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All this and a pizza oven too! – Villa di Petroio

Mar 06, 2016 Daily Irish Mail
Villa di Petroio - Dining at dusk...perfect for sharing the days experiences.

Previous jaunts have taken us to Rome and to the small town of Monopoli, near Bari, while a few years ago we attended a wedding on Lake Garda, which was truly unforgettable. Why are we attracted to Italy? First of all, it’s very relaxed; secondly, the scenery is breath-taking; and finally, there’s so much good food and wine to be had. On our latest trip we went to (Tuscany but instead of flying to Pisa we jetted into Bologna. At the airport, my brother Henry and I both hired cars for our own families, which we then drove in convoy across the Tuscan border to our destination, Rufina, which was about an hour away. This was our first experience of Tuscany and we were bowled over. It’s just as you see in all those Renaissance paintings — cypress trees and neat vineyards. The land- scape also reminded me slightly of Asia — less jungly, obviously, but full of lush, green hills. Our holiday home, La Villa Di Petroio, was an old hunting lodge, a huge place that could accommodate up to 16 people, although next door there was an even bigger house for 20 people. It was very swanky and we had a swimming pool and tennis courts.

A pool was important for the children in our group as we weren’t near the sea. Between us, Henry and I have five children, so water plays an important part in chilling out and keeping everybody happy. Some people hate self-catering holidays because it means they don’t get a break from cooking, but as we earn our living from foo d — as a baker and a chef— and fronting Channel 4’s Fabulous Baker Brothers, this doesn’t bother us at all. In fact, we love it. Everybody took a turn at cooking. There was no need to organise a rota — it was more a case of fighting each other for a chance to do it because the house had a wood-fired oven. I would say ‘I’m using it!’ and Henry would shout back: ‘No, I want to use it!’ Practically the first thing we did when we arrived was to light the oven and bake some bread. Using a pizza oven may seem a little daunting to many people, but we’re used to them — Henry and I both have one at home. We also had great fi.in visit- ing the little towns in the area and going to markets to buy some of the gorgeous local produce. The people in Tuscany were so nice and generous perhaps because we have small children we were welcomed everywhere....


GETTING THERE TuscanyNow&More offers seven nights at La Villa Di Petroio from €402pp based on 16 people sharing €322pp for 12 sharing] on a self-catering basis in April or early May. The price increases afterthat. Rental is Saturday to Saturday. Tuscanmowandmore.com has a range of properties across the region and the rest of Italyand can provide private chefs, excursions and other services. Ryanair.ie has Saturday flights to Bologna.