View the property

Villa Tierra is a splendid home inside the charming Tuscan hilltown of San Giovanni d’Asso. Situated near a medieval castle, the Villa Tierra was built in the 16th century on one basic level, with terraced rooms to separate the living areas from the sleeping quarters. The property has been totally renovated to modernize the interior to a very high standard, and with six bedrooms and 5 bathrooms there’s plenty of room for up to 13 guests.

Rack of Lamb

Lamb is the predominant meat served in Provence and is a popular dish throughout France. Lamb is preferred young, and is most often served rare. Here the lamb is prepared with saffron and shallots for additional flavor.

3.5 lb Rack of Lamb, enough for 8 chops
2 c lamb or chicken stock
1⁄2 tsp saffron
12 shallots
3⁄4 c sunflower oil
2 Tbsp Herbs de Provence

Cut off the root end of the shallots, but leave the skin on. Cook slowly over low heat for 1 hour in oil seasoned with Herbs de Provence.
Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Sear the meat in olive oil, skin side down, on a roasting tray. Turn the piece of meat over, sprinkle with a little saffron and roast in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Once cooked, put the meat on a carving rack for several minutes before slicing. To prepare the sauce, deglaze the roasting pan with stock, reduce and strain. Blend or process the liquid until a good consistency. Add the remaining saffron just before serving. Cut the rack of lamb into two chops per portion. Place the shallots in the center of the serving tray, and arrange the chops crossing over the shallots. Sauce should be drizzled over entire tray with remainder served in a sauce pitcher. A variety of steamed vegetables, bread and a good bottle of wine completes this tasty meal. Serves 4 people.

30 years makes a difference!
1974:  Long hair
2004:  Longing for hair
1974:  Moving to California because it's cool
2004:  Moving to California because it's warm
1974:  Trying to look like Liz Taylor
2004:  Trying NOT to look like Liz Taylor

Father and daughterDear Travelers,

As we're getting ready to step into 2005, I'd like to thank all of you for the wonderful traveling year we've enjoyed. We feel so honored by your overwhelmingly positive feedback on your villa experiences. We've been adding some wonderful new properties from our summer inspection trips, which I invite you to check out at We’re also working hard on our newly renovated website and name change ( which should be ready early in the New Year.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and keep traveling!

Emmanuel de Ricard, President

View the property"We spent a most delightful week at Villa Vino! The owner was very nice, brought us wine and let us feast on his delicious tomatoes. There was ample room and the swimming pool overlooked the beautiful panorama!"

- ET, Greenville, South Carolina

"It was an incredible pleasure to rent from your company! The owner was a very generous host and a very helpful guide. I truly appreciate all of your help in arranging our trip and would gladly rent another villa again next year!"

- MB, New York, New York

"We enjoyed ourselves tremendously. The Villa, the countryside all were exceptional. We had a great time and hated to leave!"

- EG, Coral Springs, Florida

Palace VersaillesParis, City of Light (Part II)

I'm convinced that Paris will always be among the world's favorite destinations. There is a wealth of history, art, and architecture to enjoy, and many more museums and sites than you'll have time for. Even the children will enjoy the myriad of activities. Last month I began to list the districts with the main attractions of each. Let me continue.

6th arrondissement

  • Commonly known as St. Germain, this was once the gathering place for bohemians and intellectuals
  • Find many upscale boutiques, art galleries and restaurants
  • Along the Seine you'll find shops and cafés, busy pubs and jazz clubs
  • The beautiful Luxembourg Gardens offer peace and quiet
  • "Le Bon Marche" is Paris' first department store (1848)

7th arrondissement

  • Invalides – Gold domed temple that is Napoleon's Tomb
  • Eiffel Tower, famous exposition observation tower built in 1887
  • Carre Rive Gauche, where hundreds of antique dealers welcome you
  • Musee d’Orsay, the famous home of the Impressionists

8th arrondissement

  • Champs-Elysees, the famous boulevard which starts at the Arc de Triomphe and ends on the Place de la Concorde
  • Musee de la Decouverte, the science museum

9th arrondissement

  • This district is popular as an upscale residential area
  • Opera Garnier
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Boulevard Haussmann, known for its department stores

10th arrondissement

  • Known as a multi-cultural neighborhood with a bohemian flavor
  • Stroll along the Canal St. Martin
  • Catch the famous Eurostar "chunnel" train to London

Much to come (Paris, Part III) next month.

Kathy Hayes, Editor

Photographer LeeWhich Camera to Take on Vacation?

Today, we can choose between digital and film cameras to save our memories of a vacation. Kathy and I have used both and find each has advantages as well as disadvantages.


  • It is easy to share the pictures when you get home by emailing them to friends and family.
  • If you have large memory cards, you can shoot all day without downloading or changing cards.
  • Digital images can be improved at home if you have the software and inclination. It is easy to make small corrections in the exposure. By cropping, you can improve the composure. However, it is very difficult to correct out-of-focus images or the affects of camera movement. A pocket tripod is good for this. Mine fits in a coat pocket and works if you have a fence post top handy.
  • On longer trips, it is easy to go to a local photo shop and have your images downloaded to a CD. This avoids buying several large memory cards for the trip.
  • Digital cameras can be smaller than the typical Single Lens Reflex (SLR) film camera. However better digital cameras do have interchangeable lenses and are similar in size to the SLR.

Film Camera

  • Image resolution is typically better with a film picture, unless your digital camera can make picture files of 4-8 megabytes. With 200 ASA film for a 35mm Single Lens Reflex SLR, an 8 x 10 or 12 enlargement of portrait quality will be possible.
  • An SLR with interchangeable lenses gives the photographer many options, whether shooting scenic, action or portrait shots.
  • Our SLR (Canon EOS A2E) has a motor drive, so taking shots quickly is easy, if I don’t have to wait for the flash to charge. Our digital camera (Nikon Coolpix 4300) is somewhat slower to recycle and be ready for the next shot. Newer digital cameras are quicker.

Conclusion: If you own more than one camera, I recommend taking the camera you are most familiar with. There is nothing as disappointing as learning that I missed shots because of camera handling. If you purchase a new camera for this vacation, it's good to spend at least 50 to 100 pictures in various circumstances as practice to learn the features. Get the film developed or downloaded so you can inspect the pictures for quality as if you were a judge in a photo contest. And finally, if you can only take one camera, take the one that cost you more or is newer. The results will reflect your wisdom.

Lee Hayes, Staff Photographer

My wife and I were watching the gorillas at the zoo when several of them charged at the fence, scattering all of the crowd except for one elderly man.  Later, my wife asked him how he had kept his composure.  "I used to drive a school bus," he explained.

VillaNet Vacation Villas and Apartments ( Copyright 2004 )
website: email:
(800) 964-1891 fax: (206) 417-1832
1251 NW 116th Street, Seattle WA 98177 USA