Pergolaccio, my own villa.
I know I promised to continue talking about Monti, in Rome, but I’ve received so many requests in the last week for villas to rent in Italy that I decided to talk villa. What follows is my own personal list of villas to rent in Tuscany and Umbria. It’s not ‘the best of’ or in any other way exhaustive. It’s just my own private list of villas I know and that I can recommend personally. If you go to sites like vbro.com and homeaway.com I’m sure you can find cheaper and bigger. But I doubt you can find villas more comfortable and tasteful than the ones that belong to my friends!
Ok, top of the list is naturally my own private piece of paradise outside of Todi. My husband Domenico is an Italian architect, who specializes in restoring farmhouses in the Italian countryside. We restored Pergolaccio 17 years ago (Emma was three months old!) and use it ourselves most of the time. But lately we’ve been renting it out for a few weeks during the summer as we explore other places. Five bedrooms, four baths and a gorgeous pool. And....four ovens and two grills. Sorry, I love to cook!
A late lunch at Pergolaccio.
Domenico restored our friend Karen’s house, Villanova, about the same time as ours, and you can see the similarities in style. I love the pool area, which is bordered by an ancient wall. Five bedrooms makes this a great house for families.
Here is the pool at Villanova:
My friend Kate has what I think is one of the most gorgeous properties in Umbria, Castellaro. Her property actually has four houses on it, and each one is more beautiful than the next. She was gracious enough to let us include it in Italian Rustic, and the photograph of her kitchen is not only my favorite photo in the book, but may be my favorite room in Umbria!
The kitchen at Castellaro.
One of the reasons we are in the Todi area is thanks to our friend Edward, who first brought Domenico here too many years ago to count. Edward and Rebecca’s home is just south of Todi and a bit smaller than most of the other places I know about. This makes it perfect for anyone looking for something not so grand. There are two bedrooms in the main house, and one in the guest house and a gorgeous pool located high up on the hill with magnificent views over the valley.
View from the pool at Edward and Rebecca's:
For those of you who are looking for something on the HUGE side, get in touch with my friend Paula. Her three-story villa outside of Todi, Villa Tre Grazie, has....26 rooms! 9 of these are bedrooms, which makes this the perfect place for a family reunion. Want to set the table for 18? Not a problem. Paula does it all the time!
This is one corner of the garden at Villa Tre Grazie.
If you are in the mood for full-time staff in a pampered setting my friend Laura’s villa, Podere Calzone, is for you. Even though Laura’s house is not far from our own, we sometimes go over there for sleep overs, since it’s almost like staying in a hotel. There are three master bedrooms in the main house, and two more in the guest house. The infinity pool is my favorite place to hang out when I’m not eating pizza made by Paola the cook.
This is Laura's terrace, where we are known to drink too many cocktails while watching the sun set.
For something a bit simpler, but still in Laura’s impeccable style, rent her smaller, 3 bedroom house down the road, Casale Vecchia. Contact Laura for more info.
The view from Casale Vecchia, including the fab pool.
I’ve been writing about Ilaria Miani’s villas for years, and with good reason. Ilaria is a talented interior designer and the villas she and her husband Giorgio have restored in the Val D’Orcia, in Tuscany, are some of the most stylish, luxurious homes around. Visit their web site to see them all. (You need a password: tower.)
Casellaccia, looking from the pool the house.
The heavenly vine-covered pergola at Zingoni.
Also in the Val D'Orcia are the incredibly beautiful villas on the La Foce estate. Before I wrote Italian Rustic I only knew the justly famous gardens of Villa La Foce. I didn't realize that the Orrigo family had 11 farmhouse villas as well as a castle for rent. I featured four of the homes in Italian Rustic, and you can see all of them on the web site. Each is different, and all are beautifully furnished and have pools, gardens and drop dead gorgeous views.
The view from the pool house at La Gonzola.
Casaccia has five bedrooms.
And one last villa I can't leave out is Susan Evan's lovely home, Fondo Le Teglie not far from Todi. Her own villa is beautifully restored and has four bedrooms. But take the time to look at Susan's site, since she acts as an agent for several other villas as well.
As I said, this is not the definitive Italian villa list, so please send me your own thoughts and suggestions. I'd love to hear where you've stayed - for better or worse!