Where's best for gastro villa holiday?
Hello myself and five friends want to go to Italy, probably Tuscany, on holiday. We plan on renting a villa but are a bit overwhelmed by the whole prospect and don't know which to look into. We will have a car and most likely would want to go out in the evenings for dinner. During the day we are happy to cook for ourselves. Where would people suggest?
A further thought - the foods & wines of Italy vary quite a bit by region. Some regions serve a lot of rice, other regions serve a lot of pasta. Some regions use olive oil in their cooking, other regions use butter. Some regions serve a lot of beef, others serve a lot of seafood.
Take a look at a book like Fred Plotkin's "Italy For The Gourmet Traveler" to get a sense for what regions feature what foods. That may help you make a decision.
The food is darn good just about everywhere in Italy. Find the regional cuisine that most appeals to you and your friends.
I would also recommend looking into either the Barolo or Barbaresco zones of Piedmont. The best red wine in Italy (in my opinion), and tons of inexpensive, traditional places to stuff yourself at more than reasonable prices. The best way to experience it is to find an agrotourismo, which will usually be a winery or farm that will rent out rooms. If you like food and wine, I can't think of a better place to go to than the area around Alba.
If you want a vastly underrated, overlooked, and non-touristy area look for an agrotourismo near the Collio region in Friuli-Venezia Guilia, some of the best white wines in the world, and an amazing cuisine to match, that few people outside of Italy know about.
Yes, the Langhe region of the Piemonte (Alba, Barolo, Bra, La Morra, Nieve, etc.) is excellent from a food & wine perspective. You could argue that it is among the very best in Europe.
However, it does get hot & humid there in the summer. I would go in either the spring, early summer or fall.
The good news is there a very few bad choices. The Chianti Classico region (between Florence & Siena) certainly gets the most recognition and publicity, but I would consider either the area around Lucca or southern Tuscany (Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano) as well.
Lucca is wonderful & often overlooked town. You are not far from the coast and the Serchio river valley north of Lucca has some hilltowns well worth visiting. Southern Tuscany has the wine towns of Montalcino & Montepulciano and you are not far from Lake Trasimeno and northern Umbria.
If you do "Search this board" searches for these areas & towns, you will find numerous food & dining recommendations here for you to review.