Villa Magnifica's sitting room

Villa Magnifica's sitting room.

Villa Magnifica

Lucca, Italy

The city of Lucca attracts tourists from around the world to its historic sights. The Duomo Cathedral, St. Michael's Church and the streets and squares of Old Town are favorite destinations. A three mile series of ramparts, complete with eleven bastions and four gateways was erected around the city for protection in the 16th and 17th centuries. It's fun for the energetic to walk the length of this wall.

view of garden

Exquisite formal gardens.

Villa Magnifica is located on the outskirts of Lucca, and in fact overlooks the city. It's on a large estate with magnificent old trees and formal Italian gardens complete with fountains and statuary. The villa itself is grand in this setting, and has been carefully restored to provide residents with all the modern conveniences without altering the ambiance and character of the original architecture. The rooms are particularly majestic with fresca paintings on the walls and ceilings.

Villa Magnifica pool

The new pool.

It was customary for kings and other royalty to build lavish summer palaces in and around Lucca where they entertained visiting royalty and held parties and balls. Your imagination will automatically carry you back in history when you sit at the formal dining table or stroll through the lovely gardens. Included in the weekly price is a full dinner upon arrival, and 2 hours of maid service 3 days each week. A 10x5 meters pool has been built this year.


It's that time...

It's time to get the Christmas cards and letters in the mail, and as editor of the monthly Newsletter I want to share with you a unique way to get your family news to friends and relatives without the usual (and sometimes boring) journal of what happened at your house in 2006. My husband Lee and I have established a tradition of writing about just one highlight of the year, and people seem to really love it. It seems an especially wonderful way to share the travels we've enjoyed, and make sure every one of our loved ones wants to read every last word of it. One year we missed because of a terrifically busy holiday season, and both friends and relatives called up and complained!

As I look back at our letter of 2001 (we now have a handsome file of them), the colorful memories flood back and I'm once again reminded of the delightful trip we shared with that year!

Kathy's letter, pg.1

Click here to view a larger version of page 1.

Kathy's letter, pg. 2

Click here to view a larger version of page 2.

So thumb through the photographs of your last trip (or the family wedding or graduation).  Let yourself get inspired to share your excitement and memories with those who love you the most!  And thanks for making a part of your year!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy and healthy New Year!


Emmanuel de Ricard


Dear Travelers and Friends,

As we enter into this holiday season and the last month of 2006, I just want to take a moment to thank you all for your continued support and wonderful travel stories! Our customers are our inspiration and it is only with your help that we move ahead to improve our services to you! I have a feeling that 2007 is going to be a great year for travel as many of you have already proven. Properties are steadily being booked throughout the New Year with Tuscany,the Italian Lakes, Provence and Mexico still ahead in terms of popularity. I encourage those of you who have discovered and rediscovered Italy to branch out. Take a chance on France, Spain or Greece. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

We at want to wish you and your loved ones all the best during this month of festivities!

Bon Voyage!

Emmanuel de Ricard, President

For a little laugh

The math teacher saw that Davie wasn't paying attention in class.
"Davie! What’s 2, 4, 28, and 44?" she asked.

"NBC, CBS, HBO and the Cartoon Network," he answered.

Gingerbread man


What did the gingerbread man put on his bed?

Cookie sheets!


The Cote d'Azur

The amazing Cote d'Azur.

Cannes, France

Cannes is a place we've all heard about, but few have seen. We usually think of the famous film festival, but there is so much to see and do in this part of France that takes us well beyond film. Cannes is located on the southern coast of France, just west of Nice, where the ultramarine Mediterranean Sea harmoniously meets the shore and wooded mountainsides. So the name "Cote d'Azur", often referred to as the French Riviera. Since the mid eighteenth century, the rich and famous of the world have chosen this area as their holiday retreat. Artists, writers and poets seem to especially embrace the region, and when you "discover" it for yourself you'll understand their passion!

The old town, known as Le Suquet after the hill on which it stands, gives you a wonderful panorama of the twelve kilometer beach, and on its summit you'll find the remains of the priory where the monks lived in the eleventh century. Here also is the Saint Anne Chapel. These now house the Musee de la Castre which exhibits a grand collection of musical instruments from all over the world as well as historic relics from Cannes.

La Croisette in Cannes

La Croisette in Cannes.

La Croisette is a long and wide boulevard that runs along the seafront. Surrounded by mature palms and dazzling gardens, it sets the stage for a glistening adventure. On the north side are palace hotels and other upscale properties and on the south is the large marina where you can stroll among the mega yachts, the Palais de Festivals where the renowned conferences, trade shows, and festivals are held, and private and public beaches. Be sure and take your time wandering through this delicious port, exploring the Forville covered market and the bright and perfumed flower market on the allees de la Liberte. All the while keep your eyes open, for where else in the world will you find such beautiful people?

Residents of Cannes are friendly and helpful. Restaurants and bakeries rival any in Paris, and a multitude of bars and casinos are open. The shopping is exquisite. Clothing boutiques feature fashions from the most famous houses of design as well as trendy comfort clothes. Accessory items feature watches, jewelry, perfume, and sunglasses. Home furnishings include linens, art, sculpture, furniture, and a myriad of home decorating items. Of course outstanding European antique shops beckon. Once you've seen Cannes, don't stop! The shoreline is dotted with small towns, each with its own personality and charm. Don't miss La Bocca, La Napoule, La Rague, Theoule sur mer, Port Grimaud, and many more.

The Cote d'Azur is an ideal holiday destination any time of year, and our rental properties include prices for every budget. Even in the winter the mild temperatures invite you to sit on the beach or have a coffee in one of the terrace cafes. Flowers bloom year round here, and people do too!


Attico Bonito, Mexico

View from private terrace & pool.

Attico Bonito

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The view of Los Muertos beach from this loft penthouse is breathtaking. The property features two bedrooms with a loft just steps from art galleries, restaurants, bars, and tour information.

This fully furnished penthouse sleeps 4 and includes your own private rooftop plunge pool, 2 balconies on the oceanfront, 2000+ sq. ft. of living space, ceiling fans in all rooms, air conditioning in the bedrooms, elevator & security in the building. There is a CD/tape player and cable TV for your enjoyment.

Catch a glimpse of whales or dolphins as you breakfast on the balcony, then take in the afternoon beach action. Or, enjoy a massage or fabulous sunsets over the bay. Whatever your preference, you will delight in the beautiful views from the penthouse's many terraces, including Attico Bonito's very private rooftop terrace and pool.

"Excellent accomodation!"

- JM, Atlantic Beach, FL.


Cranberry-Blueberry Pie

Double-Crusted Cranberry-Blueberry Pie

The crust:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup ice-cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup ice-cold solid vegetable shortening
1⁄3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add sour cream and water, and process for a few seconds, just until a ball of dough begins to form. Do not overprocess. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, gathering all the loose bits, and form into a disk about 1 inch thick. Dust with flour as needed to keep from sticking to the surface. Cut into 2 equal pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight.

The filling:
½ small orange, including peel, seeded and quartered
1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries, cleaned and stemmed
4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries or huckleberries
½ teaspoon salt
1 2⁄3 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch

Coarsely grind the orange in food processor or blender. In a large saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and the sugar has dissolved, about 4 minutes. Set aside and cool completely.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, lift it over a 10 inch pie pan, and unroll the dough over the pan. Adjust to center the dough and press it into place.

Roll out the remaining dough into a 12 inch circle. Spoon the cooled filling into the pie shell, mounding it in the center. Using a pastry brush dipped in milk, moisten the sides of the bottom crust. Drape the top crust over the pie. Lightly press the top and bottom crust edges together. Trim excess dough by running a knife around the edge of the pan. Crimp the edges to make a decorative border. Cut 3 or 4 slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush with milk, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. (Note: turbinado sugar is usually available in the baking section of a large supermarket. It's light brown and has large crystals. Use it to sprinkle on muffins, cookies, scones, and pies just before baking.)

Place the pie in the center of the oven, and place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack below (for any drips). Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature. Guaranteed to become a holiday favorite!

Newsletter Editor: Kathy Hayes

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