Top 5 Family Activities in Tuscany

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Top 5 Family Activities in Tuscany


Poster by Dympna (06/03/2015)

Medieval towns, fine foods and wine-tasting are among the many pleasures to experience on a Tuscan holiday, but if you’re taking your children with you then you’ll want to mix in some family-friendly activities. We’ve rounded up five ideas that you will love just as much as your children to keep everyone happy.

Chocolate Factory
The Perugina Casa Del Cioccolato  is a famous chocolate factory in Perugia. Organise a visit to see where some of the tastiest Italian treats are made, including the famous love token the ‘Baci’, which is Italian for ‘kisses’. You can have a full tour of the factory, and guzzle a few free tasters before you leave. It’s also a perfect opportunity to pick up a few treats to enjoy back at your villa, or take home with you – if you can resist them long enough!

Water Parks
Tuscany has a few waterparks that you can choose from, depending in which region you’re staying in. Livorno and Grosseto both have large aqua parks called ‘Acqua Village’ nearby that are open June-September, or there are smaller choices depending on which region you visit. If your children are dedicated water lovers, you could look into Tuscan villa rentals that include a private or shared pool so they can keep the fun going while you relax.

Pistoia Zoo (Giardino Zoologico di Pistoia)
From big cats to little lizards, there’s a lot to see and learn about the 600 animals that live at Pistoia Zoo. You can get up close and personal with some of the friendlier critters in the organised interactive exhibits which, along with the adventure play areas and face painting, will all add up to an exhausting day out for your little ones.

Ice Cream
If you have a sweet tooth, you really can’t visit Tuscany without trying the delicious ice cream on offer. Have a go at making your own ice cream with one of the various shops and factories around Tuscany - we recommend Antica Delizia. If you don’t fancy having a go yourself, at the very least you can all have a taste.

Palazzo Veccio Family Museum
Book a guided tour of this museum in Florence to experience what life was like for the Medici family in a fun, interactive way that your children will love. Along with learning a lot about Italian Renaissance history, you will get to play dress-up (yes, adults too!) hear stories and engage in craft activities. There are attractions for every age, so everyone will find something that they’ll enjoy.

At the end of every adventurous day, you’ll need a relaxing space that feels like home to go to. Consider renting one of our Tuscan villas as the base for your perfect family holiday.
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Romantic Tuscan Honeymoons

Friday, February 27, 2015

Romantic Tuscan Honeymoons

 
Posted by Ruth Anne (27/02/2015)
 
Planning for a wedding is a wonderful, yet stressful time in a couple’s life, and once the big day is over, newlyweds will no doubt want to wind down and continue celebrating together on their honeymoon. A honeymoon is the perfect time to relax away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and celebrate your commitment to one another, which are just some of the reasons why it’s so important to pick the perfect destination.

The stunning region of Tuscany is a dream location for recently wed couples who want to spend their honeymoon soaking up sun and culture during a relaxing break. With so much to do and see, and so many amazingly relaxing activities, we’ve come up with a few suggestions of what loved-up couples can do on their honeymoon.

Watch the Sunset
Choose a villa with a breathtaking view and watch the sunset at least once on your honeymoon. As darkness descends, couples can see stunning views of olive groves and Chianti valleys from their accommodation. If hiring a car, then spend a few evenings driving on the winding roads to the Tuscan coast in search of the perfect sunset.

Chill by the Pool
A private pool, like the ones at some of our Tuscan villas, is perfect for couples on their honeymoon. Sunbathing and taking dips in the garden pool means that you can spent time alone with your spouse without being disturbed by others - perfect for couples after some post-wedding isolation.

Head to a Spa
With natural hot springs found throughout the Tuscan countryside, there are plenty of spas that you can visit for some pampering treatment. Most spa’s pool waters are around 37 degree Celsius and are naturally high in minerals, making them the perfect temperatures for relaxation.

Head to Town
Most Tuscan towns and cities are wonderfully romantic locations. With streets perfectly suited for ambling around, and plenty of piazzas to sit and watch the world go by, couples on their honeymoon should spend at least one day in one of Tuscany’s historic cities. If wanting to avoid the busy crowds, then avoid Florence, and go to smaller settlements like Siena or Lucca.

See the Golden Tree
Head to Lucignano, near Arezzo, to see The Golden Tree of Lucignano. Also known as the Tree of Love, the shrine took 121 years to make and stands at 2.60 meters. Completed in 1471, the shrine is said to bring good luck to lovers according to local tradition and is considered a symbol of eternal love. Take a day trip to see the Golden Tree and repeat your wedding vows, or speak from the heart in front of the tree to bring good luck and a happy marriage.

If you think that Tuscany is the ideal location for you and your spouse to celebrate your honeymoon, why not take a look at our romantic retreats page for wonderfully romantic villas.
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Follow the Footsteps of the Medici Family

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Follow the Footsteps of the Medici Family


Posted by Virginie (19/02/2015)

When we think of the glamour and drama of the Renaissance, it’s natural to think of the Medici family. The family was prevalent in Tuscany and beyond between the 14th and 18th century. Family members held all the respectable, powerful positions in Italy at some time or another during their time at the top, from bankers to politicians to popes. If you’re looking for a holiday that will take you on an exciting historical journey, then walking in the footsteps of the Medici family and heading to Tuscany is a great place to start.

Palaces
With such a rich history, it’s natural that there is an impressive Medici legacy of art and architecture in the places they lived. A striking example of this is the Palazzo Medici Riccardi. After a long history that involved many renovations, it’s now become a museum that displays over four centuries of artistry from Florence and the surrounding areas. The architecture of the museum is just as good as the treasures inside - the frescoes in the Chapel of the Magi especially are not to be missed.

Medici Family Villas
There are over 20 Medici villas in Tuscany that the family left behind. The structures are beautifully preserved examples of Renaissance architecture that were used by the family as country palace escapes, and are well worth a look at.

Fortresses
Sometimes called ‘The Fort of Santa Barbara’, there is a stunning fortress in Siena that was built on the orders of Cosimo I de’ Medici in the mid 1500’s, before he became Grand Duke of Tuscany. He ordered its construction following the defeat of the Sienese by his Florentine army with a view to using it to supress any future rebellions. With its strong walls and visible coat of arms, it is a testament to the military might of the Medici family.

Other fortresses that are linked the family include one in Arezzo, which has been turned into a public park with stunning views of the city nearby. It is free to visit, and the structure of the fortress is still easily recognisable and dominating.

The Medici family were incredibly influential – these are just a few ideas to get you thinking about where you could visit to walk in their footsteps. If you’re looking for a relaxing base from which to set out on your Medici discovery, renting one of our villas in Florence is a perfect way to bring yourself close to the history of the region. Contact us to start planning your adventure.
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Cycle in the Treadmarks of Coppi and Bartali

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cycle in the Treadmarks of Coppi and Bartali


Posted by Ruth Anne (13/02/2015)

Tuscany is a really popular destination for cycling lovers, thanks to its beautiful countryside, challenging hilly terrain and its association with two of the world’s all-time great cyclists – Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali. However, it’s not just world-class athletes who can enjoy Tuscany by bike, there are routes all over the regions with lengths and difficulties to match any fitness level.

Bartali’s Florence
Gino Bartali won the Tour de France twice, in 1938 and 1948, and the Giro d'Italia three times, in 1936, 1937 and 1946. He was one of Italy’s (and the world’s) most prominent cyclists during his career and he was born in the small town of Ponte a Ema, in the south-eastern part of Florence. Today, the town is home to a museum dedicated to him – del Museo del Ciclismo “Gino Bartali”, which is a must-see for die-hard cycling fans.
Cycle anywhere in and around Florence and chances are you’re pedalling along the same street Bartali once rode, but one of the most popular rides is from Florence to the nearby city of Siena.

Suggested route:
There are a loads of different ways you can cycle from Florence to Siena (or vice versa) but we recommend going via Impruneta, Greve in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti. This is a fairly challenging 45 mile route, but takes you through some beautiful countryside and Castellina in Chianti is well worth hopping off your bike for and taking a look around.

Elba and Fausto Coppi
Bartali’s greatest rival was fellow Italian Fausto Coppi. He won the Tour de France twice, in 1949 and 1952, and the Giro d’Italia five times, in 1940, 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953. In his declining years, Coppi spent time training on Elba, attempting to regain his form. If you ride the road from Rio nell'Elba to Porto Azzurro you’ll come across the “Fonte di Coppi”, a fountain where the great cyclist used to quench his thirst.

Elba is the largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago and one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s also a real haven for cyclists, with a wide variety of road and mountain biking routes. Elba has something to offer every kind of cyclist, whether you’re an experienced technical cyclist looking to work on your hill training, a mountain biker wanting a challenge, or a family hoping to enjoy a more relaxed bike ride together, you’ll find multiple routes to match your needs.

Suggested route:
The Mount Orello route is particularly popular with intermediate mountain bikers, offering breathtaking views and only moderately difficult slopes.

If you’re planning a cycling holiday in Italy and are looking for Tuscan villa rentals, why not use our easy online booking system, or contact us today for further information?
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Fun Activities to Do at your Tuscan Villa

Friday, February 6, 2015

Fun Activities to Do at your Tuscan Villa

 
Posted by Dympna Docherty (06/02/2015)
Whilst some of your days may be spent exploring the Tuscan culture during your Italian break, you may also want to spend some of your time simply relaxing at your Tuscan villa. A beautiful, rural villa in a peaceful environment can create an atmosphere dedicated to relaxation, but for those who don’t find it easy to sit by the pool and bask in the warm sun, it can leave you feeling a little bit restless. That’s why we’ve come up with some brilliant activities that you can do during the days spent in and around your holiday villa.

Paint
Use the region enriched with art as inspiration to create your own masterpieces. Although you may find that it is impractical to pack acrylics and easels into your suitcase, a simple watercolour pallet, paintbrush, and sketchbook can help you create your own versions of the stunning surroundings of your holiday destination.
You don’t just have to recreate the villa gardens, and can put your hand to trying to capture to beauty of famous landmarks and cities. When sightseeing take some snaps with your camera so that you have a reference and aren’t just painting from memory. Who knows, with this holiday hobby, you could even create some bespoke souvenirs to give to friends and family upon your return.

Write
A notebook and pen are packing lists essentials. So, why not use them for more than just a place to jot down addresses or newly learned Italian sayings and do some creative writing whilst away. Holidays are the perfect time for reflecting and rediscovering your creative streak, so put pen to paper and start scribbling some short stories and poems, or even begin that international bestselling novel that you’ve been meaning to write.

Read
Reading is an obvious activity to suggest to those on vacation, but doesn’t mean that it isn’t a great way to occupy your time whilst away. Whether you’re an avid book worm, or the only reading you do is work documents and the occasional newspaper, there is bound to be a book on your reading list, or a novel that has got society abuzz that you can spend your time by the pool getting absorbed in. If unsure of what to choose, why not check out local Tuscan book shops (there are plenty that sell books in multiple languages) to see if there are any books set in the area.

Play
From getting plenty of exercise by swimming lengths, to floating around on a rubber ring or lilo, a Tuscan villa with a pool creates unlimited opportunity for fun and games in the water, especially when on a family holiday. Pack a ball for water polo and catch, which can also be used for having a bit of a kick about on any lawns that may surround your villa.

Board Games
Easy to play and easy to pack, a board game or two is not going to push you over your luggage allowance but will create fun for all hours of the day. Whether settling down with a bottle of red on an evening, or sunning it by the pool during the day, there is always place for a game of Monopoly. If you can’t find a travel sized version, or would rather pack an extra swimsuit or two, they why not take a pack of cards. Along with the many card games you can play with others, you can also play single player games, like Patience, so any poolside boredom you’re experiencing can be cured even if everyone else is snoozing in the sun.

We’ve got an incredible selection of Tuscan villas with both private and shared pools that are ideal for your Italian retreat. Take a look at our website to see our selection and book your holiday accommodation.
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