Take a Look at Lucca

Friday, August 28, 2015

Take a Look at Lucca

Posted by Dympna Docherty (28/08/2015)

Lucca often gets overlooked by visitors to Tuscany, but the small city tucked away in the north of the region has a lot to offer, especially for those looking for somewhere a little less touristy to stay.

Why choose Lucca?
Located about 12 miles North East of Pisa, the city dates back to Roman times, a legacy which can still be seen it the grid layout of its streets. The remains of the ancient Roman amphitheatre can still be seen in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro which sits at the heart of the city and occupies the same space where the amphitheatre once stood.

Lucca can easily be reached from Florence and Pisa by public transport, making it highly accessible even if you don’t have a car and is only a half hour drive from the coast, including the famous beaches of Versilia. The city is also famous as the birthplace of legendary Italian composer Giacomo Puccini and there is a festival held in his honour every year in nearby Torre del Lago.

Things to see
Like many Tuscan cities, Lucca underwent a massive transformation during the Renaissance. One of the most prominent and unusual reminders of this period are the city walls which once protected the city. Unlike other cities in the region, Lucca’s walls were never demolished and are still completely intact, separating the old town from the more modern parts of the city. The walls now form a tree-lined promenade around the old town which provide a fantastic way to see the city.

Besides its walls, Lucca is stuffed full of historic architecture. The Torre Guinigi is a 130ft tower with a hanging garden at the top featuring an ancient oak tree. Tourists can climb the tower, providing the perfect vantage point. One of the most impressive buildings in Lucca is the Ducal Palace. Dating from the 14th century, the palace was destroyed by the people of Lucca in 1370 before being rebuilt by Paolo Guinigi in 1401 before being restored again in 1578 by architect and sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati.  Duomo di San Martino a.k.a. (St Martin's Cathedral) is the seat of the archbishop of Lucca, the oldest parts of which date back to 1063. It is famous for the Holy Face of Lucca, a wooden crucifix and image of Jesus Christ supposedly carved by Nicodemus who lived at the same time as Jesus and the labyrinth embedded in cathedral’s portico.

We have a fantastic range of villas in Lucca for you to choose and are always happy to advise you on the best ways to make the most of your trip. If you have any questions we would love to hear from you, so please email us or call +44 121 286 7782.
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A daytrip to Monte Argentario

Friday, August 21, 2015

A daytrip to Monte Argentario

Posted by Mikolaj (21/08/15)
A rarely talked about but breathtakingly beautiful area, the Monte Argentario peninsula is the perfect place for a daytrip or two. Offering fresh sea air and stunning views, visitors can expect to find an atmosphere that is far more relaxed that the busy cities of Northern Tuscany.

Monte Argentario is approximately an hour away from Grosetto and the area makes the perfect day trip if you’re staying in a Tuscany villa in the area. If you like the idea of visiting some Tuscan beaches and visiting the coast while away, then here’s where to go.

 Porto Santo Stefano
The largest town on the Monte Argentario peninsula is Porto Santo Stefano. The picturesque seaport was once prone to attacks from pirates. A Spanish Forte was built in the 16th century to protect the town and is now home to a permanent exhibition called Submerged Memories.
The town is also perfect for nature lovers, especially those who are interested in marine biology, as there are many diving excursions and opportunities to explore the coast. It is best to book these trips in advance and get there early for morning departures.

Porte Ercole
Porte Ercole is smaller than Porto Santo Stefano yet still has lots to offer. With stretches of beach that are great for sunbathing and swimming, you can split your visit to Porte Ercole between activities and relaxing. A visit to Forte Stella provides some spectacular views and another glimpse of 16th century history.

As you drive to visit either Porte Ercole or Porte Santo Stefano, it’s worth stopping off in Obetello. The town is situated in the middle of two lagoons, which offers a beautiful landscape. Visit Laguna di Orbetello for a mesmerising panorama and to see the round windmill that sits in the water, making for a wonderful view.

Whether you’re planning on spending your entire holiday lounging around by the pool or beach, or whether you want to explore everything the region has to offer, To Tuscany has a great selection of villas to choose from. Take a look at our website, or browse our blog for inspiration for your trip.
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Fall in Love with Mount Amiata

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fall in Love with Mount Amiata

Posted by Virginie ( 14/08/2015)
Dominating the landscape of southern Tuscany, Mount Amiata is the second largest volcanic peak in Italy. It is home to a number of natural and man-made attractions making it the perfect spot for a day-trip or for a longer stay. Located about 50 miles south of Siena, Mount Amiata is easily accessible and had something for all types of holiday makers.

Nature lovers
As well as offering excellent views across southern Tuscany, the old volcano is covered in trails, rivers, springs, rocky outcrops and more, making it a great place to go for a stroll or do some more serious hiking. Mount Amiata is also known for the quality of its chestnuts and mushrooms, so for those that prefer to experience nature through their tastebuds there are plenty of opportunities to do just that in local cafes and restaurants.

History fans
Mount Amiata’s history is strongly connected to mercury mining and the Parco Museo delle Miniere del Monte Amiata allows visitors a wonderful insight into the volcano’s mining past. On the mountain’s eastern slopes you will find the Benedictine Abbey of San Salvatore, one of the oldest monasteries in the region. The surrounding town, Abbadia San Salvatore, which grew up around the abbey is considered to have one of the best preserved medieval town centres in Europe.

Sports enthusiasts
Anyone looking for some healthy exercise and excitement will be in luck as Mount Amiata is a popular destination for a range of sports, including skiing, hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and caving. The volcano has over 15 miles of ski trails and slopes, and a stunning 17.5 mile long hiking trail known as the Ring of the Mountain that takes you around the entire mountain providing unrivalled views of the entire surrounding region.

Those in need of relaxation
When you are worn out from all the other delights of Mount Amiata, or if you would rather just skip to some serious relaxation, you can head to one the mountain’s several natural thermal spas. You can choose from modern spa complexes offering a full range of beauty and relaxation procedures or simply head to one of the natural hot springs which are available to the public completely free of charge.

Mount Amiata is just one of the many beautiful natural wonders to be found in Tuscany. Our villas in Siena provide the perfect place to stay while you get to know this stunning and diverse region, and if you have any questions please feel free to email us and we will be happy to help.

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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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