The hamlet materialises, as if by magic, out of nowhere. As do steep green mountainsides and lush chestnut forests; a wild eco system thrives outside Elena’s front door. All who stay speak of a wonderful welcome from this ex-banker host, who left the city for memories of childhood summers spent here. Bold colour schemes enliven interior spaces and uncluttered bedrooms with sweeping wooden floors reveal deep hues and dazzling white crochet covers. Indian and south-east Asian pieces of furniture add intriguing ethnic touches; paintings and canvasses strike a bold note. You are only two miles from the nearest FEVE train station, so drop the car and take a trip into the mountains – or along the coast. Elena can tell you about jaunts in search of hidden springs. Return to a pretty garden backed by steep forest and woodpeckers at work; get out the binoculars and spot a few deer. Delicious food, a big selection of DVDs, and pets accepted for a fee that goes to an animal welfare charity. Brilliant value.