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Hi Darren Saxon (Villa Alexandra)

I think all of us agreed it was one of the best and most relaxing holidays we have ever had. Alessandra and Steven were both charming and attentive hosts, and ensured that we were spoiled rotten in both the quality/quantity of food and wine and the high standard of accommodation. I almost felt embarrassed by how little I had to do as we were waited on hand and foot. My children had great fun with her 2 girls and they occupied themselves by swimming in the oversized pool, playing with the jack russell puppies, jumping on the trampoline, running around the property and visiting the horses, hens and geese!

Alessandra has impeccable taste and has decorated her home beautifully. We had all our meals outdoors at an oversized glass table with lovely views of the valley. The property is perfectly placed as it is down a dead end road so there is never another car in sight, yet it is just 30 minutes from both Florence and Siena (once you have found your way around). Our first adventure found us very lost yet we drove through some of the most spectacular countryside so no one was bothered! There are also many quiet spots to be found on the grounds should you want to escape from any sign of life at all (ie over excited children!).

They also have a wonderful selection of wines in their cellar and they were more than happy to share them with us as we are fellow wine lovers. Also, in case you felt like giving Mimi and Alessandra a break from cooking, there is a great family run restaurant just up the hill with an outdoor playing area for children to keep them occupied while you enjoy yet another 3 course meal!

We all have very hectic lives and more often than not, find it difficult to wind down on holiday particularly with young children and only a week away. Villa Alessandra and its welcoming family had the magic ingredients and all of us reluctantly left on the Sunday, with every intention of returning there as soon as possible! We also fell in love with one of the most fantastic dogs ever. Her name is Zulu and she is a Rhodesian Ridgeback...Alessandra has promised us puppies as soon as we move to the country.

I could go on for ever bit I am sure you get my point!

Thank you very much Darren Saxon for organising the villa for us...

For anyone considering staying there, I cannot recommend it enough..

Regards
Debby Somerville-Cotton

Dear Darren Saxon (Villa Cypress)

We stayed at Villa Cypress the first week of September, 2003. The pictures and descriptions of the villa and its grounds are accurate but don't do it justice. We were a party of 10 and everyone thought that this was a great villa. Very representative of an Italian villa.

Tile, marble, stone, shade trees, pool. The bedrooms were spread out enough in the villa that it felt like the villa was your very own. There are 2 living rooms, 2 fully stocked kitchens, 2 eating areas with seating for 10 inside and a great covered patio next to the villa. There is also an eating area above the pool with the Duomo in the distance. We used the covered patio every night to unwind from a day of sightseeing and to plan the next day and to just kick back and relax. Every day a pool person, a gardener and a person to clean and maintain the villa showed up in the morning. They were around but were inconspicuous unless we initiated the interaction. The whole experience at Villa Cypress was very enjoyable for all of us. Our Rome villa wasn't nearly as nice. We think that may partly be do to the fact that we were spoiled at Villa Cypress.

Thanks again for everything.

Mr. Jim Wing

Dear Darren Saxon, (Villa Cypress)

Villa Cypress was everything we wanted and more. It was beautifully kept, with lovely linens, more bathrooms than we needed, outdoor dining, and our own olive grove-ette(!).I love showing the pictures to our friends and hear them say "it's a real villa!" Several in our group are dog lovers, and Dicka-da-dog has entered our permanent cast of characters when we re-live our trip.

He was a bonus. The pool was beautiful, and we had our promised view of the Duomo from up on the pool deck. Molte bueno! Thank you for all your help. We even got our cars, as you arranged, without much ado. Although, when we go again, I think we'll skip the cars. Driving was a little stressful, and for the money, we could have arranged tours or even a driver. Next time.

Our chefs were very nice. They did a beautiful job -- we felt like visiting dignitaries out on our patio, drinking wine, eating and laughing until all hours. I would certainly use them again, although the restaurant up the street was also delicious -- we went three times.

As soon as our finances recover, we'll be back. And we won't hesitate to recommend your group to others. Thanks again. And I'll send some pictures when I get a few minutes again.

Ciao til next time.
Fondly. Edwin

From Susan Cashman - Wedding in August 2002. Villa Monte 3

'We had the best time , the service in Siena was amazing - very emotional - everyone was crying! Then we went to one of the bars across the square for some bubbly and stayed there for a couple of hours. When we walked across the square again to get our car, everyone started clapping and taking pictures - it was like being a celeb....really funny.

We arrived back at the Villa at 2pm, they had set up umbrellas on the outside table and had champagne and nibbles there....which was lovely.

The dining room was totally transformed....the tables looked so beautiful. , Each place setting was so beautiful.. The food was amazing, when I got the menu I thought it was 5 courses and in each section there was an option....but no - it was the whole menu - roughly about 9 courses altogether.....everyone was amazed at the quality of the food and of course all of the estate wine is lovely - especially the white. Then the wedding cake - it was amazing....with a little couple on the top - gorgeous chocolate cake - it was really good. Just to be different I asked everyone to write a speech - to say a couple of words or whatever - so we had a couple in between every couple of courses - and again very emotional. Some people wrote poems and Mum wrote a song for me....it was great.

Just after cutting the cake - we opened Sergios and Anna's present to us - 2 amazing champagne flutes - such a thoughtful gift - I am really scared that I'll break them though.

The service from the waiting staff was very good too. I will write a little piece on La Selva and our wonderful stay there over the weekend, it just kept getting better every day we were there - truly unforgetable.

It could not of happened without you Sarah and for that I am so grateful.

I am slightly lost now I am back here - it's horrible grey old London - very busy and everyone is just too cool - if you know what I mean. It's very strange being back in work too....oh well I'm sure I'll be in Tuscany soon again!!.

Hi Darren Saxon! (Podere Orcia)

Just a quick note to thank you for your help in planning our time in Tuscany. Our mission was a success! We were married one week ago by the mayor of Pienza! It was a beautful day, the people charming and we recieved congrats in many languages! a perfect day. We do have some digital pictures and I will send some (as requested) when we get home to Seattle.

Podere Orcia was perfect - and Manuella a charming host. Thank you for finding such a nice place for us to be - The chef did a great job with dinner although we drank too much wine and could barely finish our meal! Quite the celebration - it was just right!

In Rome now and heading to the Amalfi Coast tomorrow - I am looking forward to the quiet and relaxation!

Thank you again for you assistance. I will send along pictures in a couple of weeks.

Best regards,
Nancy Mincher

Hi Darren Saxon, (Villa Martinaia)

We made home safe and sound. You asked for a testimonial regarding our time in Tuscany so here is what we felt about the villa and our time there:

I want to thank you for all your help in creating a truly wonderful vacation for us and our friends. The Villa Martinaia was perfect. The house was beautifully furnished with comfortable beds, a well-appointed kitchen and cozy yet spacious living area. We loved the gardens and the pool was refreshing after a day of sightseeing. Your suggestion of bringing in a chef to cook our first meal was such a treat and a lovely way to begin our adventure in Tuscany. In every way we were so pleased with the villa and quiet country atmosphere. Thank you for making it so easy and enjoyable to work with you and your staff.

I really do appreciate all you did for us in making it such a wonderful experience to travel and stay in Tuscany. If ever I or my family and friends have the opportunity of coming back to Tuscany (and I hope I do before too long) I will be sure to contact you for accommodations or recommend you to my friends.

Arriverderci,
Francie

Melissa & Sarah, (Old castle Estate)

We have returned from beautiful Italy, and want to express our sincere thanks for all you did to make it happen. Kim and I are sorry we did not get in touch in Florence. As it turns out, we shortened our daily activities a little...turns out that being pregnant makes one tired!!! (we found out after we planned our trip) But, if you are ever in Boston, please consider this an open invitation to visit.

We had a marvelous time! The Old Castle Estate was quiet, beautiful, and wonderfully located.

We found San Casciano to be a great town for all our needs. We tried all the food we could (went a little light on the wine with the baby on the way) and saw such beautiful sights and wonderful people. We felt right at home. The only thing I wanted to pass on is to warn people about trying to bring pork based foods back to the US. The airport Customs agents took my salami and my cinta sinese bacon!! I was heartbroken. But we did get to bring in wonderful cheese and some wine (for April!!) I could go on all day about how much we enjoyed ourselves. We will cherish our memories of Italy. Thank you Melissa again for being a fantastic person to do business with. We wish you the best.

Sincerely,
Daniel & Kimberly

Dear Darren Saxon (Caruso Apartment)

The Caruso Apartment was a great find for us. The authentic artwork in the apartment made our experience truly unique. The Toffani family were wonderful hosts and very welcoming and helpful. We enjoyed our stay and had a truly unique experience and after 5 weeks felt like a local. Thanks again for all your help in finding this little slice of heaven, in getting us settled initially, and information about the area.

Mary especially appreciates the reference with your hair dresser in Firenze. Darren Saxon I hope all is well with you and that business is good. We enjoyed our time in Lastra Signa and our entire Italian experience. I must tell you it is not easy to be back in the US with the events of the world after living in Europe for 6 months and experiencing a totally different attitude to world events. We will be back in the future and let you know when we do. I have attached a picture of a sunset we took in Senegal West Africa on the Island of Mir Loge in the Saluomne river.

Thanks again.
Ciao
Bill & Mary Gumpenberger

Dear Darren Saxon: (Villa Monte 3)

Our holiday at the estate would be like a dream come true except that the reality was better than the dream. We planned a birthday celebratory week with family and close friends. Our villa was large enough for our party of 20 to have a little solitude when necessary and yet feel very together. It was the first time I've ever stayed at a villa in Italy and so I assume that many of the features like the stonewalls and floors and wood beams may be typical but there was nothing typical about the gorgeous textile used in the bedrooms. I remember looking at the photos of the villa before the trip and thinking if it is even half as beautiful as it looked that would be wonderful. It was more beautiful.

Our group settled into villa living very quickly. My husband and I had scheduled cooking classes for us as a birthday gift and others in our party signed up also. The chefs are very good teachers and excellent cooks. They did all the cooking for our birthday party the day of our last class and everything was delicious. They made a lasagne with b├ęchamel sauce that is my particular favourite. Some in our group were early risers and would go off and shop nearby in Ambra for breakfast for the house. Others were sightseers and would go off to Sienna or San Gimignano. We checked out a few local restaurants including the one on the estate (very good) the first few days. After that since we had a few good cooks in the company, dinners started occurring at the villa every night, which suited me. I felt before arriving that I wanted to spend as much time as possible in the villa and my husband concurred. As the villa turned out to be better than we could have expected we did spend most of our time there. We had informed everyone beforehand that they all had the freedom to go off and do as they wished and they did but the villa and the pool were a big attraction. For the most part we all spent a good portion of the week splashing about the pool, including stretching a piece of fabric across the pool and playing games of water volley ball, gathering in the kitchen and eating and drinking on the terrace dinning area. We would start eating in the light and during dinner watch the sunset from our fabulous vantage point, and end up still drinking and smoking and talking till whenever. Speaking of drinking we drank the estate's excellent wine all week. My personal favourite was the Anne Di Fiori. We also drank lots of Evento. There is never a wine crisis at the Villa!

The villa is meticulously kept and very comfortable. We had a problem with the television one afternoon and the next morning a new television was installed before the CNN addicts could go through withdrawal. The pool was cleaned every day. We had a cleaner come in every day and she was very good and thorough.

The estate is very beautiful from the sunflowers nodding in the breeze on the way in to the sight of deer jumping through the vineyards in the early morning. It was very hot in Italy the week we were there but we were very comfortable in our villa and by the pool. Sitting by the pool and seeing the mountains in the distance was incredible.

I really can't say enough nice things about the villa. I also can't say enough nice things about Darren Saxon. She was extremely helpful in planning our holiday. She had many helpful suggestions and was extremely responsive to all our questions and requests.

Thank you very much Darren Saxon!
Cathy Winkler

Hi Darren Saxon (Villa Monte3)

It's me again! Just in case you felt a little lost without all my emails bombarding you...!

I'm back in Dublin but my mind is still in Italy! I had such a fabulous wedding day. It was great to finally meet you - thanks for coming down to be part of the day at Villa Monte 3 . We were watching some of the video at the weekend that Dermot's brother-in-law took, it was such a marvellous, idyllic setting. You chose well with the church too! Please thank once again the hairdresser, the musicians, the florist and the caterers on our behalf - they were all excellent. And of course, the photographer. He was very good, and a lot of fun!

Please could you let us know what we are to do now as regards getting the photos.

Thanks a million
Helen