His father was a wild boar, his mother was surprised…

Mr PigIn the forest that surrounds la Collina del Sole there lives the Italian wild boar…and whilst most of you may know what to do when confronted by a grizzly bear, a lion, a tiger or a scorpion, one might be less aware of the protocol for a cinghiale (wild boar). Cinghiale is a favourite dish in the local restaurants of this Lucca villa rental as like some other holiday villas in Lucca it is situated overlooking the Apuan mountains in Garfagnana. Unlike many villas for rent in Tuscany commands the most extraordinary view. The last thing on your mind when you rent a villa in Tuscany is to come face to face with a cinghiale, to be honest, it is a rare occurrence with residents of villa rentals in Tuscany however if you are very quiet while walking in the woods near La Colina del Sole you may find one.These beasts are actually quite timid. They have a sharp sense of smell, but poor eyesight, so once they smell your presence they may get a little closer to see you, however, usually upon realising that you are a threat they will just run away in a fit of squeals and grunts. And they can run fast…so don’t think you’ll be able to outrun one.

In the rare occasion that a cinghiale should feel threatened (perhaps you are hunting it… in which case, that is fair enough), a wild boar does have the strength to harm you. In which case you should either talk loudly or yell. The boar will most likely want nothing to do with you and scoot off. I recommend vocalizing a recipe for “papardelle con cinghiale” just to really drive home the message …well that is my theory anyway! You could also back away slowly and steadily, this prevents the animal from feeling further threatened which means it is less likely to charge at you. Some sources even suggest trying to climb a nearby tree, which in my opinion is easier said than done, especially in Northern Tuscany where the trees tend to have thin branches where are next to impossible to scale!

There is no need to panic about the likelihood of stumbling across a wild boar; you most likely will never see one. The most probable encounter you will have with one is when you sit down at El Pozzo restaurant down the road from La Collina del Sole about to tuck into a bowl of wild boar stew - a rare and deliciously intense dish that you must try if offered on the menu. LCDS Sunset from road leading to La Collina del Sole

A hug in a mug…

Hug in a Mug Everyone loves hot chocolate, it’s one of the best things about winter. It’s just so amazingly warming and comforting, like a big snuggly hug in a mug! What hot chocolate does for me is bring back my childhood memories…like autumn holidays spent at La Collina del Sole our very favourite Lucca Villa rental . Where among the many experiences we enjoyed like walking in the chestnut woods funghi hunting and visiting places of interest or checking out the locations where wedding magazine had taken the press shots in the area… Happy memories of holiday villas in Lucca with fabulous feasts brought in by Maria - surely the best outside catering found in any of the villas for rent in Tuscany So with such fond memories I thought today we could investigate how to make the Italian version of this comforting drink. Italian hot chocolate is very different to the hot chocolate that we English are used to. Italian hot chocolate is rich, thick and decadent. It has an almost pudding-like consistency with an incredibly bold chocolate flavouring. It’s made with just 4 simple ingredients (4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate which is 70% or higher, 1 1/2 cups of whole milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of corn starch) and takes less than 5 minutes to whip up on your stove. It will warm you from head to toe and make your smile wider with every sip – why not add a twist to your hot chocolate by complimenting it with rosewater, orange blossom or a sprinkling of chilli peppers… I personally enjoy drinking a healthier version, which is equally so perfectly thick and creamy, and as sweet and chocolaty as ever. This is a super-food hot chocolate which not only tastes incredible, but will leave you feeling fantastic afterwards…The two main ingredients are almond milk (which you can buy at the Coop in Pieve Fosciana the closest health food providing supermarket to La Collina del Sole the best among villa rentals in Tuscany ) and cacao powder. Cacao is full of disease-fighting antioxidants, as well as lots of the hormone serotonin, which acts as a natural mood booster and anti-depressant. Almond milk and almond butter give you lots of energising plant protein, heart healthy fats, and an incredible dose of vitamin E, which is amazing for healthy hair and glowing skin. You will need: - 1 cup of homemade or bought almond milk - 2 tablespoons of maple syrup - 2 teaspoons of raw cacao - 1 teaspoon of almond butter Simply place all the ingredients into a saucepan and heat gently whilst stirring to ensure all the ingredients mix together and the almond butter doesn’t get stuck at the bottom. Enjoy whilst you snuggle up in front of the wood fire at La Collina del Sole a jewel among the welcoming spots when you rent a villa in Tuscany !

Let’s clean up our act!

With natural soap! At Lucca Villa Rental we show you how to make all manner of beauty La Collina del Sole viewproducts using vegan ingredients. First up the handmade soap workshop held at La Collina del Sole will keep you smelling fresh well after you have returned from your holiday villas in Lucca Using olive oils from our region, you will be reminded daily of your villa rentals in Tuscany the fun you had and all the experiences you lived at La Collina del Sole for example making soap as though you were making cake! using the same recipe our ancestors used and making sure you don’t use the same utensils! Otherwise the lovely gifts you bring back from your villas for rent in Tuscany might be a little more interesting than you bargained for. It is always a treat to bring home a souvenir when you rent a villa in Tuscany and what better than a soap which has been perfumed with IMG_7430flowers and herbs from the very hills you enjoyed walking in!Natural soap does not strip your skin of its natural protective oils due to its high glycerine content which itself has a deep cleansing effect and high moisturizing qualities, as such it is the best soap for people who suffer skin allergies or have sensitive skin. Another bonus point for natural soap is that it uses only natural vegetable oils, no animal fat, no detergents, no chemicals like phosphates, sulphates, chemical colouring agents or petroleum hence natural soaps are high on the eco-friendly scale with no animal testing and by using ingredients that don't cause any harm to the environment. What I love about the natural soap that is made at the La Collina del Sole workshop is IMG_7432that the colouring and fragrance ingredients come from dry plants and flowers from the very hills that you enjoy walking in, it is so special knowing that as you bathe with these soaps your skin is absorbing the flowers, and beauty that surrounds you. The workshop normally lasts for 2 hours and your instructor will bring all the materials, equipment, and complete instructions for soap making in hard copy. Some theory will be covered like the basic chemistry principles of soap making, the difference between commercial soap and handmade soap and the different types of soaps available for specific needs. The practical side gets YOU making soap from scratch, using basic kitchen equipment in a procedure rather like cake making, but with special attention to certain details due to the chemical IMG_7442reactions that occur.  Once ready the soap needs 7 weeks to  harden and season, particularly as the first 48 hours it is jelly-like hence not very practical for travelling, however our instructor  brings  a variety of soap bars which are seasoned and ready  to travel.  Such a treat to know that with this soap what you see is what you get! So if you would like to make olive oil soap that is particularly suitable for those with sensitive skins following a traditional recipe then book our soap making experience and create delicate soaps, the cost for this workshop is €30 for a group, it includes all the materials needed, equipment and complete instructions for soap making plus information on the difference between commercial and handmade soap, the workshop lasts for about 2 hours. The group also gets to take three 100 gram bars of soap home ... unless you would like more!

Beauty - without and within

I don’t know about you, but all the delicious food and drink that I had over the Christmas period at La Collina del Sole the Lucca villa rental we stayed at during the festive season; where a home cooked feast from the suggested menu at the villa handbook was as easy as la collina del sole terrace for feasting !calling and waiting for it to be delivered and served.  The extra kilos… yes kilos that were gained, despite the fabulous walks we had in the local places of interest  coupled with the cold and rainy weather in England where I am writing from,  has set me on a path to exercise and healthy eating which is easily kept up when you rent a villa in Tuscany as restaurants and food shops are bursting with fresh produce that comes from the area around villa rentals in Tuscany  For recreation you can rent bikes to enjoy the hilly countryside - nothing quite like going up and down scenic mountain ranges  near holiday villas in Lucca to get the heart beating and blood pumping !  So as you prepare to be stunningly healthy and fit by the time you enjoySan Pellegrino from La Collina del Sole your holiday in villas for rent in Tuscany  Let me whet your appetite with suggested activities that you can do to continue feeling and looking  great at La Collina del SoleFirst of all there is a comprehensive list of ONLY at La Collina del Sole and once in a lifetime experiences  A fabulous range of suggested walks in the recreation section of Lucca villa rental to say nothing of the salt water infinity pool one of the many facilities of the villa where to get fit is a pleasure. There is one thing you have not heard us speak about before and that is a line of beauty products which are made LOCALLY with 100% natural ingredients and no chemicals, these products are cruelty free and are vegan…interested???Natural Lip Balms

Ask our concierge where you can access these healthy and exotic delights such as NATURAL LIP BALM: This lip balm is made with honey, olive oil and beeswax or in the dark chocolate  version for some colour … and great taste!  All the ingredients are completely edible and they have high moisturising properties. They don't contain any chemical ingredients and will naturally last in a storage jar for up to a year, and on the lips…well that is up to you!

And how about the best ally in the kitchen that heals burns quickly andSaint johns wart flowersIMG_7695 perfectly. It is the… SAINT JOHN'S WORT FLOWER OIL INFUSION: made from St John’s Wort flowers also known as Hypericum perforatum which grow spontaneously and abundantly in the locality of Lucca villa rental these flowers are well known for their antidepressant properties - that is why you hardly ever see a depressed Italian!  St John’s Wort flowers within an infusion heal burn scars very quickly and well, The infusion is locally made following an ancient recipe with St John’s Wort flowers and olive oil. The secret in making it is that the flowers must be collected on … Saint John's day ! and then put in a jar in the sun with olive oil for two weeks. This will turn the olive oil into a deep red colour. The St John’s Wort flower infusion has been used for centuries for its healing properties specifically for burns and scars. It is a great ally in the kitchen as if it is rubbed on the skin as soon as you burn any part of the body, it will naturally heal the burn very quickly. So get healthy and beautiful … and join us at La Collina del Sole ! LCDS SUNSET winter Composite

Truffles - God’s gift to gourmets

  Ever wondered why the world goes wild over the taste of truffle? It is because it has a Eating at tablehaunting taste, is expensive and cannot readily be found all year round. Tuscany is the home of Truffles so what better treat than to find some yourself  as a pastime when you stay at villas for rent in Tuscany  The area around La Collina del Sole is bursting with black truffles, one of the favourite restaurants of the guests at Lucca Villa Rental serve truffles as though they were as easy to find as walnuts, this is because the cooks father in law and his dog find a plentiful supply of black truffles in the area of villa rentals in Tuscany the best way to enjoy their full flavour is to savour the capellini  [angel hair pasta] with truffles shaved on top at the Casa del Pescatore. When you rent a villa in Tuscany in the area of the Tuscan-Emilian Appennines  you can request to experience truffle hunting which is no longer done with sows but with trained dogs, you need to enjoy this at the a special time of year at the Holiday villas in Lucca as it is only allowed between September and December, when you accompany the hunters using a tool shaped like a small spade to go truffle treasure Black Trufflehunting, the areas in which truffles grow, especially black truffles, can be identified due to the lack of grass.  Nowadays there are approximately under 2000 registered truffle hunters and 9 truffle associations in Tuscany. They hope to institute a “garanzia di origine” or guarantee of origin for Tuscan truffles.  Truffle areas exposed towards south generally grow earlier, followed by the ones exposed to east and west and finally by the ones exposed to north.. The truffle with its strong and pleasant smell, can vary in shape and can weigh over 1 kg. It costs more or less €2200 euro per kilo but can reach €5000 per kilo or €200 per kilo depending on its type white or black and size. If you would rather buy in bulk rather than spend hours rambling in a truffle treasure hunt then you could join the  “International Tuscan truffle auction” held in the Medici Castle in Cafaggiolo, north of Florence towards Bologna, where the most prestigious truffles are found. The strong aroma is best enjoyed when shaved over warm pasta and butter, on a simple risotto, polenta  or over scrambled or poached eggs.Food Bonini  Polenta(21) Truffles are found, not grown, and not transplanted. In an age where tomatoes, strawberries and mangoes are perpetually in season, this is the one food that cannot be  grown in a greenhouse. Although there is no sign of flagging demand, there has been a steady decline in the truffles to be found,  the weather has changed the autumn in Tuscany is getting warmer and this is not good for truffles and accounts for much of the decline. In addition, over the last 20 years, many trees in the area have been cut down to plant vineyards, so the traditional places where hunters looked for truffles are limited. “What is it that makes the truffle so special? It is the relationship between whatever is in the earth and the roots of a tree. Until you have smelt the real thing, you don’t know what to look for and the more you are exposed to it, the more critical you become.” A culinary conundrum! How about the latest addition to the “truffle recipes” of the world, we recently read Miranda Bryant’s article on “A fish pie billed as “the world’s most expensive ready meal” went on sale today for more than £300" on the 4th of December 2013.  The dish - which contains white alba truffle and is sprinkled with 24ct gold crumbs - comes hand delivered by a security guard on a gilded tray in an aluminium case the hands of a secuFunghi by Alina  (6)rity guard will be handcuffed to the meal until it’s been delivered to the correct person. Other ingredients include Balik salmon, Cornish lobster tail, salted oysters, wild turbot and lobster poached in vintage Dom Perignon 2003. It comes accompanied by an amuse bouche of Beluga caviar in two mother of pearl spoons. Even the potato mash is made special Yukon Gold Heritage potatoes to make the meal taste extra special and the salt comes from the Piran salt plains of Slovenia, the Olive Oil from El Mil Del Poaig with Montgomery Cheddar, Pecorino cheese and peppercorns. The chef said the meal was created to give people the opportunity to try multiple exclusive ingredients in one go and expects it to appeal to the wealthy and “curious”. Well if you are curious forget the handcuffed pie and join the most fabulous experience you will ever have in the late autumn truffle treasure hunting experience at La Collina del Sole and you will have the added satisfaction of having worked out and found your own truly tantalizingly tasty truffle … LCDS Sunset pool square image

Perfect Party Planning the Italian way!

Villa Collina Del Sole WED Mag Full Article. WEBSITECelebrating a significant birthday? Or wedding anniversary? Why not rent a villa in Tuscany ? you can invite a select group of friends to join you at your chosen villas for rent in Tuscany For example you can celebrate at La Collina del Sole and have every meal catered for with themed menus and have the housekeeping team decorate the table with sumptuous splendour.  Lucca Villa Rental specializes in making the most of your celebrations whenever the special date might be.Relax  … the hardest decision you will have to make is to select the La Collina del Sole  Evening lightguests who will join you,  and decide whcih bedroom you want from our floorplan on your holiday villas in Lucca the rest is as they say in Italy … FACILE.  With delicious local Prosecco and food to ENJOY you can sit, savour the view and while all the work is done for you … be merry.  You can even get married in the spacious Villa rentals in Tuscany with views that will make your wedding photos a delight to see again and again, you could also have your hen night here as suggested by Wedding Magazine.

For those who like to choose what they want and then relax while all is done for you we suggest you see the suggested menus and order to your hearts content, if you like to savour the local wine La Collina del Sole has its own organic wine which is delicious. For the celebrations that require themes we coLa Collina del Sole Wine Labeluld suggest you have the Pizza experience which has been loved by all the guests that stayed at La Collina del Sole  as you can read in the feedback

You could organize either beforehand or as the mood takes you Wine or / and Olive oil tasting sessions, with our concierge and discover ruined medieval fortresses in the places of interest around Lucca villa rental

For those who require serious exercise to celebrate what about a walk in the Apuane hills where Michael Angelo came to personally select each chunk of marble he required. There is a list of suggestions that you can consider each walk in the itinerary comes with a fuwalks Alpi apuanelly accredited guide.

For those whose Idea of heaven is to go shopping there are interesting food shops, and local handicraft shops including gilded frames in the area or you can visit Florence, the beautiful city of Fashion;  you are welcome to contact us for a list of tried and tested Florentine restaurants and boutiques

If you are of an academic bent then we could suggest you engage the services of our Italian language teacher an experience that A Feastwill help you all of your life,  and to add a sense of competition you could make the forfeit of the worst learner a meal in one of the fabulous restaurants in the area, or if you are felling charitable you could make the forfeit a round at the fabulous bars and gelaterias   For those who enjoy a bit of Va va Voom then an outing on your personal Ducati’s around the main roads in the valleys or the more sedate riding or mountain bike excursions in the chestnut hills surrounding La Collina del Sole all of these can be hired in the area Whatever the special date might be; consider making it a significant memory by sharing experiences with your nearest and dearest on a break you will never forget A LA ITALIANA ! GELATO ! ! ! by Rebecca Jensen

Awesome Autumnal Activities

Autumn La Collina del SoleOne of the most beautiful seasons in the area around La Collina del Sole is AUTUMN the chestnut forests around Lucca Villa Rental turn rust read, deep burgundy and gold. The virginia creeper often found in villas for rent in Tuscany is a cascade of reds and burnt oranges, the walks you can access  when you rent a villa in Tuscany are full of promise with black truffle finding, funghi porcini hunting, chestnut gathering,  a delight for those who wish to have an active time Flowers NOVember leavesSMALLwhile they enjoy Villa rentals in Tuscany and when you return home a log fire awaits you, you can put your feet up as you are served a glass of the home grown wine; the best treat while you relax in the holiday villas in Lucca and await a gourmet feast from the suggested menus at La Collina del Sole as the photographer for wedding magazine who stayed last year found having followed our suggestionThe weather is cooler and therefore ideal to go for long walks exploring the Apuane mountain range which attracts visitors from around the world for fabulous walks, at La Collina del Sole you can book the most wonderful accredited walking guide who can take you for short 3 hour walks or 4 day expeditions. If long walks are not your thing then how about seasonal food or autumnal shopping trips Fosciandora has delightful local shops and a bar or you could go to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana our local town or further afield to DSCN1794Lucca voted in 2013 the most beautiful place to live by Forbes Magazine or even Florence an important historical and fashion centre in Italy. You can sample the best local cuisine in the handpicked restaurants near La Collina del Sole with wild boar, truffle, porcini mushrooms and chestnuts taking centre stage in the menu,  alternatively you can cook this fabulous dried Funghi Porcini risotto. A once in a lifetime experience as you can pick them and dry them in the superbly appointed kitchen at Lucca villa rental  LIFE IS FOR LIVING !restaurant Bonini  Wine served  (15)

RISOTTO AI FUGHI PORCINI  for 6 people INGREDIENTS 300 grams of rice 100 grams of dried mushrooms 1 clove of garlic a sprig of mint a spoonful of butter extra virgin olive oil which is VERY GOOD FOR YOU salt and pepper

Soak the mushrooms in hot water for about 2 hours, drain and keep the water . Sauté in a pan with olive oil the crushed garlic and mint. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook for few minutes, add the salt and pepper Cook by slowly adding the water in which the mushrooms soaked to the rice and keep stirring, once cooked  add the butter and serve while enjoying the view out of the window as seen below ! LCDS vineyard and pool viewSmall

Fabulous Funghi Porcini !

Funghi by Alina  (7)At this very moment at La Collina del Sole situated in the heart of the villa rentals in Tuscany area with luxury holiday villas in Lucca there is the most extraordinary bumper crop of Funghi Porcini about to happen, this area is well known not just for its recreation opportunities, stunning villas for rent in Tuscany and beautiful scenery in which you can have some incredible guided walks but also for its prolific production of Black Truffles and Funghi Porcini whcih you can pick. This is because Lucca villa rental  is situated at the foothills of a large expanse of chestnut woods and the weather conditions this year have been perfect for the bumper Funghi Porcini crop in many years, you can experience the thrill of looking for,  finding and cooking your own Funghi at La Collina del Sole when you rent a villa in TuscanyFrom mid September the small family owned food shops in the area of Lucca Villa Rental Funghi by Alina  (5)will burst out in baskets full of dried Funghi porcini, this is the easiest way keep them for a few months, Funghi Porcini are easily dried all you need is a good serrated knife to slice the Funghi in approximately 3-4mm thick slices several clean cloths and a good expanse of protected and clean ground in the sun, leave the cut slices well spread out so they do not touch each other in the open air for about 2-3 days and as long as it does not rain you should have a good supply of funghi to last you at least half a year, OR you can take your freshly picked funghi to the newly opened food cooperative that occupies the old railroad station in Fosciandora just by our favourite local restaurant Il Ponte and for a small fee they will dry your funghi in a special oven that has been bought just for that purpose. The other way we suggest of preserving Funghi Porcini is to wash them, and boil then in Funghi by Alina  (8)a large pan of boiling water with a generous splash of wine vinegar for a good 5 minutes, the vinegar will not only keep their fresh colour but also enhance their delicious taste, Drain them well and fill preserving jars with a few whole black peppercorns and Olive Oil  which incidentally is VERY GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH! Olive Oil improves your mental capacity and helps protect against and alleviate Alzheimer’s, then place the dried Funghi porcini in the preserving jars and seal the lids. This method of preservation will keep your funghi good for months. Or you can cheat and buy funghi porcini already in olive oil jars at L’Aia di Piero, along with several Funghi Porcini delicacies like Lasagna and pasta parcels Both methods of preservation will enable you to enjoy the taste of your hand picked Funghi by Alina  (6)Funghi porcini for months to come drive to this fabulous Lucca villa rental and like one of the guests of La Collina del Sole  pick several kilos as seen in the feedback  page, enjoy a fabulous walk  in the woods, guided walks are best as the guide  will explain where the best spots are and what is edible and what is not,  then cook and feast on Funghi Porcini till you can eat no more and bring the rest home to enhance sauces, soups, meat roasts and warm salads ! A no brainer ... visit La Collina del Sole and enjoy funghi hunting !

LCDS Sunset from road leading to 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 !

Old Fashioned amusement for children and … Narnia visits La Collina del Sole

Thinking ahead ? looking to rent a villa in Tuscany or checking out the Holiday villas in Lucca  are there children or grandchildren in the party? do you wonder what they might like to do at the villas for rent in Tuscany  ? Well at La Collina del Sole they have come up with a few ideas while you relax and enjoy Lucca Villa Rental and  make the most of a break at Villa rentals in Tuscany  - La Collina del Sole has a long list of “only in Italy” experiences, and a well-researched list of favourite Restaurants and Pizza places as well as a favourite food and Ice Cream shops and recreational activities.Narnia at La Collina del Sole SDSC00110First up anytime is good to visit La Collina del Sole, whether winter, spring, summer or autumn there is a huge variety of activities in winter sledging, snowman building and toasting marshmallows in the fireplace, at Lucca Villa Rental there is no television,  which to many might seem a hindrance however once the abundance of activities is discovered the annoying intrusion of the television is gladly left at home, and the fun begins ! award winning infinity pool in different seasonsFirst call is what can be done at the villa which is in 2 acres of fenced and terraced vineyards, so ideal to play hide and seek, cowboys and Indians or even “battle” games there are water guns available upon request  other suggestions are: o    Swimming & pool based activities like playing ball, diving etc o    Ball games in the flat parts of the vineyard lacollinadelsole1o    Badminton rackets available upon request o    Hide & seek as mentioned above it has provided with endless hours of fun for young ones of all ages o    Learning how to make a Pizza from scratchPizza making at La Collina del Sole o    Learning Italian as a second language o    Having a Pic Nic within the grounds o    Learning how to make Italian pasta from scratch o    Having al fresco meals  with outside catering o    Watching the swallows dive in the pool to have baths and a drink o    BBQ evenings - there is a wood burning BBQ in the terrace o    CaWalking in the Woods Fosciandoramping (bring your own tent) the older young quite like to stay out and camp with the option of coming indoors if it gets too scary !

•    Activities in the neighbourhood without using a car o    Exploring ruined mill which was a WWII bunker and headquarters within the Gothic Line o    Exploring the walkways from La Collina del Sole to La Villa and then onto the medieval fortress church of Ceserana and walking back up to La Colllina del Sole o    Walking to Maria Chiaras bar 20 -30 minutes’ walk they have a lovely veranda sitting area they also do lovely Coffee. Ice creams and drinks and of course sweets ! o    Exploring Fosciandora the local village village, going to the swings and climbing frame plus discovering the tame goats ! Such FUN o    Green lane walMari Chiara Terrace Bar Miglianok to a second café in Riana

•    Day trips o    Beach at Forte di Marmi o    Fortezza hunting there are marvellous restored Medieval  fortresses at Cartelnuovo de Grafagnana the local town and the Verrucole which is impressive o    Abandoned village & lake (swimming, boating & fishing) about 40 minutes drive there is also THE most amazing restaurant it is La Casa del Pescatore they serve truffles and Funghi Porcini  at crazily low prices so adults can enjoy the outing too !Marble quarry Entrance o    Visiting an abandoned Marble quarry o    Visiting Bears at the Orecchiella Natural Park o    Eco Refugio Il Robbio for lunch after a 30 minute walk which is in the Carrara Marble Hills o    For a longer walk you can visit the Gothic Line bunkers and look out posts [ 30 minute drive and 2 hour walk] o    Grotta del Vento caves with Stalagmites and Stalactites and different length of visits with an intriguing shop with semiprecious  stones and fossils that can be bought very reasonably , the owner has written several guide books of the area. Monte Forato 2o    Longer walks to see the Monte Forato

•    Sports o    Tennis (open and covered courts) o    Riding (paddock & trekking)

•    Night life o    Italians love the pasegiatta so nightlife is for the whole family, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana has wonderful cafes and pizzerias which are buzzing in the cool evening air. During the late Spring through to early autumn there is an explosion of street parties and dances for the whole family, evenings with banner throwing demonstrations, dancing displays, art and hand-craft displays and even cheese round throwing competitions! o    Medieval themed evenings in at least 3 local towns held throughout the summer o    Jazz festivals in local towns 25  and 65 minutes’ drive away

So what are you waiting for???  Visit  La Collina del Sole for a well deserved holiday Garfagnana is still unspoilt by tourism and Italians LOVE children. La Collina del SOle Pool

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

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   alinadamelia@gmail.com

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

Hunting Fortresses North of La Collina del Sole

If while you Rent a Villa in Tuscany you fancy a spot of adventure and fortress hunting, we list below a few of the highlights north of La Collina del Sole the jewel among Villa rentals in Tuscany The largest town near us is Castelnuovo di Garfagnana which  could be translated as "NewCastle of Garfagnana".

Ariosto spent a few years posted in what is now the Comune of Castelnuovo. He considered this posting rather a trial as to him the rugged seclusion of the location was "the back of beyond". Castelnuovo is full of delicious home grown food shops, artisanal gelaterias and workshops you can also visit the original Fortezza whcih was situated in an excellent defensive position at the top of the hill, to visit this newly restored Fortezza head towards the carabinieri HQ and turn left up the hill … and keep going, up,  up and away !  it is situated at the top of the hill above the town.

If you love walking, biking or cycling there are many fantastic country paths, small or even tiny roads and great wood expanses in this region, here are a few of our favourites

Sillico is a medieval town with trully breathtakingly spectacular views over the valley. It also boasts of a a lovely restaurant at the entrance, called La Terrazza where you can eat a glorious meal very reasonably indeed while admiring the  expansive valleys below. From May through to September it holds midieval feasts and exhibitions of bygone tradicional weaving, land husbandry and cooking.

San Pelegrino in Alpe demarcates the confines between Modena and Lucca,  is it situated a steep drive up towards Pieve Pellago, to the outpost of the Apennine hills, it almost always has snow in the winter, it was a hermitage and is fairly rugged with a museum and the mummified corpses of the hermits of the area San Bianco and San Pellegrino, whom it turns out was Irish! The chapel where they rest demarcates the boundary of Modena and Lucca. If you are feeling incredibly fit and energetic you can cycle up to it, a feat fo sure but very satisfying !

A beautifuly restored fortress is the the Fortezza delle Verrucole, with imposing views and a very good sense of what it must have been like to live in medieval Italy, The town of San Romano is nearby and worth a visit.

Torrite is HOME to our favourite Chocolate Torta, a small very picturesque village in fact a “picture postcard” village with an abundance or red geraniums in terracotta window vases. This village has the Ginestri Chocolate Torta makers in the heart of it. When driving it is best to be in a mini sized car, or you can walk into it and take in the rustic beauty of the houses. and well tended Balconies. If you are interested in Hydroelectrical plants Torrite hosts a rather dramatic looking one in its outskirts

For Nature lovers the entire region abounds in walks, secluded villages, lakes, woods, phenomenal mountain and cliff walks, however if you like cool walks but would rather get there by car and even wander inside the park by car then the Orechiella National Park is perfect for you as it is always cool when the sun is scorching the rest of Tuscany.  Go past Castiglione di Garfagnana, a very picturesque fortified town, then Villa Collemandina and Corfino about 1.45 minutes drive from La Collina del Sole The park has fresh cool walks for those hot days, if you have children or babies in a pram it is easy to get around. It has a sanctuary for bears and a huge pond with the most amazing amount of tadpoles in it at the correct season.

Keep going north and see Parma whcih is definitely worth visiting. A charming town with beautiful architecture – not touristy and very unspoilt. The Cathedral is fabulous. A good day out. The famous theatre here is definitely worth a visit they hold an annual Verdi festival in the autumn.

Easter Beauty in Garfagnana

If you are looking at Villas for rent in Tuscany may we suggest that you consider Holiday villas in Lucca or to be precise Garfagnana during Easter time?  And in particular La Collina del Sole as at this time there are impressive Easter processions for many days; Italy is still steeped in Catholicism, many evening torch lit processions abound. In Fosciandora there is one on Maundy Thursday.  If you are feeling energetic and happy to travel, the Easter processions in Via Filungo, Lucca are definitely worth the trip. If you are looking to Rent a Villa in Tuscany in the summer then let me share a little secret: The area around  La Collina del Sole is steeped in history ! if you are traulling round looking for Villa rentals in Tuscany with interesting surrioundings look no further ! Let’s start with the small village where La Collina del Sole is situated :

FOSCIANDORA Fosciandora’s first inhabitants date back to Etruscan times. This area was fiercely fought over by the principalities of Lucca, Pisa, Florence and the Este dynasty from Modena, in the 15th century. In 1452 Lucca ruled over Lupinaia, Riana and Trepignana, and the Estes of Modena ruled over La Villa and Ceserana.

During WWII, this area was again subject to a great deal of fighting, the famous Gothic line [ the line that divided the Germans from the Allied forces of USA and UK, which was fought over for well over a year ] passed through “Le Lama” which is very near Trepignana, the main Intelligence HQ of the Germans were located in the old “Mulino” located in the ridge just south of La Collina del Sole , if you get to see it, you will see that its secluded and well protected position was ideal as HQ especially as the intelligence was passed via mirror reflections code from Fiattone. The Allies were based in Barga, when you visit it you will see the many scars of bomb craters on the main church at the top of the hill which is completely built in marble.

LUPINAIA  - Situated Just above La Collina del Sole ! Its fortified walls date back to 1616 with amazing views it is a lovely walk on the road and cross country. Above Lupinaia are the Prade Garfagnine which can be reached by foot by local Sentieri, these Prade are the home to many Funghi Porcini, and many visitors come from afar to collect the precious mushrooms. You will notice that the cuisine of the area has Funghi as a central ingredient. The Prade has wonderful views and quiet meadows. Should you wish to drive to the Prade by car you will need to start off from “La Villa” village to the north of us,  we highly recommend a 4X4 car to arrive there.

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 and going through the “Sentieri “ or walkways.

CESERANA Of particular interest the Rocca di Ceserana or the Fortress of Ceserana; 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 Fotnovolasco. Salt was a very precious commodity in the Middle ages as it was the only way of keeping things cool and therefore fresh for longer, Gelato which was invented in the Renaissance was dependant 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.

RIANA & TREPIGNANA – Just below La Collina del Sole a lovely afternoon walk about 2.5 hour there and back, with lovely views. There is a tiny cafe and small shop in Riana.

SANTUARIO “Madonna delle Stelle” 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.

Fancy a Walk … ?

If you are looking to walk while you Rent a villa in Tuscany, be it a gentle stroll through vineyard fields or a rugged mountaineering, La Collina del Sole is situated in a part of the world which is well known not only for its Villa rentals in Tuscany but also for its wonderful walks, people come from all over Europe and internationally to enjoy the fantastic scenery that is on offer.La Collina del Sole one of the jewels within the Holiday villas in Lucca is surrounded by extremely beautiful walks of all kinds, we have rugged mountains, the Orechiella  National Park nearby, the Tuscan Emilian Apenine National Park, the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps which is the view from La Collina del Sole Also this particular area with few excellent Villas for rent in Tuscany you find Carrara marble quarries both disused and in use, and many picturesque walks with “Refugios” to eat at or stay in. you will always find small reminders of Italian culture whether in derelict villages, shrines off the beaten track or remote churches.

We have very close to La Collina del Sole home, a fully accredited guide who can take you on walking tours in our immediate vicinity as well as longer tours in our marvellously rugged mountain ranges and valleys.  You can visit Ceserana, La Villa, Fosciandora and Lupinaia, Riana and Trepignana all beautiful medieval fortresses whcih until very recently were the crucial outposts of 5 principalities, the reason they were so crucial was that for many it was the route to access salt,  used in preserving meats essential in the middle ages through to very recent history, and for keeping things cool, Gelato [ ice cream] invented by the Italians would never have kept cool without the help of salt !   Francesco is an expert in the local plants, habitat and animals,  his partner Alina speaks perfect English.  To contact Francesco Pierotti call Telephone +39 320 41 31 901, if you only speak English then call Alina D’Amelia  Francesco’s English speaking girlfriend at + 39 331 39 85 869 their  e-mail is   alinadamelia@gmail.com

You could visit wonders further afield like Isola Santa walk around the area and take advantage of the yummiest restaurant in the area with Gabrielles cooking, or choose to REALLY go climbing and reach the heights of Mount Sumbra   or Pania della Croce .  or the Alpi di Sant Antonio and eat at la betulla.

There is the most awesome variety of walks and beautiful locations. For recent history fans you can visit WWII  disused bunkers pointing to the sea or sections of the famous Gothic Line  which kept the Germans separated from the Allies for one year.  To walking the old walkways or thoroughfares whcih date from medieval times if not before ! and criss cross this beautiful region linking old abandoned villages and thriving villages, disused  Frontier points , garrisons, churches and monasteries, A lovely Hermitage which can be visited AND does Amazing food is the Eremo de Calomini

For further information on Trekking you can contact the tourism coordinating centre [Centro di coordinamento de Turismo ] in the Piazza delle Erbe 1, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Tel 0583 65169 www.turismo.garfagnana.eu Open from 9AM – 1PM and 3-7PM from June to September and 9-1AM and 3 - 5.30PM from October to May. They have a good selection of maps both free and for sale, which will show the local towns, the official footpaths and Refugios where you can eat and stay, plus a list of guides and recommended routes.  A different contact is Antonella Polli at Telephone 0583 65 169 of Garfagnana Vacanze located on Piazza delle Erbe #1