hilltop villages…golden hillsides…vineyards….olive
orchards….lines of cypress trees…fine wines….mineral
springs and spas…local cheeses…hiking and
biking trails…This is southeastern Tuscany.
Located southeast of Siena and next to Umbria are the
areas known locally as the Valdorcia and the Valdichianna----The
Valley of the Orcia and the Chianna Rivers. Montepulciano
and Montalcino are the two famous villages here. Chianti,
produced north of Siena, has traditionally gotten the
most attention abroad. But the Vino Nobile
of Montepulciano is now surpassing its northern cousin
in fame. Made from a blend of Sangiovese and local grapes,
this ruby red wine is produced according to strict DOCG
requirements. Unlike other wines it must be stored only
in large wooden barrels called botti, creating a very
specific taste. In Montalcino, the famous Brunello
wine is produced with the highest requirement for aging
of any wine in Italy--4 years, half the time in wood!
It is arguably the most famous wine from Italy currently
and can range in price from $50 to $300 for a bottle.
You can taste these famous wines as you explore the
area in wine shops, enotecas, restaurants or the wineries
There are many other attributes to this region. It is
an area that has been largely untouched by industrialization.
Beautiful rolling hills seem to unfold endlessly. The
villages are all located on the hilltops, and the roads
stretch along the ridges offering incredible views.
Hillsides are covered with a patchwork of olive orchards,
vineyards and grasses. Gravel roads reach down into
the gentle valleys and connect ancient monasteries and
farmhouses to the villages nearby. The views are wonderful
in any direction. And there’s always another village
to explore on the next ridge.
has cobbledstoned streets that reach up the hill to
a vast open piazza bordered by massive churches. Tiny
streets lead to openings between the buildings with
breathtaking views. Montalcino stretches
along the ridge of another hill. Its castle and garden
are open for exploring. Pienza was
designed for Pope Pius I in the 15th century as his
summer residence to comprise the ideal proportions of
a Renaissance town. St. Quirico d’Orcio
is home to the beautiful Horti Leonini, manicured gardens
where you can wander and enjoy the quiet or picnic lunch.
In addition to tasting wine and exploring ancient stone
villages, there are naturally occurring hot springs
to enjoy. In ancient times, the reliable flow of water
was used to run mills. Villages like Bagno Vignoni owe
their existence to these sources of power. Today, you
can climb down the hillside and visit the remnants of
the ancient mills. Below the mill is a small warm pond
for wading. Hotel Marcucci in town offers hot mineral
water pools in a modern setting for a small fee. The
view across the valley from the pool is wonderful. In
other villages nearby spas offer massages and a variety
of treatments in addition to mineral pools.
For those who like to hike, there are trails galore.
A stop in one of the Tourist Offices can provide you
with maps for hiking trails. You can also purchase books
with detailed descriptions of individual trails. And
for bikers, this is an area of quiet gravel roads and
incredible views. But be prepared. Most bike rides will
And there’s more to visit. Pottery factories,
cheese factories, museums with Etruscan artifacts, and
even a monastery where you can hear Gregorian chants
daily. This is a wonderful area.
Ville et Village offers a terrific selection of houses
here, both large elegant ones for
parties of 8-12, and some simpler ones for parties of
2-6. Visit TM059
for an example of a charming apartment in Montalcino.
As always, contact us as early as possible. We are taking
reservations NOW for 2007.
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its OUTDOOR MARKETS
morning in Provence, traveling merchants set up outdoor
markets in different villages. These weekly events feel
like a little circus coming to town. Merchants arrive
in the morning and set up their wares. A vibrant scene
ensues. The bigger towns in each geographic area have
the largest and most extensive markets. Each one takes
place on a different regular day of the week, and each
has its own special character. The market at Apt at
the east end of the Luberon Valley fills all the streets
from one end of the town to the other, culminating in
a carousel where little children can enjoy a ride. At
Vaison la Romaine in the Côtes du Rhone Valley,
the market fills the entire open parking lot on the
outskirts of the town and may even have a street performer.
At Carpentras at the southern end of the Côtes
du Rhone Valley, there are streets where just honey
is sold, areas just for soaps, other areas for olives.
And at St. Rémy in the Bouches du Rhone the market
fills the pedestrian-only center and has a vast selection
of fabrics as well.
these outdoor markets you can taste local sausages,
fresh goat cheeses, various marinated olives, or honey
from different flowers. Each market starts around 8:30
am in the morning and lasts until around 1:30 pm. Arrive
early and you can park easily. Arrive late and you get
to purchase the food that has been cooking—paella
in vast pans, chickens roasting on spits, rabbits grilled
in provencal herbs.
The smaller villages also have their markets, each unique
in its own way. The outdoor market at Ménerbes,
although small has been described by Patricia Wells
as the most authentic in the region. At Maussane the
market fills the little square and you can buy fresh
fish from Marseille. At Gordes you can buy wonderful
These markets have something for everyone, the cook,
the photographer, the shopper, the wanderer.
All of our houses in Provence are located in the prettiest
areas and all have charming outdoor markets nearby.
When you get to your rental house, check the tourist
office to find out which days the local markets take
place. Then plan your itinerary to take in at least
one or two. You don’t need to cook to enjoy the
food. You can simply bring home premade food, fruit,
cheeses, salamis and local pastries and enjoy a feast
without doing any work.
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have two wonderful new properties to offer in Paris.
for a beautiful one-bedroom apartment in the 7th arrondissement.
It is located on the elegant Blvd. St. Germain des Près.
Situated on the 7th floor with elevator, the apartment
windows have a lovely view of the ornate architecture
of the buildings across and the trees below. This charming
apartment also has air-conditioning.
is in the heart of the Quartier St. Germain. It is a
2-bedroom/2-bath apartment on two floors. It has elegant,
but comfortable décor, excellent lighting, and
air-conditioning. Although it is surrounded by tiny
streets filled with elegant shops, it is a haven of
quiet as it faces a pleasant internal courtyard. This
is a very special apartment. Although it is just newly
offered, it booked up quickly in 2006. So make your
plans early for 2007.
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Summer Heat and
of our country rentals are authentic structures and
do not offer air-conditioning. This is simply not a
part of French or Italian country life.
In the countryside, homes are made of native stone.
They have thick walls and heavy shutters. During the
day when the sun can be strong, locals keep shutters
closed. When the sun goes down, the shutters are opened
to let in cool nighttime breezes.
In Europe, utilities are expensive and are a limited
resource. Thus Europeans conserve energy as well as
economize. On hot summer afternoons, stores close at
1:30 pm, and people go inside. They go to restaurants,
or return to their cool homes, have a leisurely lunch
and then rest. After 3:00 or 4:00pm, when the heat subsides,
In the cities, things are changing a bit. When we started
Ville et Village 14 years ago, none of our city apartments
had air-conditioning. In fact, at that time, the number
of really hot days in Paris were few. Now, however,
as European cities are facing more extended hot weather,
we are starting to see apartment owners adapt. We do
have a few Paris owners who have put air conditioning
in their apartments. Many apartments do have portable
fans, which can also be very helpful. In Florence, where
building requirements in the historic center are a challenge
to some modern amenities, our owner there has now successfully
installed air conditioning in most of her apartments.
And in Rome where the temperature can often be hot,
there is a selection of apartments with air-conditioning.
That said, if you desire or require air conditioning,
be sure to request it, and read your property description
carefully. As air conditioning is an amenity, it will
be specifically listed as such. If it isn’t listed,
it isn’t provided. It is important to read the
property description carefully and be sure the property
you’ve selected provides all the amenities you
require. Remember it is you who makes the final decision.
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