Villa Praiano Bianca

Plenty of room for all

Villa Praiano Bianca

Praiano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Villa Praiano Bianca is centrally located in Praiano, a charming former fishing village situated between Amalfi and Positano. The villa sits just a flight of steps from the main coastal road and all necessary facilities: butchers, fruit and vegetable shops, grocery store, post office, bank, and the local coastal bus stop for Positano, Sorrento, and Amalfi.

view of pool

This location can't be beat!

The villa offers privacy and peace with fantastic views towards Positano and Capri, as well as a pool and outdoor terrace for dining and relaxing. The villa with its white splendor, arched windows, and garden columns fits perfectly into the surrounding area and leads your thoughts to a dreamlike place.

Villa interior

Peaceful interiors

Villa Praiano Bianca has 6 bedrooms and sleeps 12 guests. However, with the rental of the Tower and its 2 bedrooms the villa can sleep 16 guests. It is staffed with 3 people who take daily care of everything from the garden, pool, cleaning, and laundry. Two staff live in an independent unit inside the property's grounds. Breakfast is included in the rental price.

About 150 meters from the villa, a pathway of steps takes you all the way down to the Praia beach near the Saracen tower of Praiano. This bathing establishment has sun chairs and umbrellas. There is also a restaurant and bar. Note: The price is based on occupancy of 12 people in the main villa. See prices for variances.


olive oil

Rich, fresh olive oil is divine!

The Diversity of
Olive Oil

The very best olive oils are unique among cooking oils because they are made directly from the fresh juice of the olive. The fruit is picked, milled and pressed and the resulting juice is separated into oil and water. If this oil is of the required standard it is bottled with no extra processing. This is virgin olive oil. Olive oils which fail the tests for virgin status are sent to the refinery to be cleaned up to make ordinary olive oil which is flavored with a little virgin oil. This is the oil to use for frying, basting and general cooking. In fact, there are two grades of virgin olive oil. Extra-virgin oil, which must have an acidity level of less than 1% and virgin oil which must have an acidity level of less than 2%. Both must have a perfect aroma and flavor. These oils are flavoring ingredients in their own right, offering a wealth of different tastes for use in dressings, sauces and marinades as well as in a wide range of other more substantial dishes.

Olive oil has always been prized for its flavor but in recent years it has also come to be valued for its healthy attributes. It is made up largely of monounsaturated fatty acids which are thought to be beneficial in the fight against heart disease and in controlling a variety of other potentially harmful conditions. Omega 6 essential fatty acids, vitamin E and polyphenol antioxidants add to the benefits of virgin olive oil. The calorie count is fairly high at 120-125 kilocalories per tablespoon, but this is no higher than other fats. So-called light or "lite" olive oil refers to oil that is light in flavor not in calories!

Appreciating olive oil
The requirement for perfect aroma and taste in virgin olive oil does not mean that all olive oils taste the same. Quite the opposite. Olive oil is produced in all the countries of the Mediterranean basin as well as in California, South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, so the scope for choice is enormous.

Styles vary from mild and delicate to bitter and pungent with many graduations in between. Some oils are extremely peppery and others have very little piquancy at all. The choice is purely a matter of personal preference. So, if you can, taste before you buy.

Of course, each style does have its own culinary uses. A very mild and gentle oil will be overwhelmed by the strong flavors of watercress, chicken livers or artichokes. Such an oil would be better served with delicate salad leaves, white fish or breast of chicken.

It is difficult to generalize about the taste and flavor of olive oils from the different growing regions for there will always be an oil which is different. However, French oils tend to be very mild and sweet with fruit flavors and aromas varying from apples and pears to lemons and tomatoes. They are not usually very peppery.

Italy, on the other hand, produces every type of oil imaginable from the light nutty oils of northern Liguria, through the pungent, peppery oils of central Italy to the herbaceous, tomato-flavored oil of Sicily.

California oils also vary in style from the lemony mild oils, made from old established table olive varieties, to more herbaceous styles made from newer Italian and Greek olives.

Choosing olive oil
The best olive oil is the freshest and youngest, so look for oils that date from the most recent harvest. Ignore the color of the oil as this is not a good indicator of what you will find in the bottle. Green oils for example are not always very pungent and golden yellow oils may not be pepper-free.

Cloudy oil simply means that the oil has not been filtered. The choice between filtered and unfiltered oils is a matter of personal preference. Avoid oils that have been kept in the shop window or on shelves that attract direct sunlight. Olive oil should be stored in a cool dark place, though it is not necessary to refrigerate it. Some labels carry phrases such as "first pressed", "cold pressed" or "traditional production". These phrases are meaningless. Modern equipment is such that there is no second pressing except at the refinery and no hot pressing. Nor is there any particular virtue in the traditional, hydraulic method of production. If used correctly, each method can produce a first-class extra-virgin oil. The only important words are "extra virgin" and "virgin".

Olive oil is the traditional cooking medium of the Mediterranean and is used as butter and vegetable oils are used in more northerly countries. Do not use virgin olive oil just for dressing salads. Think about using it to finish soups, vegetables, mashed potatoes or grilled fish. Experiment with pot-roasts, baked breads, cookies and cakes or serve in the Mediterranean manner at the beginning of a meal as a dip for bread and raw vegetables.

Mixing and matching virgin olive oil with other ingredients is exciting. Try mixing a strongly herbaceous oil from central Italy with a dash of balsamic vinegar and serve as a dip or salad dressing, use a sweeter French oil to highlight grilled fish fillets with fresh herbs or make a wonderfully moist and flavorsome carrot cake with Californian oil.

(This article was written by Judy Ridgeway.)

Addendum from Kathy: Many years ago I was in Tuscany for the first time, visiting properties with my husband Lee. The owner of a beautiful little hamlet near Valdarno graciously invited us to come take a look. On the way down the country road, we came upon a farmer's stand featuring local olive oil and wine. So we stopped. Lee was fascinated with an antique turnip grinder that stood outside, while I went inside to sample the oil. It was divine! It smelled pungent and rich and tasted even better, and of course straight from the farmer like that, it was a great price. So I bought a large glass jug of it, I would say about a gallon, all the while trying to figure out how I could get it safely home. It was wrapped with sisal, and had a cork that didn't seem very tightly sealed, but I was willing to hand carry it if necessary. Anyway, I lugged this jug of oil around for the rest of the trip, and then placed it in a handled bag to carry back to Seattle. No problem with the airlines (then anyway). I was so relieved when I got it stowed under the seat in front of me with my other carry-on. I had delicious visions of Italian food dancing in my head!

When we reached Seatac International Airport in Seattle, I scrounged for all my belongings and was astonished to find that the oil had spilled over slightly, and wetted the wrapper. I could still carry it in the bag, but it definitely smelled like fresh olive oil. Maybe from the air pressure in the cabin?? Then we disembarked and filed through Customs. We stood around and waited for our checked baggage to catch up. Meanwhile, a Customs Officer brought a dog through the crowd. The dog and officer approached me. He said politely, "Do you have food in your bag?" I told him of my snacks, and the oil. He said, "OK," and walked on. About 20 minutes later we were still waiting and the dog came back, with the officer in tow. This time he said, "My dog was casually interested in your bag before, but now he is definitely interested in what you have in there! Can you empty it please?" My heart was thumping hard and fast as I complied, hoping and praying he would not confiscate my precious olive oil. I showed him each item, including the oil that had a paper towel twisted around the top to absorb the leak. He looked at everything carefully and said, "That's fine. Have a nice day!"

Whew!! I'm sure I would not have been allowed to do that today, but we sure enjoyed that Tuscan oil!


Emmanuel and family

Emmanuel (center) with family

Dear Travelers and Friends,

Spring is here and many of you are already booked for your vacation rental. For those of you who have not, now is the time to make arrangements to get your ideal choice. Also, I need to remind you that now's a good time to book your Christmas rental in Mexico or the Carribean. We have been steadily adding new properties to our site with excellent availability. So, give us a call or check our website at to secure your property now.

It's always a pleasure to help you find the perfect fit!

All the Best,

Emmanuel de Ricard, President

For a little laugh

a little laugh

"Spring? This IS Spring!"


Wisdom from Out Montana Way:
"Gray hair and wrinkles will come when your
young-un turns 13."



Rome's Culture of Water, Part I

When you visit Rome for the first time you'll be amazed by the enormous number of elaborate statues and monuments that feature water. Through the centuries, important public works such as aqueducts and public baths showed the power and wealth of Roman civilization. Rome became the undisputed ruler of this area because of its ready access to water. Its location on the Tiber River with supplemental natural springs and the vicinity of the sea gave Romans this abundant natural resource for commercial, military and economic supremacy.

Even today we can see remains of ancient works such as flood control dikes, bridges, and port structures. The ancient bath complexes were immense, the most extraordinary structures ever built in the entire Roman Empire. These baths were open to everyone, and the people spent much time here socializing and enjoying cultural enhancement. Even commoners could consult libraries, watch shows, and relax in the shade of trees in the gardens.

During the Renaissance the popes decided to renew and beautify the city by promoting splendid works such as the building of new bridges, the restoration of ancient aqueducts, and the creation of extremely decorative public fountains. At this same time noblemen decorated the private gardens and courtyards of their palaces with monuments that included fountains created in the grandiose style of the Baroque period. Thus the poet Shelley wrote, "the fountains alone justify a visit to Rome".

I want to pass on to you a selection of walking itineraries recommended by the Rome Tourist Bureau that "invite you to discover some of the numerous monuments, more or less well known, which demonstrate the continuous and vital relationship of Rome with water". I've personally done bits and pieces of these in my few visits to Rome, and would highly recommend one or all, depending on your interest and time.

Itinerary #1
Villa Borghese is the best known and most loved park in Rome and fortunately very near the center of the city. Only opened to the public in 1903, it was conceived and developed beginning in 1606 by the Cardinal Borghese, a nephew of the pope. He wanted a place of delight and leisure to receive illustrious guests and friends. The park includes a vast garden divided into three sections. The first two sections are known as Forest Garden and Garden of the Perspectives, following strict geometric patterns. The third and by far the largest section was left covered in wild vegetation and used as a hunting ground. Numerous fountains placed as reference points along the promenades were the central element.

This itinerary begins at the main building known as Casino Nobile, which is the seat of the famous Borghese Gallery. In the square in front of the main entrance you will find the Fountains of the Masks. These were made in the 17th century. Here you not only see masks, but also eagles and dragons that are symbols of the Borghese family. It's beautiful to see water falling into three basins connected to each other to form a seashell.

Fountain of the Seahorses

Fountain of the Seahorses

Just after the following intersection, you'll come upon the Fountain of the Seahorses. This was designed in 1791 and consists of a large round basin of water with four seahorses in the center that support three concentric circular basins from which water gushes. The seahorses are half horse and half fish, a symbol of strength and vitality. Their wings refer to the mythological Pegasus.

Continuing along, you will come upon the Fountain of the Winged Victories, which was built in the early 20th century. The basin is an ancient Roman sarcophagus with winged Victories among garlands of fruit and ornamental masks.

At the end of Via Goethe you turn into Via Canonica and see Garden of the Lake on the right. This was developed in the 18th century and inspired by the romantic English garden through the collaboration of Antonio Asprucci and Jacob More. Here you find winding paths almost hidden in the thick trees. An artificial lake emphasizes the natural character of the place. The most popular feature is Temple of Esculapius, a small Ionic style building placed on a tiny island. Small boats can still be rented for romantic outings on the lake which made this place very popular in the 19th century.

On the left side of Via del Lago you will find Fountain of the Satyrs. This small, graceful fountain was built in 1929 by Guovanni Nicolini. It is also known as the Joyful Fountain or Fountain of the Rabbits since the cylindrical base has four rabbit heads and on the top are bronze sculptures of a male and female satyr holding their little son in their arms.

As you walk on the left of the lake, Piazzale del Fiocco is dominated by Fountain of Esculapius, also called Fountain of the Ribbon. This piece was promoted by Prince Camillo Borghese beginning in 1824. On the upper part stands an arch with an opening containing a statue of Esculapius and a snake. An eagle and two statues adorn the top of the arch. From the front water pours from a circular basin on a pedestal.

Continue along the walkway and turn right to admire the bridge made in 1908 to connect the Villa Borghese with the Promenade of the Pincio. This area was considered ideal for building luxurious villas with splendid gardens and was chosen by Napoleon for the Promenade Publico, a park intended for all Romans to walk and stroll and remember the emperor. After Napoleon's demise, Pope Pius VII ordered this part of the garden to nevertheless be completed with the original theme.

Coming from Villa Borghese, immediately on your right you will find Fountain of the Clock. Here a small artificial lake features a water clock on a rocky formation with lush vegetation. This hydrochronometer consists of a small wooden tower with a clock face on each of four sides and glass in the lower section to show the mechanism. A small jet of water falls alternately in little bowls on the left and right of a balance wheel making it swing, thus putting the whole mechanism in motion.

Proceed in the direction of Piazzale Napoleone I to the Fountain of Moses. Here in the center of the basin is a sculpture of a female figure kneeling at a basket with a baby in it. It was placed here in 1868 to depict the story of Moses who was saved from death by his mother who placed him in a basket to float on the Nile. The pharaoh's daughter found him and raised him up in the palace as her son. The statue is placed on a rock that gushes water in three places and is adorned with thick papyrus plants.

Stop and enjoy one of the most breathtaking views of Rome while you are at Piazzale Napoleone I. Turn left and walk until you arrive at the Fountain of Viale della Trinita dei Monti, in front of Villa Medici. Commissioned by Cardinal Medici in 1589, this simple and elegant fountain is one of the most admired in the city.

Fountain of the Barcaccia

Fountain of the Barcaccia

This itinerary ends at the bottom of the famous Spanish Steps with the Fountain of the Barcaccia. The oval pool depicts a barge used for the transport of barrels of wine. Apparently Pope Barberini got this idea in 1627 after earlier flooding of the Tiber left such a boat stranded in the square. It's prow and stern are identical and the sides are very low, making it appear to be sinking. The exterior is decorated with coats of arms of the pope, the family symbol of bees, and water pours from cannons and shoots from two suns in the shape of a fan.

(Next month enjoy reading about other Rome walking tours).


Villa Affascinante

Ideal property for a large group.

Villa Affascinante

Santa Maria Rezzonico,
Lake Como, Italy

Villa Affascinante is a mid XIX Century building and has always belonged to the family of the Marquis of Rozzano. The villa faces southeast, at the mid-point of Lake Como and has super views of the three arms of the lake and the beautiful mountains behind. Its large park has century-old trees: sequoias, cedars, oaks, and palms.

The interior of the villa is glamorous. The mosaic floors, the grand staircase and statue, the elegant setting, all combine to set this residence apart as a villa of superb beauty. The villa has been recently restored, but maintains its ancient atmosphere. It has all the amenities of a modern house such as central heating, satellite TV, modern kitchen, etc. Villa Affascinante is the perfect place for weddings, meetings and parties. It has a private tennis court and private mooring at Santa Maria Rezzonico harbour.

Ground Floor: Large foyer, living room with open fireplace and doors leading onto the lawn with views of the lake, formal dining room, kitchen and toilet. First Floor: One queen bedroom, en suite full bathroom with shower and jacuzzi, and doors leading to a furnished terrace with stunning lake views; one bedroom with two twins, (can be made into a queen), with en suite bathroom with shower and jacuzzi, overlooking the rear park, a large bedroom with two twins (can be made into a queen) with ensuite bath and doors to the terrace. Second floor: A game room with large windows overlooking the lake, one queen bedroom, lake views and en suite bathroom with shower and jacuzzi, one bedroom with two twins (can be made into a queen), views overlooking the rear park, with en suite bathroom with shower and tub. Third floor: (this level was once the servants' quarters), small kitchen with stove top, three bedrooms with two twins each (can be made into queens). Two of these have enuite baths with shower and one bedroom has ensuite bath with shower and tub. Two single beds can be added to two of those three bedrooms upon request and for no extra charge.

"Trip was great. Villa Affascinante is one of the nicest places we have stayed. Thank you."

-KH, Minnesota



Steak Roulade

Attractive and delicious

Steak Roulade

¼ cup wine
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ lbs flank steak
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
½ green pepper, diced
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs

Combine wine, soy sauce and oil in large dish. Add steak and marinate several hours. Combine remaining ingredients, except bread crumbs, in small bowl. Microwave this mixture on HIGH until soft, 4-5 minutes. Stir in crumbs.

Remove meat from marinade. Spread filling evenly over meat. Roll meat up, starting at narrow end. Tie securely with string. Roast 30 minutes at 400 degrees in conventional oven or 325 degrees in convection oven, or until internal temperature reaches 130 degrees F. Slice and serve hot.
Makes 4 servings.


Newsletter Editor: Kathy Hayes

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