8 things to do and see with the children in Tuscany

Friday, July 24, 2015

8 things to do and see with the children in Tuscany

 
Posted by Ruth (24/07/2015)
Planning a family holiday to Tuscany means trying to balance sightseeing, relaxation, and keeping the kids entertained. Though you may be eager to spend hours gazing at Botticelli’s artwork or visiting every city’s Duomo, your children may need something else to keep them amused. Avoid tantrums and boredom by doing some of the following during your Tuscany trip.


See the Dinosaurs at Parco Preistorico
With 2015 seeing the release of the blockbuster film Jurassic World, it’s likely that parents are going to be toting children obsessed with prehistoric creatures. If your children can’t stop talking about dinos, then a trip to Parco Preistorico is perfect.
Created by landowner Erado Ghironi after he discovered fossils onsite, the park is an educational space that allows children to engage with their imagination and nature.
For more information, click here.

 

Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in Florence
Children will love the interactive exhibitions in the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in Florence. The informative and fun museum looks into Da Vinci’s inventions and his life. With special focus on his ‘flying machines’, children are likely to be inspired to come up with their own inventions and even attempt creating their own artworks. 
Alternatively, you could head to Vinci, near the birthplace of Leonardo, where there is another museum.

 

Pinocchio Park
Celebrate one of the greatest characters of all time by visiting Pinocchio Park, which has sculptures based on the artwork in the original book The Adventures of Pinocchio by Florentine writer Carlo Collodi. Whether you and your family have read and loved the book, or whether you regularly enjoy the Disney adaption, the park provides an excellent way to get outside and play while in Tuscany.
Find out more about the park here.
 

Pistoia Zoo
A day at the zoo is always a great day out wherever you are. At Pistoia Zoo, visitors can expect to see a huge variety of animals, and partake in a range of activities. With cafes and restaurants, along with a gift shop onsite, families should plan to spend the whole day at the zoo, rather than just a few hours.
You can visit the zoo’s website here for further information.

 

Ice Cream Tasting
Gelato is a big deal in Tuscany, and you’ll never be far from an ice cream shops. One of the best things about the many shops dotted around is that Italian gelato comes in a huge variety of flavours, from traditional pistachio, to modern bubble gum, and most flavours are delicious.
A simple way to keep children enthusiastic and cool during a day of sightseeing in the Tuscan heat is by planning ice cream tastings around your sightseeing. Share small tubs of ice cream in different flavours throughout the day to find out which flavour is your favourite, and to keep children entertained. 
 

Use Mus.e and visit Palazzo Vecchio
Before choosing which museums and galleries to visit with your children, check out Mus.e Firenze’s website. They organise special tours to help adults and children engage with the art and history of the city. Their website shows how they can create an exciting museum experience, including a Turtle Kit that includes some fantastic activities.
To find out more about their events, email info@muse.comune.fi.it
 

Play in the Pool
Planning a day or two spent playing and relaxing in your Tuscan villa is always a good idea when on holiday. Boredom on rest days can easily be avoided by making sure that your holiday accommodation has a pool that children and adults can play and swim in.
Pack some rubber rings, or get creative with your poolside games for a days’ worth of play.

 
Acqua Village
If a day spent by the villa pool isn’t enough for your little ones, then perhaps a trip to Acqua Village should be added to your itinerary. Situated on the coast, these water parks include water slides, wave pools, and tons of play areas.
Visit their website for maps of the sites and directions.
 

If you’re planning a Tuscan adventure for your children, then why not take a look at our Tuscany villas for families. We’ve got a beautiful selection of hand-picked villas for you to choose from, most which come with a pool, so take a browse today and start planning your Tuscan family getaway.
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Where to shop in Florence

Friday, July 17, 2015

Where to shop in Florence


Posted by Sonia (17/07/15)

Florence is not only home to magnificent artworks, history, and architecture but also houses some of the best shopping opportunities Tuscany has to offer. From high-end fashion brands, to picking up souvenirs from market stalls, there are plenty of local boutiques and gift shops to stumble upon in the city. Here’s our pick of where to shop while in Florence.

The traditional market
Tuscan cities are ideal for traditional market experiences, with Florence having countless markets to offer its visitors. Head to Porcellino market (Loggia del Porcellino) for a small but bustling market experience, where you can buy leather goods, scarves, and tourist trinkets. Here, you can also see a bronze copy of a statue by Pietro Tacca of a wild boar. Tradition has it that rubbing the nose of the boar will bring good luck. Those inspired by the statue can also plan a visit to the Palazzo Pitti to see the original marble sculpture.

For a larger market in Florence, head to San Lorenzo Market, which is just a few streets from the Duomo.

Looking for Luxe? Head to The Mall
For high-end designer goods and serious shopping sprees, heading to The Mall is a must. The clothing sold here definitely won’t suit every budget, with Italian brands like Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, and Fendi all having outlet shops there. Open throughout the week, the modern shopping centre is welcoming to tourists and has multilingual information points, and at just 30 minutes from Florence, is fairly easy to get to.

If you feel like visiting The Mall to purchase luxury Italian goods, you can get directions and opening hours from their website.

Beautiful Jewellery
Another great shopping location that combines sightseeing and shopping is Florence’s Ponte Vecchio. Probably the most famous bridge in Italy, the Ponte Vecchio was originally home to butcher’s shops, but is now home to a range of jewellery shops, specialising in gold pieces and souvenirs.

Here, you can purchase pendants that replicate Michelangelo’s David, the city’s coat of arms, and ancient coins, which make for a tasteful reminder of your trip to Tuscany. Shops also sell more valuable gold and silver goods, so there really is something for everyone at the Ponte Vecchio.

The Department Store
For a more budget-friendly shopping experience, you may want to head to Coin. The Italian department store has a mix of branded goods, including Italian fashion labels and beauty products. Alternatively, you could visit La Rinascente, which is small distance from Coin and not far from the Porcellino market either.

If you’re planning your Tuscany trip and are looking for luxury accommodation to stay in, then check out our selection of Tuscany villas. We’ve got a wide range of villas that are perfect for relaxing in after a long day of shopping.

 
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What to Wear on your Holiday in Tuscany

Thursday, July 9, 2015

What to Wear on your Holiday in Tuscany


Posted by Dympna Docherty (10/07/2015)

Tuscany has always been a stylish place to holiday, as like the rest of Italy, there is a culture for finely crafted clothes and elegant Italian style. Those who are planning a trip to the cultural hotspot of Tuscany are likely to be interested in what to wear during their break and whether there are any style faux pas to avoid.

Be Prepared
Tuscany during the summer sees dry weather and hot days, but there can be the occasional bursts of stormy weather and heavy rain. Stay dry and cool by packing a lightweight waterproof coat.
If you know that you’re going to spend a lot of time walking around the beautiful Tuscan countryside, or will be heading into city and commune centre to view the beautiful architecture, then be sure to wear sensible shoes. Sturdy footwear will mean that you can view Tuscany in comfort and won’t be spending your evenings tending to your blistered feet rather than dining out or watching the sunset.

Layer Clothing
It is a good idea for women and girls to pack some lightweight cardigans and a few pashminas and carry them with you whilst out and about. Should you decide you want to view a church or religious relic, which is highly likely, then you will find yourself getting turned away if your shoulders are bare and your hemline falls above the knee. Temporarily cover up with a cardigan and a scarf or sarong tied around your waist so that you can view the beauty of Tuscan church interiors. The same rules apply for men, so avoid wearing vests and short shorts whilst sightseeing. Instead, opt for a t-shirt and longer shorts, or trousers.

Swimwear Etiquette
Much like the rest of Europe, Italian public swimming pools sometimes have particular rules about what swimwear you have to wear. Some only allow you to swim if you are wearing a swimming cap, and men can be required to wear speedos if wanting to use the pool. Although this isn’t a strict rule like in France where speedos are required in all public swimming pools, it is best to be prepared and take a range of swimwear.

Evening Wear
While there isn’t technically a strict dress code for dining out, if you want to go out for a fancy evening meal, then it is best to dress well. Avoid shorts and t-shirts and instead wear summer dresses, chinos or linen trousers with a smart shirt when eating out in the evening. Heels, smart shoes, jewellery, and other accessories can and should be used to spice up an outfit you’d usually wear during the day.

If you don’t fancy ‘dressing up’ then do not worry, you’ll find plenty of restaurants that are more than happy to seat those dressed more casually, particularly in areas that are visited by many tourists.

If you’ve yet to book your Italian holiday, then why not take a look at our selection of beautiful Tuscany villas. Our handpicked selection caters for all, with family friendly villas, and villas for those looking for a romantic getaway. Take a look and start planning your relaxing break today.
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Puccini in Tuscany

Friday, July 3, 2015

Puccini in Tuscany


Posted by Mikolaj (03/07/2015)
Whether you enjoy regular trips to the opera or not, visiting Lucca and the places where Puccini created some of the finest operatic music the world has known makes for a brilliant Tuscan excursion.
Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca in 1858 and raised in an established musical family. He was educated at the Pacini School of Music in Lucca and continued his studies at the Milan Conservatory. His life saw him compose great works including the well-known operas, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème and Tosca.
To discover more about the talented composer, or to catch performances of his celebrated operas while in Tuscany, we’d recommend visiting the following.


Villa Museo Giacomo Puccini
Those who want to know more about Puccini can visit his home at the Puccini Museum in Torre del Lago. The villa, which was much loved by Puccini, is still owned by the Puccini family. The home contains many items from when Puccini himself lived there.
Check the website for visiting hours, and to book tickets in advance. The museum has information and audio guides available in four languages, and you can request an individual tour.


Puccini Festival
Torre del Lago holds an annual Puccini Festival where people can celebrate the composer and watch a selection of his operas throughout July and August. 2015’s operas are Tosca, Turandot, and Madama Butterfly. You can book tickets to the festival here.
If part of your Italian break involves leaving Tuscany, you could always head to Verona to the Arena Opera Festival where there will be performances of Tosca this year.


Puccini e la Sua Lucca
If you find that you won’t be in Tuscany during the annual festival, you can still listen to Puccini’s opera being performed as part of Puccini e la Sua Lucca. This festival puts on performances throughout the year in churches and piazzas across the city. Tickets to the recital performances are €20 for adults and €16 for concessions. Included in the price is a booklet containing a small biography of Puccini.

To Tuscany have a range of stunning villas in Lucca that make the perfect location for a Puccini themed break. Browse our website to view the villas we have to offer.
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Don’t Miss the Medici Villas and Gardens

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Don’t Miss the Medici Villas and Gardens


Posted by Virginie (26/06/2015)
 
For many years, from the last 14th century to the 18th century, the history of Tuscany was strongly tied up with that of the Medici family. From relatively humble origins, the family rose over the centuries to become Grand Dukes of the Tuscany region. Today the region bears a number of reminders of the influence of the Medici family, including the world famous Medici Villas and Gardens.

Who were the Medici?
Originally hailing for the Mugello region in northern Tuscany, the Medici family were well established in the city of Florence by the late 1300s. Through a combination of close ties to other powerful families and financial prowess, the Medici rose to become the city’s preeminent family. The Medici bank that they founded went on to become Europe’s largest bank, giving the family international prominence.
Having dominated the cities politics for over a century, the family eventually became hereditary rulers of the city when Florence transformed from a republic into a duchy. Later, following the conquest of old rivals Siena, the Medici transformed the region into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany under their control. The family continued to dominate Tuscany until the mid-eighteenth century when a lack of male heirs and bankruptcy lead to their fall from grace.

UNESCO World Heritage listed site
The Medici where strong patrons of the arts, including architecture, and their influence can still be seen in much of the buildings and art work that dates from their time. One of the most enduring and visibly legacies of the family today is the collection of villas and gardens bearing their name which are scattered throughout the Tuscany region.
The Medici Villas and Gardens were declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2013, recognising their historical significance. The villas were the family’s country palaces and acted as leisure resorts for the Medici and their supporters as well as being important centres for agricultural activities in the surrounding areas.
The earliest villas include Villa del Trebbio in the Mugello region where the Medici originated and Villa Medici at Cafaggiolo. These early villas were effectively fortified farmhouses providing strong seats from which the Medici could control the local countryside. Later villas include excellent examples of Renaissance architecture, such as Villa di Pratolino, and neoclassical design, such as Villa del Poggio Imperiale.
Many of the villas had elaborate gardens, such as those at Villa di Castello, which were designed by the famous Mannerist artist Niccolò Tribolo.

Today many of the Medici Villas and Gardens have been preserved as museums, the homes of various institutions and as privately owned estates. Some of these are open to the public either on a regular basis or on special occasions and are well worth visiting if you have the opportunity.
We have a wide range of luxury villas in Tuscany to rent, providing the perfect base to explore this beautiful and historic region. For more ideas on what to see and do during your visit, check out our customisable infobook
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