• A grandfather’s advice on multi-generational house and villa rentals for a family reunion in the Italian countryside — within a short drive of the great sites.

    Twelve people in an old stone farmhouse may not sound much like your idea of a great holiday – but when three generations came to Tuscany, Italy from three different countries — by car, bus, train and plane — it was proclaimed “The Best Family Reunion” ever.

    High above the busy town of Bagni di Lucca, with a panoramic view of the Apuan Mountains, the superbly restored farmhouse we found dates back to the 15th century. As promised in the brochure, it offered five bedrooms, five bathrooms, spacious living areas and a traditional farmer’s kitchen, with modern equipment and appliances to assure every creature comfort. The wide terrace for al fresco dining, bordered by sweet smelling herbs, flowers and olive trees, gave way to a huge swimming pool –the perfect setting for complete R&R.

    A short hike through the woods and vineyards took us to the tiny village of Benabbio, source of the mellow sound of distant church bells. Down in the valley, Bagni di Lucca provided the necessities of life – the bakery, fresh vegetables, Old World shops along a narrow cobblestone street and, discreetly tucked away on the river bank, a modern, well-stocked supermarket. Local restaurants offered food of a quality to die for and most good local (Tuscan) wines were very affordable.

    Central Tuscany Location: Lots of Activity for All Ages

    From a central location such as Bagni di Lucca, the ancient Roman walled city of Lucca is a 30-minute drive away; another 30 to the Leaning Tower of Pisa or to Viareggio, on the coast just south of better-known Forte di Marme. Each day, one of our three rental cars was on its way somewhere.

    In the opposite direction, 55 minutes on the autostrada put us in Florence. Day trips took us south to San Gimignano and Sienna, or to Carrara (marble) and Portofino to the north. But there is so much to see and do in the valleys and hill towns all around, there’s really no need to drive far to savor the delights of Tuscany, at its best in early summer.

    At about Euros 2690 per week in the high season (less at our June visit, by quite a bit), we thought this farmhouse/villa named Mura di Sopra, in Bennabio, near Bagni di Lucca, was well-priced for the space and comfort it afforded a large family. The Mura di Sopra owners’ website contains everything anyone could possibly want to know about it. Keep in mind that this compound now sleeps 10, its classic barn having been restored, so it rents with and without that charming addition.

    In any case, our 6½-year-old grandson just loved the pool, the village market on Wednesdays, the ice cream shop and a visit to Parco di Pinocchio in nearby Collodi. His approval was only one measure of this successful family vacation, but an important one!

    courtesy of http://www.myfamilytravels.com/

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    Article by: John Manton

    John had a long career in travel related businesses including Avis as a marketing executive . After leaving Avis in 1982, he started an international consulting business to establish and market foreign brands in the U.S. He continued to travel the world, serving on the Board of Directors, Travel Industry Association of America (USTA), and was a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA); the Pacific Area Travel Association (PATA); and the British Institute of Marketing.  He then co-founded the Family Travel Forum Inc,

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