Foreign holidaymakers have been falling in love with Tuscany for generations. This after all is the region of Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Arezzo & Cortona, and Siena: impossibly beautiful medieval cities, rich with artistic and cultural treasures. Of rolling hills clad in vineyards and olive groves; of fine food and wine; of sun-drenched seaside resorts and rugged expanses of mountain. Making the right choice from the hundreds of Tuscany villas on offer can allow you to choose the Italy vacation you want.
The first thing to do in searching for Tuscany villas is to narrow down your search: our area breakdown of Tuscany accommodation will help you here. Wherever you look in the region we're likely to have Tuscany villas (or Tuscany apartments, Tuscany hotels and Tuscany bed and breakfast accommodation) that will meet your needs. There is the medieval walled town of Lucca, with the Versilian Riviera nearby. You could look for Tuscan villas in Chianti, the famous land of vineyards and hilltop towns, with Greve, Radda and Castellina forming a triangle in its heart. Take a Tuscany villa in one of the 'art cities' such as Florence or Pisa ... a superb way to put yourself on the very doorstep of the finest museums and galleries.
And our custom accommodation finder will help your focus in on exactly the Tuscan villa you need. Do you want a swimming pool? Must it be within easy reach of the mountains or the sea? Do you want the seclusion of being alone in the woods or would you like the buzz of having the trattoria, bar or cafe within a stroll? Tuscany villas come in every shape or size, from modest duplex apartments to grand mountaintop castles ... the choice is yours.
UK and European holidaymakers are perhaps more used to 'self catering' than Americans, who tend to vacation in traditional hotels. Booking a Tuscany villa for the duration of your week, fortnight (or why not just stay for a month) is very different to a hotel stay and has much to recommend it. Depending on your choice, your Tuscany villa will probably have its own kitchen, living room and parking place, garden, swimming pool, barbecue facilities, TV and music system .... In short it can be a home from home. And for families, the savings soon rack up when you're dining in famiglia 'at home' rather than eating in restaurants every night. Many holidaymakers find a Tuscany villa a relaxing and economical alternative to hotel rooms.
There can be few phrases more calculated to stir the romance in our soul more than 'a villa in Tuscany'. Mention the words Tuscany villas or Chianti villas and (if you've any poetry and imagination in your soul at all) you're probably already conjuring up images of serried lines of olive trees and grapevines. Maybe in your mind's eye you're already gazing from the window of your Chianti villa at gently rolling hills, carpeted with close-cropped grass, the azure Italian sky broken only by an almost regimental line of cypress trees. There is of course a glass of good Chianti wine in your hand, and the smells of freshly brewed coffee and the world's finest olive oil drift from the kitchen.
But wait a minute ... do you know exactly what you're getting when you book Tuscany villas, Italy villas, Chianti villas and the rest? Will the reality meet your expectations? Romance and beautiful scenery aside, have you fully appreciated exactly what 'villa' means. Is your villa in Tuscany going to be charmingly rustic or a near-palace? Let's clear up some of the terminology, what you can expect, and the range of property covered under the catch-all phrase villa in Tuscany.
Go to your Collins Dictionary and you'll be informed that a villa can be 'a country house, usually consisting of farm buildings and residential quarters' or 'a large and luxurious country residence'. We'll swiftly discount the idiosyncratic British, who use the word villa to describe any house in the suburbs and say that Collins, generally has it right. If you rent a Tuscany villa then you can be pretty sure that you're hiring a detached house in the countryside ... unless it's a villa in town of course! We're talking a step up from a 'cottage' here (in size at least) but apart from that the only certain parameter around your Italy villa is that it will be a sizable piece of property or real estate.
Don't be confused though into thinking that the phrases Italy villa, Chianti villa or villa in Tuscany automatically guarantee sumptuous luxury. Not that this is a bad thing, you may just have adjust your expectations of what country comfort means. Your house will, we hope, be a delight, but you won't be treading on thick carpet ... more likely terracotta bricks, stone flags or bare wooden boards beneath your feet. Your Italy villa will likely have exposed wooden beams overhead; the walls may well be of rough, limewashed plaster. This will possibly be an old farmhouse, or converted farm building, dating back centuries, and now pressed back into modern use. Your Tuscany villa may well gaze onto some of the world's most beautiful countryside, but it probably won't have 57 channels of English-language television. It may also have a distinctly quixotic power supply that flickers during thunderstorms ... or just when it chooses too.
You probably won't find a supermarket at the end of the white road leading to your villa in Tuscany (well you wouldn't want to would you?) So part of the deal with renting Tuscany villas is that you'll need a hire car and you'll need to stock up with provisions. This, however, will be a delight ... as you discover some of the world's finest food. Cured meats, cheeses and of course wine - there's very little Tuscany doesn't do well.
Chianti villas or Tuscany villas? We need to make some geographical distinctions here. Tuscany is a large region in western-central Italy. Pick up your atlas and you'll find it gazing across the Mediterranean to Sardinia and Corsica. Chianti, meanwhile, is an area forming the southern part of Tuscany. The classic postcard views of Tuscany (those rolling green hills and neat lines of cypresses again) are typical of Chianti, a part of Tuscany which is also famous for its wine. Rent your Italy villa in Chianti and you will be close to cities such as Siena (which lies at the southern extreme of Chianti) and Florence (which is at its northern reach). Villas in Chianti will be near towns such as Greve in Chianti, Radda in Chianti and Mercatale.
But don't end your search at Chianti villas. Travel south in the region and you head towards the Roman region of Lazio. Focus your hunt for Tuscany villas around the towns of Grosseto, Saturnia and Pitigliano. Perhaps you want your villa in Tuscany to be handy for the beautiful central mountainous region as you head inland towards Umbria and the Apennines? Or head west and rent an Italy villa on the Tyrrhenian (Mediterranean Coast). So you could focus your search upon Tuscany villas around Ortobello or up to Piombino.
And check out the north of the region, where it borders Liguria and Emilia-Romagna. North of Florence and Lucca, you should search for a villa in Tuscany near Pisa, Montecatini Terme or Pistoia, or check out Italy villas in the mountainous Garfagnana ... less pretty, but more rugged than Chianti to the south.
Do your homework, and know exactly where you're going, and your Italy villa holiday, whether spent in a villa in Chianti, or Tuscany villas in the rugged north (also excellent for the nearby ski slopes at Abetone) will not disappoint.