We are regular visitors to Italy having lived there for 10 years until 2004 when we returned to the UK. Every year since we have gone to Italy for our holidays, usually to a different location, but this year we decided to return to the Lucca area.
We liked Lucca itself and the central position offers a variety of experiences and excursions. This ranges from the beaches at the Parco Naturale Migliarino, Firenze, Pisa and the wilder countryside towards Barga.
As a family of 5 adults (3 under 23) we needed space, character, privacy and a taste of the "real Italy". We chose Villa Elena Guerra from the description and the pictures and were not disappointed. The location is stunning with views across the unspoilt wooded lucchese hills. Peace is guaranteed with good access to the Villa after a 10 minute drive from the main statale that connects you to Lucca and the autostrada.
The accomodation is spacious and comfortable with a small functional kitchen for those who like to eat in on occasion. There is a large dining table and we enjoyed the use of two bathrooms. One for the boys and one for the girls. There was always plenty of hot water and due to its location up a hill, evening temperatures were pleasant. In addition, there is also an outside dining area, barbecue area and cane seats for an evening aperitivo.
Our hosts, Gabriella and Gianluca, were wonderful. Generous with the vegetable produce from their lovely gardens, café and advice. Having restored the Villa themselves they are extremely hardworking which shows in how well cared for the property and gardens are. The Villa even has its own small chapel which we were shown.
We had a lovely, relaxing, restful holiday and will return again. For those seeking a place that is unspoilt and offers the best italian hospitality then Villa Elena Guerra is for you.
In Gabriella and Gianluca, we also met two of the warmest, most genuine and honest people you could hope to meet.
We stayed at the villa in late June, early July and at the end of our stay realised we were the first guests.
Lots of great things to commend about the villa and a few helpful pointers. First thing we recommend is to download an Italian satnav. We didn't and got completely lost using our google map print outs and the ordnance surface map Gabriella sent. It was pitch black when we arrived so we completely missed the large rusted iron cross which indicated the turn off to San Martine. Carlos kindly came out and found us and we followed him back. The road to the villa is narrow and winding and was a challenge to drive. However the villa itself is beautiful and sits in a lovely lush well tended garden with lots of space to sunbathe in or run around if kids are younger. We used the pool every day and it was perfect. There are four sun loungers provided too and we used our own beach towels.
The accommodation is on the top floor and the rooms are all spacious with a good seating area and dining area. The shower rooms are fine too.
There are a couple of things that would be helpful. Mosquito nets over all the beds are necessary as one room had none and my son often got bitten. The other is a better equipped kitchen. It was basic and not everything was as new as I would have liked. The chopping boards need replacing and we couldn't see the kettle or the microwave but as we managed without them we didn't ask for them.
I couldn't find sharp preparation knives so I made do with steak knives. We used the BBQ area a few times though and this was great.
The wifi was intermittent and the satellite TV was limited and mainly in Italian but this didn't cause too many problems as we spent evenings chatting and playing cards or visiting neighbouring towns.
The owners were lovely, they gave suggestions for visits to neighbouring towns such as Monte Catini and Pistoia as well as information on the nearest supermarkets. We also were invited in for a proper italian coffee( delicious) and I got an impromptu cookery lesson which I loved.
In summary the villa is a perfect relaxing retreat for adults and older children. It's location dictates that you need to drive everywhere but once we got used to the Italian roads then trips to Monte Carlo for morning coffee became part of the daily routine. I felt that we had a real insight into Italian life and one of most relaxing family holidays.
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