How to Take Holiday Photos that will Impress

Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Take Holiday Photos that will Impress

Have you recently purchased a new camera, ready for your holiday in the beautiful Italian countryside? You might be looking to take some decent, high-quality photos, but you’re still uncertain about some of the camera’s settings. We’ve come up with some tangible, sensible advice to help you shoot some truly spectacular holiday snaps.
Some of the following ideas may seem fairly obvious, but these are some very real issues that most amateur photographers should be looking to avoid:

Firstly: What are you shooting?
Your photographs should be interesting, relevant and aesthetically pleasing. You want to capture a beautiful scene so that you can keep it forever. Unfortunately however, there are some scenes that just should not be captured. The secret behind good photography therefore, is knowing when to shoot and when to just admire the view.

Portrait Frames
The secret to a good portrait is the positioning. Imagine there are 9 squares in a photograph, like in this well-positioned image below:

To start off with a classical portrait style, your subject should be centred on the middle square. This can take practice in aiming and framing your shot correctly, but once you have this clear in your mind, your portraits will suddenly stand out and look more professional.
Have your model look away from the camera to smile before turning back in time for the ‘click’. This method can lead to the most natural shots, reducing the risk of an overly exaggerated pose.

Always try and keep the sun’s position in mind when taking a photo. Try and keep the sun behind you when taking a quality photo, as your camera will overcompensate for its brightness. This will lead to darker photos with less detail.
The best landscape shots are taken at dawn and just before dusk. This time of day produces the optimum lighting in which to take a good photo. A good sunset photo should be taken when the camera is steady, meaning that you either need to purchase a tripod, or position your camera on a steady wall.

Select and Edit your Slide-Show in more than One Sitting
The importance of selecting the right photos to show others cannot be overstated. Your friends may be polite and not say anything whilst sitting through an interminable display of your recent holiday snaps, but someone needs to tell you: No photo-show should last any longer than seven minutes.
If you have two images that are even slightly similar, select the best one and delete the other. Place more importance on photos of people and interesting, quirky images than pictures of buildings.
Always remember that a photo should tell a story. If you need to explain the story behind the photo a little, that can be interesting. If you have to explain why the photo is even there in the first place, you should probably remove it.

Contact Us
We hope that you enjoy taking excellent shots of your holiday in your Tuscan villa rental. If you have any questions about any of the local history in your villa’s area, please don’t hesitate to ask us. You can call us on 0121 286 7782 or e-mail us here.
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Who else wants to go Kitesurfing in Tuscany?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Who else wants to go Kitesurfing in Tuscany?

There is so much to do in Tuscany it can be hard sometimes to make an itinerary. If you are planning your holiday in Tuscany this summer around your love of water sports, please do beware that most in-land lakes in Tuscany belong to protected national parks. As a result, most water-sports are banned from these areas.

For more advice, intermixed with some useful leads on where to go, read on below:

Charter a Yacht            
You can find sail-boats in the south of Tuscany, positioned idyllically on the beaches, waiting to be chartered. The coastline off Tuscany is famous the world over for its crystal clear Mediterranean waters and its stunning sea-food. You can see some of the most beautiful islands in Europe, including Elba and the Ponza islands within a few hours of leaving the mainland.

Please do note that certain areas of this coastline are protected by law and all fishing is illegal. Please check local maps and with the local authorities if you are looking to go fishing on your boat.

Windsurfing and Kitesurfing
Almost all of the Etruscan coast could be considered a water-sporting dream. Head to the beautiful white-sand beach at Rosignano for some excellent kite-surfing, before taking the train down to Follonica beach for much of the same. Talamone beach is particularly famous for its strong thermal winds, making for excellent kite-surfing conditions. To check up on the latest conditions, please see Kitesurf Tuscany’s Facebook page.

Canoeing and Kayaking
There can be no finer way to see some of Italy’s stunning maritime areas than in a canoe. Paddling gently up stream or along a coastline, you can be assured of a better view by staying closer to the water-level. With the right water-proofing, it can be one of the best ways to take a stunning photo.

One of the best locations to go kayaking is at Lake Roffio, near Pisa. There is a rowing club, which also holds rowing regattas every year. You can hire two-man canoes and take them out for day-trips.

Scuba Diving
If you like to view fish and other sea-dwelling creatures close-up in their natural habitat, you must go scuba diving. The Etruscan coast has many diving centres which can take you out on excursions and also hire equipment. For a full list of scuba centres in Tuscany, please follow this link.

If you are looking for Tuscany villas to rent, we have the perfect accommodation to fit your water-sports holiday. Please e-mail us with any questions you may have; we’d love to help.
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Travelling with your dog

Travelling with your dog


As a pet owner, you will have a little more to consider when planning your holidays.
When choosing your ideal villa, please take care to note if it states in the description,  “Pets allowed’’ or ‘’Pets welcome”

In general most owners do not accept fighting dogs. When booking your holiday house please specify the breed of your dog.
Apartments and individual houses where pets are not accepted are very popular with people with allergies, so understandably the owners may not make any exceptions.
Even if pets are welcome, some villas accept dogs for free but others may charge an amount for the extra cleaning. In general the amounts will be paid on site on arrival.
Once you have chosen the best place for both you and your pet, you need to check entry requirements for pets into Italy.


EU rules apply for holidays with pets in Italy:
Your dog needs an EU pet passport with a veterinary confirmation of anti-rabies inoculation and a microchip (this carries a unique code which can be scanned in animal shelters, animal rescue centres and veterinary practices).
In Italy a leash and muzzle must be taken.
It is advisable to take out pet insurance.
Food and water bowl must of course be part of your luggage. The water bowl should be stored within reach, together with a bottle of water. You should also take along your dog’s own basket/pillow so your pet will feel at home.
Remember to include your dog’s favorite food, treats and chew bones so that they do not experience any stomach upset. Do not make changes to their food or bowls for the holiday period.
A small first aid kit for pets should not be forgotten. It is useful to have medications for diarrhoea, parasites and wound care, as well as a pair of tweezers for removing thorns or hedge-fern (the so-called “forasacchi”).
You should also inform yourself about the local risk of ticks, although the tick problem in Italy is not as bad as in other countries. A spot-on preparation or tick collar and tick-tweezers may be worth taking with you.
In the car, the dog should always sit in the back, separated by a solid partition grid or in the foot area of the passenger seat.
You can transport your dog properly and safely if you buy a transport basket or a seatbelt. If your little four-legged darling is not wearing a seatbelt or not housed safe, it could not only be very dangerous but also very expensive when you have to pay a fine.
Travelling with dogs is not always easy for the dog owner. In Italy you can often have more problems than in other European countries.
In many restaurants dogs are not allowed. Therefore please inform the desired restaurant in advance about bringing a four-legged family member (possibly also weight and breed).
Even if dogs are welcome in apartments they are often undesirable within the estate, for example by the pool or in the restaurant. At any property dogs are not allowed in the pool.
Also dogs are usually not allowed in museums. Even carrying little dogs in your arms or in a bag is often not permitted.

Travel Checklist

·         dog basket
·         dog pillow
·         favourite toy
·         food, treats, chews
·         food bowl, water bowl
·         collar, harness
·         leash
·         muzzle
·         EU pet passport
·         pet first aid kit (tick tweezers, feet care, spot-on or tick collar and bandaging material)
·         transport basket and/or seatbelt for the car
·         insurance policy for dog liability

Dog beaches in Tuscany
In general most of the dog friendly beaches are marked with signs in Tuscany. These are usually free beaches, public beaches - not leased beaches. That means you have to bring your own umbrella to protect your four-legged friend.
Important:  please remember to take enough water with you because often the nearest place to top up can be far away or you cannot reach it with your four-legged friend.
At some beaches you will find areas for the excrements and where you can get rid of this.
To avoid problems you should always carry the necessary bags with you.
In most public dog beaches it is not permitted to allow your dog to run without a leash.
Throughout Tuscany the number of dog beaches has increased significantly in recent years. Comparing the region of Tuscany with other areas you will find Tuscany has the most.


As of 2012, the following are dog beaches along the Tuscan coast:

Dog beaches Pisa Province

·         Calambrone(Pisa): outside of Pisa It is a part of a public beach where pets are allowed (see signs!). Please note that the area is better known for its industry!
·         Marina del Lago di Torre Puccini (PI): about 2km public beach


Dog beaches Livorno Province

·         Livorno: lungomareArdenza
·         Isola d’Elba: the beach Fonza outside of Campo nell’Elba. You will reach the beach after about 4 km unpaved road.
·         Antignano(LI): individual parts along the beach
·         Cecina (Livorno): south of the sandy beach of Cecina, or north (FossoNuovo and Gorette).

Part of the beach behind the holiday village “La Cecinella” also allows dogs. 

·         Marina di Bibbona/Cecina Mare (Livorno): in the nature park between Marina di Bibbona and Marina di Cecina
·         Marina di Castagneto Carducci (Livorno): right at the roundabout, follow the signs to Spiaggia per cani. The beach is outside of Marina di Castagneto (direction Bibbona, along the sea).
·         San Vincenzo (Livorno): “Dog beach” coming from San Vincenzo towards Piombino about 800m after the city-limit sign. Parking along the street.
·         BarattiBay (Livorno): left of the church San Cerbone and the small jetty, along the road
·         Piombino(Livorno): SpiaggiaBernardini
·         Perelli 1 (Livorno)

Dog beaches Grosseto Province

·         Follonica/Scarlino(Grosseto)
·         Puntone di Scarlino(Grosseto)
·         Punta Ala(Grosseto)
·         Marina di Grosseto (Grosseto)


To Tuscany wishes you and your four-legged friend BuonoVacanze!

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Tuscan Climate: What is the perfect time to visit Tuscany?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tuscan Climate: What is the perfect time to visit Tuscany?

To Tuscany photocompetition 2010 - Pethybridge
There’s a perfect time of year for everybody to travel to Tuscany, whether you’re a sun basker or a shade seeker! As well as our differing internal thermostats, it also comes down to what sort of holiday you’re looking for. If you love outdoor activities then maybe the peak of summer isn’t for you, whereas if you love sitting outside your Tuscany villa sizzling away just to get the satisfaction of jumping in a nice cool pool, then bring on the sun!
We’ve written some guidelines to help you find the perfect time to visit, so you don’t have any hot and flustered, or shivering loved ones to contend with!

April – May
This can be a great time of year to come, with high temperatures ranging from a blissful 18°C (64°F) in April to 23°C (73°F) in May. You miss the scorching heat of high summer and you’re one step ahead of the summer holiday makers, so it’s a perfect time to catch some sun and take in the tourist attractions without the massive queues. It’s still part of the tourist season so everything is open, but you will find that accommodation and sometimes even the restaurants are cheaper. It’s a great time for both romantic holidays and family holidays in Tuscany as the weather accommodates a wealth of activities.

June – August
This is the time for the real sun worshippers with high temperatures rising in June to 27°C (81°F) and peaking in July and August at 30°C (86°F). If you want a relaxing holiday where you spend a day or two visiting the Uffizi gallery or the leaning tower of Pisa, but want to spend most of the time just relaxing at your Tuscan villa, this could be perfect. With night temperatures around 16-18°C (61-64°F) you can enjoy some gorgeous balmy evenings next to the pool with a glass of wine and a barbeque accompanied with lovely fresh salads, making it the perfect option for romantic holidays in Tuscany.

September – October
It’s still hot in September with highs of 26°C (79°F), but with the kid’s back at school, the crowds are greatly diminished and prices are lower. Temperatures are starting to ease off in October to average highs of 20°C (68°F), which is warm enough for a spot of sun bathing and a lovely temperature to go for walks and enjoy the Tuscan countryside. What better time of year to do this than in autumn, with the beautiful reds and golds of the changing leaves. This is also the time that most vineyards have their harvest, so there are plenty of harvest festivals to visit.

November – March
This is a great time to visit Tuscany if you want to pick up a bargain and aren’t too keen on sunbathing! Temperatures range from 9-14°C (48-57°F) with the coldest month being January. Some people say that this is the time to visit ‘the real Tuscany’ as the crowds have gone and you get to experience life as the locals do. If you go at Easter or Christmas, you’ll also be joining the Italian tourists, as these are popular holiday times and you know what they, say “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Nobody knows Italy better than the Italians and this is when they go on holiday, so there must be some Italian magic to be found at these times. One thing to watch out for is that some restaurants will close for a month during this period, but this is counter balanced by the fact that the open ones are much cheaper in low season.

The Climate does vary throughout Tuscany, due to the varied terrain, so temperatures will be higher on the coast and in the valleys, compared to the mountainous regions. So you can take this into account when choosing a location for villas in Tuscany. Take a look at our website to explore our Tuscany villas
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Famous People from Tuscany

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Famous People from Tuscany

Tuscany has long been an area known for its exports, with its larger cities like Florence and Siena being hubs of creativity and pioneering modern culture, so it comes as no surprise that many Tuscan natives are internationally famous. Listing all the famous or notable Tuscans is almost impossible, but here are some of the most famous children of Tuscany.

Leonardo da Vinci

Creator of the most famous painting ever, the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci was a true master of the Italian Renaissance. The polymath is known as an historical figure whose intelligence, inventions, discoveries and artistic talents helped shape the world in which we now live in. Born in Vinci, a small commune in Tuscany that is now home to the Museo Leonardiano, Da Vinci is credited with the invention of the helicopter, and helping to create a greater understanding of human anatomy. 


One of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance and still looked upon as one of the most skilled sculptors in history, Michelangelo is arguably Italy’s most famous artist. Born in Caprese, Michelangelo honed his crafts in Florence as painter’s apprentice. His earlier works focused on sculpting and after his PietĂ  gained notoriety in Rome he returned to Florence to create the masterpiece David, which is now housed in the city’s Galleria del Academia.

Renowned Fashion Designer Roberto Cavalli

Born into an artistic family (his grandfather’s artwork is displayed in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery), Roberto Cavalli is a fashion designer who’s labels and brand have achieved international success. Cavalli is known for innovative creations and pioneered a technique that involved printing on leather after attending Florence’s Art Institute. Throughout his career, Cavalli has continued to return to his hometown to display his label’s latest designs, and in 2002 opened a cafĂ© next to the designer’s boutique store.

International Bestselling Author Frances Mayes

Although not born in Tuscany, American author Frances Mayes upped sticks and moved to Tuscany after seeing a 200-year-old Tuscan farmhouse that was looking for a much-needed renovation. Bramasole, the neglected farmhouse, and the work she carried out on it along with her love of Italian culture quickly became inspiration for her international bestselling book Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy. Released in 1996, the book gained widespread attention and was adapted to the big screen in 2003.

Her literary works continued to focus on her love of Italy, with two more books being written to complete the Tuscan trilogy; Bella Tuscany, and Every Day in Tuscany.   

There are plenty of famous Tuscans that can be added to the list, and in a region that is filled with inspiring landscapes and beautiful history there is bound to be many more. If this list has inspired you to take a trip and visit some of the wondrous artworks on display in the many museums and art galleries, then why not take a look the Tuscany villas we offer on our website.
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