wonderful meal cooked by Maria with Black truffle. Should you be in Villas for rent in Tuscany on the 14th October you could visit Castiglione di Garfagnana and attend the Fiera del Fungo, tartufo scorzone e castagna which promises to be a culinary treat ! The menu  at the Fiera del Fungo, tartufo scorzone e castagna  includes tartare beef slices with truffle thinly sliced on top, fried egg with tartufo scorzone, local cheese flavoured with … yep truffle !  Risotto with Truffle, Polenta with Funghi and roast beef with … you got it TRUFFLE !

Should you wish to eat at home while staying at Villas for rent in Tuscany we suggest you buy some fresh truffle or tartufo scorzone from our fabulous local veggie shop La Piazetta in # 12 Via Fulvio Testi, Telephone 0583 644520 and FRESH PASTA  - whcih is such a treat from  Arte de la Pasta, where if you wish the owner Valerio Adami will show you how he gets the fresh pasta ready for you, he has a real passion for his job and a beautiful little shop in the heart of Castelnuovo.

To find ask for L’Arte della Pasta, Via D. Pacchi, Castenuovo di Garfagnana, Telephone 0583 641464.  L’Arte della Pasta has homemade pasta made by Valerio Adami which can be ordered or bought on the spot in any quantity, it is cut as you wait into any shape and thickness that you wish. They also sell freshly homemade sauces like Bolognese. It is worth the little walk, closed on Mondays. You will find it tucked away in Via D. Pacchi which is behind and under the main square, accessible through the hole in the wall in the main Piazza Umberto, going through the archway between the buildings.

Unlike Funghi Porcini hunting expeditions that you can enjoy while staying at La Collina del Sole , with our wonderful Francesco as your guide. Truffle hunting is a solitary affair best performed by one human and either a female pig or dog, with a good sense of smell. Why female you may ask ? Well because apparently the smell of an underground truffle reminds them of what interests them in the opposite gender … but don’t let that put you off.

Truffle has a euphoric side effect and has been attributed aphrodisiac properties for centuries.


Fabulous Funghi !

The Funghi are there waiting to be picked at La Collina del Sole your favorite Lucca Villa rental, so if you like eating Funghi Porcini while you rent a villa in Tuscany , here are a few Funghi Porcini serving restaurants, near our Villa rentals in Tuscany , an area where Porcini mushrooms are plentiful and succulent.  We will also be letting you into a little secret for of eating the best Funghi while you eat at Holiday villas in Lucca the cream of the crop among Villas for rent in Tuscany First up,  how about restaurants set among the Apuane National Park in Garfagnana ? There is La Ceragetta west from  La Collina del Sole towards Arni their telephone number is  0583 667004. Located in the heart of the Marble hills, high up with lovely views. One hours drive from  your favourite Lucca Villa Rental . The antipasto is extensive, good food, they have Funghi Porcini with practically everything you can eat and it is moderately priced. Closed on Mondays. Then there is il Sassone  in Fobbia   about a 50 minute drive up into the fresh woods from La Collina del Sole, As it is set in the woods Funghi eating feels particularly appropriate, it is also great for a hot summer’s day, with wonderful  alfresco eating. It is also popular with the young in the summer as it has an outside disco, being in the middle of nowhere there are no neighbours to disturb, their number is 0583 760426.

Then deep in the Apuane hills is Bettula in Alpi di Sant Antonio their number is  0583 760380.  A very picturesque drive out, about 1 ½ hours from “ La Collina del Sole “ driving directly…however it is the drive and views of the hilly countryside getting there and back that make this day trip special. Great food with all manner of Forest delights.

If you would prefer eating Funghi with an amazing view then there is il Volpino in Calomini a real favourite with locals is their telephone 0583 760177  with stunning views from this town, it is a good hours drive from “ La Collina del Sole “ . It is closed on Tuesdays. For more stunning views … at the Terrazza in Albiano their number is 0583 766175 it has down to earth cuisine.  Closed on Wednesdays

The best way to eat Funghi Porcini when fresh is lightly sautéed in Olive oil, adding a little garlic, salt pepper and add it to freshly cooked pasta … enjoy

The FUNGHI are OUT !

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

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

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

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

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 ...

Viva Settembre e Viva il Vino !

September is HERE ! and  while  you Rent a villa in Tuscany  the “vendemia” is discussed at La Collina del Sole  with the Festa del Vino about to happen, the best known one near us is the Festa del Vino Montecarlo from the from the 1st to the 11th of September it is very close to Lucca. Vineyards abound in this area rich in Villas for rent in Tuscany  and  Holiday villas in Lucca   with many small and not so small vineyards, some of the best wines in Italy a.k.a. Super Tuscan wines come from the South of Tuscany  just over an hour’s drive from your Lucca Villa Rental  such a Brunello di Montalcino , vino nobile di Montepulciano , as well as the beautifully crisp sweet of Vin Santo, all of these wines can be sampled in the Historic “ Osteria di Garfagnana ”  just 20 minutes drive from La Collina del Sole the jewel among Villa rentals in Tuscany. Osteria di Garfagnana was built into the lower walls of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana 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 at Osteria Vecchio Mulino, Via Vittorio Emmanuelle 12, Telefone 0583 62192, it is closed on Mondays. The best Wine Festival in the region is in Monte Carlo, near Lucca which has an exceptional wine festival with wine producers selling their wine in cases, and giving samples, with wonderful food stalls and Local Artisanal produce.

Lucca also has month long festivities in honour of the Virgin Mary, in particular celebrating her birthday. Italy is full of surpirses all year round.

Enjoy the mellow autumnal feel of Tuscany !

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!

Super Tuscan Wines and Super Tuscan Dining !

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

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

20 minutes north from your amazing Lucca Villa Rental is Il Pozzo – in Pieve Fosciana on Via Europa 2 /A, their Telephone # is  0583 66 63 80 It has a very good antipasto [mixed starter] dish in the area. Giordano and Maurizio founded Il Pozzo in 1985 and have formed part of the “Slow Food” movement from its inception [i.e. good food, sourced organically and cooked as in the “old days” hence best eaten leisurely. Their Menu Degustation has home-made pasta, home grown vegetables and herbs. Their list of approximately 120 Italian wines includes some from Lucca, Tuscany and further afield. They are passionate about the origins of the food they prepare and have won several awards. They close on Wednesdays apart from August when they open seven days a week.

My ultimate favourite although a little further afield 50 minutes’ drive from the jewel among Villas for rent in Tuscany  is: Casa del Pescatore, in Lago Isola Santa  their Telefone is  0583 639408 &  333 709 5763 [mobile ] situated in the heart of the Marble Hills a 50 minute drive from “ La Collina del Sole “. Casa del Pescatore was started by Gabrielle Matzei  it is a small restaurant with al fresco dining within Isola Santa,  a small village part of which he has restored and brought back to life. Specialties include local truffle which is sold very reasonably and Funghi Porcini, for mushroom lovers this restaurant is a must. He also has a permit you will need to buy if you want to fish for the succulent local trout of the lake. He is one of the most gifted cooks of the area and has had extensive write ups in gastronomic magazines including “Bon Apetit”.

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

OK we're hungry now … !

There is nothing quite like a great Pizza and when you Rent a villa in Tuscany it is only right that you either learn how to make the best Pizza in town whcih you can do at La Collina del Sole with our Pizza Experience or hunt down a great Pizzeria … or two within striking distance of your Lucca Villa Rental so we thought we might share a few special places near  La Collina del Sole    the exclusive,  award winning salt water infinity pool, Villa within the Holiday villas in Lucca . Pizza tends to be eaten in the evening in traditional parts of Italy, especially near Villas for rent in Tuscany , which means that Pizzerias tend to open only in the evening as the Pizza oven needs to be warmed up a few hours in advance. So a word of advice enjoy the sunshine when you are in your Villa rentals in Tuscany  and  then venture out in the cool to either learn how to make the best pizza in town or hunt a  pizzeria for a delicious wood baked Pizza. Our FAVOURITE is  “ Il Centro “ in Via Vallisneri, Piazza delle Erbe, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. their Telephone  numbers are 0583 644550 and 0583 66 20 32. Il Centro makes the thinnest wood oven pizza in town, DELICIOUS.  This Pizzeria is run by a family, Mamma, Papa and several children, just as well as it is usually very busy. You can eat there or order a take away, best to call ahead as waiting time for take away varies from 20 to over one hour, it opens late afternoon and evening only, closed on Wednesdays year round except in August.

Our other favourite is Pizzeria Clary, situated on the corner of Via O. Dini, by the gelateria Fuori dal centro,  Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Their telephone number is 0583 65 198. Clary opens late afternoon and evenings during the week & from noon on Thursdays. Pizzas are GOOD and very reasonable. Pizzas are cooked in a wood oven. The base tomato sauce they make is slightly saltier than in other places. Do try the Bruschetta Pizza and the Vegetable pizza, they are delicious and refreshingly different!

Another great Pizzeria in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana is La Credenza, which is very central on Via Farini 2, their telephone 0583 63 9332. This is a Pizzeria and Rosticceria, – with a wood oven, they make the richest of all the Pizzas in town, also delicious roast chickens, beef and pork. Located next to ”Castelli” Supermarket just after Piazza Umberto, which is the main piazza in Castelnuovo. Open late morning through to late evening. They are related to the wonderful cooks from the restaurant in Silico, clearly cooking delicious food runs in the family.

For a smarter if equally delicious Pizza in a restaurant setting then we recommend Il Pozzo in Pieve Fosciana, on Via Europa 2 /A, you have to book their telephone number is 0583 66 63 80. Il Pozzo in Pieve Fosciana is a 20 minute drive from “ La Collina del Sole ” it does great pizza although only for supper. This is also a great restaurant with the best antipasto [mixed starter] dish in the area. Giordano and  Maurizio the owners of “Il Pozzo” have formed part of the “Slow Food” movement from its inception, this relates to Good food eaten well rather than food taking forever to come to the table, they are passionate about properly grown and reared food and have won several awards. Usually busy and fairly capacious, they close on Wednesdays apart from August when they open seven days a week.

This week 11 -18 of August encompasses FERAGOSTO which is as important a holiday as Christmas and is the reason why Italy closes down for a couple of weeks every August. Our region literally explodes with Festas so we will concentrate on one only the one in our area, from the 11 to the 16 Fosciandora hosts Ferragosto Insieme or the Sagra dei Cigerani which night after night of feasting on homemade food, dancing to several different orchestras, and being part of Italy.

August … Italy ?... We MUST party and have Gelato

As you enjoy La Collina del Sole one of the few Villas for Rent in Tuscany with an infinity salt water pool. A unique feature among the Holiday Villas in Lucca and ... a real treat within the villa rentals in Tuscany - offering cool marble sunbeds on which you can sunbathe as you rent a villa in TuscanyAll in all a very cool Lucca Villa rental  however … wait a minute…. an essential ingredient is missing ...  Gelato the tantalizing word for ... Ice Cream

If you scream for Ice Cream, here are a few choice destinations.

La Botega del Gelato in Piazza Umberto, which is very central in the main Piazza of Castelnuovo, It is  the most established and yummiest Gelateria in town. Carries a concise selection of freshly made Gelati.


A great choice too is In... Gelateria, Piazzetta del Duomo,  almost opposite the Main Church in Castelnuovo, otherwise known as the Duomo their telephone number is 349 425 48 02.  It has delicious freshly made ice cream, frozen yoghurt, frappe, ice cream cakes or tortas, gluten free ice cream, brioches, crepes and waffles.  Yummy, yummy,  yummy... beware they are closed Tuesdays  but only during the winter.


A new addition is Fuori dal Centro with a nice little terrace to sit out on,  it is in Piazzetta O. Dini, just inside the east side entrance to the fortressed part of Catelnuovo,   very close to the Aia di Piero and Pizza Clary  they make gelato and frozen yoghurt.  They also make “Meringue” based ice cream which are lighter in weight and a different consistency to traditional ice cream.

Party wise there is a feast of choice On the 5 of August the VERY SPECIAL Festa dei Pastori in the Prade Garfagnine just above La Collina del Sole we have known over the years many people who made shepherding in these hills their livelihood. In Cascio within Mollazana there is the Sagra delle Crisciolette from the 3 to 5 of August In Fornaci di Barga from the 3 to the 5  of August there is Agosto a Fornaci with music, dancing and an opportunity to do your shopping in the cool of the evening.

On the 4 of August in Silico there is the medieval style dinner where the whole town plays host to   “ I banditi dell Ariosto all ora di Cena “ Brainchild of Dr. Roberto Nobili and organized by the Polis Sillico Association, the event "I Banditi del Sillico nella Garfagnana dell’Ariosto... all’ora di cena" is staged annually in late July and mid August. Characters in Renaissance dress (ladies, gentlemen, soldiers and bandits) move around the town and act a series of incidents related mainly to the conflicting relationship between the Moro (a bandit born in Sillico) and Ludovico Ariosto (Governor of the province of Garfagnana). Visitors are led in a gastronomic journey that allows them to taste ancient dishes. Silico is the village that you gaze upon while looking north from La Collina del Sole On the 4 of August there is the distant but very beautiful  Festa della Madonna dei cavatori

On the 5 August you can choose from a variety of interests from Casone di Profecchia plays host to the Sagra Pascoliana an cultural event celebrating the life of Giovanni Pascoli the Italian Poet and Classic Scholar. OR In Sillicano  the Sagra del Bomboloni  a.k.a the feast where they celebrate making fresh doughnuts… and you thought doughnuts were an American invention … think again ! OR A celebratory walk in Fabbriche di vallico  durign the 29 Passeggiata in Val di Turrite

On the 10 of August you can enjoy at varying distances from La Collina del Sole the Procession of the Fiera di San Lorenzo in Seravezza or The Festa di San Lorenzo in Vagli Sotto or An evening’s entertainment based on Giovanni Pascoli at Castelvecchio Pascoli or A Mexican party in Mollazzana or A Roast suckling Pig feast in Villetta in the area of San Romano or enjoy the 25th Trout feast in Valligori in Villa Colemandina

If you stay at Lucca Villa rental you are literally Spoilt for Choice !

OK enough FOOD let’s see the SEA part II

Having enjoyed the best festas of the week  just north west of Villas for rent in Tuscany, you find the stunning Cinque Terre and the “Old Money meets New Money” charming village of Portofino, so before viewing the delights of these popular places we offer a list of festivities near La Collina del Sole your favourite Lucca Villa Rental . The festas available this week as you Rent a villa in Tuscany,  are shortlisted below: Just a stones throw away north of Villa rentals in Tuscany you will find San Pellegrino in Alpe where on the 1st of August they celebrate “Cerimonia del Cambio della Croce” or the exchange of the Cross and literally on our doorstep, close to your Holiday villas in Lucca in Fosciandora TODAY there is the FESTA del Baccala a very fishy tasting salt cod. CINQUE TERRE [ 2.5 hours drive from La Collina del Sole ] Historically these small seaside villages - the “five lands” - were inaccessible by land, and therefore have kept their unspoilt character. A real sense of “La Dolce Vita” is found here. The five Lugurian fishing villages of Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Manarola, Vernazza, and Monterosso are all slightly different and all have a character of their own. Walking along the Cinque Terre is fantastic and you can always walk from one village to another and then catch the train back. Reaching the Cinque Terre is also possible by train. It you "rail it " it is best to drive to either Aulla or La Spezia and catch the train from there – trains go frequently and you can just jump off and on along the Cinque Terre as and when you wish. Why not walk from Monterosso to Vernazza and then stop for a drink or lunch, you could also go a little further to Manarola and have a delicious seafood lunch after a dip in the sea, you can then relax with a glass of wine looking across the Mediterranean... Heaven The Cinque Terre were damaged by landslides in November 2011 however all the guests who have visited tell us that they are being rebuilt very sympathetically and with great charm, and that they found it is definitely well worth the drive to visit !

FOSDINOVO With its impressive castle, Fosdinovo has splendid views to the coast and the Gulf of Poets. Shown here is a tower of the Castle that belongs to the Malaspina family, It was the seat of the rulers of the Duchy of Massa. The castle itself is impressive and full of historical artifacts

PORTOFINO This famous and stylish Riviera ‘town’ is most impressive and situated in a stunning location, it is also a stop off place for many of the smartest yachts in the world. The well-known Hotel Splendido sits above the sea with stunning views and is worth visiting if only for a cool glass of prosecco or a bellini ! The village of Portofino is a beautifully proportioned village, there is a stunning walk from the village to the “faro” or lighthouse.