Renting a Villa in Tuscany
Brandeglio Travel Blog› entry 1 of 3 › view all entries
I have been in the travel business for well over 30 years. In that time, I have rented (for clients) dozens of villas and apartments all over Europe.
Earlier this year, a group of friends and I decided that we would like to rent a villa in Tuscany for two weeks. We envisioned the perfect setting. For research I re-read "Under the Tuscan Sun". However, we wanted a villa that was ready from day one. While I admire the author's determination to renovate her ruin of a house into a splendid residence, we were looking to relax and avoid any heavy lifting (with the exception of lifting a glass or two of local wine).
The villa we rented was called "Al Colle", which is Italian for "atop the hill". The villa was actually in a small village named Brandeglio (about 5 miles from Bagni). The house had 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. It was a fully-restored 15th century property (it was built as a presbyter for the local priests); yet had all the modern conveniences.
The house itself is dramatically set on a high hill, overlooking the valley. The best feature of the house was the terrace with sweeping views over the forest and surrounding villages. We took most of our meals al fresco on the terrace. The house was filled with genuine antiques furnishings. The grounds were well-maintained; the bonus was a full-size swimming pool.
The small town of Brandeglio (only 40 full-time residents) is charming and has many hiking trails leading into the forest. Nearby Bangi di Lucca has a train station with several daily trains that connect with the major hub of Lucca (about 35 minutes away). From Lucca, Pisa is an hour away; and Florence is just an 80 minute ride.
It was the perfect spot, remote enough so that one can relax in a rural setting, yet with major cities just about an hour or so away by train. We visited Pisa, Lucca, Cinque Terre and Florence all by train. We did rent a van, which we used for local transportation as well as two day trips into Chianti to do some wine-tasting.
I would recommend renting a van or car, as the drive to/from Bagni di Lucca is about 20 minutes up and down a very steep hill, with a winding road.
By the way, Bagni di Lucca has several grocery stores as well as an open-air Farmer's Market on weekends. The town has a variety of restaurants and trattorias, as well as a bank, ATM's, many shops and a post office.
We rented the villa on a "self-catering" basis, which means that we did all the cooking ourselves. However, if you want to pamper yourself, the owner (who is a Cordon Bleu graduate herself) can arrange meals (at an extra cost, of course).
You can contact Euro Villas Ltd. (www.eurovillasltd.com) for more information on the villa as well as other properties and locations throughout Europe.