One of the pleasures of travel is discovering local gastronomic specialities, some travelers even choose their next holiday destination based on its fresh fruits and vegetables, succulent seafood, high quality meats or unique herbs and spices. If you can’t wait to get your hands on these amazing ingredients to cook up a storm while you’re on holiday, than these luxury villas with fabulously well-equipped kitchens and special dining areas are for you!

Rancioli – Tuscany, Italy

In the heart of the gastronomic Val d’Orcia, this new to the market Tuscan farmhouse has been entirely renovated and equipped with a fabulous chef’s kitchen. Guest can enjoy a perfectly private and idyllic location while taking in the culinary and cultural pleasures of Tuscany.

In the portfolio of Homebase Abroad, the property was formerly occupied by two large farming families, it benefits from a very private location, surrounded by aged trees and splendid views of the valley. The renovations included various aspects to accentuate the culinary experience at the villa like its wonderful professional kitchen with Carrara counters, managed by Rossa, the villa’s chef and concierge. You can cook alongside her as well as perfect your Italian cooking with on-site classes led by her. Guests can sample these exquisitely dishes in the living/dining room with a dining area for 12+ and a working fireplace, at the table under the spreading ‘querce’ tree with its stunning views of Monte Cetona or under the grape arbor dining pergola with seating for up to eight. Lighter meals can be served in the relaxed cafe room.

The villa’s bucolic grounds also include vast lawns and an 8 x 17 meter swimming pool. The area presents many opportunities for wine-tasting, cheese-making, visits to local markets and other food related activities.

Design the perfect menu for a tasty vacation in the Val d’Orcia with Homebase Abroad here.

Eden – Barbados

Nestled within an acre of lush tropical gardens in the exclusive Sugar Hill community, “Eden” is a breathtaking Barbados holiday home by Blue Sky Luxury. One of the highlights of this spectacular colonial-style five-bedroom villa is its recently renovated kitchen.

The chef inspired kitchen is fully equipped and features stainless steel appliances, two dishwashers, two sinks and large breezy windows. Cooking in this kitchen is a culinary treat as it’s well positioned to appreciate lovely garden and pool views. Distant Caribbean Sea vistas are also enjoyed while the cook prepares tasty Caribbean delicacies. These delicious meals can be savored on the large upper terrace or in the lovely gazebo to the backdrop of the stunning sunset.

Start preparing a delectable Caribbean holiday in Barbados with Blue Sky Luxury at this link.

Il Convento – Umbria, Italy

Owned by a very well known film director, this vast 60-acre former convent is a chef’s paradise not only owing to its two kitchen and impressive dining areas, but also thanks to the incredible bounty coming straight from the estate.

The recently restored property, which can accommodate up to 22 guests and is available through In Villas Veritas, includes a main kitchen with a chef’s tasting table, a professional kitchen including food demonstration area for guest participation, a dining hall fit for a king with seating for up 40 guests, a more intimate dining room and various outdoor terraces for al fresco dining. The grounds feature a 16th century walled garden with 13 acres of enclosed formal gardens, a vegetable garden, an orchard, a grape arbor, elegant rows of lavender, sprawling lawns as well as an outdoor pool, a reflecting fountain bordering a native oak forest and a winter garden. The remainder of the estate is covered in 800 olive trees, vineyards and forest with stupendous views over Lake Trasimeno.

Enjoy a succulent taste of Umbria at this exquisite chef’s villa by contacting In Villas Veritas here.

Oasis de Salines – St Barthélemy

Cook up a storm at this star-studded six-bedroom villa which is comprised of a main house, two pavilions, two pools, a wine bar and a foot path to Saline Beach and three kitchens, including one that is professionally equipped.

The stunning estate, available through St Barth Properties, is set amidst 2.5 acres of cascading, lush tropical gardens and showcases breathtaking views of the glamorous Saline beach and its aquamarine waters. Two of the kitchens are located in the main house. The sleek, larger one is adjacent to an outside dining area, is air conditioned and includes state-of-the-art appliances. It also has a high bar, perfect for snacking and casual dining. More formal meals can be laid out on the interior dining room table with seating for 16. The decor of the whole house is extremely stylish and contemporary and is equipped with cutting edge technology and amenities including plasma TVs in each of the bedrooms, an 80-foot lap pool, and a 40-foot pool with graded access and an air-conditioned mini-gym, for working off those excess calories of all those delicious meals!

Combine exquisite food, awe-inspiring views and supreme luxury at the Oasis de Salines by reaching out to St Barth Properties here.

Villa Astor – Amalfi Coast, Italy

Located at the edge of picturesque Sorrento, this exceptional villa by Homebase Abroad and recently featured in the Robb Report, dramatically clings to a bluff directly over the sea, offering an incredible panorama of the Amalfi coast. This can be enjoyed from the various beautiful outdoor dining areas where you can enjoy exquisite culinary creations prepared in its dream kitchen.

Once the home of William Waldorf Astor, this opulent six-bedroom villa is the epitome of the opulence and elegance of Italian villas. The interiors are lavishly fitted out in top luxury amenities, gilded mirrors, precious antiques and marble fireplaces.  Its equally classy kitchen is very well equipped and is a magic place for home chefs looking to have a taste of the Old World bella Italia. Its doors open onto to breakfast terrace, bathed in golden morning light is equipped with a wood forno and barbecue, making it ideal for casual meals for up to 10. It leads down to the ocean terrace that extends the length of the villa and has stunning views of the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius. It has seating for 16 at three tables with retractable awning over primary table for 12. More formal meals can be served in dining room which seats 12 comfortably.

In addition to the lovely outdoor terraces, the grounds also feature a marble-finished pool and a two-hectare botanical garden with extensive collection of fauna, some specimens dating back hundreds of years. Its walking paths are dotted with ancient porphyry, friezes, busts and objects d’art. The villa’s rooftop terrace is a real treat and provides a 360 degree vista of the coast, Sorrento and the surrounding countryside.

Sample the culinary treasures and beauty of the Amalfi Coast with Homebase Abroad at this link.

We travel to Bella Italia to hear the fairytale come true story of Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda. The Countess tells us how overcame early challenges and used her finesse to build one of the finest villa rental companies in the country: The Best in Italy.

Simonetta Brandolini d'Adda - Best in Italy

“With an American father and an Italian mother I had lived between Europe and the United States until the third year into my studies at Tufts University when I decided to study with Smith College… in Florence.

“It was wonderful to be back in Italy, taking courses at the Italian university as well as with our Italian professors got me even more involved with the Florentine lifestyle. Part of the fascination was also meeting Count Momi Brandolini d’Adda. We were married just after receiving my degree in art history.

“My husband’s family had several homes both in the Veneto and in Tuscany. Since we certainly could not live in all of these villas, the question that continuously arose at the beginning of 1980 was what to do with these properties, complete with staff, beautiful furnishings, gardens and attractive locations.

“In 1982 we created The Best in Tuscany at a time when no one offered luxurious homes for rent in Italy or in much of the rest of Europe. Those traveling abroad stayed for extended periods in the various five star hotels and the wealthy did not open their homes to strangers or for earning money from their stately villas. Nevertheless, this outlook quickly changed when they learned how we had managed to entice various friends from abroad to stay in our homes for a month or longer… at that time everyone took longer vacations. One year later, in 1983, we started receiving invitations from friends and relatives to come and see their estates. In the process of staying in them and meeting their staff and were able to give them advice on how to make their properties enticing to future guests.

“In 1984 The Best in Tuscany became The Best in Italy as we then had estates not only in Tuscany, but also on the Amalfi Coast, the Veneto and Venice, Umbria and in the nearby Rome. However, at that time Federal Express did not yet exist nor did the fax machine. Thus having an office in Florence did not allow for quick response by Italian mail but only by telephone. For more than 12 years I would travel around the United States and in Europe to meet future clients during cocktail parties or dinners that were given by former guests of ours who loved to speak about their stay in Italy to their friends and families.

“By the year 2000 we had homes in all of Italy, accepting only the most luxurious staffed villas….many still owned by friends and relatives. Now that the internet allows for instantaneous communication we no longer are in need of presenting our homes through extensive brochures  or by personally meeting all of our clients by traveling to the US or around Europe. We always have a faithful following of clients who have been returning to our properties for more than 15 years, often to the same villa, and have now enjoyed hosting the second generation of certain families  to our homes. And they delight in meeting our second generation of The Best in Italy with my daughter Polissena.

“In the past 33 years we have had  many interesting actors, musicians, heads of state, wonderful extended families and fascinating guests stay in our homes….from Sting to Anish Kapoor, from Tom Cruise to Robin Williams, Mel Gibson and Bette Midler. Many of them bought homes with us and then rent them through us to our clients.

“Our world renown chefs are often demonstrating cooking in our homes, we have organised extraordinary special events and celebrations, our many famous interior designers and historians frequently give lectures as part of the educational experience clients enjoy during their stay in Italy.

“Many of our guests have attended private parties and concerts with us, the Palio in Siena, or special programs with private dinners beneath Michelangelo’s David and private visits to the Uffizi Gallery, the Sistine Chapel or other museums and collections in Italy though the non profit Friends of Florence foundation that I founded in 1998 to preserve and safeguard the artistic treasures and cultural heritage of Florence and Tuscany for future generations. I shall always be grateful to Florence and to Italy for enhancing my life and this foundation is my way of giving back for all I have received. It is also a superb example of sustainable tourism for our many clients who visit the country and contribute towards restorations and conservation projects here.

“The Best in Italy continues to flourish and to provide the utmost personalised assistance to all guests who then become returning friends who we enjoy seeing every year to Italy to enjoy all the best aspects of life in our unique country.”

You can view some of the exceptional villas and learn more about The Best in Italy here.