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. 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 al fresco paintings on the walls and ceilings. 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.

Use your own fresh homemade bread crumbs (crusts included) to dredge these chops. Don't toast them, because you don't want a dark coating on the lamb. The breading keeps the chops juicy and crisp, and pounding them thin before cooking allows them to cook quickly.

Mince and combine the following fresh herbs:
2 heaping Tbsp thyme
2 heaping Tbsp basil
2 heaping Tbsp parsley

12 lamb chops cut from the rack, all fat removed, flattened to 1/2 inch thickness
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups fine bread crumbs
2 - 3 Tbsp corn or peanut oil
Lemon wedges for garnish

Sprinkle the chops lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Dip them in the beaten eggs and dredge on both sides in the minced herbs, pressing down so the herbs adhere. Dredge the chops in the crumbs. Use a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is moderately hot, add the chops. Reduce heat to medium and cook until crusty and brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Regulate heat as you cook so the crumbs do not burn. When done the lamb should be pink in center. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Makes 4-6 servings

Dear Travelers and friends,

Thanks to all for joining the VillaNet team this month. We have had wonderful feedback on the videos we introduced last month. In case you did not have a chance to experience it, click on this link video (view video).

In the last couple of months we have seen many bookings for Portugal and the Euro soccer cup that will take place in June of 2004. So, check our site and book your property now!

Happy summer to you all! Always a pleasure to fulfill your vacation rental needs!

Most kind Regards,

Emmanuel de Ricard, President

He didn't have the means to hire a crane to fetch the donkey, so he had to come up with something cheap and simple. With all the commotion, his neighbors began to gather around the hole and gaze at the distressed animal. The farmer sat on a stump nearby and worried. Finally he jumped up and shouted, "I've got it!" He picked up his shovel and began to throw dirt in on the donkey.

The neighbors grumbled and the donkey breyed even louder. But miraculously with each shovel the donkey shook off the dirt and took a tiny step up. Pretty soon everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

Remember that life is going to shovel dirt on you - all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up!

"Great property! Much more than I had expected. I highly recommend any of the units!! All staff very helpful."
-S H, St. Louis, Missouri

"The unit was nicer and more spacious than the website pictures suggested. The view east from my mother's terrace brought tears to her eyes!"
-S C, New York, New York

Cory is a key support staff at VillaNet. A personal friend of Emmanuel's family, they met in 1986 as foreign exchange students. Still single, Cory has spent his time and energy securing a degree in architecture and developing his own business in the same. He's also a computer expert and fantastic web advisor (see Always itching to travel, he takes every opportunity to zip to London or Florida or Texas to see relatives or lead tours. Last May he traveled to London and Ireland for VillaNet to interview owners and photograph villas and apartments. His recent VillaNet accomplishments have brought videos to our website and the publishing of our popular Doorways newsletter.

LANGUAGE: First time world travelers often worry about "language barriers." Clients ask, "Is it going to be impossible to communicate?" "Will the people be patient with me while I try to tell them what I need?" Not knowing the language should not be a deterrent to travel, but it will be more relaxed if you learn a few simple words before you go (yes, no, please, thank you, you're welcome, exit, entrance, etc.).

It's easy to take a short course at your local community college or purchase language lessons on tape for your commute to work. Although not necessary, it's certainly available for the more ambitious academic types looking to enhance their experience with the added dimension of language. Be aware that there are many relatively inexpensive tools you can purchase to help make it easy. The modern world of electronics offers PDA's (personal digital assistants) made by such well-known companies as Compaq and Palm. Items such as the Franklin Pocket Translator is even more advanced - you just type the English word and it promptly speaks an audio equivalent in French, Italian, or whatever language you choose! (see

And of course the old standby, a mini dictionary, slides easily into a jacket pocket. In my opinion the most important ingredient in communication anywhere is attitude. Be happy, cheerful, patient, and appreciative. Most locals will already know the basics in English, and embellishments will come with sign language and facial expressions. Let communicating be a source of joy and humor and you'll do just fine!

-Kathy Hayes, Editor

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