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

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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!
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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