Famous art-deco-style Caffe de Mura in Lucca.

Client Comments


Cara Rafanelli
Mesa, Arizona
August 8, 1998

Although this is long overdue, I would like to thank you for setting up our reservations for our lovely villa in Brancoli. Everything was perfect! The view was spectacular the house was wonderful, and the Orzalis (the owners) were very charming people. We were all very pleased! Personally, I had such a wonderful trip, that I am going back in September, to Florence, to study and learn the Italian language.

Anyway, thank you so much!!! We will probably be going back next summer, and hope to work with you again.

P.S. All your restaurant recommendations were marvelous!

Shirley Dal Porto
Discovery Bay, California
May 21, 1998

Thank you for your assistance in finding a home for us in the Lucca area. Collesano was perfect. It is located in the beautiful countryside, very modern, comfortable, and reasonable.

My husband's cousins live in Piccorana and San Leonarde di Triponizo, so Collesano was very convenient to both villages. Your service was very much appreciated.

Jack Katz
Mesa, Arizona
November 15, 1997

Please allow me to thank you for your excellent arrangements and handling of our rentals of two villas in Tuscany. All accommodations were most comfortable and all details were handled smoothly and efficiently, just as you promised. I have already recommended your company to several friends of mine, and I hope they utilize your services -- I know they will be pleased.

We hope to return to lovely Lucca next year to enjoy its charm and sophistication. If any of your prospective clients have any hesitation or doubt about renting villas "sight unseen," please ask them to call me and I will relate to them the great success of our visit, and they will be convinced. Again, I thank you for your help.

Villa Costa

June 23, 2003
Fay McNeil
Ottawa, Canada

Hi Maria - just arrived home after a wonderful vacation in Italy, but I did get your message by e-mail before going to the villa. Thank you very much.

We found our way quite easily following your corrected instructions. I must say we loved the villa - it was very comfortable and a great location from which to explore the country. We enjoyed the garden and the birds singing, although we all found it strange to have the song birds in a cage, as it is not a familiar custom to us.

I definitely recommend staying at the villa Costa for a holiday!

March 29, 1998
San Francisco Examiner Sunday Newspaper
Travel Section, "Follow the Reader" column
George & Carolyn Greenwood
Murphys, CA

Last October we were fortunate to rent a large wing in a 18th century villa located 4 miles from the beautiful walled village of Lucca. This residence far exceeded our expectations, having only paid a fee of $800 per week for this place that could be shared by three couples.

One enters through huge iron gates near where the caretakers live into an expansive garden. The caretakers periodically offered us fruits of the garden and were always available when we needed them. Although they speak little English we were able to get our needs met with a warm smile.

The spacious interior is simply furnished with restored antiques and artifacts from the Bandoni Estate. This home has 3 huge bedrooms, 2 beautifully appointed modern bathrooms, a salon and living room, plus a large dining kitchen. Florence is 40 miles away. One can take many side trips from this location to Pisa, Siena, and environs.

Maria Bandoni, a lovely Italian lady who speaks fluent English lives in San Francisco and part-time in Italy. We found her very helpful in providing info on restaurants and side trips.

Judge Dan Winn
Cedartown, GA
January 15, 1996

Recently, some friends and I rented a quaint villa in one of the best and most convenient areas in Italy. The villa is extremely nice, with antique furniture and plenty of space in and out of the sleeping quarters. It has a beautiful fenced lawn with trees and we were furnished lawn chairs, and there was a beautiful barbecue area with tables for open air dining. A very comfortable place to stay.

The villa is a little over 3 miles from Lucca, one of the great walled cities of the world. It is very near Florence, the greatest art center in the world, and is also close to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Also only a short drive from some of the great hill cities of Italy, such as Siena and Assisi; and easy 1 day trip to Milan and Bologna. Easy overnight trip to Venice or Rome.

Villa Gregori

Jim Doiron
San Rafael, California

Just a note to thank you formally for introducing me to Villa Gregori and Bella Tuscany. As you know, this trip was my fourth return to the Villa, and I have enjoyed it more each time.

The Gregoris (Sauro and Marzia) have been so helpful and hospitable and work hard to keep the grounds blooming and beautiful. The pool is just glorious and the temperature was perfect for morning swims and afternoon Wine & Cheese. We dined al fresco every night but one. Very Romantic!

The peace and quiet that is St. Andrea in Caprille is so restful that I leave the car behind and walk the hills above the Villa visiting all the Trattorias.

I always hate to leave, but do so rested and refreshed. You and the Gregoris have made the experience so simple, affordable and wholly delightful. I will return in October, and can hardly wait. My friends and I thank you for opening this door to a very special part of our world. I look forward to doing business with you for years to come. If I can be of any help to future guests, please don't hesitate to call me.

Colin Clarke
Dublin, Ireland
June 25, 2001

Just a short note to say that we had a fantastic two weeks in Villa Gregori -- everything you said about it is true, an extremely beautiful place. I think we will be booking to go back next year -- many thanks for all your help.

Il Tinaio

Penny van Blommestein
August 20, 2002

Maria, it has been remiss of me not to have been in touch before now. I wanted to forward to you our feelings about Villa Gregori and Il Tinaio.
We had a week in June, and it was fantastic. The location, setting and facilities were exceptional, and we were more than pleased with what the accomodations had to offer.
Our opinion was that the place was very new, and could have done with a few more kitchen utensils to make it easier to cook. But that was our only concern. The bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas were all in excellent condition, and the general standard was luxurious.

Lucca is a wonderful town where tourism is catered for, but not relied upon. So we did feel part of a warm, welcoming and real environment.
It took some time for us to find local facilities like bakery, supermarket etc, and this information would be very helpful if it was given to the occupants by the landlord at the begining of the week.

Thank you for arranging what was a wonderful holiday for us.


Penny van Blommestein

Il Gelsomino

Des and Genevieve McCarthy
Dublin, Ireland
October 12, 2000

We have just returned from the best vacation of our life, our wedding and honeymoon in the northwest of Tuscany. Since we had about 30 guests coming, and the region is very rustic with virtually no hotels, the only option was to rent a villa. We rented a big villa, Il Gelsomino and the quaint annex, Panorama. Our friends rented 3 other houses, Alessia 1 and 2 and Campari. They are located in a tiny village, Brancoli about 20 minutes north of the fabulous city of Lucca. The villas are all tucked away in the steep hills, with stunning views of mountains and rivers. It's at the base of the Apuan Alps.

We had our wedding in the garden of IL Gelsomino, and all of our friends agree it was the most special, beautiful wedding they have ever attended. The views of the valley from the garden are breathtaking.

Maria Bandoni recommended a local restaurant called "A Palazzo" for the reception dinner, and the owner Maria Angela put on a feast! The meal was immense and at a very fair price. It was the best dinner most of us had ever had! We arrived late from the airport on that first night to the villas, on an awful rainy night. We called Maria Bandoni in a panic looking for the houses, and she was very calm and helpful. In the end, we arrived safe and sound, and fell in love with the houses.

The week was memorable, and the location of the villas and the villas themselves(lovely, old stone houses) were wonderful. The prices of the houses are competitive and still much cheaper than if that same number of people had all gone to hotels. The joy of renting a villa is in addition to accommodation, also having wine in the living room with friends, cooking dinners, sipping coffee in the garden in the morning, etc.

We would definitely recommend Maria Bandoni's agency to anyone looking to spend a week or 2 in this corner of Tuscany. The region is so peaceful and gorgeous; secluded and private but an hour away from Florence and half an hour from the Garfagnana national park. The prices as compared to the quality of the houses are very competitive and fair. Plus, you have the advantage of an agent who knows the area personally!

View Des and Genevieve's online photo album of their wedding, including the bouquet toss from our villa's balcony!

Liam Nagle (guest at Des and Genevieve McCarthy's wedding)
Dublin, Ireland
October 18, 2000

Thanks for your help with all the villa arrangements. Things got very confusing on the night of our arrival as it was getting so late, the bad weather and a big group of tired and hungry travelers. Anyway, we sorted ourselves out and even managed to get a nightcap in the Tosca bar, so that kept us happy. Anyway, Maria, we were delighted with the Villas and the proximity of all the properties to each other and to the local attractions.

We visited the museums, restaurants and bars in Florence, Lucca and Pisa and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We were enthralled by the architecture, landscape, food, people, and of course, the wine.

So, Maria, we will be back! But, in the meantime, thanks once again for your help and patience while organizing all this. I hope we will be doing business again sometime soon. Grazie.

Kate Zimmerman
San Francisco, California
September 27, 2000

As Fall arrives, I must write you and say "Thank you" for the wonderful time we had at Villa IL Gelsolmino and for your help in finding a hotel in Lucca. We fell in love with it! Grazie!


Maria Bandoni's Italian Rentals
Click here to send a message
or inquire about availability
San Francisco Office
123 Athens Street
San Francisco, CA 94112 USA
Tel/Fax: 415-452-2944
Villa Bandoni
Via Spadoni, 3
55014 Marlia, Lucca, Italy
Tel/Fax: 011-39-0583-407128
Cell: 011-39-340-9122077