Five Best Villas for a no-car holiday
There is something particularly relaxing about not having to get in a car every day. We have a number of villas that are close to villages or in towns - you can find them here: Villas close to a village.
But sometimes you might want to go even further and not use a car at all. With this in mind, here is a selection of homes that clients of ours have arrived at by train - sometimes just from the airport, other times coming the whole way from the UK by train. (We discuss how to do this here: Green ways to Travel across Europe).
This little cottage is on the southernmost tip of Liguria, just before the long beaches of Versilia start and also close to the wonderful walking territory of the Cinque Terre. It can easily be reached by train and bus from Pisa Airport by taking the train to Sarzana, then the bus to Montemarcello. The walk to the cottage is 550 metres - the owners can help with luggage when you arrive, after which you can easily get around on foot, by bus and even by boat.
The nearby port of Bocca di Magra has boat trips around the head and then north to Lerici, Tellaro and even night time trips to PortoVenere, on the Cinque Terre. You can also hire boats here and explore the little coves of the rocky coast.
This wonderful and rather magical old building was once built as a hunting lodge for an important Florentine family. Now it is available for rent and still carries much of its old magic - I always imagine there must be secret doors in this old villa, with hidden treasure maps or manuscripts.
It is close to the town of Rignano sull'Arno, south of Florence in the Valdarno - and the town has a railway station. A path leads from the villa into the town - it's tricky to find so it's best if we arrange for somebody to pick you and your luggage up on arrival - but once you know it, the walk into town from the villa is brief, and you will find restaurants and shops there.
To get to the station of Rignano sull'Arno you would start from Florence station, or from Rome - so whether arriving by air or by train getting there is not complicated.
The apartment itself is spectacular and very special, with a view of Brunelleschi's famous Duomo from its spacious living room, as well as from the terrace next to the kitchen. It also has air-conditioning throughout to keep you cool in the summer and a wonderful owner who will happily give you a starter tour of the city as a welcome gift, and can do longer paid tours on request.
Many people stay in Piero's place for a few days or a week at the beginning of their holiday then hire a car from Florence airport (that you can get to via shuttle) and go to stay in a villa in the countryside for a following week.
Castelonchio is a beautiful villa over-looking Lake Trasimeno, with a private pool and views that I love through the owners' olive grove down to the Lake. There is a rail station in the nearby town of Tuoro that can be reached from Florence or from Rome. The distance to the house is a little too long to walk with luggage but a taxi will solve that. Once you've arrived the nearby town of Tuoro is within walking distance - the closest restaurant is about a 20 minute walk, while the centre of town, with a musuem about Hannibal's famous battle against the Romans, is a 25 minute walk.
From the Tuoro you can reach Passignano sul Trasimeno and from here there are boats across the lake, and to visit the islands too.
Maison de Timolé is in Provence, about 35 kms away from the TGV station in Avignon, making it a very easy villa to get to by train from London. During the summer there is a direct train service from St.Pancras to Avignon which will get you to Avignon by lunch time. From Avignon you can get a bus to Coustellet, the LER 22 will get you there in about an hour.
My suggestion would be that you then hire bikes - or e-bikes - in Coustellet. There are several bike hire shops, like electric move or Absolut Bike Provence and the whole of the Luberon has cycling opportunities galore, from the flat, converted rail track on the valley floor to tiny winding roads up to magical villages - like Oppedé le Vieux.
So this last suggestion is more of a bike villa than just a no-car - but if you did simply wish to not use a car, Cabrieres d'Avignon, the village where Maison de Timolé is based, does have a restaurant (sometimes two), a butcher, a grocer and a patisserie - so everything you need for a good holiday. Oh - and a winemaker a short walk away too.
Cycling along the cycle-way in the Luberon valley