Villa Bella, Tuscany

Villa Bella

Villa Bella

Chiusdino, Tuscany

Villa bella Kitchen

The Kitchen at Villa Bella

This great villa is set in the green historic countyside of Siena and perched upon the hill of Montesiepi. It lies between the Abbey of San Galgano and the Chapel of Montesiepe, where the legendary Sword in the Stone is kept.

The Chapel of Montesiepi is a very famous spot in Italy, much frequented by tourists coming to see the Sword in the Stone, and is especially popular for weddings.

outdoor dining

Outdoor Dining

We are sure that as guests of this enchanting place you will appreciate its historical and religious background. Therefore it seems fair to inform you that a service is celebrated in the church every Sunday from 11:00/11:30 to 12:00/12:30. Within those hours we kindly ask you to keep any noises to a minimum. We thank you in advance for your cooperation.

This villa was built around the same period as the adjacent Romanesque Church of Montesiepe, and was to become a convent.


Kathy with Owner

Survival Guide for the First-Time Traveler

I was very excited for my dear friend Dianna when she announced that she and her family would be spending Christmas 2005 in France. This was to be a preview of her husband's residence for a work assignment there, beginning February 2006 and extending a full year or two. (She and their daughter will join him in the summer.) I was thrilled that her first trip to Europe was to one of my favorite places in the world! So in the few moments we had together before she left, I answered a few questions and tried to give her a few essential tips.

When she returned she had of course fallen in love with France (totally expected!), but was still reeling from the culture shock she had experienced. She said she felt ill equipped in so many everyday situations, from simple shopping and handling the money exchange, to finding addresses. How I wished I had insisted on her reading the newsletter archives! has been publishing monthly on-line Newsletters since January of 2003, so this is issue number 38. I want to remind you that there's a wealth of information in these publications. I know getting ready for a holiday makes your already busy schedule a little scrunched, but believe me it's fun and worth your time to read them before you go, especially if you're a first time visitor. We strive to make them colorful, pertinent, fun, and informative. We want you to love where you're going, and enjoy the entire process!

When you go the website, just click on Newsletter. There you will see all the archived newsletters, beginning with the most recent, with a synopsis of the features of each particular issue. You'll find that each newsletter includes the following:

Featured Property

Usually a new property that we are introducing to you after our personal inspection.


A tour of a particular region, city, or personality. We have travelogues on such cities as Florence, Paris, Rome, and Venice, towns such as Siena, Lucca, and Arezzo, and regions such as Provence, Cote d'Azur (French Riviera), Amalfi Coast, and Tuscany. And here you can also find articles on Michelangelo, Il Palio and other items of interest.

Regional Recipe

A collection of recipes taken from the French, Italian, or Portuguese culture. They include appetizers, salads, soups, main dishes, and desserts.

Travel Tips

A practical section to help you understand and navigate through the variations in culture. Here you'll find such articles on such topics as Driving in Europe, Avoiding Jet Lag, Managing Your Money in Europe, Public Transportation, and much more.

Client Testimonial

The personal comments from a client about a particular property we offer.

Something to Make you Giggle

Laughter is good medicine. Don't waste a day without it!


Dear Travelers and Friends,

Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback on our new Villa Rental gift certificate! Many of you have taken this opportunity to give someone you love the chance to travel and stay in one of our wonderful villas. Congratulations!

We have been adding new properties to our ever-growing collection. Some notable additions are In the Provence area of France and the Liguria region of Italy.

2006 has already proven to be a wonderful traveling year! Properties are getting booked as people make plans to enjoy special times with friends and family. Call today for optimal weeks at our most popular properties!

All the Best,

Emmanuel de Ricard, President


Siena Cathedral

Siena, City of Art

Part II

Piazzo del Campo is the center of the town plan, with all the streets radiating from here. This square is on a slight slope, suggesting an amphitheatre, and is the site for Palio. The famous buildings surrounding the square form a shell where city life originates. The most famous of these buildings is the Palazzo Publico with the Tower of Mangia, the best example of 14th century civil architecture. It was here that the Sienese faced the most important events in their history, bringing both rejoicing and suffering.

Siena still looks and feels like a medieval town. Its stone and brick streets with high brick buildings, slender arches, and narrow alleys and squares give it an ancient charm. It is small compared to Florence, has a small town friendly and familiar feel, and is quite easy to see on foot. And of course that kind of a tour easily lends itself to the spontaneous enjoyment of numerous cafes, bars, bakeries, and designer shops.

Though Siena is a medieval town, it is mostly a town of art. Besides outstanding architecture and fountains displayed throughout the city, much of the artistic masterpieces of sculpture, painting, and gold work is in the interior of the Cathedral and other churches, as well as the museums. There is also an original and renowned school of sculpture, one of the best in Italy, as well as the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, which has exceptional importance among Italian musical institutions.

I recommend a minimum of 2 days inside Siena, time enough to tour the streets on foot as well as view some of the artistic masterpieces housed here. The Cathedral is an absolute must-see, being one of the best known and most magnificent cathedrals in Europe. Here you will view architectural features at their best as well as frescoes, sculpture, and painting. Such famous names as Michelangelo, Martini, Vecchietta, Pisani, Duccio, and Pietro have graced the interior.'s Tuscan villas and apartments make Siena easy to enjoy. We offer many accommodations both inside the walls as well as in the countryside surrounding. If you drive, it's simple and straight forward. Large parking lots located at the base of this hill town make it easy to leave your car and take the large and expeditious escalators up into town. Signs and information centers give easy directions. No matter the season, Siena is always a welcome stop!


Chestnut Soup

Chestnut and Rice Soup

This time of year, there's nothing finer than a bowl of hot, savory soup to chase the chills away. In Tuscany soups are almost always made with beans, but In the fall and early winter when chestnuts are harvested, they sometimes replace beans In the soup pot.

10 oz chestnuts
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stocks, trimmed and chopped
1 potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
salt to taste

With a small, sharp knife, make an X on the flat face of each chestnut. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil and add the chestnuts. Boil for about 5 minutes, then drain. While the chestnuts are still hot, remove both the hard outer shell and the furry Inner skin. (The chestnuts are more difficult to peel If they cool completely.) Chop the chestnuts coarsely and set aside.

In a deep saucepan over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add onion and fry gently, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add carrots, celery and potato and stir well. Add chestnuts, stock and bay leaves and bring slowly to a bowl. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 2 hours, adding rice the last 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves, season with salt, and serve Immediately.

Particularly nice with a hunk of artisan bread! Serves 6.


Palazzo Tritone 3

Palazzo Tritone 3

Palazzo Tritone 3

The Palazzo Tritone 3 is part of a beautifully renovated palace originally built in the 1400's. The designers carefully brought the building up to the most modern standards without destroying the ancient architectural features of terra cotta floors, wood beamed ceilings, and arched doorways. Lovely fabrics and pastel colors give a particularly restful feel.

Located in the historical center of Rome, its remarkable location places you equidistant between the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, only a short walk from the famous Via Veneto and Piazza Barberini. The area is a favorite for visiting cultural sites, shopping, and visiting numerous renowned restaurants and cafes. Ideal for those who want to live in modern comfort in the very heart of Rome.

"We loved It! Most likely we'll return for Christmas of 2006!"

—KF, Los Angeles, CA


For a little laugh

"The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue."

- Anonymous

Newsletter Editor: Kathy Hayes

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