How to keep cool in Andalusia when school's out

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The Independent Travel
Having enjoyed cottage-based holidays both in Britain and France, my wife and I would like to find something similar a little further afield. We are thinking of central Italy or southern Spain, but we are both teachers so we can go only during the school holidays. Would the weather be unbearably hot there in the summer?

Tim Boud


The Travel Editor replies: There is a great variety of accommodation on offer in Spain and Italy, but you are more likely to find a converted farmhouse than a cottage. The school summer-holiday period is when temperatures reach their highest - 30C to 35C - but the advantage of old stone buildings is that they have thick walls and are cool inside. It is also a good idea to book somewhere with a swimming pool to escape the heat.

Simply Tuscany and Umbria (tel: 0181-995 8277) offers two weeks in a one-bedroom apartment in Sant' Andrea, a converted farmhouse near Citta' della Pieve in lovely hilly Umbria, for pounds 1,104 per person during peak season. This price includes return flights and group B car hire. It is also possible to rent just the apartment, without flights and so on.

The Magic of Italy (tel: 0181-748 7575) offers a selection of villas and farmhouses. In Umbria, 30 minutes from Perugia, is an old farmhouse called L'Eremo, set on a large estate and featuring several self-catering "rustic" apartments with swimming pool and tennis courts. The price for a one-bedroom apartment here in July is pounds 569 per person for the first week and pounds 246 per person for the second week. This price includes return flights, car hire and a Blue Guide to Umbria.

Southern Spain can still be a cheaper option than central Italy, with its many cortijos - traditional Andalusian farmhouses. The Magic of Spain (tel: 0181-748 7575) offers La Cuadra, a tastefully decorated one- bedroom apartment in the hamlet of La Molineta, just outside the Moorish village of Frigiliana. The price from 15 July to 11 August is pounds 655 per person for the first week and pounds 317 per person for the second week. All prices include return flights from Gatwick to Malaga or Seville and car rental.

Vintage Travel (tel: 01954 261431) also specialises in Andalusian cortijos, but for larger groups of people. Casa Ana sleeps four to six, has terraces and a swimming pool and is just a 10-minute drive from Ronda, the part- Moorish city that is divided by a dramatic river gorge and surrounded by the mountains of the Serrania. Casa Ana costs pounds 745 a week to rent in peak season. For six to seven people, there is the very rural Huerta de las Vegas, 6km from a traditional pueblo blanco, Ubrique. It also has a swimming pool and a barbecue, and costs pounds 965 per week to rent during the peak season.