Tuscan Honeymoon

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tuscan Honeymoon

Posted by Virginie (20/11/2015)
Honeymooning in Tuscany is a chance to see some amazing culture and soak up the romantic atmosphere of the region, all while spending some much earnt alone time together as newlyweds. When honeymooning, you may simply want to stay at your luxury villa and relax, but if you do feel like exploring there is a wealth of romantic locations in Tuscany.
Hiring a car and exploring the local area surrounding your villa will be sure to find your some picturesque landscapes that are perfect for photo opportunities and gentle walks, but if you want to plan some real sightseeing into your trip, you may want to consider the following.

Watch the Sunset/Sunrise in Pisa
If staying near Pisa it is worth staying out late, or getting up early and visiting the Leaning Tower to watch the sunset or sunrise. You’ll find that the Piazza del Duomo is quieter then than during the middle of the day, so you can really soak up the atmosphere and take in the beauty of these world famous pieces of architecture.
Combining this experience with going for breakfast or making dinner plans means that you can experience the cuisine that Pisa has to offer.
It is also worth visiting the complex during the building’s opening times, as you can climb the Tower for breathtaking views of the city, and see the spectacular interior of the Duomo.

Head to the Beach – or Spa!
Tuscany’s coast has plenty of amazing beaches that newlyweds can relax on. With many private beaches you can almost guarantee luxury with sun loungers and some wonderful bars. If looking for a pampering experience, then head to one of the natural spas Tuscany is known for. There’s a range of thermal spas that are perfect for unwinding while on honeymoon. Head to The Saturnia for an amazing experience.

Visit a Botanical Garden
Taking a trip to a botanical garden during your Tuscan honeymoon can be a beautiful way to escape the crowds. With plenty of green space available throughout most communes.
The Orto Botanico dell'Università di Siena is a university botanical garden and is open throughout the year. Located inside Siena’s city, you can visit the gardens for free and escape the often busy centre of Siena and explore a wonderful range of plants.

If you’re planning your honeymoon and want a truly relaxing escape, then take a look at our selection of romantic Tuscany villas on our website.
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Tuscany’s Best Castles

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tuscany’s Best Castles

Posted by Ruth (13/11/2015)

Tuscany has some of finest surviving castles in the world, many of which have a distinctive style reminiscent of the classic ‘fairy tale castle’. Whether you are planning a romantic holiday, a history lovers’ tour or a family vacation, the castles of Tuscany are wonderfully atmospheric, conjuring up over a thousand years of Italian history. The following are our top three picks from the region (although there are so many to choose from we could have easily picked twenty!).

Located on a ridge overlooking Arezzo, this walled village (known locally as Civitella della Chiana), is steeped in history. Its fortifications date back to the Kingdom of the Lombards in the early mediaeval period, sometime between the 6th and 8th century AD. Before that the site was home to settlements going all the way back to pre-Roman times.
Today, the original fortifications have survived mostly intact, however the main fortress (or Rocca) was heavily damaged by bombing during the Second World War and has not been restored. However, Civitella still provides an excellent example of a mediaeval Tuscan walled town and offers fantastic views across the surrounding area.

Brunella Fortress
The exact date of the construction of this impressive fortress is not known, although most educated guesses place it at some time during the 15th century due to the architectural style. The castle occupies a strategic position overlooking the nearby town of Aulla at the junction of the Aulella and Magra rivers.
The squat, square shaped castle is in excellent condition having been used as a private residence during the early part of the 20th century before being bought by the state who carried out a complete restoration. It is currently home to the Natural History Museum of Lunigiana and sits within a wonderful natural park.

Castello Malaspina – Fosdinovo
Malaspina Castle dominates the Tuscan town of Massa and has a rich and varied history. The earliest recording of a keep on the site comes from 1164, however this was levelled by an army from nearby Lucca in 1269. Construction of the new castle was begun in 1340 by the Malaspina family and incorporated surviving elements of the original fortification.
During the Renaissance, the castle was updated into a more elegant fortified home in line with the fashions of the day. Legend has it that Dante’s vision of the descending circles of Hell from the Divine Comedy was inspired by a funnel shaped cave near the castle. During the 17th century, the fortification fell into the hands of the military and it was subsequently used as a prison until 1946.
After many years of refurbishment, the entire complex is now open to the public and contains a fantastic collection of antique furniture and paintings, a torture chamber and, allegedly, a ghost!

To Tuscany are one of the top providers of independent Tuscany villas, with a wide variety of accommodation options on offer throughout the region. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements and we will help you find the perfect place to stay.
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Give Your Kids a Taste of Tuscany

Friday, November 6, 2015

 Give Your Kids a Taste of Tuscany

Posted by Sonia (06/11/2015)

One of the great joys of any holiday abroad is getting to try out the local cuisine. However, we know that kids can sometimes be fussy about trying new things and that they often need a little encouragement. The following are our top picks to get your kids excited about going on a food adventure and (hopefully) turn them into budding foodies!

The Perugina Chocolate Factory
Anyone who has ever read or seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has no doubt dreamt of visiting a real life chocolate factory. Baci Perugina offers just that. Located on the outskirts of Perugia, the company has been making sweets since 1907 and now has locations in New York and Chicago as well as their Italian home. Visitors get to see chocolate being made, take a tour of the factory museum and even try out some of the chocolates fresh from the production line! Take a look at the Baci Perugina website to find out more.

Gelato Tour
At the risk of stereotyping, most children love ice cream so when in Italian it would be foolish not to indulge them! Florence is well known for the high quality and variety of its gelato (the Italian name for ice cream) with a wide range of gelato bars (or gelateries) to choose from. Booking a gelato tour is a great way to see the city and a real treat for the whole family. Alternatively, you can make a list of the best local gelateries that you want to visit and organise your own tour.

Pizza Making
One of the best ways to get kids excited about new foods is to get them involved in making them. Pizza is a relatively safe place to start as most children are already familiar with it. Italy offers the perfect chance to introduce them to more traditional kinds of pizza and more adventurous toppings than they might be used to at home. Located just to the south of Florence in the hills of Chianti, Ciao Laura offers pizza making classes which children are very welcome to attend.

To Tuscany has a number of villas in Florence, Perugia and throughout Tuscany available for rent, many of which are perfect for families. We are also happy to advise you on the best activities for whatever kind of holiday you are planning.
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Pecorino – A Truly Tuscan Cheese

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pecorino – A Truly Tuscan Cheese

Posted by Dympna Docherty (30/10/2015)

Like the rest of Italy, Tuscany is well known for its range of fabulous foods. For tourists, sampling the local cuisine is normally a top priority, but with so many tasty treats to choose from, where do you begin? Cheese is a staple part of the Tuscan diet and something the locals excel at producing. Pecorino is probably the cheese most closely associated with the region, so we wanted to let you in on the action.

What is pecorino
A hard cheese made from ewe’s milk, there are four main varieties of pecorino which all have Protected Designation of Origin status. This means only cheese made in certain specific places in Italy can truthfully be called pecorino. The cheese is still made to an original method which dates back thousands of years, having been a staple part of the diet of Roman legionaries and being mentioned in the writings of ancient authors such as Pliny the Elder. This means, when you bite into a piece of pecorino, you are tasting a piece of Italian history.

Romano or Tuscano?
The most popular variety is Pecorino Romano, one of the officially recognised areas of production for which is the Grosseto Province of Tuscany. There is also a local variety, Pecorino Toscano, which is very popular throughout the region. Pecorino Romano tends to be harder and saltier, while the Toscano variety often has a more buttery texture and nuttier flavour. However, this does vary from producer to producer, so the only sensible option is to try as many different varieties as possible!

How to eat it
As a hard cheese, Pecorino is easy to grate or shave and is often used as an alternative to parmesan on pasta and salads. It can also be used at the end of a meal where it is frequently paired with figs, pears and walnuts and drizzled with honey. The Toscano variety is also sometimes incorporated into desserts where its less salty flavour is an advantage.

Where to get it
Pretty much all delis and markets in Tuscany will sell at least one type of pecorino, but it is also worth heading direct to a producer if you can. Corzano e Paterno is a pecorino producing farm halfway between Florence and Siena which also offers tours of their facilities and cheese tasting sessions.

Many of the To Tuscany team are based right here in Tuscany, giving us a fantastic insight into all that’s best about this wonderful region. We are always happy to advise our customers on the best things to do, see and, of course eat, so once you’ve found the perfect Tuscan villa to rent feel free to pick our brains about the rest of your trip. 
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Visiting Pietransanta

Friday, October 23, 2015

Visiting Pietransanta

Posted by Mikolaj (23/10/2015)

Renowned as a hub of artistic creativity, those taking a holiday in Tuscany may want to consider visiting Pietransanta. Situated 3km from the coast, 32km north of Pisa, and lying at the foothills of Apuan Alps, the comune is easy to access by car or train and offers plenty to do and see.

Bozzetti Museum
Follow the creative process from start to finish at the Bozzetti Museum. Filled with examples of how sculptures are developed and made, it is a treat for lovers of art history and theory, as well as newcomers to the artistic world. The museum is based in the 16th century former convent S. Agostino, is free to visit, and is open throughout the year.
The museum includes a park filled with contemporary sculptures by international artists that show how much sculpture has progressed and evolved since the times of Michelangelo.

Piazza Duomo
This Piazza is home to Pietransanta’s Duomo and a number of small cafés that are perfect for relaxing with a coffee and a light bite. Visit the church of S. Agostino to see an inspiring church that has a beautiful stained glass window, a marble pulpit, and frescoes.
The piazza also frequently showcases contemporary sculpture so expect to see unique artwork throughout your visit.

Marina di Pietrasanta
Just 3km from Pietrasanta is a coastline of golden sands. The beach’s beauty has given it the reputation of one of Italy’s best beaches and it is a great location for an afternoon of fun in the sun. Go to a private beach and pay for the luxury of using sun loungers, restaurants, and their other facilities.

To Tuscany provide a selection of handpicked luxury Tuscany villas for those looking for a bespoke Italian experience. Browse our website to see our selection of villas where you can relax and unwind or use as a base to explore everything that Tuscany has to offer.
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