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DISCOVER HIDDEN ITALY, AWAY FROM THE TOURIST TRAIL, WITH EMMA VILLAS

emma villas italy


In search of la dolce vita this season but anxious to avoid the honey pot sites?  For a taste of authentic Italy, often kept secret by the locals, check out Emma Villas where the property owners are almost entirely Italian. The villa specialist’s remarkable portfolio of 600 properties, mostly with pools, stretches across 15 regions of Italy, with many of the houses situated in lesser-visited and little-known corners.

Emma Villas offers properties, all exclusively available for rental through them, in Abruzzo, Apulia, Calabria, Campania, Emilia Romagna, Le Marche, Lazio, Lombardy, Piedmont, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria and Veneto.

ITALY’S BEST KEPT SECRETS
South Sardinia – Villa Sandra
Beyond the glitz and glamour of Sardinia’s well-trodden Costa Smeralda is the quiet south of the island, where off-the-beaten-track beaches and rural villages are rarely frequented by travellers.
Stay: Villa Sandra is located in scenic Torre delle Stelle, a leafy coastal village ideal for those who want to escape the crowds. Although it attracts Italian villa owners, there are few tourists even in the height of the summer.  Just 50 barefoot steps away from the Villa’s salt purification pool is Cann’e Sisa – a beautiful sandy cove with a gently sloping beach, ideal for young families, and a pristine sea, where there are sunbeds and umbrellas to hire. With six bedrooms and bathrooms, Villa Sandra consists of three adjacent units, with modern, welcoming interiors, shaded alfresco dining and two pools, making this holiday home a comfortable retreat for an authentic Italian holiday.  Price: One week’s rental costs from €3,935. Sleeps up to 12 people.


Monferrato in Piemonte – Villa Uvaspina
The lush countryside of Monferrato in Northern Italy’s Piemonte is famed for its wine production including the famous full- bodied wines of Barbaresco and Barola. The latter is considered one of the finest in Italy and often compared to the great red wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy. With a gastronomy to match (the white truffle capital of Europe, Alba, is within easy reach), a villa holiday here makes for a very indulgent break and all the more special because it is little-known to tourists.  Stay: Over two floors, stunning Villa Uvaspina comes with 7,000 sq m of grounds, complete with pomegranate and cherry trees, ripe for picking in September/October and June (respectively).  Just 2.5 km away is the Antignano social winery where guests can learn about, taste and buy the fine wines of the immediate area, primarily Barbera and Grignolino. Visit in September when the vines hang heavy with grapes and villagers prepare for the harvest, which is followed by lively celebrations.  Price: One week’s rental costs from €2,675.  Sleeps 8 people.


Lazio – Villa Callari
San Felice Circeo is a quintessential Italian seaside town some 100 kms south of Rome, where pretty alleyways run between charming white town houses. However, there is also a scent of mystery and myth as Circeo is thought to be Eea, an island in Homer’s Odyssey and it was here that Ulysses was seduced by the sorceress Circe.  Visitors will want explore the promontory of Monte Circeo, the pearl of the Circeo National Park where there are remains of Roman villas and spas and archaeological finds aplenty. Among the most beautiful trekking trails in the Circeo NP are those that lead to the Picco di Circe, the highest peak where the ruins of a temple are thought to be dedicated to Venus.
Stay: In an enviable position a few metres from the beach and close to the NP, Villa Callari is one of the best villas in the whole of Circeo.  It was built in the early 1900s and has recently been renovated with great taste and elegance. Think, for example, Venetian stucco ceilings, parquet flooring that intersects with the original salvaged mosaic, and the original vaulted ceilings in the basement. The outdoor area is no less magnificent, with terracing that blends with the infinity pool and hot tub.  Price: One week’s rental costs from €3,661. Sleeps up to 8 people.


Le Marche – Villa Chipieri
Le Marche may be a familiar name to most Italophiles, but the region is almost never crowded. To explore some of the highlights of Le Marche, stay close to Acqualagna, a little town near the magnificent Furlo Gorge, an extraordinary landmark best explored on foot.  The fascinating canyon is now part of a nature reserve where visitors can admire the rich fauna, spotting golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and even wild boars and fallow deer. However, for many centuries it was a strategically important trade route along the Via Flaminia, linking Rome to Rimini. Acqualanga is also a focal point for the centuries-old tradition of truffle hunting along with their production and marketing – indeed it produces the priciest truffles on the market.
Stay: With far-reaching views, the stylishly furnished Villa Chipieri, comprising a main building and a smaller adjacent annex, was built in perfect harmony with its natural setting.  Guests are welcome to help themselves to the salad produce, vegetables and fruit, all available (depending upon the season) in the large organic garden. Price:  One week’s rental costs from €1,900.  Sleeps up to 6 people.


Ischia – Villa Carina
While Capri in the Bay of Naples can be so hectic that it is best explored either early in the morning or late in the day, the neighbouring island of Ischia is larger, greener and altogether more wonderful for visitors, thanks to being relatively unknown abroad.  It is a great choice for adventurous visitors with a hunger for exploring the real Italy, particularly on foot, and for those keen to soak in the thermal waters, relax on its sandy beaches or explore the historic sites.
Stay:  The prestigious Villa Carina, some 90m above sea level, is surrounded by cypresses, palms, bougainvillea, hibiscus and sago palms. From the villa take in the panoramic views of the Gulf of Naples, the island of Procida and the nature reserve of the island of Vivara. The architect took inspiration from the elegant villas on Lake Garda and Carina comes with a large swimming pool, Vietri ceramic floors, antique furnishings and elegant tapestries, and no lack of accessories.  Travel by (frequent) ferry or hydrofoil from Naples or Pozzuoli.  Price: One week’s rental costs from €10,500.  Sleeps 12 people.

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