sightseeing, fine food...
Soon, we chanced the Autostrada
ourselves (life in the fast lane is 140-kph minimum). Arriving
in Santa Margherita, we bought tickets for the next ferry
cruise along the coast. San Fruttuosa took our breath away,
with its miniature beach,
impossibly blue, clear waters, and green hills dotted with
just a few old buildings. Lunch on a third-storey veranda
overlooking the scene was only eclipsed by the view of the
handsome young man sprawled on his boat, fast asleep, ignoring
his own sign, 'boat for hire.'
Later that week, wanting
to see the Piedmont wine country, we asked our friend Laura
for help. She guided us through the roads of Asti and Barolo,
which gave phenomenal views of the land and some insight into
the prestigious winemaking country. Large fields of sunflowers
drying for their oils were a surprising and interesting sight
for us as well.
Another day, Laura led
us into Turin. The sights of the city's impressive buildings
and ornate, arcaded shops clinched our feeling that here was
a city of quality and culture, especially when we lunched
on regional specialties at Barattino, one of the oldest restaurants
and confectioneries in the area. Afterwards, we visited the
cathedral of San Giovanni, which houses the original Shroud
angels at every turn...
gave us many happy impressions, mostly because of the wonderful
people we met. At every turn there was someone to help. Laura
and Sergio had become our true friends. Carmela and Dante
also. They and others became Italian 'angels' who helped us
along the way: the young man in Pavia who explained how parking
meters worked and insisted on putting in his own money; the
lady in busy Aqui Terme who gave us a parking pass so we could
avoid being towed away. There were many, many more.
it was time to go...
On the last evening at
the Casa, our culinary skills reached new heights. An amazing
cooperative effort produced a true Italian-style meal that
we served in the elegant, wood-panelled dining room. We lit
candles in honour of the occasion and dressed in our finest.
Inviting Carmela and Dante as a way of saying a final thank
you to them, we feasted on superb pasta enhanced with fresh
tomatoes, garlic and peppers from the garden. Carmela's beautifully
decorated fruit flan added a grand touch to that last convivial
Rising before 5 a.m. on
our last morning in Italy, we returned to the airport in Sergio's
comfortable bus. As we breakfasted on the coffee and croissants
he kindly provided, the sun began to rise and mountains on
the nearby horizon were bathed in glorious hues of pink and
grey. A wonderfully fitting ending to our women-only group
before you go...
experience has been that April, May and October are the most
inexpensive months to rent a villa. Rents can be one third
of the high season rates posted in July and August.
villa rental properties are offered in many countries, we
have found that Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, in particular,
provide a very attractive range.
to find and book your villa: Most rental companies
are now represented on the web. A site such as Holiday
Rentals provides detailed information and photographs
of available villas. You can then contact and arrange a rental
directly with an owner. Alternatively, many established companies,
such as Something
Special Villa Holidays, list properties and will take
care of the rental arrangements for you.
Sadly for travellers the owners have decided to live permanently
at Casa Straneo, and this villa is no longer available for
work at keeping our costs reasonably low. The two-week vacation
featured in this article, cost just under $3,000 each, airfare
and all else included.
Bus and Taxi Service
from Malpensa International Airport: See Panicucci's
Taxi Service on the Net at www.panicuccitaxi-parking.com.
Panicucci also offers cell phone rentals.
Happy villa renting, everybody!
Back to GirlTalk
The articles in GIRLTALK
Italy have been independently researched
by Journeywoman Online. We thank the Italian
Government Tourist Board and Air
France for sponsoring this female-friendly information.
Together it is our aim to inspire women to visit Italy
and to travel safely and well.
P.S. Did you know
that Charles-de-Gaulle's airport in Paris is Air France's
hub? And from Paris, Air France can connect you to
10 Italian cities!