Villa Operetta is truly a work of art. Located in the center of a large working estate where they still produce grains, it's a large and grand villa surrounded by gardens and forest, including century old cypress trees. It was originally built for a nobleman's hunting lodge. The large pool, finished for 2003, is in a sunny location with breathtaking views of the rolling hills of Tuscany. A traditional 2 story stone structure, each with separate entrance.
I read this article that said
the typical symptoms of stress
are eating too much,
impulse buying,
and driving too fast.
Are they kidding?
That's my idea of a perfect day!
Originally cooked in the ashes of the hearth, schiacciata, which means "squashed", is usually about an inch thick. Variations of the bread are made throughout Italy; Tuscans simply brush it with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt. Sometimes they add herbs or make a sweet version with grapes and sugar - delicious! Adjust amounts of water and flour so dough is soft but not too sticky. This recipe makes 1 round loaf.

1 cup lukewarm water
2 quarter ounce packages dry yeast OR
2 0.6 oz packages fresh yeast
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp coarse sea salt

Luisa is an energetic and exuberant owner in the beautiful Tuscan city of Lucca. She adores everyone, and everyone loves her typically Italian expressive hospitality. The large house she offers (Villa Patrizia) is furnished with family antiques as well as lavish draperies and bed linens from her own fabric shop next door. Her aristocratic family used to come to the home each summer to spend time away from the bustle of the big city. Luisa takes a personal interest in her guests and is full of ideas for fun outings such as tours of local wineries, an evening sail on the Mediterranean, shopping excursions for the ladies, sports exhibitions, art and cultural tours, etc. Just meeting her will make your trip more memorable and delightful.

Pour 1 cup lukewarm water into small bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes. Place 2 cups flour in large bowl. Make well in center of flour. Pour yeast mixture into well. Using fork, stir until dough comes together. Knead in bowl, adding enough flour, a little at a time, to form slightly sticky dough. Transfer to floured work surface and then knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Coat bowl with 1 tablespoon oil. Add dough; turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in warm draft-free area until doubled, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

"Our group has just returned from Italy after a wonderful 2 weeks. The Villa Patrizia was great. Everyone was amazed at the size of the rooms, the quality of the furnishings and the convenience of the location. The welcome dinner was fabulous. The villa was very quiet and the gardens were so pretty with all the citrus trees and flowering pots."

K.R., San Francisco, CA., USA.

Brush 11 inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom or baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Punch down dough. Turn out onto floured work surface and shape into 11 inch round. Transfer dough to prepared tart pan or sheet. Cover loosely with plastic. Let rise until dough is almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Press fingertips into dough, creating indentations. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden, about 28 minutes. Cool bread in pan on rack 10 minutes, then remove. Cool completely and serve.

Dear Friends,

Never before has there been a more important time to build and maintain bridges between world cultures. One of the the best ways to achieve this is by traveling and meeting with the locals!! Now is the time to engage other people and find out what's on their minds. Flights are very affordable and it has never been as safe to fly.

Remember: caution makes us aware, but fear keeps us apart. Our attentive staff is available to help you plan wonderful and safe vacations. So, call us now. We will be happy to help you make special moments with your family and friends.

Kindest Regards,

Emmanuel de Ricard

Cote d'Azur (Blue Coast)

The beautiful and famous Cote d'Azur, or Blue Coast, is also known as the French Riviera. This area stretches from Menton to Napoule and includes such famous spots as Monaco, Nice, Grasse, and Cannes. The climate is wonderful, with a mild and sunny winter, hot summer with cool evenings, and usually a pleasantly warm spring and autumn. Easy to reach, there are direct flights into Nice from New York, Paris, and London. The newest TGV high speed train from Paris takes only 4 hours. We represent many lovely homes and apartments here along the coast where you can rest and relax between outings. Of course water sports are a big plus in this area, as well as the food and wine. Many go for the Grand Prix Formula 1 Race and the Cannes Film Festival in May. Antibes offers its famous Jazz Festival the end of July.

Kathy Hayes, editor

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