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Villa Brunello is as close to the universal dream of a perfect Tuscan country retreat as can be found! Set in a haven of natural tranquility and beauty surrounded by twenty five hectares of vineyards producing the marvelous Brunello wine, Villa Brunello is a charming home built of stone.

Les Ravioles au Chocolat
(Chocolate Raviole dessert)

3/4 oz sugar
3/4 oz butter
pinch of salt
3/4 oz bitter chocolate powder

3 1/4 oz hot water
8 3/4 oz white flour
2 1/4 oz cornstarch
2 1/4 oz raspberries
2 1/4 oz strawberries
2 1/4 oz red currants
2 1/4 oz mulberries
1 cardamom pod / seed
6 3/4 oz hot milk
2 egg yolks
1 1/4 oz sugar

Dissolve sugar, butter, salt and chocolate in hot water. Add this mixture to the flour and work together until a smooth paste is formed. Let this rest for 30 minutes. Mix cornstarch with water, enough to make a paste, and set aside. Process pasta dough through pasta machine to form two thin sheets. Mix the fruit and berries together in a bowl, reserving a few for garnish. Lay out one sheet of the pasta, and place small spoonfuls of the fruit mixture at regular intervals. With a pastry brush, spread the starch mixture around the spoonfuls of fruit and place the second sheet of rolled pasta on top. Use your fingertips to gently press around the fruit. Cut out small rounds with a cookie cutter, either one large ravioli per person or several smaller ravioli. Check edges to be sure they’re sealed. Set aside on a floured tray, turning them from time to time. When ready to serve, poach gently in simmering water for 1-2 minutes and drain on a paper towel.

To make the sauce, steep the cardamom in a pot over gentle heat in the boiling milk. Cream together egg yolks and sugar. Strain milk into egg mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture coats back of wooden spoon. Set aside.

To serve, pour the sauce into a shallow individual serving bowl, place ravioli on top and garnish with some of the remaining fruit.

- Compliments of M. Rhode

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Spring is in the air and so is the travel bug! I know that my family and I are getting excited about our upcoming travels to Europe and it seems as if you are too! We’ve been busy trying to make your summer vacation dreams become a reality; what a pleasure to be involved in your plans! Keep checking our property listings as we add new properties. Some good news concerning airfares and the Euro: it looks as though the airlines have finally begun lowering their prices and the Euros are slowly coming down! If you are thinking of going and haven’t started looking yet, don’t wait too much longer because as we all know the best properties for the best prices go the quickest!

Happy planning!

Emmanuel de Ricard, President

View the propertyWeddings in Europe

What could be more romantic than being married in an ancient stone chapel in Europe? Or having a reception on the lawns of a chateau, castle, or villa?

In ancient times, since transportation was so difficult it was common practice to have a chapel built right on the large, wealthy estates. Here priests would perform weddings, christenings, funerals, family celebrations and holiday masses for the owners. We are delighted to represent three of these properties that have their own chapel: Chateau Christian Dior in southern France, Blessed Occasion Villa in Tuscany, and Ponte de Lima Mansion in Portugal. In my experience the bride’s family usually rents the chateau or villa for a week, and arranges to have the wedding sometime during the end of their stay. This way there are accommodations for family and friends right at the property where the wedding will take place. It’s perfect at this location to arrange for traditional pre-wedding dinners and parties during the whole week, culminating with the wedding itself.

View the propertyWe can help you find a wedding planner, and most of the work can be done from home, at your computer. In each of these locations arrangements can be made for a local priest or official (even the mayor of a nearby village if you like) to perform the wedding, flowers, music, food, hair stylists, photographers, and really whatever you wish! One of my clients for the Chateau Christian Dior hired jesters to perform in the wedding parade as the couple, their bridesmaids and grooms, parents, grandparents, and attendants proceeded down the regal drive with tall cypress on either side. Incredible!

Kathy Hayes, Editor

Don’t Let Euros Stop You!

Let’s face it – travelers are concerned about the U.S. Dollar / Euro exchange right now. Of course VillaNet shares your concern. So we have gone to our owners to help them understand that American travelers still want to spend their holidays in Europe, but in some cases they are accepting second and third choice destinations because of cost. Most of our owners have responded by reducing their prices, which translates into great buys for our clients. I think if you look through our properties you will be pleasantly surprised. Remember, our prices are quoted in US dollars, not Euros. Here are some other money saving tips to think about when looking for accommodations in Europe:

  • When you rent a villa or apartment you have cooking facilities which saves on meals out.
  • If you take a property for more than a single week, the owner will almost always give you a discount.
  • You can save a substantial amount if you are able to travel off season. Most families, particularly Europeans, rent vacation homes during July and August. If you can travel in the spring or fall, you’ll find prices much reduced. Winter rates are even better.

Kathy Hayes, Editor

Every day there is more money printed for the game of Monopoly than for the US Treasury.

View the property"The Michelangelo 3 apartment in Florence was beautiful, quite possibly the nicest place I have had the opportunity to stay in in Florence, and I’ve been renting apartments in Italy for 15 to 20 years."

- V.P., Palm Springs, CA

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