Inexpensive luxury Tuscan villas: is it even possible?

Renting upscale Tuscan villas is usually associated with high rental fees. As a rule of thumb, it is usually true, as most luxury properties in Tuscany go many extra miles to make your experience unforgettable. Nonetheless, I found a fantastic exception to this rule. It is a special villa located in the Lucca area, specifically in Bagni di Lucca, a delicious thermal spa town already known throughout the centuries by famous British writers. The name of the villa is San Francesco.

The story of this villa is especially interesting. It used to be the smaller detached section of a larger villa in the delicious hamlet Bagno alla Villa. It was purchased by Evangeline Whipple after tthe death of her second husband. Mrs. Whipple had already been left a very rich widow from her first marriage. Raised in the Boston, Massachusetts area, she arrived in Italy for a visit to Bagni di Lucca, she fell in love with the town and decided to acquire a property here. A close friend of Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, sister of former United States president Cleveland, she started living in the property with her and another friend of theirs until the Spanish flu killed them both, living Evangeline alone for the third time. She was a very loved philanthropist, and wrote a novel about her summers at her Tuscan home. During her stay she restored what would become villa San Francesco, and although she died in London she wished to be buried besides her friends in Bagni di Lucca.

The owners of the villa have renovated it in recent years to bring it to high standards of comfort in line with the other Tuscan villas of the area. The 19th century looks of Villa San Francesco were kept in every detail, from architectural traits to all its furnishings. The contrast between the fasts of the past and the comforts of the present is striking, yet unobtrusive. Fine upholstery and fabrics, embroidered centerpieces and precious carpets, intarsia woodworks, busts, and bronzes tell a centuries-old story in every corner of the house. Even the china and tableware is in style. The result is a harmonious melange between the Tuscan and the British culture of the 1800’s, producing an unforgettably romantic stay.

The outdoors continue the flair of the indoors. The large garden overlooks the valley around Bagni di Lucca, shading the perfectly groomed lawn with centenary firs and tall magnolia trees. When all the flowers are in full blossom the sight is nothing short of heaven. White wrought iron chairs rest around their table in the most delicious and panoramic setting of the garden. From this side of the property the view is excellent. On the same side the large infinity pool matches the color of the sky without intruding, actually exalting, the harmonious roundness of this Tuscan villa. From within the waters your eyes will gaze only at the sky and over the densely forested hills in the Lucca area.

Among the many services, you may request the very useful first shopping and a sampling of the gourmet products of Garfagnana, absolutely delicious.

It seems almost impossible that such a splendid Tuscan property rental may be priced at maximum 3500 Euros per week, with the high season at only 3200 Euros weekly.

A last note about Bagni di Lucca. This charming little town is famous for its thermal spa treatments, which are accessible from villa San Francesco via an inspiring five minutes walk in nature. If you decide to stay at the villa, make sure you dedicate at least half a day to these relaxing thermal treatments.

Matt Kachinski runs Thrifty Tuscany.

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