From Lucca to the Tuscany Seaside

Our Italian friends tell us that Lucca is a fun place to live and to visit because the people from here do such a good job of getting the most out of life.

The area is known for its thriving artistic community and for a lively culture.  The food and wine are superb and the monthly antiques market is a fascinating venue filled with historic treasures brought in from family attics and basements – things you would never see anywhere else.

We were not surprised to learn that the town sponsors one of the most important festivals in the world dedicated to comic books.  Held every October, this colorful and zany event takes over the town and transforms it into a world of fantasy and adventure.

On our most recent outing to Lucca, we stayed at Villa Buonvisi, and enjoyed the hospitality of its owner, Gianna.


She gave us a tour of her classic 16th century Lucca style villa with its lovely gardens and an interior that features beautiful furnishings and Renaissance paintings on its walls.


We often recommend a stay near Lucca because it is so easy to reach the seaside for a day trip and today that is exactly what we will do.

Gianna suggests an outing to Pietrasanta, a beautiful town which is an important center for sculptors.  Michelangelo spent a lot of time in Pietrasanta during the years that he was selecting marble from nearby Carrara and meeting with his benefactors, subjects and fellow artists.

We took a leisurely stroll through the town streets and were struck by the size and the beauty of the pieces that have been placed in the main square.  Although they are massive in scope, the town still manages to do a periodic change, in order to keep all the important works visible.


We are fortunate to be joined by Serena, who is a wonderful tour guide specialized in this
area.   Her English is perfect and her insights and explanations add so much to the experience.

She takes us down a nearby street and into one of Pietrasanta’s few studio complexes, where we can watch artists at work, creating new pieces from marble and bronze.


Here we also found artists doing the intricate work of creating mosaics.



Finally, we ended our day with a walk on the beach at Marina di Pietrasanta.


And when it was over, we were back in Lucca in less than an hour, just in time to enjoy a glass of local wine and antipasti at Ciclo di Vino, Lucca’s only combination bicycle shop and wine bar!!


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Settignano – The luxurious setting of Villa Gamberaia

Settignano is a small and welcoming village with an artistic legacy.  It’s close enough to Florence to enjoy a day of touring and then return home without a long drive.  And it’s still rural enough to offer a view of fields in cultivation and narrow country roads.

Michelangelo Buonarroti himself was a major landholder here in the latter part of his career, after he had attained enough fame and fortune to begin buying land.  His family roots were here, and it was important to him to keep this beautiful land in his family’s possession. The modern day Villa Michelangelo stands today on the original part of his property.

About a half-century after Michelangelo’s death, the magnificent Villa Gamberaia was completed by Zanobi Lapi near Villa Michelangelo.  During its storied lifetime it was the home of a series of well-known noble families.

Today, Villa Gamberaia is available for vacation rentals and is often the location for exquisite weddings, reunions and photo shoots.

Its garden is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe and is featured in many photographic books about gardens.

The interior of Villa Gamberaia includes carefully restored antiques, tapestries and art works.

For the discriminating client looking for the very best that Italy has to offer, Villa Gamberaia is an excellent choice.

Contact us to learn more.

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Villa Emo Capodilista, country home of Dario Varotari

Dario Varotari (1539–1596) was a painter and architect of the 16th century and a disciple of Paolo Veronese. Best known for his paintings in Sant’ Elidio church in Padova, he was also the owner of a beautifully designed and executed hunting lodge in the Veneto countryside.

Now known as Villa Emo Capodilista, this structure is a treasure trove of frescoes depicting scenes in mythology and from his family’s own history.  Many of its frescoes are done in the trompe l’oeil style, depicting fanciful stairways, imaginary buildings and classical columns to create the illusion of an ever expanding villa.

The villa was designed with symmetry in mind.  The plan is a perfect square, and each façade has loggias on two floors.  The Italian style garden is features semi-circular extensions with elegant pathways throughout. The house has been furnished with valuable antique pieces and there are excellent modern amenities.

Throughout the villa, there are extraordinary colors and delights to the eye:

Consider a vacation in Italy’s beautiful and historic Veneto region.  From Villa Emo Capodilista, you can venture into Venice, Verona, Padova, Mantova and many other Veneto destinations.  The famous villas of Andrea Palladio are also close by.

Contact us for more details.  We would appreciate the opportunity to introduce you to this exceptional Italian villa.

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A luxury villa inside Rome is hard to find

Rome is a busy and exciting city, filled with timeless treasures that can be found with a brisk walk and a handy guidebook.  Its convenient underground Metro can whisk you from one side of town to the other.  Take some time to shop on Via Condotti, see the Caravaggios near Piazza Navona, experience St. Peter’s magnificent basilica and allow some time for a stroll in the park surrounding the Villa Borghese.

And at the end of the day, have the luxury of returning to Roma Elegante, a luscious villa in the quiet and beautiful neighborhood of Rome called Monteverde.

Roma Elegante offers a wide variety of premium amenities including a small office, WiFi, satellite TV, workout room, billiard table, daily Continental breakfast and a private pool in the villa’s garden.

It only takes a few minutes to return to the center of Rome via the private shuttle service. But you might want to extend your restful time here and experience what this interesting area has to offer.  Just across the street is the historic Villa Doria Pamphili, a 17th century villa located in Rome’s largest landscaped park:

Roma Elegante can be rented for a minimum of three days, so whatever the duration of your sojourn in the Eternal City, this villa can accommodate you.  Contact us for a complete proposal.

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The Kingdom of Tavolara – You can see it from Villa Bianca

You might already know a lot about Italy, but have you ever heard of the Kingdom of Tavolara?  Located on the beautiful island of Tavolara off the northeastern coast of Sardinia, it is an “imaginary state” that was set up by the Bertoleoni family in the 1800s, who proclaimed it as an independent state.

This fascinating micronation was ruled by Kings Giuseppe through Paolo II, who “reigned” between 1836 and 1962.

Nowadays, the island is the setting of the Tavolara Film Festival, one of Sardinia’s most popular summer events.

From luxurious Villa Bianca, you can gaze at Tavolara from the privacy of your own swimming pool and terrace.

Located in the resort of Porto San Paolo, Villa Bianca sleeps up to 10 guests, with five beautifully appointed bedrooms and five baths.

If you would like to stay at Villa Bianca, please contact us for more information.  We would love to talk with you about this villa or other luxury accommodations throughout Italy.

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Cast an Eye on the Borromean Islands from Villa Camilla

One of the pleasures of staying on Lake Maggiore is a leisurely trip to the Borromean Islands that sit peacefully off the coast of Stresa.  Boats leave throughout the day from Stresa’s docks and travel frequently between the three islands.  You can make a day of it, enjoying a meal on one island and strolling through castles and gardens on another.

Each island has its own personality and character.  Isola Bella has an elegant 17th century castle, beautiful gardens and numerous terraces overlooking the water.  Isola Pescatore in the only inhabited island, with a quaint village featuring charming shops, cafes and restaurants.  Isola Madre offers 19th century English style gardens and a palace filled with Italian masterpieces and paintings.

IMG_3331A quiet stroll on Isola Pescatore

Villa Camilla, perched above Stresa, is a perfect villa for enjoying a lake holiday.  It enjoys a splendid panorama in a peaceful position on the first slopes above the town.  The villa has been recently renovated in an elegant modern style that features a beautiful infinity pool and a comfortable interior with every modern convenience.

Contact us for further information about Villa Camilla or for an expanded search to locate the perfect villa for your lakes vacation.

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Infinito in Le Marche – A Gentle Modern Touch to a Country Farmhouse

Infinito is a beautiful villa in the countryside of  Le Marche.  Its carefully considered renovation causes it to blend in perfectly with its setting in the rolling hills of this region.

The owners have included large glass windows, which allow the beauty and light of the outside to become part of the interior experience.

The design also includes the judicious use of cementina tiles for a tasteful patchwork effect in the kitchen and baths.

A stay at Infinito offers an ideal base from which to visit the art cities of Le Marche, with Macerata, Jesi, Osimo, Recanati in easy reach.  In addition, the beaches of Mt. Conero (Portonovo, Sirolo and Numana) are just about 20 kilometers away.

To add to the pleasures of your visit, the food and local wines of Le Marche are among the very best in Italy!

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