The view from Villa Laveno
Villa Laveno is a beautiful country estate ideally situated on the Eastern shore of Lake Maggiore. Built in 1930 for a well-known Italian family, the spacious villa is decorated in classic Italian style with marble tables, decorative wallpaper, and locally designed and handmade furniture.
The Villa Laveno
Almost every room overlooks the lake, and the ground floor rooms have direct access to the terraces and gardens. The extensive grounds of the estate include a large pool (open May 3 - Sept 27) with diving board, a separate room with shower and toilet, and garden furniture. The well-maintained gardens offer a plethora of local flora as well as ancient trees and plenty of grassy areas. A short path leads to the lake and a private beach with boathouse. (Please note, Italian law states that other boats from the lake can access private beaches.)
Private Guest House
The Guest House sleeps four and is located at the entrance of the property. The interior has been completely renovated and offers privacy and comfort, with views of the garden and Lake Maggiore. The guest house offers access to the gardens, pool, and a private pebble beach. The new terrace is accessed by French doors and is furnished with tables and chairs.
Elegant dining at the villa
Villa Laveno is situated within the perimeters of the coastal road, at the end of a dead-end lane, and as such it is very quiet and peaceful, with an unobstructed view of the lake. A ten minute walk finds you in the center of town with access to all your essential needs. With so much to offer, this charming villa is a perfect choice for a relaxing holiday or as a home base for several interesting and recommended day trips. The unique layout of the villa, with two separate wings, affords two families all the privacy and comfort they may require. A third family can find all the privacy and comfort it seeks within the Guest House.
Included in the rental price: Final cleaning, maid service three hours on Wednesday (and Saturday if rented longer than one week), change of linen mid-week, portable fans, pool towels, local telephone calls, Internet and WiFi access, and basic grocery shopping.
I've finally fallen in love with my computer, having been dragged, kicking and screaming, much of the way. I'm sure you in the baby boomer generation can relate. The more I learn, the more amazed I am at the wonderful features available in this fabulous world of technology! I'd become comfortable with writing, sending e-mails, sharing personal pictures, and banking, but now I've discovered the joy of travel blogs. Wow! What a wonderful and exciting addition to any travel plans!
Webster's dictionary describes a BLOG as an on-line diary, a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page, also called a Weblog. Word Net describes it as a shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences and hobbies, usually in chronological order. What a wonderful tool to use when you travel!
I love to write, so whenever I travel I collect postcards, spend hours hand writing greetings to friends and family, purchase expensive postage, and find a mailbox. Oftentimes my friends don't receive them until after I've returned from the trip! I still think it's nice to hand write once in a while, but when enjoying a holiday, sightseeing and sharing experiences with companions, a blog is a dream! All you do is register on a website such as www.travelblog.com, for a nominal fee, ($40 a year), before you leave home. Then when you're on your trip, go to a local computer café or library, write a note, upload photos from your digital camera, and send your entry to all your friends and relatives at once! It's a running diary so each entry you make stays posted and dated and can be added to at any time. And you can send as many photos as you want to. Those you send it to can reply, which makes it even more fun. It's sent only to those people you intend to send to; it's totally private. You'll love it!!
Emmanuel in Japan
Several of our close friends have begun to share their travels with us this way. Emmanuel's family was recently in Japan and stayed connected through a travel blog. They all enjoyed it, as I know the recipients did. It was a fabulous learning experience for the children too. They each wrote an entry at each stop, and it was such fun to read about their adventures, and their personal points of view, and see the photos they took.
Emmanuel with son Yohan
Dear Travelers and Friends,
First of all, I would like to thank all who returned their villa rental survey. We are always happy to see that you are happy!! And of course, we appreciate your critiques so we can continue to ensure quality service and the best of properties.
I am excited to present some new properties on our website, recently added "gems":
Chateau de Loire,
Villa Monet, and
For those of you who are looking for a good deal, we just added a special section to the website. Click on this link and start shopping for your favorite value property: Good deal.
How often I hear, "Now that I've tried the villa rental experience, I'll never go back to a hotel!" Remember, our job is to help you reach that goal over and over again and make your travel dreams come true!
Emmanuel de Ricard, President
For a little laugh
True friends accept you just the way you are.
A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.
Newsletter Editor: Kathy Hayes
Villas near Lucca
The typical Luccese villas were built in the early 16th century for rich merchant families. They were designed by the same architects who designed their palaces inside the gates of Lucca itself. These villas were situated in the countryside, not far from Lucca, at the foot of the hills overlooking the plain. Here they were dominant but also isolated, on working estates where a variety of crops and animals were tended. We still see the remaining vast vineyards, olive groves, and crops of grains. There are several outstanding Luccese villas of this period that remain open to the public, and here we will look at two exquisite examples.
Villa Torrigiani in Camigliano was built in the second half of the 16th century, and was enlarged and transformed early in the 18th century by Alfonso Torregiani. Its appearance is exceptionally pompous and animated with its projections and indents and by the color contrast between the yellow tufa, the grey stone and the white statues and busts. The sumptuous portal that leads to the garden is placed at the end of a 700 meter long avenue lined with tall cypress trees. Outside the wall there is a chapel and a small Medieval village. When entering the villa structure you will be amazed at how grand it is, with particularly rich decoration of the central hall, and its unique elliptical stairway.
The garden is dominated by the grand façade of the palace and built around two basins with a slightly raised border and symmetrical side arrangements of plants. On the back, the gardens are all placed around a big round basin. The right hand side of the villa is very complex and varied, with its green landscape decorated with statues and fountains, a big fish pond, Flora's secret garden, and a small fountain devoted to the adoration of the Nymphs which is very elaborate and much admired.
Villa Garzoni in Collodi was rebuilt in the early 1800's and is the greatest "palazzo in villa" in the region. It's very grand, with four floors, a complete central house, the base on a terraced slope, access flights of stairs, and the portal marked with two guardhouses on either side of the façade. The village is almost hidden behind the villa, on top of the hill. In fact early inhabitants used to go through the palace gates to reach their village.
The interior is full of stucco and fresco decoration, and 17th and 18th century fittings. The main garden is independent and was composed by geometrically terracing the steep slope of the hill and making a "water staircase" sided by caves, niches, statues and balustrades. You'll find the water course grand and pompous and the hedges and avenues enriched with naturalistic brickwork statues. The vast semi-circular entrance to the garden has two round basins edged by wavy hedges. On top of the hill was a frivolous building for baths. There are four oval basins built into the floor, next to a stage where an orchestra played. The basins were separated by curved wall screens so the musicians could not see the bathers.
The Trellis Villa features a circular pool.
St. Laurent des Arbres
The Trellis Villa is a lovely property with an ideal location for discovering Provence and spending a relaxing vacation! Here you will be near many important and historic towns of Provence such as Avignon, Nime, and Arles. At the same time you're in the famous Lirac vineyards where you can enjoy complete privacy and tranquility in an authentic country home. A farmhouse until the 1990's, The Trellis Villa has been fully restored and will accommodate its guests with comfort and charm. With a privileged southern exposure, the stone walls of this villa are surrounded by a completely enclosed garden featuring many cozy spots to relax while enjoying the flora and fauna of Provence with jasmine, lavender, roses and pink laurels around every corner. Sit by the ancient fountain and enjoy the soothing sound of trickling water. The terraces are perfect for a quiet breakfast or a celebratory dinner with friends.
Aerial view of the villa
This property can accommodate 17 to 19 guests. The main house with its 8 bedrooms and 6 full bathrooms is designed for 17 guests. Prices reflect the rental of the main house.
"The house, the garden, the rooms, the hosts(!) and the location were all wonderous! All my doubts were instantly erased when Alberic and Son graciously received us like old friends and made our life easy. It's a beautiful place. The hosts are extremely nice and helpful and great cooks. The whole week was a dream and went smoothly and effortlessly thanks to the hosts. We had two delicious dinners that they cooked, served and afterwards cleared and washed up. What luxury!!! I want to be 60 again and again and again! All my family and friends were happy and we were walking around like in a dream. Only it was real!"
- P.R. - Lexington, MA.
Bologna, Italy is renowned for its spectacular pork dishes. Here's a great example.
Pastry for one pie, store bought or homemade
2 Tbsp butter
1⁄2 lb pork loin, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
1 cup canned crushed Italian style tomatoes, drained
1⁄2 lb small white mushrooms
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 quarts milk
2 Tbsp salt
1 lb macaroni, such as penne
Basic White Sauce, made with 3 cups milk (see below)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet. When butter foams, add pork and onion. Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Increase heat and add wine. When wine is reduced by half, cover skillet and reduce heat. Cook 10 minutes.
Press tomatoes through a food mill or sieve to remove seeds. Wash and dry mushrooms thoroughly and cut into wedges. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add mushrooms. Saute over high heat 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Reduce heat. Add parsley, pork mixture and tomato pulp. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
Bring milk to a boil in a very large saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons salt and macaroni. Bring milk back to a boil and cook macaroni uncovered until quite firm to the bite, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain macaroni, reserving milk, and place in skillet with pork mixture. Toss gently until mixed; set aside.
Prepare Basic White Sauce (see below) using milk in which macaroni was cooked. Stir white sauce into macaroni mixture. Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
Butter a 10-inch cake pan with a removable bottom. Divide pastry dough into 2 parts, one slightly larger than the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll out larger amount of pastry dough into a 14 inch circle. Place dough carefully in buttered pan. Pour macaroni mixture into pastry shell and level top with a spatula. Roll out remaining pastry dough to a 10-1/2 inch circle and place on top of macaroni mixture. Pinch edges of bottom and top dough together to seal. Brush dough with beaten egg. With a fork, puncture top crust of pie in 5 or 6 places. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is golden. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes in pan. Remove pie from pan and place on a large round platter. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes 6 servings.
Basic White Sauce
3 cups milk
6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Bring milk almost to a boil; set aside. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. When butter foams, stir in flour. Let mixture bubble gently over low heat 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let mixture brown. Whisk in milk all at once. Whisk until smooth. Season with salt. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly until sauce has a medium-thick consistency. Reduce or increase cooking time for a thinner or thicker sauce. If not using immediately, rub surface of sauce with ½ tablespoon softened butter to prevent a skin from forming.
Courtesy of Biba Caggiano