Ideas and inspiration for easy entertaining and a fun home life



August 3, 2021

We’re often asked about finding homes to rent in Europe which are similar to my late Grandmother’s house in France. Somewhere that allows you to step into a moment in time, a different life, and to feel more rooted and settled than a hotel stay or a more modern villa. Trasierra is the first place that pops to mind, which is why it was our choice to celebrate my step mother’s 65th birthday with her closet friends.

Trasierra is a private home which you can rent for groups. It’s perfect for celebrations: birthdays, milestones, small weddings. I imagine taking it on with a group of friends for a week of summer holiday would be pretty spectacular.

The reason the property feels so familiar to me is not because it’s a beautiful big old house with a similar cozy, collected aesthetic but because it’s infused with a sense of magic. This story of our arrival last time illustrates the care our hosts at Trasierra take to make you feel welcome and to give you a “magical” experience. They do it with such grace and returning here was even better than I had anticipated.

This celebration was delayed a year because of COVID-19. We traveled in June, post-vaccination, pre-delta rampage, though it was starting to heat up in Lisbon and guests many re-routed flights. Because the house is so private, we were able to just get there and relax. With the two children, we laid super low vs. doing any exploring which meant days by the pool, lunches, naps, chasing doggies and games and reading… what a luxury!! The baby LOVES swimming it turns out and is quite fearless!

The property is so beautiful with winding pathways, hidden gardens, and places to read, nap, stretch. One never wants for anything, there is always something delicious to eat and shade to find. Food is central to the pleasure of Trasierra. The Chef is one of my all time favorites and I love the cadence of the meals which are bountiful. One starts the day with toast, fruit, eggs, pastries; crudités resting on ice with a delicious herby yogurt is on offer before lunch. Lunch is a bounty of vegetables: a mix of salads, grain, potato, roasted, maybe a Spanish omelette and some crusty homemade bread always followed by the most ripe and juicy cold fruit, melon or cherries. Tea goes out around six with a yummy lemon cake and more fruit and then appetizers are from 8:30-9 with cheeses, meats, more vegetables….and then you have dinner and dessert! I know that it sounds like a lot but it’s ALL so light and vegetable focused that you just feel absolutely wonderful and nourished. We’re trying to re-create it at home!

Every night we had a big dinner somewhere new on the property. Each table was set with a bounty of flowers and candles. It was wonderful! Because we had the children and sometimes the tables were far from our room, the baby often fell asleep on my lap or somewhere cozy nearby. Will and I might leave the table earlier than most to get the children tucked and our lovely hosts set out a bottle of wine and some chocolate on our terrace so we could have some time to “unwind” just us. It was like having an end of evening date every night!

Rory decided rather than sit back and relax, he’d like to join the “team” who was looking after us. He was relentless in his pursuit to help set the table, cook our meals, bring out desserts. The first night I was walking with the baby and I passed the kitchen surprised to find Rory standing on stool with a mask and apron on, dishing out ice cream. He is four. I was anxious he was underfoot but the team welcomed him right back. The last night he surprised his new friends with drawings: the chef in her kitchen, our host setting the table, the younger generation manning the bar. It was totally his idea and he did it without telling us. We were so proud of him!