Once in a lifetime experiences
Funghi Porcini Hunting
We can organise expeditions for you to find Funghi Porcini near the villa, this adventure is best experienced by our guests during September or October, the perfect conditions are dependent on slight rain and still wind, here is the feedback from one set of guests who enjoyed Funghi Porcini hunting “2kg of Porcini and three hours of fun. Planning on Funghi again on Monday. Walking in chestnut groves. Having a great time and the weather is good.” Funghi Porcini are indigenous to our area and much of the cuisine makes the most of their presence. You can eat them fresh in pasta or dry them out to use later in the year. In order to find them it is best if you are accompanied by our guide, as it is easy to get disoriented in the woods and, as a wonderful “old hand” described that to be successful at finding the precious Funghi it is best to “have eyes in your feet”. For further details see link to our recreation suggestions
VISIT AN NATIONAL AWARD WINNING VINEYARD
Podere Concori which is across the valley from us has won several national awards for its organic and biodynamic wine.
The vineyard has been in the family three generations, at one time a working farm, the current “vignaiolo” Gabriele Da Prato, studied the art of winemaking in Burgundy. All work is done by hand using natural herbs and plants instead of chemicals, following age old traditions of wine making. The result is a delightful wine that slips down a treat. Discover the secrets of wine making, try the wines and enjoy a light lunch.
Join in the “Vendemmia”
If you enjoy gardening, are staying at La Collina del Sole and would like to try something new, try helping out at our vendemmia, our expert team will show you how to pick grapes, which ones to pick and which to discard ( heart breaking but essential as a couple of bad bunches will turn the whole crop ). The vendemmia usually takes place in September, although it is dependent on the amount of sun La Collina del Sole has enjoyed over the summer, and the amount of rain that has quenched the land. A vendemmia day typically starts very early in the morning and the best grapes are picked and put aside to make the 1st pressing for the organic wine of “La Collina del Sole” the remainder of the grapes that are usable are picked and also pressed and made into a slightly less refined wine. The day is long and exhausting but very satisfying we suggest you end it with a “feast” from our wonderful caterer Maria,
Live the Lucca Festival experience
Lucca attracts phenomenal talent each year In July, like Stevie Wonder, the Backstreet Boys, Eagles and even Elton John! The setting is very relaxed in Piazza Napoleone within the Lucca walls. We can help in getting tickets and transport if you do not want to drive to Lucca. Guests of ours enjoyed a concert of their favourite band here is what they had to say. “The concert was great. The atmosphere was very laid back and friendly. I'm not sure whether it was at full capacity or not but there was plenty of space. We stood near the back where there was plenty of space and no fear of losing the children or them getting squashed but we could still see really well. The acoustics were good too. We parked in a car park outside the walls on the southern side and getting in and out was really easy - certainly beats getting out of Wembley stadium! For up to date information check www.summer-festival.com
massage at the villa
We can source a wonderful young woman who will come to La Collina del Sole to give you and your family a massage treat to get into the relaxing mood The list of available massages is:
- Anti-stress on face, hands feet & body with essential oils
- Circulation aiding massage
Each massage lasts approximately 50 minutes, she will bring a massage table which can be left at la Collina del Sole if multiple sessions are envisaged. The charge is €30 per massage session, if more than one session is booked there is a 10% discount from the second session onwards. The masseuse uses mainly almond oil alongside essential oils, she is a fluent German speaker.
Watch the Swallows “Happy Hour”
Whoever asserted that the best things in life are free … were right. Our favourite treat in the early evening is to watch the swallows drink their fill of the delicious gently saline water that fills the infinity pool at La Collina del Sole, They arrive in throngs that swoop and glide over the pool when it is empty; or even if there are swimmers gently enjoying a leisurely swim. The swallows duck and dive and generally have a wonderful time providing one of the most graceful and beautiful aerial acrobatics display ever.
Olive Oil and Wine Tasting
As a guest of La Collina del Sole we can book your wine or Tuscan olive oil tasting session, we need two days’ notice, and a minimum of 2 people is required. Cost of tasting starts at Euro 10. The tastings are offered by Andrea Bertucci in the Vecchio Mulino this historic “ Osteria di Garfagnana ” was built into the lower walls of the town 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, For the wine tasting session you can choose local wines, Tuscan wines, wines from Northern Italy or Southern Italian wines. It is Closed on Mondays
Held in the comfort of the very well-equipped kitchen at La Collina del Sole you can learn to cook just like an Italian "Mama" does. Our fabulous chefs which have been described by our guests as “gems”, “so nice and helpful” and “wonderful”, find out for yourself and surprise your friends at home. A starter lesson would typically include learning how to make 2 different types of pasta like ravioli and tagliatelle from scratch and a delicious ragù sauce. Cost is €80 for 5 people and €110 per 10 people, a more advanced menu lessons can be arranged. At the end of your session you will get to eat the delicious meal you created.
LEARN HOW TO MAKE A PIZZA FROM SCRATCH
We can organise a Pizza making experience, held at La Collina del Sole using the new “state of the art “Pizza Oven, this experience will take at least 3 hours to fully appreciate., you start by making the "pomarola" sauce, and preparing the dough, you roll it and cook your very own creation ! The cost is €120 for 6 people or €160 for 10 people. A large variety of toppings will be brought for you to use and you will not only get to have a Pizza feast plus pudding but also to learn how to make Focaccia if you like. If you do not speak Italian we recommend a translator at a cost of only €15 per hour. Every guest who has learnt how to make pizza has thoroughly enjoyed it. For a detailed list of choices available please follow this link.
In house dining
Although our area is saturated with amazing restaurants there is nothing quite like having a banquet without having to move a finger. Maria our chef will cook all the food using local ingredients with free range poultry & eggs from her farmyard, and home grown vegetables & fruit. The most luxurious option is “the Feast” at € 30 per person, It is prepared and served for you and includes a full selection of Tuscan antipasti, followed by your selection of two pasta options from a tried and tested selection of eleven choices, followed by a fabulous main course with side dishes and topped off with a sumptuous pudding, all served with our own delicious La Collina del Sole organic wine. For a full list of options including food that is delivered to the kitchen at La Collina del Sole follow the suggested Menus link.
Walking and exploring
We have access to a fully accredited guide who can take you on walking tours in our immediate vicinity as well as further afield in our marvellously rugged mountain ranges and valleys. La Collina del Sole is surrounded by extremely beautiful walks. Each walk has varying levels of difficulty, we have rugged mountains, the Orechiella National Park, The Tuscan Emilian Apenine National Park, the regional park of the Apuan Alps and a variety of Carrara marble quarries both disused and in use, with many picturesque walks which have “Refugios” to eat at or to stay in. you will always find small reminders of Italian culture whether in derelict villages, shrines off the beaten track or remote churches. In addition to offering tailor made itineraries, we have compiled a short list of five routes, within our recreation suggestions. For detailed suggested Itineraries from La Collina del Sole follow this link
Learning the Culture
Discover the rugged beauty of La Bella Italia
There is so much more to Tuscany than Florence and Pisa, let our fabulous guide introduce you to the wonders of Garfagnana, Lucca, and Versilia. Italy has so much to offer, you can enjoy a super cultural visit and enjoy a lazy afternoon drinking in “La Dolce Vita” our guide is able to show you the jewels of each region or town. In Garfagnana for example there is Barga a stunning town oozing with history both recent and past, the Grotta del vento a marvellous network of Caves that run deep into the Apuan Alps, San Pellegrino, The national Orecchiella park, the beautifully restored Fortress “Fortezza delle Verrucole”, Campo Catino e San Viano, the hermitage “Eremo di Calomini”, the lake “Lago di Gramolazzo” and the word famous devils bridge.
In Lucca must see sites are the Giunigi tower, the Basilica of San Frediano, the Cathedral of San Martino or Duomo, the Roman Amphitheatre with medieval houses built into it, one of the few oval amphitheatres in the world. The church of San Michele in Foro with is incredible ornate front and almost denuded body and for shopping there is Via Filungo with shops that range from top label fashion shops to shops that specialize in buttons with fabulous foodie shops to excellent gelaterias.
Versilia too has some beautiful hidden jewels in Forte de Marmi ( Fortress of Marble ), Pietrasanta, the natural park of Oasi Lipu Massaciuccoli and the Parco della Versiliana. A full day rate is €100 and €60 per half day
Translation and Concierge service
Would you like to discover all the insider tips of the area effortlessly? Our team members offer an English speaking service to assist planning your vacation and will show you around the local market town. Many guests have had a resounding “thumbs up” experience from our team members of them. For a weekly fee of €100 you would expect to receive an orientation trip in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, and up to 3 sessions visiting you at La Collina del Sole to arrange trips, do Italian translating over the phone or give any further guidance. Should you need additional assistance we are happy to assist the hourly translation rate of €15 per hour.