Hubby and I will always hold Italy close in our hearts. Our love affair started when we spent our honeymoon driving around Northern Italy, starting in Venice we worked our way through Tuscany and Umbria before finishing in Rome. Eight years later with two children in tow we decided to try something different for our Summer holiday. Having discovered last year that we really are not packaged holiday people we decided to try out a villa holiday instead. At the end of August we travelled to Tuscany Italy, staying twenty minutes from Volterra with James Villa Holidays in a villa called Poggio Alla Palla. Which translates to I head towards the ball.

James Villa Holidays will take everything off your hands and book all flights and transport for you. Perfect if you want not to worry about a thing. Yet they are flexible enough to let you manage this part of the holiday if you want. Which is what we did. The villa is around an hour and half from Pisa airport, we caught an early morning flight, picking our hire car up around midday. We could not get into the villa until 4pm so we found a local restaurant to have something to eat and relax after our flight. After refuelling we headed into the Tuscan countryside. We had intended on relying on the sat nav only to find that it didn’t really work. We followed the instructions which came in the welcome pack and although a little on the brief side we did manage to find it (thankfully it was well sign posted). Although we were not really expecting the 5.5km dirt track we had to drive down to reach it. There was no mention of just how rural the villa was on the website. I am not sure if we would have necessarily changed our mind but we would have been a little more prepared. Such a hiring a 4 x 4 or similar as our Opal Estate wasn’t really sufficient and I am not really sure what we would have done if we had ended up with a puncture!

We were greeted at the villa by the owner Nicoletta who was really lovely and very helpful for our whole stay.  Even leaving some tomatoes from her kitchen garden and treats from the bakery one morning.  She came each morning to water the garden and clean the pool but was very discrete and we hardly noticed her, normally she left even before we got up. As we stayed for two weeks she changed the towels and sheets half way through our holiday and arranged with us via WhatsApp the most convenient time for us.

The villa itself was a lot larger than I imagined and was clean and well looked after. There was a few little decorative items which we moved out of Kipper’s way, but generally it was uncluttered and decorated in a traditional style. Downstairs there was a good size kitchen and an L shaped living area. There was also a large hall with downstairs shower room and under stairs storage. Up the large stone staircase there was three large bedrooms, one double and two twins. Plus a utility room with washing machine (which we made us of!) and a large bathroom. It would easily sleep six adults plus one of the sofas in the living area was a sofa bed. With three toilets, two showers and a bath space is not an issue. There was no door between the lounge and the stairs, which Kipper does have an obsession for at the moment. To keep him contained we moved one of the sofas across to cover the entrance way, which worked perfectly.

Nicolleta had supplied a high chair and travel cot with a great thick mattress and bedding. All items looked brand new and were in great condition. There was plenty of towels and bedding, plus fans for the bedrooms. All the windows had traditional shutters and mosquitos nets on the windows. Although they were not bad when we visited as it had been so dry its good to have them as a fall back. Especially since Hubby tends to react badly to bites.

Outside there is covered veranda with another (there are four in total the Italians love to eat!) dining table, a swing chair and a large ping pong table. To one side of the house there is ample parking, enough for three cars, on the other there is yet another table with a large sun umbrella and BBQ. In the front of the house there is a reasonable amount of ground with a hammock strung up. Then there is the pool, its very well maintained with plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas. Its the same depth straight across which worked well for us, although despite temperatures of thirty eight outside the pool didn’t heat up very much. But it was spotless, theres a shower and the back half of the pool is fenced off as the ground drops away a little the other side. I would have preferred for the fence to be all the way around but I don’t think it is the done thing in Italy. We went knowing this and actually managing Kipper by the pool wasn’t too bad thanks to our Splash About Go Splash Swim Vest.

There was an ample amount of wood and we could have had a BBQ every night if we had wanted. The kitchen had everything we needed and we did eat in more than out. Theres a large Coop in Volterra which was open all day, plus with good food being so well priced it seemed silly to spend a premium to eat out with two young kids. Plus the wine is pretty well priced too!

We really loved our time at Poggio Alla Palla the only thing which needs addressing is the wifi situation. We were expecting to be able to surf the internet and research days out. There was was very little information in the villa and nothing made reference to the maximum of 10GB. I appreciate the due to location unrestricted internet maybe a big ask. But it doesn’t take much to go through 10GB. We enquired about buying more but the price was 69€. In some ways it would be better to go expecting no internet. Especially as a blogger as I planned to do some work while we were away which didn’t happen.

Turns out that a villa holiday works perfectly for us. During the day we got into a regular pattern visiting somewhere new in the morning and coming back to the villa to relax and have a swim before dinner. We treated the place pretty much as our own, a home away from home. I am totally sold on the flexibility which the villa gave us. No more having to drag the kids in from the pool, only to have to rush around in a cramped hotel ‘family’ room to make sure everyone is showered in time for dinner. Yes the kids had some late nights still but it was on our terms and the best bit? No noisy entertainment which means you don’t need to learn a local song or have to be social! After five years of going away with with little ones I think this is the first time it felt like a little bit of a holiday for us too. No mean feat when you have a fifteen month old with you. We will definitely be looking to book though James Villa Holidays again in the future, after all they have 2800+ villas in 50 countries. So we will be spoilt for choice.

We went to so many wonderful places I will be writing all about them in the coming weeks as some deserve a post of their own. The first will be a summary style post of everything we got up to, plus a little video of our two week adventure, so do come back to hear and read more .


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We were invited to stay with James Villa Holidays in return for this honest review. All opinions and words are my own


  1. Wow, your pics look amazing! This looks like such a great idea with small children. We went to Venice and Rome for our honeymoon. I would love to take our kids to Italy one day! Xx

  2. Aw you’ve made me so jealous to have a holiday! What a fab place you stayed in, such a peace of mind when it’s child friendly too. I love Italy and we holidayed there quite a bit before we had Emma, gorgeous food and the most breathtaking views. Hope we can go back as a family soon xx

  3. This looks amazing, we’ve never had a villa holiday but I’d love to after seeing your pictures. #BloggerClubUK

  4. It looks like you had such a lovely holiday – the wifi would have annoyed me too and I would rather have had no internet than a cap – and to know in advance. But, the villa aside from that looks lovely and I’ve loved seeing your holiday photos! x

  5. Wow this looks amazing and your photos are stunning. It’s made me very excited for our holiday abroad in a few weeks. #bloggerclubuk

  6. We had a James Villa holiday this summer although I wasn’t asked to review it! It was amazing however and I would recommend them for the hassle free holiday. #bloggerclubuk

  7. I want to go there right now your pictures are lovely, I’m sick of the pouring rain here! We have done a house swap in Italy with kids, that worked really well too. #BloggerClubUK

  8. Hi, you look like you all had a fab time, we have used James Villas before and had some lovely holidays #bloggerclubuk

  9. It looks like you had an amazing time, the villa looks fabulous. The perfect way to holiday #bloggerclubuk

  10. Alice | Letters to my Daughter Reply

    Wow, thank looks amazing, I could so dive into that pool and chow down on those sausages right now! #BloggerClubUK

  11. I love a villa holiday and as you know, I love Italy, and Tuscany in particular! This looks like a wonderful holiday – and in a slightly different area to where we always tend to stay, so it would be a great option for us in the future. The lack of internet I would have definitely struggled with though – I’m lost without the internet to research directions and trip ideas, but at least if you know in advance you can be prepared. The BBQ looks great – we love a trip to the butchers and then a BBQ in the evenings while the kids are in bed. A villa is so good for that! Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  12. We’ve had a great villa holiday too. Like you I love the flexibility and space which is perfect with little ones. #bloggerclubuk
    Also which plugin to you use for your social media icons. I love these colourful buttons.

  13. It really looks like a great villa. We live in the sticks, but I’m not sure on holiday I’d want to be so far out (mainly because I’ve never driven abroad!)

  14. Your villa holiday daily routine sounds like the stuff of dreams. I have always wanted to visit Tuscany.

  15. Margaret Gallagher Reply

    The perfect getaway
    Luxury indulgence and family time
    Doesn’t get much better

  16. I’ve been so excited to read this after seeing all your photos . I love Italy and Tuscany is somewhere we would love to visit. It looks beautiful. Our first family holiday abroad was a James Villa and we definitely find that a villa holiday works well for us as a family. I love the barbecue, this is a must for us. A tad annoying about the internet. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  17. This sounds and looks like a really relaxing place to stay! It’s great that you could bbq and enjoy the countryside. Too bad about the limited internet – 10gb is nothing to a blogger lol xx

  18. Carol Thomas Reply

    It looks like a wonderful holiday. Tuscany is certainly a beautiful place. I love the basket of tomatoes left out for you too. Reminds me of childhood and sitting on the back step eating my later Father home grown tomatoes

  19. I love Italy although I’ve never been to Tuscany. It sounds like a fantastic holiday and it’s so nice to see your pics with the sun shining. It makes me want to jump on a plane lol

  20. Sophie Dolan Reply

    This looks beautiful. We have never been on a Villa holiday but after seeing how wonderful it looks I’m sure we will be booking for 2 years time, as our next holiday is already booked for next year ?

  21. The villa looks lovely. I love the way the pool is gated which is especially important for little ones.

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