Tepi Laut Villas

Unlike a great percentage of Australians (according to Redgum in 1984), we never had a desire to visit Bali. We don’t cope very well with heat and humidity and weren’t too enthused about the crowds. When our friends from Darwin said they were going with the family and renting a private villa with room for two more, it was the perfect opportunity to spend time with them and experience the culture across the sea. After a long day of travel (it’s a fair distance from Tasmania), we landed at Denpasar airport along with, it seemed, every other flight from across the globe, just before midnight. After obtaining a visa (that’s another story), we stepped outside into the stifling heat and, just before we were overcome with secondhand cigarette smoke, we spied our friends. They had come to rescue us in the villa car which was, thankfully, air-conditioned. Sitting in the middle of the back seat of the SUV, I had a perfect view of the chaos that is Bali traffic. I closed my eyes to prevent my heart from stopping and we eventually arrived, dazed and disheveled, at the villa. It was Nirvana. Awakened at 6am by the chanting from the temple in the neighbouring village, I peered over the balcony

1.from balcony2.from balcony

and made my way downstairs. The open living area was beautiful, there was no doubt we were in Bali.

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Our room was upstairs on the right,

5.outside

an air-conditioned sanctuary from the heat of the day.

The bathroom was exquisite, every amenity catered for.

There was plenty of space for lounging around the pool,

and the secluded bale was inviting on a hot afternoon.

The edge of the water feature at the entrance (or exit, depending on whether you are coming or going), was dotted with fresh frangipani blossoms.

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There were five villas in the group at Tepi Laut surrounded by rice fields, away from the madding crowd, at Seseh Beach.

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Our villa, Villa Sungai, was on the edge of the complex overlooking a river and the small fishing village of Seseh.

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It was a pleasure to return to the tranquility after a day out,

the villa dog was probably the luckiest dog in Bali.

22.villa dog

The night lights were cute, like someone hiding in the foliage wearing a hat.

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A relaxing dip in the pool was always welcome

24.view from the pool

and offered a different perspective of the garden.

We were well looked after by the wonderful villa staff and enjoyed some fabulous meals

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prepared and cooked in our own kitchen.

29.kitchen30.our villa staff

We experienced a spectacular monsoonal downpour one day, a brief respite from the heat.

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It was fun to return after a day out to find a new menagerie awaiting us. Apparently, it is known as towel origami.

Il Castagno

When looking for a place to stay for the week after the guitar course, I found a 700 year old farmhouse near Cortona. Seeing it on the internet I thought there was no way it could possibly be as good as it appeared. I was right. It was even better!

1-il-castagno

The owners live in Colorado and bought the villa to restore in 1999. It was absolutely perfect and, as it was their part time home, it felt very welcoming. The living room,

2-living-room3-living-room

main bedroom

4-bedroom5-bedroom

and bathroom

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were upstairs and the natural beauty of the house was complemented by tasteful furnishings.

Some fine meals were created in the ground floor kitchen

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which opened on to the sunny courtyard.

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The original features outside had been retained

and the small front garden was colourful.

We enjoyed relaxing in the shade with a beverage after long days exploring,

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admiring the view

of Cortona, only a 10 minute drive away.

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The shafts of sunlight on this stormy evening lent a spectacular display.

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On other nights, the sinking sun set the sky on fire.

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We knew from the moment we arrived, it was going to be very hard to leave.

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Villa San Rocco

After leaving Ponte a Serraglio, the next two weeks were spent in the village of Benabbio at Villa San Rocco. The 10 bedroom villa would be home to the five budding luthiers attending the guitar making course and their partners. Villa San Rocco dates back to the 14th century and is believed to have been a seminary and pilgrims’ rest. In 1688, it was purchased and remodeled by a rich merchant family from Lucca and became Villa Bendetti.

1.outside

In 1960, it was bequeathed to an orphans’ association in Lucca and for the next twenty five years it became a summer residence for orphans and abandoned children. By the late 1980s, the villa was derelict and for two decades it was left to rot. In 2004, it was restored using local materials and traditional workmanship. The name was inspired by the chapel opposite the main gate dedicated to San Rocco, a patron saint of illnesses.

chapel

The entrance hall gives a hint of what lies within the walls of this amazing home.

2.entrance hall

The main salon was warm and inviting and many a musical evening was shared in here.

Some wondrous meals were created in the rustic kitchen

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and enjoyed in the spacious dining room.

8.dining room

The smaller sitting room was decorated exquisitely.

A glass pane on the first floor landing looked down to the chairs below

and along the hall was a lovely view to the front courtyard and chapel.

14.view to front

On this floor, as well as many bedrooms, was a very peaceful yoga room with warming, ambient light.

15.yoga room

The hallway on the top floor

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led to more bedrooms.

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I think ours was the best

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and the scenery on opening the shutters was breathtaking.

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The bathroom was quaint

with more stunning views.

25.our bathroom view

A doorway across the hall from our bedroom opened to a balcony where we would gather for beverages at the end of the day.

The courtyard garden was a perfect spot to relax and enjoy lunch.

28.garden129.garden

Intriguing alleys led to the workshop where the guitar course took place.

The night time glow was welcoming on returning from dinner in the village.

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Villa San Rocco was a beautiful introduction to the two fabulous weeks that lay ahead.