If you treasure relaxation and plan your Italian holidays with an eye toward recharging your batteries, there's probably no better place for you to wind up than Bagni di Lucca, where the warm and healing sulphate-bicarbonate-calcium waters bubbling from the rocky hillsides have been used for therapeutic cures since ancient times.
Magnolia is one of several apartments inside a well-located villa overlooking the slopes of the Lima River that meanders between two sides of the historic center of Ponte a Serraglio. A short walk down the street is the famous spa of Jean Varraud. Directly below the villa is the little tempio of the Russian Prince Nicolaj Demidoff, who came to cure his gout and stayed to build a healing center for the poor which is now called Villagio Globale, where you can, for a small fee, bathe in the original marble "vasche" installed by Demidoff by the glow of candlelight--highly recommended.
The landscape around the villa is a painterly and dramatic blend of stone houses, verdant forest and rugged hilltops. The area has attracted creative and powerful people for ages; Byron, Shelley and Montale, Dumas, Heine, Lamartine and Ouida, the great Paganini and Napoleon, with his sister Paolina have all dipped their toes in Bagni di Lucca waters.
Magnolia is a two bedroom apartment on the ground floor of Villa Talenti. There is a large room that combines the functions of kitchen, dining room and living room.
The kitchen is well-equipped with a 5 burner gas stove, oven and dishwasher. There are lots of pots and pans, so if you're inclined to cook, you'll find all you need except for the food (like many self-catering rentals, there is little in the way of staples like salt, pepper, and olive oil, which you should be prepared to bring with you or buy in a local supermarket).
The living area is very comfortable indeed. You can stretch out on the couch or sit in a comfortable easy chair and watch the big screen television.
The free wifi performed flawlessly and briskly.
A wood stove (and a supply of wood thoughtfully provided) took the chill off a late October evening and provided a romantic glow to the living area.
What I Really Liked About Magnolia
I've stayed at many vacation rentals in Italy and elsewhere, and have found that there are some things that owners fail to see. Some rooms are too Spartan, for example, reminding one of a prison cell, and others are too cluttered, often with the owner's personal stuff. Magnolia, in my opinion, offers the perfect middle, with art and decoration that enhances the experience without making you feel you are a guest in Aunt Millie's house.
There's also a desk. I don't know how many places I've stayed that didn't have one.
And let me also point out the lighting. I'm a photographer; I'm very sensitive to light. Strong overhead light, especially from a florescent source, makes people look ugly and makes me feel unwelcome. Magnolia has dimmable wall sconces that provide a soft and romantic light I really like.
Bottom line: We had a wonderful two-night stay at Villa Talenti. If you like natural beauty and would like to relax in a spa for your health or your beauty, you can't go wrong here.
For a quick peak inside the apartment see the short video below. For the landscape around the villa, click on the picture above for a slide show, then click through each picture.
Website and Information
Related: Recommended Self Catering in Italy.
Disclaimer: lodging was provided by Magnolia to journalists for the purposes of review.