A Wonderful Week in Beautiful Tuscany

Learn about our experience renting a Tuscan villa!!

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            View from our terrace at La Comitissa.  Carrera marble mountain in far background

                                    Kitchen Entrance to Villa  

 We planned our trip to Tuscany for early September 2006. Rates are less expensive after Sept.1 and the weather is still good. It was done entirely through the internet and everything worked out with no surprises.

       We were able to get a villa that met our needs. There were five in our group so the ideal villa would have 3 bedrooms and 3 baths. We found a villa that looked beautiful, was the right size for us and not a duplex or part of a hotel. It also had a swimming pool which we preferred.

 Since we expected that our party might want to split up and go in different directions on some days we ordered two wagons, Opel and Ford. A good thing too because one would never have fit all of us with our luggage.

       I am glad I was advised to get full coverage on the car insurance because we have not driven in Italy before and did not appreciate the narrow roads and fast drivers. We ended up with several scrapes but nothing serious.

       We landed in Rome and drove to Lucca which was quite long, 6-8 hours. We should have flown to Pisa or Florence which are 1-2 hours from Lucca.

      The village closest to where we stayed is Aquilea. It is on the way up a narrow and winding road in the mountains north of Lucca. There are about 2 dozen houses and a very small conveniencestore where no one spoke English.

   The road to our villa was beyond Aquilea, unpaved and very narrow, one car width in some places. The woman who managed the property was very nice, but alas spoke not a word of English. Fortunately, her daughter, Federica, had working knowledge and we were able to communicate through her.

Terrace entrance of villa

The name of the villa was La Comitissa, a stone barn recently converted to a charming villa. There was a nice country kitchen which the gourmet chefs in the group took advantage of. The property was really a small farm sloping down the side of the mountain. It grew grapes, figs, kiwi fruit, apples, peaches, tomatoes, and lots of flowers planted by the manager.

       We used La Comitissa as our base of operation and went on a foray each day. Our targets included the Cinque Terra, Florence, San Gimignano , Portovenere ,and several trips to Lucca which was quite close. Since some of us had been to Italy before, we had a good idea of where we wanted to visit. All places were 1-2 hours from our villa. The train system in Italy is very good. It should not be over looked as the quickest, most efficient and uncomplicated way to travel

Cinque Terra coast

Cinque Terra: This a must for tourists. The charming towns, perched on the sides of mountains where they sweep down to the sea, are best viewed from the sea.

      There is a ferry that travels from beautiful Portovenere several times a day, stopping at each town. So you can visit at least 2 towns with enough time to shop and get back the same day.

      The day we were there the sea was too rough for the ferry to be run.  So we took the train which goes through tunnels to each town and takes very little time. This is a much better way to go rather than by car because the roads are narrow and winding and the parking impossible. Vernazzo is the largest town, charming, and with plenty of shopping.  There is a good gelato shop in Monterosso.

                                  Cathedral in Florence

Florence : This is a "must do" city. The great artwork and cultural heritage makes one feel amongst the essence of western civilization. The wellspring of the Renaissance deserves two days to do it justice because there is so much to see and enjoy.  Your days should be planned because the attractions will have long lines, especially the Ufizzi Museum.

San Gimignano : A large, stately, walled town on top of a hill that is so characteristic of many Italian hill towns. This protected them from invading armies but also isolated them from other towns resulting, over hundreds of years, in local dialects that make communication difficult. San Gimignano has busy streets with plenty of shops for browsing and buying.

                           Amphitheatre Piazza in Lucca