Villa Felice

Villa Felice is a gem, a Tuscan farmhouse set in a stunning estate of hill-terraced olive groves overlooking a small lake with its own little island reached by a wooden bridge. It is a home designed to accommodate up to twelve guests in great charm and comfort (fully heated and airconditioned) with six elegant and luxuriously appointed guestrooms each with magnificent en-suite bath and shower facilities. Villa Felice is an ideal base from which to discover the many delights of Tuscany. The medieval walled town of Lucca is a ten minute drive away. Villa Felice has a private swimming pool and garden furniture for outside dining. Guests can also enjoy the forest and olive trees around the property.

Actual statement from an insurance claim:

"Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have."

Greetings from the Autostrada!
Rome - September 29th

We are leaving Rome this morning, heading northwest towards Tuscany.  We are thoroughly enthralled with this city and look back over the last 5 days with great fondness.  We met wonderful managers and owners who proudly showed us beautiful properties.  Each has its own charm, all are centrally located, and most have air conditioning to make your next stay even more comfortable and convenient.  We want to thank all our contacts there for such kind hospitality.

Last night under the full moon we strolled through the magical Piazza Navona with its rushing fountains, musicians, mimes, artists, vendors, and restaurants full of people spilling onto the square.  It was a memorable farewell.

Now looking forward we are excited about the itinerary ahead of us.  We will see many new villas and farmhouses in Tuscany.  Next month the inventory on our website will be growing steadily.  As we experience this great country we think of you, hoping to pave the way for your next adventure.  As the Italians say, "Viaggiare e vivere!"  (To travel is to live).

Kathy Hayes, Editor

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it was a valuable plant.

Dear Travelers,

Hard to believe that all of our summer travels are over and we are back to our routines. For our Florida and East coast clients, we are thinking of you and hope you and your families are safe.

We really appreciate all of the comment forms that we have received from your vacations.  They are very helpful as we are helping many of you plan for next summer’s vacation. Yes, now is the time to do that as many of the best properties go first! Make sure you have a look at the website as we are slowly adding on some of the gems we visited this summer in Tuscany and France. Don’t miss all of the Duomo Suites in Florence; the Duomo Theatre Suite is amazing. 
Kathy, who is now in Tuscany checking out more places, will be back in a few weeks.  We are anxious to see what she has discovered.  We’ll keep you posted. 
Stay in touch and make those travel dreams come true!
Best Regards,

Emmanuel de Ricard, President


Tuscany (Part II)

Throughout the region of Tuscany you find villas, castles, and small friendly villages. The people are generous and welcoming and they love to show newcomers their land. That’s why we believe strongly that living in a farmhouse or villa is the best way to enjoy this area. You’ll make immediate contact with the locals when you check into your home-away-from-home, and actually live like they do while you’re there. It’s a slower paced world where people like the way they’ve lived for generations and aim to keep it that way. This is the overwhelming addictive charm of the area.

Imagine sitting on the terrace sipping a glass of local wine while enjoying the vista of calm rolling hills punctuated with ancient cypress. It’s food for the soul. This is the precious kind of time when a couple finds themselves discussing deeper issues of purpose and vision and love for each other, as the cares of life seem to melt away. If we as a nation learned one thing from 9/11 it is that we must seize the day. Most of us have dreamed of going to Europe since we learned about the culture and arts in school. I can’t tell you how many people have told me in the last year that they have finally decided to just do it!  

Kathy Hayes, Editor

Amaretto-Poached Pear Gelato
(Serve this creamy pear gelato with a little glass of delicate but nutty amaretto liqueur)

2 c pear or apple juice
1 c amaretto di Saronno
1 c plus 4 tsp sugar
6 pears, peeled, halved and cored
2/3 c heavy cream
2c + 2 Tbsp whole milk
pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
1⁄2 c hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and chopped

In a large saucepan, combine the pear or apple juice, amaretto, and 1⁄2 cup of sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add pears and poach gently for 35-40 minutes until tender but not falling apart. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to a plate. Reduce cooking liquid for 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Set aside to cool. Stir in cream. Cover and refrigerate pears and liquid separately.

In a medium saucepan, combine milk and salt. Heat over medium heat until bubbles form around edges. Remove from heat and cover to keep hot. In a blender or food processor, blend the remaining sugar and egg yolks until very thick and smooth. With the machine running, gradually add the hot milk. Return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, 6-8 minutes until mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon. Remove pan from heat and set into a bowl of ice water. Stir for 2 minutes to cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until thoroughly chilled. Chop 6 of the pear halves in a blender or processor, puree the chilled custard and the chopped pears until smooth. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

To serve, arrange a pear half on each plate. Reheat the reduced cooking liquid. Scoop gelato on top of each pear half, spoon some of warm sauce over it, and garnish with chopped hazelnuts. Makes 1 1⁄2 quarts; serves 6.

-P S Johns

Villa Opera"It was a dream vacation rental. We will definitely plan to return. The views, the cooks were fantastic!"

- C W, Williamston, MI

"We thought the Villa Opera was wonderful! Everything worked well. The people were lovely, the view from the pool over the hills of Tuscany was fantastic! The location close enough to Siena was perfect and it was an easy drive to Pienza, Montalcino and Montepulciano as well as Florence."

- F P, Toms River, NJ

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