Cinghiale or wild boar Pappardelle recipe… Good things take a long time coming

PastaThis recipe is a speciality of the local area for La Collina del Sole an outstanding Lucca villa rental situated in the heart of the chestnut wood area of Garfagnana a region rich in experiences and activities, with beautiful places of interest that you can explore while enjoying your holiday villas in Lucca The mountains afford world class climbing, and mountain recreation like walking; a real treat in the heat of the summer when you rent a villa in Tuscany as the usual villas for rent in Tuscany have flatter surroundings. Here you find a rich landscape that changes with every passing hour … ideal to just sit and “chill” at your villa rentals in TuscanyThe recipe for cinghiale sauce requires time and skill and can feed 10 to 25 people. Whether you try your hand at it, get one of our chefs to cook it for you, or just order pappardelle al cinghiale at a local restaurant, this recipe reveals the work that goes into this seemingly simple Tuscan treasure. The sauce: start with a fresh cut of wild boar, and leave to age for at least three days at O degrees Centigrade. Bone out the leg parts and cut off what little fat you will find. Cut the ribs into chops and set aside to make the stew. Cut half of the meat into large squares and place in a big pot with lots of sprigs of freshly picked rosemary, sage, bay, peppercorns and parsley stalks. Dice up vegetables in the same manner: red onions, the white part of some leeks, celery, and a small quantity of carrots and add to the huge pot. Add lashings of good Tuscan red wine until it covers the cinghiale. You should work on 2/3 meat, 1/3 vegetables ratio, and for every two bottles of wine add one cup of olive oil. Leave the stew to rest in the fridge for two days, stirring when possible to help marinate all the flavours. Throw in a few peppercorns and juniper berries for good measure. After a couple of days drain off the liquid and set aside. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan and throw in a good amount of olive oil-then double it. Sautè the cinghiale and vegetables. This step can be done in stages, so you don't stew the meat, but brown it. Once all the meat has been browned, throw everything into the pot, adding the liquid marinade and a small amount of tomato pulp. Bring to a boil and simmer very slowly for at least four hours. Season with salt and taste for flavour and then smother you chosen pasta with the sauce. To accompany go for an aged pecorino cheese (not parmesan) and a bottle of Piastraia Bolgheri Rosso DOC Michele Satta which beautifully accompanies the rich, intensely gamey taste of the wild boar.If you would like other wine suggestions contact us and we or our freind Andrea at il Vecchio Mulino will be deligthed to help Enjoy! 360DegreefromPool

Old wines and friends improve with age...

Lady drinking wineItaly varies widely when it comes to climate and terrain. The northern regions have very hot summers and super-cold winters and are therefore excellent for villa rentals in Tuscany . At La Collina del Sole set in the middle of a stunning vineyard, overlooking the Carrara mountain hills, luscious grapes ripen gently near the award winning infinity pool and produce the organic wine given to each guest… Rather a treat when you rent a villa in Tuscany ! This Lucca villa rental also offers a once in a lifetime experience which consists of joining the vendemmia during the wine harvest. You could be part of the team, pick some of these glorious Sangiovese grapes and be involved in the wine production. The vendemmia usually takes place in September or early October and gets booked up so if this is an experience you would enjoy while appreciating your holiday villas in Lucca It is best to contact the owners in good time for rather a special vedemmia instruction while you stay at villas for rent in Tuscany Italian wines are world renown:Tuscany is the most enduringly famous of all Italian wine regions, thanks to the romantic glamor of its endless rolling hills, snaking country roads and hilltop villages. Tuscan wines have a fantastic reputation founded on such iconic wines such as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Factors that contribute to this ideal environment for the cultivation of grapes are the coastal and mountain climates, the mixture of well-drained and dry soils and the moderately hilly terrain extending towards the Apennine Mountains, which collectively help maintain the grape’s balance of sugars, acidity and aromatic qualities. The Sangiovese is a red grape that particularly thrives on these Tuscan hillside vineyards, performing best in direct sunlight. Another Tuscan treasure is the notable sweet red wine called Elba Aleatico Passito, which features the Aleatico grape. As well as being famed for its reds, Tuscany produces some distinguished whites such as the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Tuscany is also home to the renowned dessert wine Vin Santo – “holy wine”. It is called “holy wine” because it is usually comprised of the Trebbiano grape which has been air-dried until the start of Holy Week before being produced into wine. In the north of Italy the high altitude vineyards near the Alps produce wines with a high degree of acidity and freshness, due to the huge fluctuation in temperature from day to night. As you travel southwards the Mediterranean Sea becomes the principal influence on agricultural regions, the winters are mild and the summers are hot and dry creating a ripe, lush wine crop. Whichever is your favourite tipple … Salute !

The bluffer’s guide to wine…

Glass of WineAt La Collina del Sole they have their own vineyard and produce organic wine, at this Lucca villa rental you can experience the vendemmia [wine harvest] and join in the celebrations afterwards as described in a recent blog. Coming up at this time of year there is a special date - Sunday the 19th of October 2014 the wine festival will be held in Riana, a picturesque village and definitely a place of interest near this Holiday villas in Lucca The chances are that when you rent a villa in Tuscany it might have a vineyard surrounding it but a feast day dedicated to wine…that is special! wherever you choose your villas for rent in Tuscany At the feat in Riana they will be serving wonderful food with Polenta with Funghi Porcini in every conceivable fried, stewed, roasted, these wonderful mushrooms which by the way are well known surrounding this area of villa rentals in Tuscany will be accompanied with a generous portion of organic wine, local cheeses, and cured meats and local tarts…of the eating variety, so we suggest after the festa you walk home to La Collina del Sole a 15 minute uphill walk from Riana, after you have visited a few of the cantinas where the wine is made, sampled the wine that spouts from the village fountain and witnessed the wine barrel race. And to get you in the mood in order to enjoy our wine and wine in general I thought I would put together four rules of thumb that I learnt from an ingenious website called Wine Folly, which will help you in the complex process of selecting wines: 1. Cotes du Rhone is a red wine from the South of France made with an abundance of varying grapes (the French name their wines by region, not by the type of grape, as Americans and Aussies do). If you can't pronounce the words on the wine list, ask for the "Coat Do Roan". French wines can be incredibly expensive but Cotes du Rhone is usually the most economical, because a substantial amount of the stuff is produced every year! 2. When you’re going cheap, the cabernet sauvignon is the best option. Making wine with the grape Variety cabernet sauvignon is incredibly easy as the cab fruit thrives even under strenuous conditions. Therefore even a bottle made from cheap grapes will be drinkable. 3. For a fancy wine, think pinot. The pinot noir grape is the opposite of cabernet leafletsauvignon: It's hard to grow and do right. "Thin-skinned and temperamental" as Paul Giamatti would say. Some cash needs to be splashed when selecting a pinot noir so maybe only buy this one for serious wine lovers, your closest friends and family, or if you really had a terrible day at work and need a serious treat. 4. For cooking, the sauvignon blanc is apparently the best option for white wine sauces, because it adds a dash of acidity, like a lemon would. As we discovered previously, sauvignon blanc is economical - perfect for chucking into your moules marinieres recipe. When a recipe needs a red wine, Wine Folly suggests a Chianti or a Sangiovese. Now that you have the basic know-how of what to choose in France, why not try your knowledge out at one of the many wine shops near the La Collina del Sole the Lucca villa rental that overlooks the Carrara mountain range, or indulge in a “wine tasting experience” found at Il Vecchio Mulino at Castelnuovo the closest market town to La Collina del Sole. Or alternatively you could sit back and relax by our salt-water pool and enjoy the fresh bouquet of our complimentary organic, home-grown wine.

Tis the season to be jolly …

During the festive season the area surrounding Lucca Villa Rental bursts forth with DSCN1794different homemade liqueurs, because where you find villa rentals in Tuscany you also find an abundance of home grown fruits!  And as harvests are plentiful in the region where you find villas for rent in Tuscany the surplus fruit is used to make syrups and liqueurs, the recipe was given to us by the cook at La Collina del Sole it is simple and very effective judging by the feedback of guests that have stayed at this fabulous Holiday villas in Lucca they also have several experiences at this Lucca Villa rental with truffle and funghi hunting, the pizza experience, wine harvesting  and cookery classes where you could make a stash of liqueuFood WINTER FRUIT Largers to take home with you when you rent a villa in TuscanyMany fruits are made into liqueurs using the base of grappa, which can be bought or home made by distilling wine that is surplus to requirements.

For example to make BLUEBERRY LIQUEUR Clean the blueberries and put them in glass jars along with a couple of tablespoons of honey, then cover them with grappa and let them stand for a few days, gently agitate the glass jars from time to time, the liqueur will be ready when the grappa takes a bit of color from the blueberries.

Using this same recipe you can get creative and use many kinds of fruits such as strawberries raspberries, cherries, pears, figs, oranges and so on as long as you have a surplus. Herb Grappa is also very special you can use any aromatic herb. Add grappa to mint , juniper berries  or gentian with honey in fact any other herb can be uDrinks Bonini  Spirits(5)sed as long as it is aromatic and you like the taste. Add a few sprigs to a liter of grappa and leave to fully infuse.

You can also make other fruit spirits with alcohol here is the recipe for ALCOHOLIC BERRIES   Place 1 kg of various types of fruit ( redcurrants,  blueberries,  blackberries,  raspberries , etc. ) in a glass jar and add 250 grams of sugar which has already dissolved in half a glass of water, fill the jar with alcohol at 45 ° Close the lid and leave for at least 3 months before consuming. There is a HUGE variety of fruits that you can prepare in this same way.

Enjoy the variety of Tuscan tastes in liquid form too ! LCDS Pool360Degree

I’m dreaming of a …

white Christmas ! A roaring fire and a ponche al mandarino beckons. The local drink taken IMG_6103at Lucca Villa Rental consists of a sweet liquor made of mandarin fruit served in short glasses with hot water and a twist of lemon YUM ! For those enjoying villa rentals in Tuscany this festive season, the area around La Collina del Sole is full of surprises, first up  on the 15th of December there is the Presepe Vivente a particularly Italian tradition done in the areas where you also find villas for rent in Tuscany where all the inhabitants of a particular village,  in this case Trepignana  enact the birth of Jesus. Trepignana is one of the Places of interest near Lucca Villa Rental and for those who enjoy the Excitement of opening up Christmas presents left by Santa if you rent a villa in Tuscany you can genuinely have 2 shots at this delight because on the 6th of January the Befana hands out toys and sweets to each child in the village and to those stayingDSCN1461 in holiday villas in Lucca However you had best be well behaved as you will get nice surprises rather than coal that gets handed out to the naughty children. A special kind of “Coal” is found in sweet shops and it is a block of Fluffed sugar in a hard lump and in Black, remarkably coal-like.If you would like to have a stress free Christmas experience our lovely Maria would be only too happy to prepare a Christmas feast from the suggested menu of a Christmas special which will include Roast Turkey, and A FeastPanetone a very light bread like sponge cake with candied fruit and raisins or Pan d’Oro which is very similar but without the raisins. The menu will also include Turrón with candied fruit, Torrone otherwise known as Nougat is either a very chewy or very hard sweet mixture of heated sugar and beaten egg white with almonds and candied fruit pieces.  Vin Brulée will also be prepared with the organic wine of La Collina del Sole heated with orange, cloves, juniper berries, bay leaves, star anise,  and cinnamon. To find all the requisite food and shops for presents in Castelnuovo have no fear ! Most of the shops will be open until midnight during the week before Christmas, don't forget to ENJOY the experience by checking out the best Ponche al Santuario della S Stellamandarino in the various bars or the ice rink that is set up especially for these festivities and the cuisine at the truly fabulous restaurants that abound around   Lucca Villa Rental.    In Italy Christmas is mainly celebrated during Christmas eve,  so make sure you get most of the shopping done before 5pm, as people start going “home to Mamma” to start celebrating. The church service for the young is midnight mass which starts at 10.30 pm in the church of our Santuario near Migliano it ends at midnight, if you miss that you can join the older crowd at 11 am also at Santuario on the 25th Start preparing for a BUON NATALE ! WINTER PANORAMASMALL

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

Tis the season to be harvesting tra la la la …

At Lucca Villa Rental the Grapes have been picked and the organic wine  IMG_4968production of La Collina del Sole has started, the 2013 vendemia is on its way. The Area around Holiday villas in Lucca is bursting with ripe chestnuts, wine grapes, Funghi Porcini  Black Truffles and Ripe Olives so if you would like to have a different experience when you rent a villa in Tuscany we suggest you choose a once in a lifetime harvest during the autumnal Special dates at Villas for rent in Tuscany where you are guaranteed several exceptional only in Garfagnana and particularly only at la Collina del Sole experiences which are definitely worth sampling while you check out the  Villa rentals in TuscanyVINO ! at La Collina del Sole Italy is known for its fabulous food which includes a olive oil rich diet, homemade pastas with a variety of sauces from Putanesca with  tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers and garlic, to the simple pesto made of crushed garlic, basil, and pine nuts blended with olive oil and Parmigiano cheese to the even simpler black truffle steeped in Olive oil treat. A word of caution though ... do not buy truffle oil “off the shelf” as most of these oil have never been near a truffle but why not make your own ! Black Trufflebuy a black truffle and finely chop the untidy hard exterior and leave them in extra virgin olive oil for 3 weeks and then taste the difference! Or if you are in Garfagnana go to La Casa del Pescatore one of our favourite restaurants and order the angel hair handmade pasta with truffle shavings,  your will automatically be served with warm fresh bread liberally sprinkled with real truffle oil !  YUM Italian Wines haveLa Collina del Sole Wine Label a worldwide reputation and they go from Super Tuscan labels like Brunello di Montalcino to the humble vino sfuso otherwise known as homemade wine like the organic wine produced at La Collina del Sole which is free from added chemicals so you can drink as much as you like [ till you are totally legless ] and it will not give you a headache the next day! If you would like to try the many varieties of Vino sfuso in Garfagnana the Festa del Vino will be held at our neighbouring village in Riana on the 3rd of October during a Festa,  another great Italian tradition! Are  you are mad LA COLLINA DEL SOLE SideTerraceabout chestnuts ? one of the very garfagnese ingredients la Festa della Castagna is held on the 2nd of November at Lupinaia our neighbouring village going North where you can sample ll things made with the humble chestnut, from bread and pasta to jam and cakes. BUON APETITO! LCDS SUNSET winter Composite

Perfectly preserved Pienza

Did you know that the picture postcard rolling hill photo that you associate DSCN1746with Villa rentals in Tuscany comes from the route that is taken from La Collina del Sole to Pienza ?  It appears in suitable postcards to send home when you rent a villa in Tuscany and on Calendars that you buy as Tuscan souvenirs when you choose to stay at Villas for rent in Tuscany it even features on plates and magnets that you can buy at the local market to Lucca Villa Rental on Thursdays,  as it is the ideal rolling Tuscan hill reminder of your perfect holiday villas in LuccaAia di PieroAs you depart from La Collina del Sole you can drop into L’aia di Piero  or Osteria il Vecchio Mulino  in Castelnuovo and choose a few choice morsels for a pic nic to take with you on the trip. Or you could pop into Siena and visit the “Consorzio Agrario Siena” on Via Pianigiani to buy water, salads, vegetable frittata, “ribollita” of sodden bread in a mixture of fresh tomato, fresh basil and olive oil or delicious pasta with truffle and funghi porcini and DSCN1760drive on down towards Pienza which is in the heart of the gorgeous Val D’Orcia [ a world heritage site]  passing through beautiful rolling hill countryside, poppy fields and newly harvested wheat fields. The very famous picture of the small white church in the middle of a sea of rolling hills is on the way. Pienza is a picturesque town, an example of an ideal renaissance city, with lovely vistas down alleyways, a beautiful main road and square with stunning views to the surrounding countryside of rolling hills which is a UNESCO protected site as far as the eye can see. In Pienza itself stands the main Palazzo, donated to the state by the last in line of the  Piccolomini family, along with many of the family treasures, this family provided two Popes,  Pius II who was born in the Palazzo and his nephew Pius III who commissioned the DSCN1751beautiful library to be painted in honour of his uncle at the Duomo in Siena.  You can take a guided tour or a private tour of this amazing Palazzo which was originally built in 1459 by Bernardo Rosellino [ he had red hair !] and a student of Leon Battista Alberti.  Really worth a visit and its own blog as it is a wonderfully sober, elegant and uncomplicated Palazzo. Next to the Palazzo you find the Duomo, a lovely simply decorated church, you can walk along the walls of the town past small houses that look over the incredible view of the fields beyond, there are many shops that sell  cheeses, cold meats and wine including Montalcino and Montepulciano wine as both areas are very close to Pienza. A very appealing shop is called Porta della Cavina [ in Piazza Pio II tel +39 0578 749906] it sells house decoration DSCN1774items, home perfumes, small gifts and soft furnishings. The owner is very attentive and helpful, she even told us where the best gelato is to be found  - outside the walls it is “Gelateria Toscana” a gelateria &  biscoteria artigianale in Via Mangiavacci 3, Pienza, 53026. Tel 0578 748 538. It has a very good selection of normal ice cream and lactose intolerant ice creams with specialities like fennel seed gelato. As you leave Pienza you can drive to either Montalcino which is 25 km away or  Montepulciano 10km away on the road there is a magnificent Fortress which sells vin santo and olive oil directly to the public, they have short opening hours though. Continuing towards Montepulciano, if you are lucky and drive DSCN1768as the sun is setting you are rewarded with the magnificent view of Montepulciano bathed in Liquid Golden evening light. The view from a distance is almost the best part, there are many wine stress where you can buy the delicious Montepulciano direct from the vineyard, in order to park best to leave the car at the foot of the town and walk steeply up, the main street runs along the town and is impossible to miss it will take you to the main square which is a huge central area surrounded by a church, town hall, bank and other impressive buildings. The Fortress of Montepulciano is at present undergoing restoration.

Unusual personalized shopping ? … Tuscany

Chocolate Horseshoe & SpannerThis summer when you rent a villa in Tuscany choose UNUSUAL presents to take home after your stay at villas for rent in Tuscany like wild boar sausages ? Truffle Salt ? a chocolate horseshoe? a chunk of Marble as a paperweight? All found a stone’s throw from  La Collina del Sole  There are Marble caves, excellent delicatessens, super Tuscan wine tastings [and buying] in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana so your “coming home” presents from Lucca Villa Rental  need never be boring Make the most of your catching up with friends after staying at your  holiday villas in Lucca with the items listed in the shops we love the experiences we love  the food shops we adore the bars we love as they too sell nice unusual presents. If you prefer to go further afield from your villa rentals in Tuscany say to Siena here are a few special and very unusual presents that we recently found.Following DSCN1684the excitements of the 16th of August with the last Palio of 2013 Siena –will go into a somnolent state, perfect to admire the dramatic inclined fan shaped central square preferably sitting at a table with a Bellini cocktail while enjoying the sunset on the Tower and entire Piazza, the whole scene will seem dipped in liquid amber, in the evening the evening streets of Siena are empty and will still be decorated with the Contrada lights, colours and flags, it is easy to imagine you are walking in the past as the buildings seem unchanged in centuries and the stillness of the night is almost complete. DSCN1673 Now for the unusual shops my favourite is La fabbrica delle candele aka the handmade candle and wax dipped flower shop where a young woman dips silk flowers in wax and then gives them a smooth glistening finish, they are in Via dei Pellegrini, 11, Siena, Province of Siena, Italy. They also hand carve and create intricate designs withDSCN1799in the candles in front of you, explaining the process as they go and even personalising your candle for you if you wish

My next favourite is a artisans ceramic shop where you can buy plates decorated with the shields of each contrada in Siena It is The Studio Artistico in Via San Pietro 22 - 53100 Siena, Tel+39 0577 288188 with an elderly couple that actually paint the plates in front of you and can eveDSCN1800n personalize it,  we bought a magnificent HUGE plate with a dragon rampant.

Should you need a breather Siena has a fondness for “Osterias” and they ALL look really good, one we loved is, Osteria le Logge Due, Via Porrione 33, Siena, tel +39  0577 48013  They have tables both outside and in, used by locals and visitors. Should you need a “gelato break” go to GROM in Via Banchi di Sopra #11/13  their telephone # 0577 289 303 where they make the most wonderful icGELATO ! ! ! by Rebecca Jensene cream “as it used to be made” using only ethically produced ingredients, like coffee from Guatemala, fresh milk and fresh spring water for sorbets, fruit only when it is in season like strawberries in summer and tangerines in winter my favourite is liquorice gelato. Nearby there is a beautiful paper shop with hand decorated paper cards with open DSCN1670windows showing drawings of the Siena Duomo and the Siena tower in the Piazza, or on Florence and Pisa, it also sells persoanlized seals and fun seals with sealing wax and ingenious bookmarks, it is called Il Papiro in Via Di Citta' #37, Siena 53100, Tel: 0577284241, they also have shops in Florence, Venice, Pisa, Cortona, Orvieto and New York, Palm Beach and Melbourne!   So you can re-stock when you get home. Other fun spots in Siena are highlighted in the CollinadelSolewordpress blog DSCN1716Following your successful personalized shopping you might want to relax at the botanical gardens which are only open in the morning they are fresh, inviting, cool and calm, or if you prefer views and are in need of a breather nearby there is a lovely garden on a wall at the edge of Siena that overlooks the surrounding fields with a Phenomenal view, night and day. Or on the other side of town in Costa di Sant Antonio, another beautiful place to relax away from the hordes of tourists at midday in the centre of town you can head for  St CatherinDSCN1692e’s home which has been turned into a shrine  go through a lovely Cortille of arches and turn left into what was her home and is now fully painted in wall to  wall murals depicting different stages of St Catherine’s life, then follow the pathway going downstairs to find the bedroom of St Catherine which depicts murals of St Catherine’s life as a child and adult.  Opposite what was the old kitchen is a church, with many murals depicting the life of St Catherine. It is a lovely haven of peace and tranquillity. Upon leaving you can reflect that you have discovered many parts of Sienna that few visitors knew existed with famous and exquisite works of Renaissance and Pre Renaissance art just there to be admired, and passages, palazzos, courtyards and churches full of calm and beauty.

What IS it about Tuscany?

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

Sunset View from La Collina del Sole

Think … Fun & Food in the Sunshine

Vendemia FeastWith grey leaden skies above me I cannot WAIT to go on my holiday when I rent a villa in Tuscany and find foodie treasures while feeling sun kissed, my favourite Lucca villa rental among villa rentals in Tuscany is La Collina del Sole a beautiful Holiday Villas in Lucca situated in the heart of the main area for villas for rent in Tuscany at  La Collina del Sole you find an award winning salt water  infinity pool amazing staff, a fabulous Villa handbook stuffed full of ideas of where to go, what to do or not and where to eat so without further ado let’s get down to FOOD and where to eat like a king and pay like a pauper. The nearest restaurant is Claudios ‘Il Ponte di Ceserana, located at the entrance to the Il Ponte Ceseranacluster of villages where La Colllina del Sole is located, close enough to villages but in a secluded spot.  Their number is 0583 66 20 05. The owner/cook, Claudio, comes from Ayr in Scotland. He has recently started offering a delicious and incredibly well priced Fish Menu served every Friday lunchtime. Our guests have highly recommended it in fact they have even written about it, the menu changes according to the best fish available on the day, one of the favourites is a “Fish and Chips” with a twist of elegance, the menu is €10 per head a bargain for the quality and quantity of food and the amazing locally made grappas of different flavours which Claudio produces at the end of the meal. His wife Clementina and children help run the restaurant and bar.  Booking preferred Monday is his day of rest.

Our gourmand choice has recently had a facelift so looks elegant and the food is still BONINI Newspectacular it is Trattoria di Bonini Pier, in Monteperpoli, his number is 0583 639 425, During all working days there is a very good lunch Menu for around €10, excluding wine. There is also the a la carte dining which is spectacular, roughly €25 plus wine. The menu changes with the season but if you see Tagliatta of Beef with Grilled vegetables or game do indulge they are exceptional. Pier the owner has an impressive list and knowledge of wines which are well priced. It is closed on Tuesdays.

Il Pozzo in Pieve Fosciana is also a favourite, very popular for weddings and other large POZZOcelebrations their number is 0583 66 63 80.  It has a delicious antipasto [mixed starter] dish in the area. Giordano and Maurizio founded Il Pozzo in 1985 and have formed part of the “Slow Food” movement from its inception. They are passionate about the origins of the food they prepare and have won several awards. They also have a “menu del giorno”, the restaurant is usually busy but capacious. Their wine list includes some from Lucca, Tuscany and further afield. They close on Wednesdays apart from August when they open seven days a week.

Our next Foodie Heaven is Casa del Pescatore in the village by the Lago Isola Santa, Isola Santatheir telephone is  0583 639408. This is possibly the BEST kept Foodie Heaven secret of all time, if you like Truffles and Funghi Porcini, local cheeses and open wood fire grilled meat you cannot get better and it is ridiculously cheap affordable. In the heart of the Marble Hills a 50 minute drive from La Collina del Sole . Gabrielle Matzei set up his own small restaurant in Isola Santa a small village part of which he has restored and brought back to life. He also can dispense the permit you will need to buy if you want to fish for the succulent local trout of the lake. He is one of the most gifted cooks of the area and has had extensive write ups in gastronomic magazines including “Bon Apetit”. It is TRULY worth the winding drive through the hills.

A new re-discovery is La Bottega dell Fattore in Castelnuovo on Via F Azzi on the corner TrattoriaDelFAttorefacing the Carabinieri station their telephone is 0583 62179.  This restaurant has been taken over by the daughter and her husband the food was always good with an excellent wine selection, the food is now excellent and the wine selection is still fabulous. The daughter has also newly enlarged the restaurant and added an outside terrace for al fresco dinning. We last had a fantastic beef with a reduced balsamic vinegar sauce… incredible.

FOODMain Image The most spoiling and fabulous gourmet experience is the Feast selection in the suggested menu available at La Collina del Sole,  or the Pizza Experience  all our guests have LOVED these and come back for more … So when you come to La Collina del Sole leave diets at home … enjoy the best food that Tuscany has to offer.


New Year’s resolutions with a difference …

Christmas has been and gone, you had a wonderful time, enjoyed La Collina del Sole - Rebecca Jensenbeing with your family,  ate lots of turkey, sausages and … plum pudding, drank a bit and are generally feeling rather full. We have created a list of New Year’s resolutions at La Collina del Sole  that you can look forward to and that we hope you enjoy Savour the most AMAZING food when you are in your Lucca Villa Rental either brought in for you to enjoy or cooked for you so you don’t lift a finger, like home-made Tagliatelle with Funghi Porcini sauce or wild boar on polenta. Read the visitors book while surfing the Villa rentals in Tuscany andLa Collina del Sole view make sure the villa of your choice has wonderful reviews and a “feel” that makes people want to return. Sample the culinary delights available near your Holiday villas in Lucca like truffle sausages, lemon scented olive oil, garlic cloves in oil with peppers. Take advantage of the once in a lifetime experiences available at the Villas for rent in Tuscany  like swallow “happy hour”, picking the grapes at Vendemmia time, or learning to make your own pizza from scratch. Make sure there is PLENTY TO DO like sunbathing, swimming, walking and hiking, riding and funghi hunting. Plunge into a cool salt water infinity pool to relax and make the most of all the facilities when you rent a villa in Tuscany Book into at least three of the best restaurants in the region, sampleRestaurant their antipasti    and every pudding on the menu Chill out with the locals in fabulous cafés drinking a freshly squeezed orange juice, and a pipping hot frothy cappuccino at breakfast and watch the world go by. Check out the local beauty spots, and historic villages Make the most of the time you are there by checking out all up and coming events on the weekly Blog and regular FACEBOOK updates Chill a lovely bottle of the wine, put your feet up and ENJOY the sunset ! Sunset at La Collina del Sole

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  !

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 !

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!