Why bike in Europe? Let’s put it this way: For the best sushi in the world, you go to Japan; the best surfing, Hawaii; the best golf, Scotland. But if you are a cyclist, as good as many routes are in North America, there is nothing like road riding in Europe; especially in France, Italy and Spain. The roads are quiet and scenic. The drivers are respectful (one of their family members is certainly a keen cyclist, so they “get it”), and every 5 to 10 miles there is a small grocery store, cafe or restaurant where you can get supplies or a bite to eat.
Our regions are also home to some of the world’s most mythic rides -- the Mont Ventoux, the Amalfi Coast and the Costa Brava. Wherever you choose to travel, one thing is certain: Hosted Villas will put together a cycling week to remember.
For those looking to stay active but who aren’t keen on staying in the saddle, why not put on your sturdiest shoes and take a hike? France, Italy and Spain are all criss-crossed with scenic, well-marked hiking routes that are guaranteed to take you off the beaten track. In Catalonia, Spain, for example, the spectacular Garrotxa volcanic natural park covers over 12,000 hectares and offers plenty of options for walking, hiking and sight-seeing along breath-taking natural topography.
If you are interested in an active trip – whatever your skill level may be – our Villa Specialists will work with you to plan a customized Hiking & Biking experience.
For twenty years, Hosted Villas has been creating memorable, stress-free family holidays in Europe. In fact, we do most of the legwork for you. Our Villa Specialists work hard to get a sense of your family's needs, and your children's interests. Whether it's painting lessons in a Provençal lavender field, a visit to pre-historic caves followed by a medieval themed meal -- prepared and eaten as it would have been thousands of years ago, with flint knives and wooden platters -- or a trip floating through the moats of Castell de Sant Ferran (an old Catalan fortress) aboard personal rubber boats, we've got you covered.
Our homes cater to all ages. Choose between a secluded country château with a children's dormitory, or a villa where you can step out the door and enjoy the services, shops and cultural attractions of a local town -- ideal for older children who want some independence.
And if Mom & Dad want a night out to enjoy a Michelin-starred restaurant or to take in an opera, we will arrange child care and a kid-friendly meal, so that you can enjoy your precious time alone, worry-free.
Whatever your family's interests and desires, shape and size, we will work to ensure that this is a vacation they will never forget.
If discovering the unique and authentic food and wine specialties of a local region is what tickles your taste buds, then your Villa Specialist can put together a Food and Wine-focused itinerary for your stay in Europe that is guaranteed to leave you satisfied.
Learn some tasty secrets of authentic Tuscan cuisine, such as how to make that wonderful pasta you had last night at the restaurant or a delicious crostata (marmalade torte), with a private cooking lesson. While the chef prepares dishes to accent your culinary efforts, relax as you are guided through a private wine tasting, all in the comfort of your villa. Looking for something on the sweeter side? Return home after a visit to the local Provençal market for an indulgent afternoon pastry lesson with a professional pâtissier.
From regional picnics (see our Italian shopping guide below), to Michelin-starred restaurants, we have your gastronomic desires covered - whatever they may be.
Regional Picnic Shopping Guide
One of the most interesting and cost-effective ways to discover the different foods of Italy is to make a picnic for a midday feast. Your Local Host will help you make your list and will take you to find all the items at the best local shops! For bread, go to the panificio or forno; salami, prosciutto, and mortadella are sold in the salumeria; cheeses, butter, milk, and yogurt are found in the latteria. Fruits and vegetables are in the frutta e verdura and delicious sweets and pastries are sold in the pasticceria. Taking time out of your day to enjoy a fresh meal made with local ingredients is simply the best way to soak up the true spirit of European living.
Europe has long been associated with a healthy way of life and is the ideal setting for a week of rejuvenation and relaxation. Take some time out to replenish your body and spirit by indulging in the wide variety of health and wellness activities that our regions have to offer.
To give you an idea of what a typical day could look like:
Wake up for a morning yoga class in the restored chapel just next to your villa. Spend the day at a local organic farm where you will take part in a cooking class with organic products from the farm itself. Create your own pizza with the farm’s fresh ingredients and cook it in the wooden oven that has been in use for centuries. While your pizza dough is rising, take the time to stroll through the farm and see exactly where your ingredients come from - maybe even pick a few yourself. Return home after your busy day to unwind with a restorative massage, or take a dip in your pool, which is fed by a natural spring and is surrounded by lavender and rose bushes.
From trips to the luxurious Fonteverde thermal baths in San Casciano dei Bagni, to cycling along the Costa Brava or over Mont Ventoux -- whatever your ‘health and wellness’ week looks like, our Villa Specialists can arrange it for you.
In planning and researching our Guests' stays, we keep a couple of guiding principles in mind. The essence of the Hosted Villas’ approach is "Informed Independent Travel." First, we prepare you with the practical information you'll need on your travels: tips on getting around, how the banks work and where to stop for a drink or a meal.
We then provide you with the background knowledge and local details that will enable you -- and your personal Villa Specialist and Local Host -- to create vacations that suit your own special interests. Sometimes you’ll explore on your own, sometimes you’ll want the support and guidance of your Local Host. That’s IIT - “Informed Independent Travel.” What are you looking for in your next vacation? A week of tasting the culinary delights and fantastic wines of Italy? A relaxing get-away from your hectic day-to-day life to restore and rebalance? A trip chock-full of activities for the kids to explore a new region? Whatever your desires may be, your Villa Specialist will work with you to craft your ‘Perfect Week’ of activities.
When it comes to arranging those extra services (perhaps sourcing a great local chef, booking an opera singer for a private sunset performance on your hilltop terrace, or arranging a surprise romantic dinner in a vineyard) no detail is too small, no possibility too grand — we love a challenge!
Have a look through some of our customized experiences above and some sample itineraries to give you an idea of what your ‘Perfect Week’ could look like.