Eating is a necessity, but cooking is an art…

Light bulbWhen you rent a villa in Tuscany one of the highlights is eating out, or having a feast at your villa rentals in Tuscany cooked, served and cleared up while you sit back and enjoy the view at your Lucca villa rental recently we scoured the area around La Collina del Sole and found that in addition to the restaurants highlighted in the Lucca villa rental website all of which are fabulous there is an exceptional “eaterie” in the midst of Villas for rent in Tuscany it is called Locanda del Mezzo and is situated in the heart of Barga a beautiful historic town and on the “MUST SEE” list when you stay at Holiday villas in Lucca
Upon entering this charming restaurant you might think you have accidentally stumbled upon a newly launched, up-market restaurant in Soho, London, as opposed to a Locanda (Italian for an Inn) in the middle of Garfagnana.
Run by a young and up-and-coming duo the restaurant offers a welcomed daring take on traditional Tuscan cuisine. It is clear right from the offset that these boys know their stuff. They know how to treat their guests with not only a feast for their taste buds, but also an aesthetical one. The food tastes delicious and is presented in the most inventive and artistic manner. The atmosphere is equally satisfactory as one is waited on by the warmest and most knowledgeable of waiters.
The chef takes a “minimalistic” approach to his cooking. He specially selects only the finest local ingredients to infuse together, therefore adding a very rare depth to his cooking. These innovative dishes are light, therefore you will easily be able to sample a dish from each section (starter, first course, second course and pudding) allowing you to really enjoy the whole tasting experience from the very carefully curated menu. If you are looking for a dining experience with a wow-factor this is certainly a destination to add to your “to do” list. I would even go as far to say this is my favourite restaurant in the surrounding area of La Collina del Sole due to its fresh take on the old classics.
(Current menu)
ANTIPASTI
-Selection of local cold meats
-Cream of bean with mussels
-Beef tartar
-Liquid salad with marinated mackerel
-Richly cured hams

PRIMI PIATTI
-Three tomato pasta
-Watercolour Risotto, accompanied by mullet caviar and cream of clam
-Velvety broccoli and potato soup with rosemary croutons
-Cream of chickpea and squid artisanal pasta
-Hand-made ravioli stuffed with three-time-roasted spelt, drizzled with butter and sage

SECONDI PIATTI
-A selection of cheeses chosen by the famous Luigi Guffanti
-Merlot infused braised meat on a bed of red-polenta and onion
-Filet of beef with sautéed aubergine and spinach
-Over-baked hake with seasonal vegetables and saffron sauce

DESSERT
-Chocolate torte with a melt-in-the-mouth vanilla core
-Marsala (sweet wine) laced custard-like pudding, topped with pistachios and almonds
-Baked apples with mascarpone cream and honey-comb truffles
-Aniseed infused creme brulèe
Eat, Enjoy, relax and dip into the saltwater infinity pool at La Collina del Sole to top off the perfect day !

LCDS Pool360Degree

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cinghiale or wild boar Pappardelle recipe… Good things take a long time coming

PastaThis recipe is a speciality of the local area for La Collina del Sole an outstanding Lucca villa rental situated in the heart of the chestnut wood area of Garfagnana a region rich in experiences and activities, with beautiful places of interest that you can explore while enjoying your holiday villas in Lucca The mountains afford world class climbing, and mountain recreation like walking; a real treat in the heat of the summer when you rent a villa in Tuscany as the usual villas for rent in Tuscany have flatter surroundings. Here you find a rich landscape that changes with every passing hour … ideal to just sit and “chill” at your villa rentals in Tuscany
The recipe for cinghiale sauce requires time and skill and can feed 10 to 25 people. Whether you try your hand at it, get one of our chefs to cook it for you, or just order pappardelle al cinghiale at a local restaurant, this recipe reveals the work that goes into this seemingly simple Tuscan treasure.
The sauce: start with a fresh cut of wild boar, and leave to age for at least three days at O degrees Centigrade. Bone out the leg parts and cut off what little fat you will find. Cut the ribs into chops and set aside to make the stew. Cut half of the meat into large squares and place in a big pot with lots of sprigs of freshly picked rosemary, sage, bay, peppercorns and parsley stalks. Dice up vegetables in the same manner: red onions, the white part of some leeks, celery, and a small quantity of carrots and add to the huge pot. Add lashings of good Tuscan red wine until it covers the cinghiale. You should work on 2/3 meat, 1/3 vegetables ratio, and for every two bottles of wine add one cup of olive oil. Leave the stew to rest in the fridge for two days, stirring when possible to help marinate all the flavours. Throw in a few peppercorns and juniper berries for good measure.
After a couple of days drain off the liquid and set aside. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan and throw in a good amount of olive oil-then double it. Sautè the cinghiale and vegetables. This step can be done in stages, so you don’t stew the meat, but brown it. Once all the meat has been browned, throw everything into the pot, adding the liquid marinade and a small amount of tomato pulp. Bring to a boil and simmer very slowly for at least four hours. Season with salt and taste for flavour and then smother you chosen pasta with the sauce.
To accompany go for an aged pecorino cheese (not parmesan) and a bottle of Piastraia Bolgheri Rosso DOC Michele Satta which beautifully accompanies the rich, intensely gamey taste of the wild boar.If you would like other wine suggestions contact us and we or our freind Andrea at il Vecchio Mulino will be deligthed to help
Enjoy!
360DegreefromPool

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

His father was a wild boar, his mother was surprised…

Mr PigIn the forest that surrounds la Collina del Sole there lives the Italian wild boar…and whilst most of you may know what to do when confronted by a grizzly bear, a lion, a tiger or a scorpion, one might be less aware of the protocol for a cinghiale (wild boar). Cinghiale is a favourite dish in the local restaurants of this Lucca villa rental as like some other holiday villas in Lucca it is situated overlooking the Apuan mountains in Garfagnana. Unlike many villas for rent in Tuscany commands the most extraordinary view. The last thing on your mind when you rent a villa in Tuscany is to come face to face with a cinghiale, to be honest, it is a rare occurrence with residents of villa rentals in Tuscany however if you are very quiet while walking in the woods near La Colina del Sole you may find one.
These beasts are actually quite timid. They have a sharp sense of smell, but poor eyesight, so once they smell your presence they may get a little closer to see you, however, usually upon realising that you are a threat they will just run away in a fit of squeals and grunts. And they can run fast…so don’t think you’ll be able to outrun one.

In the rare occasion that a cinghiale should feel threatened (perhaps you are hunting it… in which case, that is fair enough), a wild boar does have the strength to harm you. In which case you should either talk loudly or yell. The boar will most likely want nothing to do with you and scoot off. I recommend vocalizing a recipe for “papardelle con cinghiale” just to really drive home the message …well that is my theory anyway! You could also back away slowly and steadily, this prevents the animal from feeling further threatened which means it is less likely to charge at you. Some sources even suggest trying to climb a nearby tree, which in my opinion is easier said than done, especially in Northern Tuscany where the trees tend to have thin branches where are next to impossible to scale!

There is no need to panic about the likelihood of stumbling across a wild boar; you most likely will never see one. The most probable encounter you will have with one is when you sit down at El Pozzo restaurant down the road from La Collina del Sole about to tuck into a bowl of wild boar stew – a rare and deliciously intense dish that you must try if offered on the menu.
LCDS Sunset from road leading to La Collina del Sole

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate is cheaper than therapy, and you don’t need an appointment…

Chocolate TrufflesChocolate makes you feel loved! and if you are treating Mum to a holiday villas in Lucca and spending Mother’s day the glorious Lucca villa rental called La Collina del Sole then pop into the local town of Castelnuovo and seek out Antica Pasticceria, in our travels around villas for rent in Tuscany we have not found its equal, as being chocoholics; Chocolate is important to us whether we rent a villa in Tuscany for fun, whether we are at work or whether we are advising fellow travellers of the delights and places of interest around villa rentals in Tuscany Among the favourite experiences that we love in the Garfagnana area is the Bar and Patisserie called Antica Pasticceria …
You may think that you have just walked straight onto the set of Charlie and Chocolate Factory as you drink in the heavenly fumes of freshly crushed roasted cocoa beans, and stare awe struck at the rows of finely crafted chocolate figurines, which range from chocolate-shaped Ferraris to chocolate-shaped crowns and frogs. Behind the glass tops a very beautiful woman (the wife of the chocolatier) will allow you to sample some of the mouth-watering chocolates on offer, they are all hand-made, and they all rival the chocolate at Fortnum and Masons…

Why not try some of their truffles…They range from the amaretto, which is a bittersweet chocolate ganache with a nutty Amaretto liqueur and chocolate drizzle. Or a smooth dark chocolate with a red-hot explosion at the finish as it is dusted with hot chilli pepper powder. The chai chocolate truffle is a bittersweet chocolate ganache with a heavenly blend of exotic teas and spices, or the champagne truffle which gives the dark chocolate ganache a light, creamy flavour. For the more exotic amongst you, sample the flaky fresh coconut pieces swirled into an all-white chocolate truffle with a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth centre. Or the Dulce de Leche chocolate truffle which combines Argentina’s signature blend of milk caramel in a white chocolate and sweet cream ganache, enrobed in rich dark chocolate. For the decadents amongst you there is the Poire au Cognac, which takes the natural juices from the local pears added to a smooth white ganache, enrobed with dark chocolate.
Antica Pasticceria has an impressive fan-following. Locals frequently pop in to eat their favourite cakes, biscuits, croissants, mousses and confections. One can even order a traditional Tuscan hot chocolate; the hot chocolate arrives piping hot, a deep caramel colour with cinnamon sprinkled on top, it is so thick and creamy that the spoon stands up straight in the cup! All their items are made with traditional recipes and choice local organic ingredients which gives their products a distinct and well-rounded flavour.LCDS vineyard and pool viewSmall

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scents and sensibility…

Blog ImageThe history of perfume is as old as the existence of human beings. In the middle ages, the Royal House of Medici, whose legacy extends well beyond Tuscany was very fond of perfume. When you rent a villa in Tuscany you will be surrounded by many Medici buildings, including the medieval towns near La Collina del Sole that are nestled in the Apuan mountains, this beautiful Lucca villa rental overlooks the mountain range which has a perpetual source of ice, essential for keeping ingredients cool and making gelato, [itself invented by Catherine de Medici’s head cook] the woods and flowers found in this area with villas for rent in Tuscany are often used to make perfume, The woods around La Collina del Sole a jewel among Holiday villas in Lucca provide conifer resin, Violets and wild rose a flower commonly found around villa rentals in Tuscany are also used as are herbs like, thyme, rosemary, sage and basil which grow liberally in the verandas of La Collina del Sole

Perfumes were initially used to appease the gods, they were considered to have divine value. In ancient times the skill needed to create perfume was considered a high-art form. People used herbs and spices, such as almond, coriander, myrtle, conifer resin, and bergamot, as well as flowers,  commonly found around La Collina del Sole The Arab chemist Al-Kindi even wrote a book called the “Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations”, which contained more than a hundred recipes for perfume-making!
Today the perfume industry is one of the most dominant luxury industries in the world. The marketing strategies to appeal to such a large and demanding clientele are vast. It seems that almost every week a new pop star is launching their own sickly-sweet brand of perfume, from the likes of “wonder struck” by Talyor Swift to “our moment” by One Direction. The perfume industry blindly follows the fashion fads of the 21st century. Indeed, one could argue that this industry is fast losing the artistic side of the profession… the Medici’s would be surprised at “wonder struck”

However this is not the case with the shop AquaFlor found in Florence. This hidden gem completely takes your breath away. An intriguing perfumery set within a beautiful palazzo full of products crafted with passion. This is a space to be seen and smelt. The store harks back to a bygone era of Florence. Beneath glorious arched ceilings, large wooden cabinets contain rows of brown glass bottles filled with 1500 botanical ingredients. They take these sophisticated materials to create a small number of bespoke scents for clients to enjoy. To add an extra touch of luxury to this already decadent destination is their in-house laboratory, where new perfume concepts and individual bottles for clients are developed. They will create a bespoke perfume just for you should you desire a truly unique scent.
When you enter Aqua Flor you experience the ambience of a true workshop dedicated to the fine art of crafting perfume. As Sileno explains, “perfume evokes memories and has a powerful effect on our senses”, as did this truly remarkable store in Florence – a worthwhile trip to experience when you visit La Collina del Sole

AQUAFLOR at Via Borgo Santa Croce, 6, 50122 Firenze, Italia
PHONE: (+39) 055 2343471
E-MAIL : info@florenceparfum.it

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Valentines !

To all the Collina del Sole fans Happy St Valentines we are investigating the ultimate romantic gift … personalized perfume !

LCDS Sunset pool square image

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

You are the butter to my bread…

LOVEValentine’s Day is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Italy. So get ready to celebrate when you rent a villa in Tuscany Valentine’s Day was initially celebrated as a Spring Festival by Italians, worth remembering when you stay at La Collina del Sole a beautifully located villas for rent in Tuscany This Lucca villa rental is within arm’s length of the Apuane Natural park hence for a romantic holiday villas in Lucca respite surrounded by nature at its best this villa rentals in Tuscany is the best thing going. Valentines celebrations were held in the open air, where young people would gather in orchards or ornamental gardens where they would enjoy listening to music and reading poetry together. Later they would stroll off with their Valentine into the gardens. The custom steadily died out over the course of the years and has not been celebrated since.
In Turin, betrothed couples used to announce their engagement on Valentine’s Day. Therefore several days ahead of February the 14th shops would guild their windows with china baskets loaded with delectable Valentine’s Day candies tied with ribbons – these were to be presented as gifts to the newly engaged valentines.
A bizarre tradition that Italians used to uphold was the practice of unmarried girls waking before sunrise on Valentine’s Day and standing by their window to watch a man pass by. This was because Italians strongly believed that the first man an unmarried girl laid her eyes upon on Valentine’s Day would be the man she would marry within a year! Lucky postman!
For the lovers of Italy, Valentine ’s Day is called “il giorno della festa degli innamorati”. A popular Valentine’s Day gift in Italy is Baci Perugina – “Baci” chocolate “kisses” are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts containing a small slip of paper with romantic poetic quotes in seven languages. These love notes are written in either: Italian, English, French, German, Greek, Spanish, or Portuguese. I thought I would leave you with a thought for the day that I read last time I ate one of those tasty balls of hazelnutty chocolate goodness…
“Love doesn’t make the world go round, but love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”

LCDS Sunset from road leading to La Collina del Sole

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Make the world better with a sweater…

Christmas JumpersItaly has launched a global campaign promoting wool, inspired by the “Live naturally, choose wool” moto. In these winter months, villa rentals in Tuscany can get fresh so… what better way to keep warm in your Lucca villa rental than a beautiful hand knitted woollen sweater, like the ones you get in Marias shop just down the road from La Collina del Sole where the sweater will be made for you within a couple of days – another unique experience and service when you rent a villa in Tuscany !! At La Collina del Sole a warm and welcoming addition to villas for rent in Tuscany skiing is just 1 ½ hour away, a visit to the sea shore is the same distance, and Milan well … that is just over 3 hours – hence it is perfectly placed as a holiday villas in Lucca to enjoy Tuscany in all its natural splendour.
Italians are promoting wool as a natural, biodegradable and renewable fibre, launched in Milan, the celebrations have united the textile community, the fashion industry and consumers all together for the first time. A flock of traditional Italian sheep were left grazing in a pen in front of the Duomo to highlight the natural origin of wool and offer consumers an unexpected wool experience.
This campaign for the promotion of wool has caught the attention of Italians because, as the Prince of Wales explains: “You do not have to look too far back in history to see that wool was once the mainstay of the global economy. In recent years however, wool has been fighting to compete with man-made fibres. For too long we have managed to forget what a wonderful fibre wool is. Wool is empowered with exceptional natural elasticity so not only will a wool garment offer superior drape and handle, this elasticity also gives the wearer a durable and high quality garment that will last for many years. – Simply put, wool looks good for longer!
One of the highlighted aspects of wool was the natural beauty of Merino wool. The Merino is an economically influential breed of sheep prized for its wool as the Merinos are still regarded as having some of the finest and softest wool of any sheep. Although ‘fluffy’ in appearance, the fibres of a merino wool product are lighter than any other sheep’s wool, reducing the scratchy, heavy sensation that many people associate with a thick woollen jumpers. Therefore merino wool can be spun into a huge snuggly jumper or for “next to the skin” clothing such as socks, and underwear.
Italians have a mission to convince consumers that opting for wool as opposed to synthetics in fashion and lifestyle will make a positive contribution to environmental sustainability around the world – give me the opportunity to snuggle up in a Marino wool jumper in front of the fire at La Collina del Sole with a cup of hot cocoa and I am sold!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have you been naughty or nice?

Lady with HatIn Italian folklore the Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children and fills their socks with candy and presents if they are good, or a lump of coal if they are bad. A jolly handy piece of information if you happen to rent a villa in Tuscany during epiphany which is a spectacular time of year to stay at holiday villas in Lucca as the air is crisp and bright and Italians love to PARTY, for example the village inhabitants near La Collina del Sole will gather and if they are alerted that young children are staying at this beautiful Lucca villa rental will visit with sweets and treats and a brass band – a unique lifetime experience to enjoy while you stay at villa rentals in Tuscany In fact La Collina del Sole is one of the few places among the villas for rent in Tuscany where guests will be so warmly and wholeheartedly welcomed
La Befana travels throughout Italy on the night of January the 5th, delivering presents in a similar way to Santa Claus. Attention children, stay at the Italian villa La Collina del Sole during January because in Italy children get both gifts from Father Christmas and the Befana!
The Befana is usually portrayed as an old lady riding a broomstick wearing a black shawl, and covered in soot because she enters the children’s houses through the chimney. She is often smiling and carries a bag or hamper filled with candy and gifts. The broom that she carries is not only a mode of transport but signifies the sweeping away of the problems of the year. It is suggested that one should leave a small glass of wine and a plate with a few yummy treats on it ; otherwise she may not leave any presents for you!
Legend says that the Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men a few days before the birth of Jesus. They asked for directions to where Jesus was, as they had seen his star in the sky, but she did not know the answer. She gave them shelter for a night, as she was considered to be the best housekeeper in the village, with the cleanest home as she swept all the time. The Three Wise Men invited her to join them on the journey to find baby Jesus, but she declined because she was too busy with her house cleaning. Later, La Befana changed her mind and went searching for baby Jesus. That night she had no luck in finding Him, so to this day, La Befana is still searching for the little baby, leaving presents for good children such as toys and candy, and for the bad children that she meets along her way…coal.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t get your knickers in a twist…

Image of girlItalians have managed to make the otherwise innocent New Year’s Eve celebration a little bit naughty. Tradition dictates that everyone must wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve – from boxer shorts to sexy lace panties – anything goes, as long as it’s red. Shortly after Christmas, red underwear is stocked exclusively all over the country, so there is no excuse not to join in! When you rent a villa in Tuscany which we highly recommend as Italian New Year’s celebrations are legendary! With a great deal of feasting and fireworks that can be brilliantly overlooked in the valley below from La Collina del Sole one of the best located Villa rentals in Tuscany as it is placed overlooking the Serchio valley. This superb Lucca villa rental has a commanding view of the Apuane hills, where more fireworks can be seen from high altitude villages and refugios where long distance walkers have accomplished a once in a lifetime experience and trekked from their holiday villas in Lucca to the top of the Apuane range, with its beautiful Monte Forato a mountain that has a huge circular hole through the middle,  a highlight to view from the villas for rent in Tuscany
In Spain and Chile there is a similar custom of wearing unusual underwear in case you thought that it sounded a little odd, in Japan locals consume large amounts of a chewy, sweet rice cake, called Mochi, in order to guarantee a long and happy life. This sounds innocent enough, however this tradition has been known to lead to people choking to death – I’m not sure if it’s worth the hassle, to be honest…best to stick to red underwear!
Italians also eat “cotechino e lenticchie” (pig’s feet and lentils) during New Years. According to tradition this bizarre ritual will bring good luck to the Italian’s finances in the coming year. The economical abundance wished for is symbolised through the hoof because the meat has a high fat content and a superior richness in flavour to other cuts of meat. Equally symbolic are the lentils, as their ovular shape is reminiscent of gold coins and the money the Italians hope to earn in the coming year. Needless to say, the more you eat, the better off you will be financially! The traditional recipe that you will come across in the surrounding area of la Collina del Sole will be pig’s feet in a tomato sauce. Nicely browned pig trotter will simmer in a sauce composed of sautéed and thinly sliced onion and chopped garlic, olive oil, tomato sauce, oregano and Italian seasonings. Chefs will cook the pig’s feet in the sauce for up to four hours until the meat in incredibly succulent and tender, and it falls off the bone easily – sounds pretty delicious to me!

LCDS Sunset from road leading to La Collina del Sole

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment