How to enjoy Berlin in the Heart of Winter

Though the German capital might not be your first idea for a winter getaway, it is actually magic under the snow and culturally exciting during the winter months, with film, dance and food festivals, Bauhaus celebrations, and even a fashion week! Here is a list of must-sees and dos in the German capital currently.

Photo: Berlin Partner GmbH/FTB-Werbefotografie

Berlin is today a young and active international city, offering lively nightlife, many cafés, clubs, bars, street art, numerous museums, palaces, and other sites of historic interest, and the month of February is particularly sweet for art lovers: from Feb 7th to Feb 11th is held the Berlin Independent Film Festival, which offers plenty of screening and business opportunities for up-and-coming filmmakers. The exciting programme of films, workshops and networking events combines the commitment to indie filmmaking ideals with a solid understanding of their potential in the marketplace. All films are screened at the Babylon Cinema in Berlin-Mitte and are in English or with English subtitles. Extra tip: this movie theatre offers midnight movies every Saturday, with a live music orchestra!

Photo: DPA

Held around the same time – Feb 7th to Feb 17th, the Berlinale is the city’s most glamourous event. With more than 400 films shown it attracts the elite of the film industry as well as the largest audience of any film festival in the world. But the festival has much more to offer than just the screening of films. For two weeks, workshops, panel discussions and joint projects encourage collaboration between all the participants. And at the exclusive Berlinale parties, people, art, glamour and business meet.

Dance is also promoted: each year young people aged between 10 and 21 from around the world meet in Berlin to share their love for dancing at the Tanzolymp, a dance event with workshops, seminars and competitions. The main aim of the festival is to support and increase the popularity of dancing, and also provides insight into the variety of dance aesthetics and artistic styles. Another festival, The Days of Dance or Tanztage, is a contemporary dance festival focusing on the discovery and support of up-and-coming choreographers and dancers based in Berlin.

 

Design and architecture are not left out, since 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus design school. For the centenary, many galleries, museums and other institutions in Berlin make the ideas of the Bauhaus visible and tangible, such as “Bauhaus – Modernism around the globe” at Willy Brandt Haus (16 January – 14 March 2019), which exhibits the works of photographer Jean Molitor, who has traced Bauhaus architecture all over the world for over 10 years. He found it not only in Berlin but also in Saint Petersburg, Havana, Casablanca und Guatemala City. The city and its periphery offer a lot of examples of this very recognizable architectural style, especially the Berlin Modernism Housing Estates, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2008.

To enjoy all these festivities to the fullest, Commendable Rentals has selected three extremely elegant apartments, perfect for families traveling together but also great for business travel. Located in the same chic building on Winterfeldstrasse in the Schöneberg area, you can choose the 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom or 3-bedroom apartment, depending on who you travel with!

The rooms are spacious and very tasteful, with lots of light, deliciously comfortable bedding and fully equipped marble and mosaic bathrooms as well as state of the art kitchens in each property. These apartments are perfect for those who crave space and comfort, in an excellent, central location, next to Potsdamer Platz. The building itself dates back to 1900 and has been lovingly restored to its former glory. It is within walking distance to a great variety of bars, restaurants and shopping, where you can experience the best of this dynamic city. Commendable Berlin offers both the comfort and ease of a hotel and the familiar feeling and facilities of the best home away from home.


How and where to plan a multigenerational travel in Tuscany

A family trip to Tuscany is always a good idea. That is the conclusion we came to during our family Christmas dinner last December. As part of a very extended and scattered family, it is always a struggle to be able to see everybody throughout the year. So we all decided that 2019 was going to be the summer when we would all meet halfway, and where better than Italy, where the sun shines from April to late October and activities are as diverse as the landscapes. Besides the obvious -the beach, the country, the food, the people- Tuscany is in our opinion one of the best places to comfortably travel with a crowd, as large villas are plentiful; it involves some mandatory logistics and planning if you want everyone to remember this trip positively as an unforgettable experience. Here are some tips for arranging successful multigenerational Tuscany trips.

Should you want a countryside vacation, protected from the hustle and bustle of touristy cities, Pitigliano is your best option: our ancient, former convent Il Convento makes a perfect holiday seeing and will welcome you and 10 other family members. It is just a 15min drive away from this incredible town. Located in the south of Tuscany, Pitigliano is unquestionably one of the most beautiful, charming and interesting towns in the area. Its rich history goes from prehistory through Etruscan and Roman settlements and Italian Renaissance, all of which you can discover at The Orsini Palace, now the Civic Archaeological Museum of Pitigliano. Within its spectacular old city centre is an area known as a “Little Jerusalem” for its once large and active Jewish community that was active in the 15th century. Don’t miss the recently restored Synagogue! On top of its rich history, the town is also famous for its wine production. The vineyards in this area, aided by volcanic tufa and millennia-old soil, produce one of the most lauded Italian white wines: Bianco di Pitigliano, a DOC appellation and a must-have while on the Strada del Vino! From there you can also visit the nearby towns of Saturnia and Sorano, which have benefited from hot springs for centuries and are now a must-go spa destination.

                     

For a seaside vacation, about an hour away from Pitigliano is the Monte Argentario and its fantastic archipelago! Perched on a cliff on the edge of the Mediterranean sea, the Villa degli Angeli gazes from Ansedonia at Italy’s most spectacular views, and can comfortably sleep up to 14 people. While there, though you may want to do nothing, there are plenty of possible excursions to keep you busy. In Ansedonia, don’t miss the remains of the ancient city of Cosa, an archaeological site of international interest dating back to 273 BC and included in UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can also walk or bike in the nearby pine forest and beachcomb the long beach, that is if you tire of swimming in the sea from the private beach of your villa…

You can also explore Orbetello or discover traditional festivals such as the Balestro del Girifalco, stroll by boat in unspoilt places accessible only by the sea, dive into the Mediterranean waters and discover marine life, or try hang gliding at the many centres and schools in the region. We happily recommend Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole, two fishing ports that have become seaside resorts, surrounded by high rocks and connected to the mainland by the wide sandy beaches of Gianella and Feniglia.

                   

Closer to San Giminiano, Siena and Florence, perched on a hill and overlooking vineyards, is Castello Lorenzo. Located in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, where Niccolò Machiavelli wrote his most famous book, The Prince, Castello Lorenzo was originally a medieval fortress built in the eleventh century, converted in the fifteenth century into a magnificent villa of the Tuscan aristocracy with a unique charm and impeccable taste. With its 10 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms, it will easily welcome up to 20 guests! Don’t miss the Antinori Wine Estate, simply breath-taking: the winery overlooks the countryside from a terrace surrounded by vineyards, and while staying at Castello Lorenzo, you can visit the cellars and participate in tastings, but also have lunch in their restaurant Rinuccio 1180 located on the roof of the building. We will take care of your reservations, tastings and excursions!

Finally, further north in the Tuscan Maremma, we definitely recommend Castagnetto Carducci, home of La Civetta, a 14-people villa with pool and private access to the beach! There is shopping should you want to cook family meals yourself, or you can use our wonderful cook, but there are also plenty of restaurants to enjoy. Local foods are based on Maremma specialties, fresh fruits and vegetables, freshly made mozzarella and of course, the famous Super Tuscan Wines nearby. Not too far away, is the famous city of Pisa (and its leaning tower!) and Lucca is about 1-hour drive north.

At Commendable Rentals, we can help you plan your whole trip, from choosing properties to rent , to booking guides, boats, chef, cooking lessons, and museum tickets in advance; don’t hesitate to ask for our help!


From Rome with Love

Most cities around Christmas vie to be the most festive and spirited, but few European capitals are as dedicated to bringing the Winter Wonderland to life as Rome. Whether you arrive in the Eternal City by day or by night, you will be charmed by the crisp yet mild December weather, and the glory of Rome’s winter blue skies. Last minute Christmas shopping rushes, the nonchalant strolls of locals trying to differentiate themselves from the tourists, and of course the Christmas lights, add energy to the glow, as Nativity scenes and Christmas markets pop up all over the city. If you arrive by night, don’t miss a drive pass the majestic and romantic Colosseum; its recently renovated arches are particularly beautiful when lit by spotlights against the dark sapphire blue sky.

The Christmas holiday season in Rome officially starts on December 8, the holiday of the Immaculate Conception, or Immacolata, and ends on January 6 at the Epiphany – when La Befana, a sort of Christmas witch is the lead character – and it is indeed magical: it is a great time to see the city in a -literally- different light and to discover the great Roman Christmas traditions. If you are by yourself, feel free to prep a special playlist for the occasion: Culture Trip has put together a wonderful list of songs inspired by the beauty of Rome, and there in one for every taste and every moment of the day (waking up to Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day by Morcheeba is the absolute guarantee of a good mood all day long)! Though it is holiday season, most shops of the city are usually open -with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the day after Christmas, and New Years’ Day- and most of the major sites and monuments that have entry tickets, including the Colosseum, Forum, and Borghese Gallery will all be open on the 26th, despite that day also being a holiday. We recommend planning your visits on the 26th, as the museums and churches will be much less crowded than usual.

Whether it is your first time in Rome or you are a newbie in the city, start your day with a bit of Christmas sightseeing; and whether you are religious or not, you should look for the numerous Nativity scenes scattered around the city: they will surprise you by their artistry, beauty and inventiveness. The major one this year is held of course in Vatican City, but there are beautiful ones in every major and minor church of Rome, which counts more than 900 churches, cathedrals and basilicas. We recommend Santa Maria del Popolo, created and built by famous painter, sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century, Santa Maria in Trastevere in the charming, bohème district which gave it its name, or the Pantheon, to couple historical beacons and Christmas sightseeing.

In the mood for some Christmas shopping? There are a lot of beautiful, eccentric and charming Christmas markets all over town! All neighbourhoods offer something. Vintage pieces and hipster vibes are what the district of Monti is about, and Mercato Monti is the perfect embodiment of its way of life. You may find there the ideal Christmas gifts: clothes, accessories and other artisanal pieces await! Good to know: in December the market doubles in size, promoting more than 50 local talents.

Monti is really a charming neighbourhood, and we happen to have a great apartment there for you to live like Romans do: our  Bella Vita is located near the Colosseum and is the ideal place to rent for a family of 4 or 2 couples. Previous guests describe it best: “The perfect Roman Holiday! Both modern and historic- this was the perfect home base from which to explore Rome”.

Other Christmas markets punctuates the city, find an exhaustive list right here.

After all this wandering, you stomach might start to rumble; fear not! Rome is filled with charming and delicious trattorias and pizzerias, including two of our most favourites: Da Francesco and Fiammetta. Both are located just steps away from the Piazza Navona in the heart of the Historic Centre, and are dear to our hearts. Da Francesco, where the truffle pizza is close to heaven, is located on Piazza del Fico, right in front of Bar del Fico, one of the most popular bars in Rome. There you can sip your spritz or martini while peeping at fashionable locals and waiting for a table. Don’t hesitate to visit their website, as they even provide true Italian recipes should you want to test your cooking abilities back home!

Fiammetta is another true hidden gem: it is in a great location, just around the corner from Piazza Navona, but without the fuss of tourists. The menu is as varied as it is appetizing, with sitting options both inside and out. The pizzas are cooked in a wood-fire oven, as any good pizza should be. Go Italian all the way and try the white pizza with mozzarella covered in salty, peppery endive.

Should you want to celebrate Christmas both at home and in Rome, just stay on Piazza Fiammetta and book our lovely 3-bedroom apartment! Fiammetta is so much better than a hotel: this spacious apartment sleeps up to 6 guests and is beautifully proportioned and elegantly furnished, in a modern yet timeless idiom, blending art and antiques with modern design. Original beamed ceilings and polished terracotta floors underline its historic origins and add warmth to the coolness of the white walls. Cherry on the cake: The kitchen is designed for chefs, so you will be able to try all these wonderful recipes by yourself!

Commendable Rentals has a lovely, extensive collections of palazzi, houses and apartments to rent in Rome, find the perfect place for you and start enjoying your Roman Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

The Commendable Rentals team


Multigenerational travel in Provence: experiences and ideal roofs to share

Travelling as a multigenerational group can be an exciting, rich and rewarding experience, and Europe draws many families to its history, art and culture. At Commendable Rentals we have great family properties in France and Italy, and this week’s trip will be taken in two of the most beautiful Natural Regional Parks of the French South: the Alpilles, where we will stop at Saint-Rémy and Les-Baux-de-Provence, and the Préalpes d’Azur, home of Grasse and its ancient perfume industry. Motivations for extended-family travel differ with each family of course: it could be to involve the elders in an active trip, a celebration travel, or simply to reunite after some time: multigenerational trips are a good opportunity to reconnect for families whose members are geographically separated. Finance, too, plays a large role as a holiday shared is usually better value for money, but perhaps the most important reason is that in a globalized world, older generations prefer to introduce their younger relations to things they’ve never encountered before in a friendly and secure environment. For a relaxing summer stay with grandparents and children, Provence and Côte d’Azur are certainly the best places to visit or revisit; strolling among olive trees, lavender fields and vineyards, waking up to clear light pouring from a vast blue sky, wandering through raw and natural landscapes, gazing upon nature from a limestone hill, eating fresh, locally grown foods, swimming in the Mediterranean sea or drinking rosé wine under the stars, those are but a few examples of how to spend your time in these beautiful regions.

Most vacationers insist time is more relaxing when several generations are involved, especially as duties such as cooking, shopping or babysitting are spread out instead of concentrated on the parents. To take a break from the hectic pace of your daily routines, Bastide de la Félicité is certainly the best option: with its nine delightful bedrooms -including two garden suites- spacious bathrooms and very extensive game room, it can easily welcome up to eighteen guests of all ages.

Apart from its charming interior decor and luxurious setting, many extra features will please you outside as well: kids can run to the hen house each morning and afternoon to gather fresh eggs for breakfast or a French “omelette”, the whole family can play hide-n-seek games in the well-tended gardens and the playhouse, the two pools are as much relaxing areas as they are gathering ones: the larger pool has a pool house with showers and its own outdoor kitchen, and the smaller one is hidden in a private garden, with comfortable sunbeds and even a charming hut for the elders to take a nap after lunch, or the children to invent games, quests and safaris. Thanks to the two friendly donkeys of the property, grandparents will be able to share knowledge with their grand kids on feeding farm animals, and at the end of the day, they will certainly call them repeatedly so that they finally come down from the tree house to get ready for dinner. Finally, the tennis court will be the perfect setting for a family tournament! Unforgettable memories will be built in this wonderful property, so much that you will want to spend a lot of time right there!


For a more unusual stay in the Alpilles -and the priceless, unmistakable look of awe of your children’s eyes when they discover their room!- Le Dernier Château is the villa you want: set into the limestone hillside of Les Baux-de-Provence, this troglodyte luxury villa is an enchanting shelter in a spectacular and unique environment, with pool, terrace, and panoramic views over the Baux-de-Provence golf course and the mountains. Your family will be all set in the 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, all perfectly fitted out, and the fireplace and spacious living room are just the perfect setting for privileged family moments, telling stories, reflecting on the activities of the day or planning the next excursion.

Indeed, within each family are wide range of different needs, abilities and desires, which make holidays that much more exciting. Whether you want to all stick together or go your separate ways during the day, excursions, curiosities and visits in the area are diverse and accessible to all: you are located right in the middle of the golden triangle formed by Avignon, Arles and Aix-en-Provence. Explore Aix and visit the city as the famed post-impressionist and pre-cubist painter Cézanne experienced it, from the old town to the Montagne Sainte Victoire, which he painted almost 80 times, through all four seasons, in different light. From Aix to Avignon, do stop at La Roque d’Anthéron for a piano concert, or several: the 39th edition of the International Piano Festival will be held from July 20th to August 18th 2019.

From there, you can then reach Gordes and l’Isle sur la Sorgue (the Venice of Provence), two of the most charming and popular villages of the area -both of them are part of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France association- where you can stop for a delicious local meal, stroll through flea fairs and farmers markets, visit the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Sénanque while tasting -and eventually buying!- their lavender honey, or admire the countryside from the rampart walk of the castle of Gordes.

Stroll through fields and pick fruits and flowers, practice your golf swing or take a journey into the heart of the Middle Ages at the castle of Les Baux, which architecture and siege engines will delight young and old alike! Finally, for a multimedia, immersive experience, do visit the Carrières de Lumières for a must-see, original, playful and full of emotion experience!

Should you be more attracted to the chic glamour of the French Riviera, our Bastide des Roses is ideal! Just a stone-throw away from all the fashionable buzz of the French Riviera, encircled by high hedges and greenery, this beautiful hidden property will, according to our guests, “makes you feel like a romantic character in movie or a book set in Provence”! It is the ultimate luxury stay, with its timeless charm, unpretentious glamour and impeccable taste; it will be the perfect fit for a family up to 9 people seeking comfort and refined style. The swimming pool and its adjoining pool house are at the end of a rose garden, olive groves surround the gracious historical building tastefully decorated in Provence style, and the cobble stone patio roofed by old vines will be an ideal stage to admire each sunset and for astronomy lessons… Can you hear the sound of crickets?

The vast lawns and the many shady corners under olive, pine and palm trees will offer many opportunities to spend the day in solitude -everyone need their rest once in a while!- or with a big family, and the kitchen is very large, equipped with everything you need to cook delicious meal after a grocery shopping spree to the nearby towns of Vallbonne or Grasse. Family travel often means everybody gets to do at least one activity of their choice, which can lead the rest of the family to discover passions they never knew they had; leave it to the Côte d’Azur to endlessly surprise you. Strolling the streets of Grasse, do stop at the International Perfume Museum or the Fragonard Museum, a visit we recommend even with kids! Just an hour away, Nice offers a wonderful day excursion for all ages as well: enjoy a Fenocchio artisanal basilic flavored sorbet on the Promenade des Anglais, and visit the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art or the Théatre de la Photographie et de l’Image. From Nice, you are just an hour away from Monaco with its Exotic Garden and its Oceanographic Museum, or Menton and the Jean Cocteau Museum. Numerous beaches and coves will welcome you for a picnic or a swim all along the coast of course.
We will attend to every step of the organisation of such trips, so feel free to ask us anything! We can provide cooks, housekeeping services, breakfast delivery, pool setting and cleaning, transportation for the youngest and oldest, and much more, so you won’t be focusing on every little detail and will enjoy the big, important family moments of your trip!


Discovering Rome from above: a Roman guide to terraces and gardens.

We all know discovering a city from higher ground is magical and Rome is no exception. Its terraces, so many with splendid views, are always a pleasure to relax in and are certainly a very hot commodity! We always thrive to find exceptional rentals everywhere we go, and we have come up with a curated list of beautiful green spaces in Italy’s capital. Raindrops are scarcer than normal this season, so we decided to stay a bit longer in the Eternal city and enjoy life “à la romaine”, watching time and life go by while enjoying every instant. What activity is more inspiring, rewarding and mind-clearing that gazing at rooftops and monuments from your own terrace while planning your visits and strolls under the Roman sun I ask you? (This is a rhetorical question, nothing is more soothing than that!)

Just on the banks of the Tiber, facing the Bocca della Verita on the Trastevere side of the river, is our first recommendation: Mio Giardino Romano. It is a bit of an exception, as it offers a garden rather than a terrace, so the joy is in the fresh, cool greenery, not the views. It is the apartment of a Roman photographer. Sitting on the green benches under the pergola, picture yourself reading a good book, sipping a hot, intense Italian expresso, or taking a well-deserved siesta after rambling around the city: can you smell the orange trees exhaling their perfume?

Walking up the Tiber, near the Basilica di Santa Maria di Trastevere, you will find Dieci, another hidden oasis available for rent: this two-bedroom apartment was recently renovated and the cosy terrace right off the dining room is perfect an evening Spritz or a glass of wine in Spring, Summer, and Fall. The view on the colorful buildings and rooftops will never cease to amaze you!

From both of these beautiful homes, you can explore the district of Trastevere, a bohemian enclave in front of Rome’s most famous sites and ruins, like the marvelous 5th-century church of Santa Cecilia, or Santa Maria in Cappella:

If you take a short walk across the Ponte Garibaldi or Ponte Palatino, you will find yourself in Rome’s historic centre, near the Piazza Farnese and the Campo dei Fiori. You are also within walking distance from the Isola di Tiberina (Tiber Island), historic and charming.

Enjoy great wine and great food in the countless bars, cafes and restaurants, and immerge yourself in the local way of life.

More hidden gems await you once on this side of the river, like our newcomer Il Magnifico, a whole Roman palazzo all for you, along with its splendid roof-top terrace with breath-taking and intimate views over Roman rooftops.

Enter this Renaissance townhouse and feel like royalty: you will certainly be treated like one, because it comes with a housekeeper. Planted with fruit and palm trees, the terrace and its adjoining second kitchen provide a wonderful position for sunset aperitif or dinners under the star, a magical ambiance for enchanting cena al fresco; we can provide the chef. With 5 beautiful bedrooms, each with bathroom, that is a unique property and is perfect for a multi- generation Roman holiday, or a friends’ reunion.

There are also beautiful reception rooms, so you will have a hard time choosing between inside or out! From this exceptional apartment, you can walk up to Piazza Navona and its famous baroque fountains, the ancient Roman Pantheon, or the Bonaparte palace.

If you take a long walk down the famous Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, you will reach Domitilla, yet another amazing oasis: a marvelous duplex penthouse with two terraces which offer fabulous 360° views of the domes of St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Gianicolo Hill, the Roman antic Forum and other major landmarks of the city, like the cupola of San Martino ai Monti and the Quirinale, the presidential palace. Domitilla has three bedrooms and is perfect for a family or friends. It was designed by a famous architect, and is full of character and history from the time of Fellini. It is a wonder for its views.

Talking about palaces: should you be looking for a true Roman palace, stroll toward the romantic Monti neighborhood to get to our Palazzo Palermo, an amazing combo of two elegant, beautifully furnished apartments, sleeping up to 14 in total. You will truly be living like the elegant Roman that you have just become. Each apartment is as elegant inside as out and may be rented together or separately.

The apartments share a beautifully planted and cared for terrace, with colorful flowers, olive trees, lemon trees, peach- and persimmon trees.

Close your eyes: the scent of blossoms perfumes the air.

Open them: the sites of Rome are for you to gaze upon indefinitely.

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Rome, confidential

It is no difficult task to be inspired by Rome: world famous landmarks, more than 350 films shot or dedicated to the Italian capital (including Roman Holiday, one of my favourites), culinary traditions copied worldwide (but never equalled!), we could talk for hours about this city that combines history, culture, gastronomy and true art of living. Today, however, I will rather show you our Rome, far from the hot weather and touristy trails.
Fall is a great season to stay in Rome, if only for the Film Festival held there every year. Previews, round tables with the greatest directors and actors such as Martin Scorsese, Isabelle Huppert, Cate Blanchett or Michael Moore, retrospectives and anthologies, there is something for every movie-lover! The film festival is held from October 18th to 28th and is a local event not to be missed. To ensure you a pleasant visit, stroll down along the Tiber and stay in our beautiful apartment Piazza Fiammetta, you will feel right at home!

Rome is also particularly pleasant in the fall becauses it breathes more than in summer: the climate is milder, the tourists are scarcer, and it is especially noticeable in museums and monuments. One of our recent visits was the magnificent Palazzo Farnese. Former residence of Pope Paul III and today home to the French Embassy, the Farnese Palace is one of the jewels of the Renaissance in Rome. To ensure quality visits and to promote the French language and culture, the Embassy entrusted the exclusivity of visits to the association Inventer Rome. Discover the Sangallo Atrium (the vestibule), the cortile (the courtyard), the garden, the Hercules salon with its tapestries inspired by Raphael’s frescoes and the Carrache Gallery, recently restored and once again open to the public, an absolute masterpiece of the Carrache brothers, commissioned by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese at the end of the 16th century, and which inspired, among other things, the ceilings of the famous Hall of Mirrors in the castle of Versailles.

Inspired by these visits led by French-speaking students or young active people living in Rome, we participated in many of the other activities offered by the association, such as the visit of Villa Bonaparte (in French or Italian) or their discovery tours in Rome and Lazio (in French only). We currently recommend the visit on Saturday, October 20th of the Doria Pamphilj Gallery, a private museum housing a fabulous collection of art, that of Mount Esquiline, one of the seven hills of Rome where all the history of the city can be found (Saturday, October 27) or the Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia (Saturday, November 24). Find here the complete program of their visits. Inspired by the Farnese Palace? The setting of our Palazzo  Il Magnifico will surely, with its amazing antiquities, luxurious furniture and beautiful paintings of masters.

Leaving the Palazzo Farnese, head to the Pantheon and stop to eat at Casa Bleve: here, the wonderful owner welcomes you with open arms and the chef explores all the tastes and traditions of Italian cuisine, respecting the seasons and selecting the best local products. It’s an iconic stop for all gourmets!

Finally, to keep this local atmosphere, walk in the neighbourhood of Monti, one of the last districts of Rome which kept its bohemian soul. Like an artists’ village, its sinuous streets protect it from the waves of tourists and concentrate a lot of great addresses: second-hand shops, small friendly restaurants, cafes and squares to hang out indefinitely, and two of our most beautiful Roman properties:

our penthouse overlooking the Vittoriano, or the Palazzo Palermo, composed of two independent apartments, will welcome you in the heart of the eternal city!

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Amazing Provence

Last week we sketched an attractive yet very short portrait of Provence (to read what a family reunion can be in Provence, click here). It is one of our favorite regions of France and holiday destinations, and as we are currently in the area (Chez Vous Uzès) we would love to talk to you a little more about it! Provence is a diverse region that extends from Bouches-du-Rhône to Hautes-Alpes, passing through various territories such as the Vaucluse, the Drôme, the Var, the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Alpes-Maritimes. In Provence you can lie in the sun on a fine sandy beach, ride white horses in the surf, go hiking, climb hills and mountains, feast on the sun-filled cuisine based on olives and olive oil, superbly fresh vegetables, fish from the sea accompanied by lovely rosé wine. You can visit amazing towns and monuments from early Roman, Medieval and Renaissance through incredible contemporary structures signed by Frank Gehry (Château La Coste), Norman Foster (L’Ombrière), and more. Then mark your calendar to enjoy the many art, music, design, and local culture festivals: all is possible. The only drawback is to first admit you won’t be able to see it all at once!

Today we explore the massif of the Alpilles, an authentic nature reserve just an hour away from Uzès and the well-known cities of Avignon or Aix-en-Provence. There, nestled in the golden triangle between Les-Baux-de-Provence, Saint-Remy-de-Provence and Eygaliéres, you will be able to enjoy most of the region’s authenticity and traditions in style and refinement, without having to drive far.

Les-Baux-de-Provence offers you incomparable panoramic views over the Alpilles mountain range, and the 400 souls who live within its walls jealously protect a patiently restored and unparalleled heritage from more than one million visitors coming here each year. We strongly recommend a visit to the ruins and vestiges of the Castle of Les Baux, a 11th century fortress that you can visit in open air, discovering with every step what the castle looked like originally with the secular and religious remains, siege engines -that are sometimes operated in front of you! -, the military remains and of course the Baux outcrop & the valley. Many events bring the fortress back to life: the “Médiévales des Baux” from late March to the end of August, “Secrets d’Artisans” every weekend in September and the “Automnales” in October (Les Automnales). The narrow, history-filled cobblestone streets of the old village will lead you to architectural masterpieces, art galleries, crafts workshops, boutiques and museums, and gourmet restaurants. Take you time to really let the peace and calm of this marvellous environment sink in: why not enjoy a lavender ice-cream while you stroll through the village! For a lovely and unusual stay in this exceptional setting, we recommend Le Dernier Château: Le Dernier Château, an extraordinary troglodyte villa set into the stunning rock hillside of the village.

If you’re inspired by Le Dernier Château’s setting, you should not miss the Carrières de Lumières: the former quarries dug out by the hands of man since the Roman and used to build Les Baux and its citadel offer today to the visitor a magical world of images and music. The program currently includes a never-seen-before multimedia event devoted to Picasso and the Spanish masters.

A mere 20min drive will take you from Les-Baux to Saint-Remy, another remarkably preserved village of the Alpilles which was and is a great source of inspiration for many artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, who stayed as a patient at the Saint Paul de Mausolé monastery where he painted no less than 150 of his most well-known works, including the famous Self Portrait and The Starry Night.

Coming from Les-Baux, just before entering the city, you will find the archaeological site of Glanum: over a century of excavation on the site has revealed an outstanding collection of architectural antic relics. But Saint-Rémy is also in the heart of a land of gastronomy: renowned olive oils and AOC (PDO) Baux de Provence wines, as well as the famous Herbes de Provence, lavender and honey can be found in abundance every Wednesday morning at the colorful and busy weekly market in the centre. The town has indeed preserved its traditions and its personality. Festive events add flavor to the town life throughout the year: the Route des Artistes, a contemporary art fair (the next event will occur on October 7th), the bullfights and the Transhumance festival in the summer, concerts, plays and exhibitions. And where to rest from all this if not in our Bastide de la Lavande, where you can enjoy its glorious garden full of lavender and roses, olive trees, and vine-coved corners.


From there, you can reach Eygalières in less than 20min and discover the most beautiful village of the Alpilles. A visit on Friday mornings will show you how lively the village can become with its great Provençal market.


Read on about Provence:
Commendable activities in Provence Part 1 & 2
Magnificence in Provence
Local Tips
Family reunions!


Precious family time…

What a world we live in! With globalization and tough competition, job relocation is sometimes the lot of many scattered families around the globe. Believe us, we can relate! What better way to keep the family bound tight than to organise a family reunion? It could be for a family birthday, for a holiday celebration, an anniversary, or simply because it has been too long. Here is a simple, yet very effective recipe to any successful family gathering. First and foremost, you must pick a place, and not just any place: it should be in an attractive area, central or at least easy to get to, preferably with mild weather (we wouldn’t want to be stuck inside all the time, now, would we?), both extensive and comfy, with a homey feeling that makes all relax: as the host, you want to have your family close by and comfortably settled. The surroundings should offer both activities for every generation and relaxed and intimate areas for time out or reacquainting moments. And finally, what would be a family reunion without qualitative family meals? To ensure you get all that – and more! – we recommend two choices, in two different countries which, although very different, easily check all of the above.

Should your family be spread throughout Europe – lucky you! – or should you simply look for an exceptional venue, Mediterranean countries always come first to mind. There is first beautiful Italy, where we found right next to Rome, its capital, the perfect Villa for your family retreat. And though we are of course accustomed to organizing parties and events, it is always with a bit of surprise – and a warm feeling of pride – that we read the wonderful reviews our guests leave us after some time spent in our wonderful properties. Villa Vesta was praised numerous times by its visitors, and here is how they describe it in their own words:
“absolutely beautiful”, “has to be seen and experienced!”, “a beautiful location and a wonderful trip managed end to end exceptionally well”, “we look forward to our next trip”, “We loved the location, the peacefulness, how well equipped it was and the pool was wonderful to swim in after a long day in Rome. We would highly recommend this place to anyone!”

Need we say more? The area around Villa Vesta offers of course beautiful Rome, always a good idea no matter what time of the year, Tivoli and the marvellous gardens of Villa d’Este and Villa Hadriana, but also Castelli Romani, a natural volcanic park with amazing scenery, pretty Ariccia and its Palazzo Chigi (barely a 20min ride), Frascati with its flourishing vineyards and enotecas, Castle San Castello in Sora, and of course Grottaferrata, built around the Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata, founded in 1004, and summer home of the Popes. But the Villa will certainly captivate you and your loved ones, as everything there is designed to make you want to stay.

France would be more convenient for you? Fear not, the French Provence welcomes you at the Bastide de la Félicité. Located in one of the most interesting parts of Provence to visit, anyone who visits La Félicité will nevertheless want to spend a lot of time there, as our happy guests sum it up themselves:
“Paradise”, “Essence of Provence in total luxury”, “Fantastic property, bedrooms, grounds, pool, playground and tennis court”, “sumptuous property”, “the staff was so very helpful, friendly and accommodating”, the long list of praise matches the extensive attention to every single detail inside and outside the house.

But you will want of course to discover the charms Saint-Remy, Avignon (a 30min drive) with the Popes Palace, its city center which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and the Festival d’Avignon, l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a wonderful site famous for its many antique shops and Sundays antique markets, Eygalières, only 15min away and probably the most beautiful village in the Alpilles, Arles, home to the Rencontres de la Photographie, and finally Les Baux de Provence and the Carrières de Lumières, a high technology multimedia performance in the ancient and giant caves that were quarried to build the town.

In Italy or in France, we will of course take care of your transfers, itineraries, visits, wine tastings, or any activity you would feel like trying. Call your loved ones, set a date, and reunite in style!


Celebrating the start of the cold season in style!

Ah, transitioning into autumn… The ups (putting on your winter coat), the downs (putting away your swimsuits) … Going back to school is always an opportunity to reflect on a busy summer, to make good resolutions … and to prepare for your next holidays! All Saints’ Day is almost here, and let’s not mention Christmas… To give you a little taste of what the colder seasons are all about, we have chosen several destinations, already available for booking throughout Fall & Winter!


We first visited the south of Bavaria (a DRASTIC change after Tuscany!), an hour from the Austrian border, in the region of Traunstein. I can hear you already: Bavaria? During the fall? No, “Oktoberfest” should not be your sole motivation, Traunstein has a few aces up her sleeves!
A discreet destination just a half hour from Salzburg, Austria, Traustein has it all for a mountain holiday – picturesque wooden cabins, sunny peaks, and of course alpine skiing – and it is a very pleasant region as well during the Indian summer, especially if you’re staying in our magnificent chalet… Once settled, you can enjoy the wonderful space our chalet has to offer, take a dive in the swimming pond, or even relax in the sauna!

Our chalet in Traunstein

Fancy a visit? Discover the “Hofbräuhaus”, a famous Traunstein brewery: this year their Open Day is held on October 28, and you can of course visit the brewery and enjoy their beers. Make time as well for Lake Chiemsee, the largest lake in the region -also known as the “Bavarian Sea”- for a pedal boat or boat trip and a visit to the Herrenchiemsee, the magnificent castle of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who built it as a twin to the Palace of Versailles. We will of course take care of all your reservations on site!

For a ski vacation before, during or after Christmas, our chalet-style apartment in Kitzbühel in Austria or our chalet in Chamonix in the French Savoy are waiting for you: both ski resorts and trendy destinations in the Alps, Kitzbühel and Chamonix have not only the most beautiful ski slopes in the area but many of the treats of great cities as well.


With a dynamic nightlife and very up to date in terms of fashion and shopping, Kitzbühel has certainly taken advantage of its urban and natural assets. In the heart of the historic center, the beautiful shops will lure you into a window-shopping session, and the skiing area counts no less than 170 kilometers of slopes, spread over 60 runs of all levels of difficulty, including the famous Streif on the Hahnenkamm summit, considered by professional skiers and by amateurs as the most difficult, technical and prestigious downhill race in the world. It is certainly not by chance that the Ski World Championship is held there every year! Off-piste and free-ride enthusiasts are also welcome at Hanglalm Park, an extensive Snow Park that hosts competitions several times a year. You can access all of this with just a 10 min walk from “Kitzy”, our beautiful apartment.

French cousin of Kitzbühel, Chamonix is a charming little mountain town, with a historic centre, beautiful boutiques, starred restaurants and of course a great skiing area: 108 kilometres of slopes and off-piste for amateurs: we recommend at least a day in the Vallée Blanche with a guide starting with a hike at Aiguille du Midi if the conditions and your ski level allow it, it is a unique experience!

Another noticeable skiing area is Les Grands Montets, especially for the off-piste. To end on a high note, enjoy the surroundings at the “Hameau Albert 1er”, a grand and romantic 5-star hotel which shelters a splendid spa and a marvelous 2-star restaurant, or visit the Casino in the heart of the city. You can then go home to “Le Chalet”, our beautiful property just a few minutes from the city centre: breath-taking mountains views, terraces, fireplace and even a sauna, Le Chalet has it all for an unforgettable vacation.

Our chalet in Chamonix


Sound of Music landscapes, skiing, relaxation and gastronomy, choose now your favorite winter destination!


An Unforgettable Family Reunion at Villa Vesta, Magnificent Estate near Rome

Last week we received a  lovely review about one of our favorite properties, Villa Vesta, that we would like to share. Because it can sleep 20 and has plenty of space, both  inside and out, to entertain a crowd, to relax, and especially to celebrate a major life time event, we often host small weddings and family reunions, there.

Villa Vesta Event

But this past summer, we hosted a two week event which took months of planning, as we helped with planning of events for every day, gala feasts, with beautiful multi-course meals loaded with favorite local specialities, from plentiful seafood to porchetta, and of course local fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.

Villa Vesta China
Villa Vesta’s cabinets of fine dishes

We organised tours for the  family that ranged from the very young to the elderly and frail in wheel chairs,  including the Vatican and the Colosseum by wheel-chair; vineyards by car and bike, special restaurants, a trip to Sora, and so much more.  Though it kept us busy, the response that we received made it all worth while.

Villa Vesta Entrance
Entrance to Villa Vesta

Villa Vesta Sitting Area
A Comfortable Seating Area Open to the Vast Garden

Villa Vesta Stairs
Entrance Hall

Villa Vesta Estate
Looking Out Over the Garden Estate

Rocco, who planned the event for his multi-generational group moved us beyond words, with the heartfelt narration of his family history. Read on;

“We will never forget the beauty, the staff, the food, the location and support provided by Adriana and the Commendable Rentals team which provided the backdrop for our Italian family reunion. My grandfather, Ernesto, was born in Sora, Italy in 1890. He left for America in 1906 to find a “better life”. Actually, he was leaving his abusive step-father whom he would watch abuse his mother. He left his mother and sister behind, vowing to return one day to bring them to America and to get away from the abuse at home. He did create a beautiful life in Rhode Island and he did return to collect his mother 4 years later. However, his sister married and stayed in Italy. In the over 100 years, Ernesto’s family grew to over 90 Italo-Americans. While in Italy, his sister, Christina’s family grew to almost the same size. As many of the “elders” in my family were in their 80’s, Athena, my beautiful partner and I decided to create a once-in–a-lifetime reunion. We needed lots of coordination, facilities that would accommodate 2 large receptions and a responsive staff. Right from the start, it was clear that Adriana and her team would be able to help. They were amazing. The house was better than the photos, the staff quickly became part of our family, the food was wonderful and beautiful memories were created as part of this very special trip. We brought over 20 family members from Rhode Island and about 30+ of our Italian cousins showed up for 2 separate catered events, with live music, tents, sit down meal service, bar, flowers, and translators it was beautiful. We sat outside around the pool in the beautiful private grounds of the villa. The elders, met their cousins for the first time. There were hugs, tears, laughter, dancing and true connection. Adriana, thank you…what a wonderful magical place! It was truly a once in a lifetime event. About 8 weeks after the reunion, Zia Anna, the matriarch of our Italian family passed away. She was honored at both family festas and was a beautiful woman. The last time I saw her, she was smiling, with tears in her eyes and she gave me a big hug thanking us for creating this special moment bringing the family of Christina and Ernesto together for the first time”

For families who want to reunite, there is no better place!

More about Villa Vesta


Commendable Activities around Provence (Part 2)

We continue our list of Commendable Activities around Provence, that was initially prepared as personal suggestions for close friends visiting us at Chez Vous in Uzès. We happily share our recommendations for all who will one day visit Provence or will travel to Provence again. There are so many things to see and do in Provence, that one trip certainly cannot capture it all. We continue to find new places, events, and changes in this fascinating region, and will continue to share these discoveries with you.

Here’s the link to Part 1 in case you missed it!

Avignon Piazza
Avignon Piazza from top of the Papal Palace

AVIGNON

Less than an hour from Uzès is the prominent city, Avignon, home of the Popes for 68 years in the 14th century. No visit to Provence is possible without a visit to Avignon, a special provençal town steeped in history. The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, once home to the Popes, which left the impressive Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace). Another iconic site is the Pont Saint-Bénézet, or Pont d’Avignon, a seemingly unfinished (rather, destroyed) bridge across the Rhône river.

Travel Tip: Two minutes from the Palais des Papes is the notable Michelin guide restaurant of Hôtel Mirande, with a beautiful courtyard area and marvelous dining.

Travel Tip 2: Just across the river from Avignon, is the fascinating town Villeneuve-les-Avignon. A medieval castle, which can be seen from Avignon, the Saint-André Fort occupies a strategic position at the top of Mount Andaon, above Villeneuve-les-Avignon, with its own panoramic view of Avignon. The castle is open to visitors.

Side Trip: ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE

About 30km east of Avignon, L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue is famous for its many antique shops and hosts antique markets most Sundays. It has many waterside cafés and restaurants, all within walking distance of each other. Its many attractive water wheels throughout the town are still in working order.

Isle sur la Sorgue

Chateau de Beaucastel
Photo Credit: Chateau de Beaucastel

Side Trip:
CHATEAUNEUF-du-PAPE

18km north of Avignon, Chãteauneuf-du-Pape is a village and one of the most renowned AOC’s (appellation d’origine contrôlée) in the Rhône wine region. Mentioned in our recent recommendations of Provence Wineries, Chateau de Beaucastel at Châteauneuf-du-Pape is well worth a visit, with intriguing history tied closely to the papal presence in Avignon. Visits to Château de Beaucastel are by appointment only.


St. Remy Glanum mausoleum
Glanum mausoleum

ST. RÉMY-DE-PROVENCE

South of Avignon is a charming village with countless fine restaurants from casual to elegant, great boutiques, cafes, and markets, St. Rémy-de-Provence is a historic town steeped in local Provençal traditions. With narrow, cobbled streets, cooling fountains and shady squares, surrounded by magnificent landscapes, St. Remy is an artist’s haven, with one of the most notable painters, Vincent van Gogh, creating many of his famous paintings while institutionalized in St. Remy.

Travel Tip: This historic village is also built on one of the oldest archaeological sites in Europe. Amongst other treasures, you will find the remains of the “Comptoir de Glanum” just outside the center of Saint-Rèmy, an ancient city founded in the 3rd century BC and then passed into Roman hands under Julius Caesar. It fell along with the downfall of the Roman Empire, and was eventually abandoned for centuries. Excavations began in the 1920’s, preserving the ancient monuments that lay below.


Les Baux Castle
Les Baux Castle

LES BAUX-DE-PROVENCE

Just 10km south from St. Rémy is the Medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence, the legendary home of the Lords of Baux, who constructed their medieval castle on a site that dominates the area. Walking through the town’s narrow cobblestone streets will lead you up to the Chateau-Fortress, a large rocky space with ruins of the former castle, reproductions of ancient weapons of war, and a magnificent view of the countryside.

Travel Tip: Find yourself floating in art at the #1 ranked thing to do in Les Baux, at the Carrières de Lumières, a high technology multimedia performance in the ancient and giant caves that were quarried to build the town. The current exhibit features Bosch, Brueghel and Arcimboldo, with past shows sometimes recurring as special events: Klimt and Vienna, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Chagall.. We highly recommend a visit! Note: The quarry remains very cool even in warmer outdoor weather, so bring a sweater.

Immerse yourself at the Carrières de Lumières – view this clip from our summer visit. Until next time..


Commendable Activities around Provence (Part 1)

As part-time residents in one of the most beautiful towns in the South of France, and with many years’ experience in leading friends and visitors on international adventures, we love to share with others all the things we have experienced and appreciate about our travels. There are so many choices of things to see and do when planning a trip to Provence! We recently compiled a list of recommended activities for close friends that were coming to visit, and thought it was a great list to share with those who may one day visit the region.Please enjoy these commendable activities around Provence from the base of our home, Chez Vous in Uzès.

*We’ve decided to split this post into multiple posts, starting from Uzès and moving outwards. Enjoy!

Uzès Markets 

The Uzès outdoor market is famed all over France. The larger and more diverse Provencal market is every Saturday morning, and sprawls throughout the town from the Place aux Herbes (Uzès’ main square), through alleys and neighboring streets. Don’t miss it for the best of French local produce, homemade jams, charcuterie, local tapenades, spices, cheeses, as well as a variety of goods, clothing, soaps, housewares, and much more. On Wednesdays, the market is more focused on produce and regional foods, with an array of colorful and fragrant fresh flowers. There is also a Sunday antique market which is exceptional.

Tip: The town tends to be crowded on market days, so allow extra time if you are driving out of the town on those days. For those staying at Chez Vous, it is a few minutes walk, which is great for buying fresh groceries or dropping off the treasures you’ll find.

Duchy of Uzes

Duchy of Uzès 

In the center of Uzès is one of the best preserved buildings in the town center, with much history attached spanning from the Feudal days. With traces left of various periods in which the castle was built, the Middle-Ages, Renaissance, 17th century, and modern times can be seen in the architecture. The family of the current Duke of Uzès has owned this impressive property for a thousand years, and parts of it can be visited with a guide, including the Tower, where you will have magnificent views over Uzès and the countryside.

Tip: Estimate half an hour to an hour for the whole tour, with time to take photos. Every year in July, there is a music festival in Uzès, with some of the concerts held at night in the courtyard of the Duchy.

Hiking in the Valley of the Eure

A cool respite for warmer days, head down into the valley from Uzès town center, for a splendid hike among shaded trails and along the river. The river takes you to the source of drinking water in Uzès, as well as the spring once used by ancient Romans to deliver water to Nîmes via the Pont du Gard aqueduct. An incredible hike, you will come across the remnants of the Roman aqueduct, abandoned buildings, and enjoy the pleasant natural surroundings with many wildlife throughout.

Tip: Estimate an hour for the circuit. There are many trails you can hike through the park and valley

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard

An obvious follow-up to the Valley of the Eure, and one of the most visited monuments in France, is the Pont du Gard, 15 minutes from Uzès by car. A must-see, the Pont du Gard is the famed intact portion of a 2000 year old Roman aqueduct that once brought water from Uzès to the city of Nîmes, a distance of over 50 kilometers and over the River Gard. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and displays great genius by the ancient Romans.

Tip: Enhance your visit to this grand site by cycling through the countryside or renting a kayak or canoe for an exciting trip down the river!

St. Siffret

St. Siffret is a tiny and charming hill-side hamlet a few kilometres from Uzès. Many of the homes have been beautifully preserved, and carefully restored. There are a few small shops, a cafe, a bar, and a restaurant. It is a pleasure to stroll its historic streets and walk to its neighbouring villages. 10-15 minutes from Uzès by car.

St. Quentin La Poterie

As can be derived from its name, St. Quentin La Poterie has a heritage of pottery and craftsmen. With narrow streets and colorful Provencal homes and medieval doors, the village also has several workshops and stores catered to its crafts. 10-15 minutes northeast from Uzès by car.

To be continued..

Uzès, one of the most beautiful towns in Provence

 


Local Tips: 5 Recommended Provence Wineries

PROVENCE

Welcome to the largest wine-making area of France! Established 2,600 years ago by the Phoenicians, the vines of the area are an added  bonus to travel enjoyment. They incentivise a drive on the shores of Cassis, in the foothills of the Alpilles, on the slopes of the Sainte-Baume, and in the sands of the Camargue…. Get ready to enjoy: Côtes-de-Provence, Côtes-de-Provence Sainte-Victoire, Coteaux d’Aix En Provence, Palette, Baux-de-Provence, Cassis, IGP Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpilles

In rosé, it goes without saying that Provence is a star, but for its reds and whites excellence has been achieved and is on the rise. At the heart of these “terroirs” ( meaning literally from the soil of the land), independent winegrowers and cooperatives encourage epicureans to taste their wines, discover their trails and their charming chateaux and cellars and their local products. They also propose for your pleasure, jazz concerts, or a film in the heart of the vines, and often even an exhibition of contemporary art.  In short, do take advantage of an abundant offer of cultural pleasures, beyond the wine… while journeying the territory and inhaling the air of Provence the sea and the “garrigue”. A true experience, unique and exclusive to repeat again and again.

What follows is a very personal list of vineyards as the variety of wines in this region is simply overwhelming. These are producers whose wines we like and whose properties we like. We have not gone into detail about all of their wines, as that is the joy of your wine tourism.


Photo credit: Château de Beaucastel

CHATEAUNEUF-du-PAPE

* Château de Beaucastel
This is arguably one of the two best Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines (the other being “Le Vieux Telegraphe”). It lies between Orange and Avignon.

  • In 1321, under the reign of Pope Jean XXII, four barrels were brought from the papal cellar to be filled with wine in Châteauneuf. Then, the Popes planted new vines and the legend of the papal wine began. We find the first evidence of Château de Beaucastel as it exists today in the sixteenth century. In 1549, Pierre de Beaucastel bought a « barn with a plot of land extending to “52 saumées at Coudoulet”. The manor house will be built then with the arms of Beaucastel sculpted on a stone wall of the drawing room.
  • In 1687, Pierre de Beaucastel was appointed « Capitaine de la ville de Courthezon » by Louis XIV, in recognition of his conversion to Catholicism. Louis XIV’s letter, also said by Colbert, is still visible at the Château.
  • The property is now owned by the Perrin Family who also own many vineyards through the Rhone Valley and are recognised as highly successful producers down to their their “la Vieille Ferme” wines, red, white and rosé, as daily drinking wines in the €5-€8 price range.
  • Château de Beaucastel is in the €55-€65 range.  

VISIT
Visits of Château de Beaucastel are by appointment only. Contact by e-mail to make an appointment.

CONTACT
Famille Perrin | Château de Beaucastel | Chemin de Beaucastel
84350 Courthezon
Tél. : +33 (0) 4 90 70 41 00
Fax : +33 (0) 4 90 70 41 19
E-mail:
contact@beaucastel.com
Site: http://www.beaucastel.com/en/

There are “Famille Perrin” shops in both Avignon and Aix.


BEAUME de VENISE

* Domaine de Durban
Some 20/25 minutes east of Châteauneuf du Pape is the small appellation, “Beaume de Venise”, that produces re Côtes de Rhone wines, and the lovely sweet white wines, “Muscat de Beaumes de Venise”.

  • Nearly two thousand years ago, Pliny the Elder wrote in his Natural History:
    “The Muscat grape has been grown for a long time in Beaumes and its wine is remarkable”
  • In 1248, St. Louis took supplies of it with him on his 7th Crusade, and during the early 14th century, at the time of the reign of Pope Clement V, production was increased by 70 hectares to cater for the demand from the Popes’ Palace in Avignon. So there is considerable experience behind these wines that are priced at a fraction of Bordeaux’ famous Sauternes.
  • The Domaine de Durban is a small producer located on a hillside plateau overlooking the village of Beaumes-of-Venice, and was founded in 1159. The Domaine dominates the vineyard and offers an impressive panorama.
  • Since the Sixties, the Leydier family has nurtured and developed the production of the now internationally-renowned wines.

VISIT
As they are a small producer, it’s a good idea to call ahead to check if a visit is convenient. As they are tucked away on a hill, GPS may not be accurate.

There is a map on how to reach the vineyard on their website 

CONTACT
Leydier et Fils
Domaine de Durban,
84190 Beaumes-de-Venise
Tél. : 04 90 62 94 26
Fax : 04 90 65 01 85
Mail : contact@domainedurban.com

For further information, please fill out their contact form by clicking here.


CASSIS

* Domaine de Bagnol

Cassis, on the coast east of Marseille, deserves a visit in any circumstance. With a picturesque little port, it is within the famous “Les Calanques”, the glorious white cliffs and coves that stretch to Marseille.

Of equal interest are the lovely white wines of Cassis. The town can be very crowded in summer and cars are not permitted into the centre, so visitors are required to park and be bussed in.

However, access by car is still possible to the Domaine de Bagnol, which is just outside the centre of town.

  • The wine in Cassis is really a very long story! Archaeological excavations have dated its presence since Roman times and the texts of March 16, 1199 mentions vines that prove that wines was being produced in the Middle Ages.
  • The Domaine du Bagnol, which takes its name from the district where it is located, is one of the oldest in the country.
  • The modern history of the Domaine begins in 1997, when Jean-louis Genovesi bought it.
  • Since 2003, Sebastien his son, after specialized studies, has taken it over.
  • Today, the “Marquis de Fesques” cuvée is the spearhead. The motto of the Estate is to work in the most natural and organic way possible.

CONTACT
Domaine du Bagnol
12, avenue de Provence – 13260 Cassis
lebagnol@orange.fr
Tèl. : 04 42 01 78 05
Site : www.domainedubagnol.fr

 

Other excellent Cassis producers:

* Domaine du Paternel

* Clos Sainte Magdeleine


Photo credit: Château du Seuil

COTEAUX d’AIX-en-PROVENCE

* Château de Seuil
On the route of the Luberon, north of Aix-enProvence, the Château du Seuil is one of the most original architectural projects of the 13th-17th centuries in Aix-en-Provence.

  • Its French garden is classified on the French Supplementary Historic Monument List. It consists of a 55 hectare vineyard on the sunny slopes of the Trévaresse mountain chain, in the centre of the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence designation. The estate has 280 hectares of woods which provide a natural setting for you to discover. A full range of red, white and rosé available.

VISIT
The wine-tasting cellar, open 7 days a week; from Monday to Friday – 9:00-12:30 and 2:00-6:00, and Saturday, Sunday and public holidays – 10:00-1:00 and 2:30-7:00.

CONTACT
4690 Route du Seuil, Puyricard, 13540 Aix-en-Provence
Tel: 04 42 92 15 99
www.chateauduseuil.fr/en/


ST.REMY

* Château Estoublon
This property, in the heart of Provence, up against the southern slopes of the Alpilles, carries with it the heritage and even some vestiges of a Roman patrimony. Halfway between Arles and Avignon, the estate of Estoublon and its 18th century castle is nestled in the sumptuous landscape that has often inspired painters and writers. The land of the Alpilles has offered Vincent Van Gogh its most beautiful models.

  • In this privileged environment, Château d’Estoublon has been passionately perpetuating since 1731 the tradition of olive oils and exquisite wines.
  • Château d’Estoublon was bought in 1999 by the Schneider family from Switzerland who have renovated everything with exquisite taste. The estate is managed by Valérie, daughter of Ernest Schneider, and her husband Rémy Reboul.
  • There is a restaurant on site, the Bistro Mogador, and a shop that sells the estate’s wines and olive oils.

VISIT
The bistro is open in June every day for lunch 7/7 and on Saturday evening. In July & August it is open every day for lunch, and from Monday to Saturday in the evenings. Closed on Sunday evening. There is a Grand Brunch every Sunday lunch and public holidays.

CONTACT
Château d’Estoublon
Route de Maussane – 13990 Fontvieille
Tél. : +33 (0)4 90 54 64 00
http://www.estoublon.com/

Cheers!

 


Escape to Cartagena, Colombia – A Tropical Adventure

Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia (also Cartagena de Indias)

A city of vibrance, beauty, history, and perfect tropical weather

Cartagena, Colombia is possibly the most attractive city in the western hemisphere, located on the northern coast of Colombia. Recently named the #2 ‘Destination on the Rise‘ in the world by Tripadvisor, you will find more than the typical coastal resort town in this historic city, whose fortress and walled city have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The preservation of its historical colonial heritage, the vibrant old town, with its cobblestone streets and bright colonial mansions, combined with the tropical climate, beaches, numerous islands, and friendly atmosphere create a charming paradise retreat.

Where to stay in Cartagena –

Old Town. Cartagena’s principal attraction is the walled city, an enclosed walking city filled with colorful colonial mansions with flourishing hanging flowers, old cathedrals, monasteries, plazas – a wonderful maze of beautiful sights and vibrant energy. There are many historic sights to see, and so much to discover by just wandering through the streets. Wandering is how the owners of Commendable Rentals found the stunning Cacrtagena Palace, a Palace-turned-Apartments with a rich history, a charming owner, and equally charming accommodations. Restaurants and shopping are plenty in Old Town. Catch the right view, and you can enjoy the blended view of the old and new, historic rooftops in the old city, a shimmering Cartagena Bay, and a skyline of newer developments.

NEW TO OUR COLLECTION – VILLA ALEXANDRA

Cartagena Celedon

Great for families, reunions, retreats – a 5 Bedroom, 5 Bath Villa in the heart of Cartagena, its Historic Old Town. This is the perfect Cartagena accommodation for those looking for the elegance and service of the best hotels, as well as the privacy of a private residence in a spacious home. With a courtyard pool, rooftop Jacuzzi, and hanging hammocks – fall into blissful relaxation. There’s even an option to add on a 36-foot boat for a trip to nearby islands.

Here are a few photos of Villa Celedon and the rejuvenating properties of this relaxing home. See more on the property page.

Upcoming events in Cartagena

NOVEMBER

Independence Day and Miss Colombia Beauty Pageant (Fiestas de Independencia) – This is a 4 day annual festival held in the beginning of November flooding the streets, beaches, rooftops, and sea. From floats, street parades, boat parades, costumes, indoor and outdoor parties, this is Cartagena’s likeness to Carnival.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY

HAY Festival – Annual celebration of literature, philosophy, film, and music with special guests often attending for discussions, book signings, and talks. Concerts are held in the piazzas.

BOOK YOUR TROPICAL ADVENTURE TODAY


Upcoming Events in Sermoneta, Italy

See more of Sermoneta

Welcome to Sermoneta.

A perfect medieval Italian village, Sermoneta is about an hour drive south of Rome, with a wealth of touring possibilities within and surrounding the city.

Sermoneta is a rare, largely unchanged hilltop village, with the fortress of the Castello Caetani (Caetani Castle) looming over its preserved beauty.  Set in the Lepino Mountain Range, stunning views overlook the vast countryside and out to the sea.

While the village itself is worth the visit, with cobblestone alleys, historical intrigue, and not to mention the serene Italian way of living, there are also plenty of events and sights to see that showcase Sermoneta’s vibrance. Here are some of the upcoming events you should plan for in 2016:

Gardens of Ninfa
Starting with the enchanting Gardens of Ninfa. The magical gardens are listed #1 things to do in the Latina region on Tripadvisor – certainly not to miss if you can catch a visiting date. These romantic gardens have been preserved around restored ruins, with a uniquely perfect climate allowing the gardens to flourish. To preserve the delicate nature of the gardens, there has historically been very limited openings to visitors. This year, more open days are available than in the past, giving visitors a chance to see one of the most beautiful gardens of Italy. Plan your trip – see all 2016 Gardens of Ninfa dates.

Love music? Several summer festivals showcase Sermoneta’s vibrance, like Maggio Sermonetano – a series of concerts and events in the streets of Sermoneta, or Festival di Chitarra “Caroso” – an international guitar festival in August.

Of course, there’s always room to celebrate wine and food! See all these exciting events below –

Sermoneta tower MAGGIO SERMONETANO (MAY SERMONETA)

Music and art fill the streets and squares of Sermoneta during Maggio Sermonetano (May Sermoneta). Enjoy free events of several musical genres, from popular music, jazz, classical to workshops, poetry, cinema, and more.
SEE MORE: MAGGIO SERMONETANO

 Sermoneta Caetani Castle

 

FESTIVAL DI PONTINO DI MUSICA

In June and July, the International Campus Foundation of Music organizes concerts of classical music, chamber music, and contemporary in the beautiful setting of Castello Caetani.
SEE MORE: PONTINO MUSIC FESTIVAL

Chitarra FESTIVAL DI CHITARRA “CAROSO”

In August, authors and performers from around the world celebrate the world of Guitar, with plenty of performances around Sermoneta.
SEE MORE: GUITAR FESTIVAL

 Wine SKYWINE FESTIVAL

A local cultural event at the end of August, the SkyWine Festival showcases the regional food and wine, as well as art, for a total cultural immersion.
SEE MORE: SKYWINE FESTIVAL

 Olives SECOLARE FIERA DI SAN MICHELE
At the end of September, experience a traditional fair exhibiting local specialties, from organic products, food stands, wine, as well as musical entertainment, shows, seminars and farm education.
SEE MORE: SAN MICHELE FAIR
 Gardens of Ninfa LIFE DRAWING AND FRESCO PAINTING CLASS
NEW! A unique opportunity to learn history, ancient techniques of life drawing or fresco painting in the Gardens of Ninfa, under the guidance of professors from the Academy of Fine Arts of Rome.
SEE MORE: ART IN SERMONETA


Of course, a holiday in Sermoneta wouldn’t be complete without an equally beautiful place to stay –
Domus Doull

Sermoneta Review

BOOK YOUR SERMONETA HOLIDAY 


Reveal Your Inner Artist on the Tuscan Coast

Get more out of your next vacation. Be inspired through painting.


Italy has long been known as a country of artistic inspiration. When visiting Italy, the combination of beautiful landscapes, historical influences, delectable cuisine, and hearty culture present the perfect setting to recharge and rediscover life. Stay at an artist’s escape in Porto Ercole, a secluded yet vibrant peninsular town on Tuscany’s Argentario coast. Here, you will truly immerse yourself in the vivid palette of Italian living.

I paint my own reality

– Frida Kahlo

There is now a fabulous opportunity for you to fulfill your dream of being an artist in Italy. Draw on Italy’s inspiration through painting on Tuscany’s coast, under the instruction of the accomplished artist and owner of L’Uliveto.

We are offering a magnificent chance to combine your Commendable Rentals stay at L’Uliveto with a specially reserved painting course that utilizes the natural beauty of the estate’s own surroundings, in addition to the vicinity’s offerings, such as the Port, historic fortresses, the pine forest, and olive groves.



MEET YOUR EXPERT:
MITA CORSINI BLAND

Primarily known for painting watercolor interiors, Mita has a dedicated background in art, with studies in Art History, Watercolors, Interior Rendering, and 5 years of running an Art Department in New York under Michael Jones. She has illustrated for several magazines and books, and completed commissions from top designers to private clients, such as New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg. 

With ties in both New York and Italy, Mita travels and teaches art with a passion. Join Mita in her fashionably restored Italian estate, and take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn from true talent with true Italian roots.



WELCOME TO PORTO ERCOLE



CONNECT WITH THE BEAUTY AND HISTORY OF PORTO ERCOLE

Set in a historic 18th century farmhouse on a magnificent olive estate, L’Uliveto is the perfect place to stay in Porto Ercole on Italy’s Argentario Coast. Mita and her husband took on the splendid restoration of her family’s historic farmhouse, while retaining remnants of its familial past, such as the original, beautifully polished terracotta floors.

Connect with Italy’s lush Tuscan countryside from the scenic patio, stroll through the extensive gardens, or enjoy outdoor living under the pergola. Or take a note from Mita’s own artistic specialty and try your hand at painting the likeness of the charming interior. 

Porto Ercole itself provides fascinating Renaissance features along with its undulating ports and pristine beaches. A long-time fashionable vacation destination to Italians, the picturesque port is yours to explore…and to PAINT!  

“ART IS NEVER FINISHED…”



Click here to reserve your spot!

or EMAIL us: info@commendablerentals.com
 READ MORE ABOUT L’ULIVETO



Made In Italy: Shopping in Rome

 

While it is a treat to shop in Rome, it is not desirable nor worth your limited time filtering through the hundreds of stores searching for the best items. As we’ve all experienced, shopping in an unfamiliar place can be exhausting.

We’re sharing with you a simple, yet unbeatable tip for finding the best shopping spots in Rome. What better way to shop like an Italian fashion expert, than shopping with an Italian fashion expert. Before you discount this as an obvious tip, who will guide you and how to snag a slot in their date book can make the greatest difference between a frustrated or fulfilling shopping experience. First, let’s talk Italian shopping..

MADE IN ITALY: These coveted labels are synonymous with high-end quality items crafted with superior artisanship. You know the names (think: Gucci, Prada, Ferrari), and some you know by celebrity debut. Italian craftmanship is often linked to trades and traditions passed down through generations. The skills adapted to create quality items are what elevate these items to luxury standard.


Shopping in Rome for the high quality latest trends can be daunting if you’re not from the area. Most shoppers will head straight to those beautiful wide window displays near the Spanish Steps. This is a great start, where you can find rows of Roman streets filled with endless shopping possibilities. And to think, this is just one neighborhood amongst many. If you’re looking to bring home a worthy bounty, and maybe a one-of-a-kind item or two, shopping smart is the key.

We like to take a savvy shopping partner with us when trying out the latest trends. When your shopping partner is a well established Italian fashion journalist, you’ll get more than a nod of approval. Journalist for L’Espresso, l’Officiel and Vogue Italia, Eleonora Attolico will no doubt heighten your experience shopping in Rome.

Meet your Expert:
Eleonora Attolico

The daughter of Count Giacomo Attolico (former Ambassador in Paris and London), a member of the Roman social-set, an established fashion expert and journalist, Eleonora offers an elevated insider’s approach to Roman life. 

Eleonora is fluent in Italian, English, French, and Spanish. 

Photo credit: Michele Acampora

Whether you’re looking for women’s, men’s, accessories, or anything you can shop for, your Grand Tour Shopping is customized to your desires. Eleonora revels in the personal experience that can be shared during your time together. She has mastered the "art of shopping" and provides an unmatched knowledge of Rome, fashion, and Italian lifestyle. Mark you calendar for a shopping date!



For more information or to reserve, email us: info@commendablerentals.com

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Discover The Tasty Side of Rome with Maureen Fant

 

There’s Italian food, and there’s Italian food. One of the best things you can do in Rome is eat like a real Roman – from buying fresh ingredients (not just a trip to the supermarket), knowing what’s in season and where and how to buy it, to cooking and of course, eating in an Italian kitchen.

That’s why we were really excited to meet Maureen Fant. Not only can you follow Maureen, a Roman local for over 35 years, to the best markets and shops for all the best ingredients from artichokes to pecorino cheese, she leads you on a fantastic journey from grocery bags to the delicious finale.

Maureen’s love of Rome began with her studies in Roman classical archeology and flourished into writing, lectures, and living the life of a Roman. With a love of Italian food, Maureen’s archaeological beginnings morphed together with an emphasis on food, making her a wonderful source of information on Roman food and Rome itself.

You won’t just be eating in any Italian kitchen; Maureen is a notable food writer, especially of Roman cuisine, with fantastic knowledge and experience, and a passion to share the story of food.

Starting with a casual walk around Rome’s dynamic markets, Maureen will offer tidbits on local produce and offerings and help you discover all you wanted to know about Roman food. 

Maureen’s love of Roman food and cooking offers a chance to really tantalize your tastebuds and learn what Roman food is all about.



In a very special,offer, we are pleased to share that a Private Food Tour with Maureen can now be reserved by guests who book with Commendable Rentals. Delight your senses, discover Rome, gain tips from an expert insider who can truly share what you never knew about Roman food. 

Casual, yet informative, Maureen is all about taking you on an inside peek of what a typical (and yet so fantastically Italian) day of preparing a genuine Roman meal with her entails. With no set menu, Maureen will guide the day based on seasonal offerings, suggestions, and special attention to your interests and discovery of new food. Get to know Rome, through food!

AND NOW EVEN BETTER..

We’d like everyone to come away from a day with Maureen with even more than tasty memories. We have a limited time offer those guests who book a Rome rental together with one of Maureen’s incredible food tours through Commendable Rentals, a FREE copy of her book as a memento!

Co-author Maureen Fant’s new book, Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way, is a must-have guide to genuine Italian sauces and the very important harmony of complementing pasta. This is a 35 euro value that you’ll not only enjoy, but can use for years to come!

Discover the tasty side of Rome with Maureen! 

Ask us about booking a tasty tour today!

 

 

Everybody loves food. Spread the joy and share this with your friends!

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