Journey Woman

GAP Adventures

Girlfriends Rent a Villa in Italy

The Autostrada, 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 of Turin.

Italian angels at every turn...

Italy 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.

Too soon 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 evening.

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 holiday!

Know before you go...

When: Our 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.

Where: While villa rental properties are offered in many countries, we have found that Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, in particular, provide a very attractive range.

How 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.

Casa Straneo: Sadly for travellers the owners have decided to live permanently at Casa Straneo, and this villa is no longer available for rent.

Cost: We 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 Panicucci also offers cell phone rentals.

Happy villa renting, everybody!

Back to GirlTalk Italy...

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!

Italian Tourist Board
Air France

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