Villa Lucchese

Entering Villa Lucchese

Villa Lucchese

Lucca, Italy

Villa Lucchese is a fine and richly decorated XVIII Century villa set in peaceful surroundings amongst the hills near Lucca. There are eight guest rooms and six bathrooms.

Outside, the formal garden (two and a half acres) encompasses many areas to relax in the shade. A large swimming pool completes the serene grounds. The villa is partially air conditioned, (all bedrooms), and is surrounded by 32 acres of land, vineyards and olive groves, owned by the family.

The medieval walled city of Lucca is 7 km away. Florence is 70 km, and Pisa 20 km. The Versilia beaches are 30 km away while the Cinque Terre can be reached in one and a half hours. Tennis facilities (5 minutes) and a lake (fishing) is a 15 minute walk. There are golf courses (18 holes) in Montecatini and Versilia, both 30 minutes away.

Villa Lucchese interior

Villa Lucchese interior

The house manager, who lives on the estate, provides a daily cleaning service six days per week and daily breakfast. There is a gardener who tends to the grounds and swimming pool. Although not included, the services of a chef are available for lunch or dinner. Laundry service is also available for an extra charge.

Villa Lucchese is an excellent example of the historic 17th and 18th century architecture in and around Lucca. In classic style, it features three floors, sleeping up to 14 people. The villa can also be rented excluding the two double bedrooms on the ground floor for a group of 10 people.



Travel tips

Telephone Tips

Here's a little guidance for you about telephoning to and from Europe: Some European countries use direct dial and others use area codes. When making a call within Italy or France, for instance, you direct dial the same number whether you're calling across the street or across the country. For those using area codes you dial the local number when calling within a city or small area, but add an area code if calling long distance within the country.

For international calls, always start with the International Access Code (011 if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 00 if calling from Europe). What you dial next depends on the phone system of the country you're calling. If the country uses area codes, drop the initial zero of the area code, then dial the rest of the number. Countries that use direct dial systems (no area codes) vary in how they're accessed internationally by phone. For instance, if you're making an international call to Italy, simply dial the international access code (011 from the U.S.) plus the country code (39 for Italy) plus the phone number. But if you're calling France, dial the international access code (011 from the U.S.) plus the country code (33) and drop the initial zero of the phone number before punching in the rest of the number.

When you rent a Villa, Apartment, or Bed and Breakfast from us, you will receive a Voucher and Arrival Instructions. On the Arrival Instructions we always give you the phone number of the contact(s) at your destination. We ask you to kindly call this person a week or so before your departure just to make verbal contact and verify your arrival time, meeting place, and any special requests.

Here's a handy general guide for the countries we serve.

Long distance w/in the country = area code + local number.
Calling from U.S. or Canada = 011 + 44 + area code w/o initial zero + local number.
Calling from a European country to Britain = 00 + 44 + area code w/o initial zero + local number.

Long distance w/in the country = local number.
Calling from U.S. or Canada = 011 + 33 + local number w/o initial zero.
Calling from a European country to France = 00 + 33 + local number w/o initial zero.

Long distance w/in the country = local number.
Calling from U.S. or Canada = 011 + 39 + local number.
Calling from a European country to Italy = 00 + 39 + local number.

Long distance w/in the country = local number.
Calling from U.S. or Canada = 011 + 351 + local number.
Calling from a European country to Portugal = 00 + 351 + local number.

—Excerpts from Rick Steve's Venice



Emmanuel and son

Emmanuel & son Yohan

Dear Travelers and Friends,

Now is the time to reflect on another glorious year filled with travels and adventures. For some, 2008 holds a long-awaited promise. Many of you have already made your villa reservations, and look forward to staying in a Chateau in France, a charming apartment in Paris, a noble villa in Tuscany or a waterfront villa in Puerto Vallarta.

We at predict 2008 will be a fabulous year for the villa rental business. We are working hard to bring you more choices and even better service in the year ahead. We have goals to upgrade our website with more than 300 new properties scattered around the world! You'll be able to see more and more Villa videos of property tours as well. In fact, we already have a small collection of them if you click here. This collection will grow exponentially in the next couple of years because the property owners that work with us understand the need to present a more in-depth preview of what they offer.

It is pretty amazing to remember that when I first started working for in 1998, we were still faxing and snail-mailing only black and white property information to clients. But with a strong client base that had tested our integrity and trusted us to represent a superior product, much return business and word of mouth to new clients has propelled us forward. Thank you for your loyalty! That fax era seems like eons ago when we look at the technology of today. The magic of the Internet has made our world much smaller, and communication so much easier. Let's let that magic take us to new heights in the years to come!

We feel it is our duty to help you create wonderful memories, and we commit to keep striving to do so.

Happy New Year to you!!

Emmanuel de Ricard, President


For a little laugh

Some days are a total waste of makeup.


a little laugh

Amazing Ice Sculpture!



A royal flagship of England.

The Age of Exploration

I was watching Jeopardy the other night when up popped a category called "European Explorers". At one time, probably in grade school, I knew a bit about these legendary souls, but find my memory has dimmed considerably over the years. But I still find the topic fascinating, as I hope you do! After all, much of the charm of our quest to travel in Europe is the colorful history that it brings to us. So, the next time you're faced with another game of Trivial Pursuit, try to remember these facts.

The "Age of Exploration" in the European Theatre is widely recognized as the 14th and 15th centuries. During this time many of the richest and most prominent Europeans adopted a plan to systematically send out ships to search the world for new and better trade routes, unclaimed territories to conquer, and gold and other commodities that could be traded. Many of these rich benefactors were royal rulers of a particular government, but some were merchants, politicians, and decorated soldiers.

Man has always had the desire to explore the unknown, and some families made it their vocation. In Italy, the most famous explorer is Marco Polo. Way back in the 1260's, the Polo family, who lived in Venice, undertook their first journey overland to China. They returned many years later with wonderful spices and goods, and such impressive stories of their adventures and experiences with Kublai Khan that others wanted to follow suit. But the route across Central Asia closed after the collapse of the Mongol Empire. It was then that ships were commissioned to find a route, by water, to the riches of the East.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

Spain, at this time in history, contributed the most to sea exploration. Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, but sailed for Spain when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella said they would pay for his voyage in 1492. His purpose was to find Asia by sailing west. Instead he ran into the North American continent, south and west of present day Florida. Ferdinand Magellan was Portuguese but he refused to sail for Portugal because they had not paid for his war wounds after a war with Morocco. At this time Spain and Portugal had divided up the world and he set sail for the King of Spain to find out if the Spice Islands were on the Spanish side of the world or the Portuguese side of the world. In doing so, he sailed to South America, down around the tip to the Pacific Ocean, and across to the Philippines. He was killed there, but del Cano sailed his ship back to Spain to become the first to sail around the world. Hernando Cortes was from Spain, and conquered Mexico and the Aztecs. He took large tracts of land for his family and friends, and forced the Mexican ruler Montezuma to provide gold and jewels that were sent back to Spain. Cortes founded the city of Veracruz in 1519. Others sent from Spain were Balboa, who sailed to Columbia in 1500, Coronado, who settled in the northern part of Mexico, and Ponce De Leon, who sailed on Columbus' second trip to the New World, settled in the Caribbeans, discovered Puerto Rico, and searched for the infamous "Fountain of Youth".

Portugal commissioned many famous explorers. Among these recognized names are Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, and Gaspar Corte Real. Vasco da Gama is famous for finding an all water trade route between Europe and India. His father had originally been chosen by the king for the voyage, but died. Since Vasco already had a good reputation as a warrior and navigator, he was given four ships built especially for the expedition. He sailed south and east, around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa.

England also sent many explorers out. The Italian John Cabot became the King of England's close friend. He is known for having sailed to Newfoundland in 1496, and making a map of the area. Henry Hudson explored the northeast coast of North America. The Hudson River in New York, and Hudson Bay are named after him. Unfortunately his crew mutinied in Hudson Bay and set him, his son, and those loyal to him adrift in a small boat and they were never heard from again. Sir Francis Drake was sent out by Queen Elizabeth of England in a ship named the Pelican. He was the second to circumnavigate the globe. In so doing, he made stops in Peru, Chile, and northern California, which he claimed for England.

When you visit Portugal, can set you up at an estate linked to famous navigators of old. And in Spain and Italy as well, you will see much ado about their courageous and forward-thinking leaders that sent out explorers that we've read about since elementary school. The danger and hardships these mariners endured has been exciting fodder for writers and directors worldwide, and it's truly remarkable to realize their accomplishments.



Christian Dior Chateau

Chateau Christian Dior

Christian Dior Chateau

Montauroux, France

This elegant, old Chateau in Montauroux is the ideal getaway for a private, peaceful vacation with all the advantages of a resort nearby The property is a short drive to many quaint medieval villages that provide a unique opportunity for a pleasant day of exploring, and only one kilometer away from the lake of Lac St. Cassien which is the perfect place for a day of swimming, water sports, and even a picnic by the water. The property is also an easy drive to the beach or other water pursuits at Mandelieu la Napoule. Closer to home, the grounds include a heated swimming pool, a private tennis court, a small, 15th century, ivy covered chapel ideal for weddings or other ceremonies and spacious, beautiful grounds filled with exquisite gardens, a wonderful place for a quiet, early morning walk.

"Our stay last year at Christian Dior was great, as well as, our trip to Italy this year where we stayed in the villa La Tenuta, in Tuscany. Emmanuel of does an exceptional job matching his clients with outstanding international vacation properties."

- C B, New York, New York

"My family just returned from our trip to France to celebrate my wife's 60th birthday. Your reservations helped us plan the trip, and the results were spectacular! Know that was an integral part in the planning of our family celebration!"

- R H, Houston,Texas

"Our experience was delightful. The Chateau is extraordinary and the owner was helpful and lovely. The location is convenient".

- SB, Barrington, IL.



fruit salsa

Delicious salsa

Pomegranate-Avocado Salsa with Spiced Chips

from Cooking Light

This jewel-toned dip makes the most of seasonal fruit. If you can't find clementines, substitute tangerines. Bake the chips up to a day ahead, and store at room temperature in a zip-top plastic bag. You can also prepare the salsa, minus the avocado mixture, a day ahead. Stir the avocado into the mixture shortly before serving to keep the avocado green. Kathy's comment: "Our family is really hooked on this - it's fresh and beautiful to serve. I've also done the chips with a simple cinnamon and sugar dash instead of the spicy version. They're sweet and delicious with the fruit salsa."

1 teaspoon paprika
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, each cut into 8 wedges
Cooking spray

1 1⁄3 cups diced peeled avocado (about 2 avocados)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cups clementine sections (about 6 clementines)
1 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1 medium pomegranate)
1⁄2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1⁄2 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons honey
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

Preheat oven to 500°.
To prepare chips, combine paprika, cumin, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, sugar, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Arrange tortilla wedges in a single layer on 2 baking sheets; coat with cooking spray. Bake at 500° for 5 minutes. Turn wedges over; coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle paprika mixture evenly over wedges. Bake an additional 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; cool completely.

To prepare salsa, combine avocado and juice in a medium bowl; toss gently to coat. Add clementine sections and remaining ingredients; toss gently to combine. Serve salsa with chips.

12 servings (serving size: 8 chips and about 1⁄4 cup salsa)


Newsletter Editor: Kathy Hayes

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