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Review 218: TuscanHouse, Villa San Martino


Review by Rhonda from USA

villa, sleeps 12, near Lucca, Tuscany North


September 2001


Villa San Martino is a joy. We cannot praise it highly enough. It is beautifully situated in the hills outside Lucca with expansive acreage and extraordinary views of the surrounding hills, villages, and the walled city of Lucca itself.

When our group was there (September 2001) the olive trees, peach trees and fig trees were dripping with fruit that was ripe for our daily picking and eating enjoyment. The olives, however, are solely for olive oil production. Marvelous olive oil and balsamic vinegar were produced by the villa owners (Giovanna and Giuseppe Tronci). Vineyards for their local wine production abound, and mid-to-end September is when harvesting begins. The property itself is gorgeous. Donkeys and cows wander about in their pasture. There is an olympic-sized pool with lounge chairs around it. If you don't wish to swim, just sit and admire the view. One never tires of it. The Troncis have also provided a parking area with lighting that illuminates your path to the villa at night. A very useful convenience.

The villa itself is a structure that at one time housed the servants of the main house — Villa Tronci. Villa Tronci (in Giovanna’s family for umpteen centuries) sits imperiously on elevated ground overlooking Villa San Martino (and everything else.) San Martino has an upper and lower level, separated from one another. (We were a group of 3 couples and occupied both levels.)

Giovanna and Giuseppe have done a masterful job in redesigning and decorating the house. The rooms are very comfortable, the bedrooms outstanding. Kitchens are on both levels and are fully equipped. The bathrooms are plentiful, functional, nicely kept and clean. Everything works well. The Troncis provide cell phones (a real plus) and TV sets on both levels (but no cable.) A scrumptious meal, beautifully prepared and arranged, awaits you on arrival. There are expansive dining and sitting areas. Just look from any window and gaze at the wonderful vistas that surround you — and don’t forget to look out at night — amazing sky. There are outdoor dining and sitting facilities for each level. Maid service is available.

Giovanna and Giuseppe Tronci are fabulous hosts. They are always available for your every need, and are two of the most wonderful people you will ever meet. They are happy, always smiling, extremely helpful and extraordinarily considerate. We were there on September 11 and I cannot begin to relate to you how caring, sympathetic, thoughtful and helpful they were. They allowed us to stay longer (at no charge) because our flight was canceled! Since everything at airports at that time was a massive mess, and we didn’t know whether our eventual standby status would be honored, and fearing that we may be forced to lay over in other cities for who knew how many days, the Troncis refused to take our cash (we owed a few hundred dollars extra) insisting we may need the cash for the reasons outlined. They just asked us to send them a check.

The Troncis own a restaurant in Lucca (outside the walls): Ristorante Buatino. Their wine, vinegar and olive oil is served there. The restaurant is quite good and I recommend people try it.

Lucca is a fabulous city and well located for tours throughout the Tuscan region, as well as neighboring Liguria. It has excellent Tuscan restaurants. Parking is a problem (as it is anywhere in Italian cities) within the walls. There are excellent supermarkets and specialty shops for food and wine shopping. There is frequent train service from Florence. Biking along Lucca’s walls is an activity not to be missed; bike rentals are readily available.

If you plan a trip to Tuscany are thinking of renting a villa, you really must consider Villa San Martino. You will be as pleased and contented as we were. If you want to use it as a base for touring—it’s perfect. If your wish is just total relaxation and chilling-out—its perfect!

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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