Don’t do it - you’ll never get a moment’s peace.
Those were the words of warning from my sister – a mother of two – upon hearing the news my wife and I were planning on taking our four-month-old son and three-year-old daughter for a week’s holiday in Italy.
Her reasoning was simple: the constant demands from our youngest child would mean it would be anything but a relaxing break – just the usual toing and froing, only this time in 25-degree heat.
It is with a hint of smugness, but much more a sense of relief, that I can look back and write that she got it totally wrong.
Our stay at Casa Lola was the perfect blend of tranqulity and relaxation, with enough to keep everyone amused, to more than justify our decision to go abroad.
Located on the brow of a rolling hill with glorious views of the mountains and countryside in the region of Le Marche in central eastern Italy, Casa Lola is a 200-year-old farmhouse which sleeps up to 10 people.
There are many beautiful ancient hill-top towns and villages close by with wonderful cafes and restaurants to enjoy and to savour that delicious cup of coffee and cake - such as Monte San Martino, Amandola, Sarnarno, Gualdo and Monte Falcone.
If sightseeing is not your thing, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better-equipped villa than Casa Lola.
One of its best aspects is the private swimming pool, which we could not keep our daughter out of for the whole holiday.
There is a large kitchen and dining room, as well as an outside barbecue and huge garden.
Set in remote countryside, it is not surprising that many of the locals do not speak much English but that just adds to being in the ‘real’ Italy.
Setting myself the challenge of being able to converse with residents, I was able to get a grasp of the Italian language thanks to Rosetta Stone.
Using the language company’s CD-Rom guide, I learnt the basics in the three months leading up to the holiday, goimg through the learning tool’s many levels at my conveniance and using a fantastic interactive service where you converse with Italian tutors.
It enabled me to book restaurant tables, ask for directions and cope with shopping at the local supermarket.
Because if it’s the genuine beauty of Italy you want to see, Casa Lola and Le Marche really does offer le dolce vita (the good life).
For more information on learning a new language with Rosetta Stone, visit www.rosettastone.co.uk/learn-italian