Golfing and Gardening in France and Italy

Golfers and garden aficionados, for example, in addition to art, music and culinary buffs, can position themselves in Italian and French villas that offer playgrounds galore for such targeted interests.

“Push that villa adventure into an over-the-top experience by securing a holiday house in proximity to what appeals to you,” suggests Janis Gordon, Vice President Sales and Marketing for destination specialist Wimco, the Newport, RI, and London-based luxury villa and hotel reservations company.

Gordon says that Wimco reservationists conduct such concierge services as booking tee times at the best courses nearest a host villa. One web resource lists 440 golf courses in France and 126 in Italy, most of which Wimco can easily access for its clients.

For golfers setting sites on Italy, Wimco says Tuscany’s undulating landscape makes it a prime golfing destination, with, among others, the Castelfalfi Golf Club, a premier 18-hole course just 59 km from Florence. This course is situated in a medieval hamlet deep in the Tuscany countryside which once belonged to the Medici family. The golf season extends from February to November.

Wimco’s award-winning web site (key in country/region) displays such villas in and around Florence as:

Villa Bobolino, 8 minutes from Piazza della Signoria in Florence with 5 bedrooms at $5900 per week year round for the villa; currently available from May 29 to Sept. 11. La Capinera, in the village of Montopoli, with swimming pool and two bedrooms in what was once an old hayloft, only 10kms from a highway connecting Pisa and Florence; weekly rate is $1990 in mid-July and August, $1700 in June and September. Casa Tara is a typical Tuscan farmhouse in Montespertoli, 35 minutes from Florence or Siena, with 8 bedrooms, swimming pool and astro turf tennis court; weekly rate is $11,400 in mid-July and August, $9880 in June and September.

For golfers setting sites on France, consider, says Wimco, golf courses such as the Severiano Ballesteros-designed, 18-hole Golf de Pont-Royal near Aix en Provence, or the 9+9 course in Les Baux de Provence.

Nearby villas represented by Wimco include:

Sur le Golf is a 5 bedroom, 5 bath villa on a hill within the exclusive grounds of the Pont-Royal Golf Club. Guests have discounted access to golf, and free access to swimming, water sports, tennis, archery, hiking and children's activities; weekly rate is $7,623 in the spring (except Easter week) and fall and $10,101 in the months of June/July/August.

In Les Baux, Le Micocoulier is a 3 bedroom, 3 bath villa with a pool situated in the village of Paradou, 2 kms from the golf course. Weekly rate is $6,434 in July/Aug and $5273 in June and September. Le Petit Mas de L’Aqueduc is also a 3 bedroom villa located in a peaceful stand of pine trees, 8 kms from the Les Baux golf course. Weekly rate is the same as Le Micocoulier.

For garden buffs in Italy, Wimco suggests the Lucca region, teeming with historic villas sporting spectacular gardens and grounds, many of which are open to the public. The crown jewel of a Luccan garden itinerary is Villa Pecci-Blunt at Marlia that offers guided tours. Its piece de resistance is an outdoor theater that was constructed in 1642, frequented by Paganini. Framed by ancient yews, it saw the first Italian production of Racine’s Phaedra. Other noteworthy gardens are Giardino Garzoni at Collodi, Villa Mansi at Segromigno Monte, Villa Torrigiani at Camigliano, all maintained, according to a gardening expert, “in accordance with strict Tuscan canons of symmetry and geometry, which also call for continuity with the surrounding countryside.”

Nearby villas represented by Wimco include:

Il Mezzanino, a 3-bedroom apartment in Lucca’s medieval center, just 50 meters from the Guinigi Tower; weekly rental is $1600 year round.

Il Leccio, 6 bedrooms with pool on a hill north of Lucca, at $6380 in mid-July and August and $4250 in June and September. This is one of several villas that Wimco represents on the Mansi-Bernardini estate in Segromigno in Monte that can offer one large party 24 bedrooms. The estate dates to the 16th century when rich silk merchants invested in lands and subsequently, thanks to Count Gederico Bernardini in the 19th century, in vineyards and olive groves (today numbering 5000 trees).

For garden buffs in France, Wimco recommends such parks and gardens along the French Riviera as Jardin Exotique in Eze with over 400 succulent plants and cacti surrounding castle ruins and sweeping views of the coast, and the Renoir Estate and Gardens in Cagnes sur Mer, with century-old olive and orange trees, flower beds and roses around an 1848 farmhouse. Here is Reonir’s last sculpture, Vénus Victrix. Garden and art lovers flock to St. Jean Cap Ferrat to view the collections of the compulsive, flamboyant Beatrice de Rothschild at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. In Monaco, where the sophistication and glamour of the principality need no introduction, the public gardens alone comprise 20% of the principality.

AZR 259, a 3 bedroom quiet family home in the residential hills above Cap d’Ail; weekly rental is $4820 all summer.

AZR 206, a 5 bedroom hillside villa in Eze, accessed by funicular, has breathtaking views; weekly rental is $25,010 all summer.

AZR 219 in St. Jean Cap Ferrat is a 6 bedroom superb villa located near the Ephrussi de Rothschild gardens and villa. Weekly rental is $14,175 all summer.

Wimco’s award-winning website,, frequently lists additional villas on its “Specials Page” that offer offers and discounts.

For information and reservations please contact Wimco (US) toll free 1/800/932-3222; email; or log on to the website Or contact Wimco International (UK and Europe) toll free 0800 838 318; email; or log on to the website

For 20 years Wimco has been the exclusive representative of Sibarth Villas in St. Barthelemy, an island famous for luxury rental villas and chic lifestyle. Wimco/Sibarth has established credentials as a licensed, FNAIM agency certified to conduct real estate rentals in France and is affiliated through Sibarth with Sotheby’s International. Wimco has over 1,000 luxury villas, distinctive hotels and resorts internationally in such select areas as Italy’s Umbria region, France’s Provence and St. Tropez. Wimco recently opened a London office, known as Wimco International, to serve the European market.

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