How The Laid Back Tuscan Lifestyle Teaches You A Few Life Lessons

Friday, August 26, 2016

How The Laid Back Tuscan Lifestyle Teaches You A Few Life Lessons



Posted by Kiri (26/08/2016)

Tuscany has really made its mark on me. Every time I think back to our holiday there, a feeling of calm runs through me. Why? You will have to visit Tuscany to really understand, but it just generally feels like a place where time stops, and the laid back way of life and tranquility of the countryside leaves you feeling at peace.

While we were there it was like we were in a dream world, with all of our favourite things (delicious hearty food, red wine and spectacular scenery). Tuscan really does change you, and it opens your eyes to a slow paced way of life that’s easy to get sucked into. I’m not saying Tuscany will change your life, but it will definitely teach you a few life lessons, such as...

Being outdoors nourishes your soul
Visiting Tuscany is about being outdoors, breathing in the fresh countryside air and opening your eyes to the beauty and nature around you. With out nine to five office jobs, many of us simply don’t spend enough time in the great outdoors.

Whether you are climbing bell towers, trekking through the countryside, cycling on Tuscany’s winding roads or uncovering medieval castles, some time outside in Tuscany will do you a lot of good.


It’s refreshing to embrace a slow pace of life
Tuscany teaches you to live in the moment. We stayed in a very quiet location right in the heart of the Chianti hills. I think I first started to relax and get in the moment when I was on my balcony, and all I could hear were the sounds of nature. The sheer beauty of the region makes you slow down and take notice of the magical scenery.

You will also see that the local people are very relaxed and have settled into a slow pace of life. This is infectious, and you can’t help but immediately feel at ease as you settle into their way of life.


Food should be savoured
In Tuscany food isn’t a necessity, it’s an experience. Food is a central part of daily life, and a lot of passion goes into Tuscan food. Meals are eaten at a slow pace and every flavour is savoured. When you return from Tuscany you will have a new appreciation for food, especially Italian food.

Hard work pays off
Whilst we were at a farm wine tasting, the owner was explaining to us about how the people in Tuscany view work. She said her family work hard to keep things going, but they also know how to have fun, and put so much passion into their work.

Between the family, they run a very successful local farm and wine tasting venue, Casanuovadi Ama. It’s the same throughout the region, the people work really hard, but they also appreciate the value of happiness and doing something you love.
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Planning My Next Trip To Tuscany

Friday, August 19, 2016

Planning My Next Trip To Tuscany - A Rough Itinerary

Posted by Kiri (19/08/2016)

Ever since I got back from my first every trip to Tuscany, I have been dying to go back. I feel like the wine, food and hills are calling me! So, I have decided to book another trip. Sadly I can’t go until next autumn, but on the plus side, that gives me ages to plan the ultimate Tuscan adventure.

Last time, we stayed in Lecchi in Chianti, in this stunning apartment. I’m not sure how we are going to top our first holiday, as we both said it was probably our favourite together so far. Read about what we got up to on our last trip here.

This time, we want to visit Tuscany during the grape harvest. Plus, when we out there last time, a few people said September/October is a good time to visit if you want to see the flowers in bloom, brightening the Tuscan hills with their colours.

The Tuscan grape harvest
One of the main reasons we want to visit in the autumn is to witness the grape harvest, and take part in a grape harvest experience on a Tuscan farm. During this time of year, Tuscany really comes to life with the colours of Autumn, with leaves turning a rusty gold colour and the flowers fill the fields and countryside with a rainbow of shades.

The weather is also very pleasant, with mild temperatures in the daytime and refreshingly cool evenings. The exact dates of the Tuscan grape harvest or ‘vendemmia’ are decided each year, and depend on the weather, amount of rain and variations between vineyards. The grapes have to have the right level of sweetness before they are harvested. You can even join in the grape harvest, picking and preparing grapes and getting involved with the Tuscan wine culture sounds like great fun.


Food and wine festivals
Being a massive foodie, I was slightly disappointed we didn’t get to go to a food festival on our last visit. However, I’m going to make sure our trip coincides with one this time. I love sampling freshly made food and buying delicious local products, so I will be going to some of the best food festivals Tuscany has to offer on my next trip.

In the autumn, many of the local towns, villages and hamlets are getting ready to host food and wine festivals. It seems most town has one at some time during the year. As well as wine festivals, there are olive, truffle, chestnut and mushroom festivals.

Wine tasting
One of the best things we did on our last trip was wine tasting at Casanuova di Ama. Daniela was the perfect host and prepared us an absolute feast, and we really enjoyed all the wines. I don’t think I could go to Tuscany again without doing another wine tasting session. We could go back to the same place again, or explore another farm that offers different types of wines.

Ticking more hilltop towns off the list
Last time, we managed to see San Gimignano, Lucca and Montalcino. However, I’m dying to uncover more medieval hilltop towns. Maybe next time we will head South of Siena and go to Pienza and Montepulciano, which come very highly recommended. I also want to check out Greve in Chianti, which we were close to but didn’t manage to visit last time.


Cycling
My partner recently completed the Dallaglio Cycle Slam, which was an extremely tough cycling challenge for charity. When we were in Tuscany we were frustrated we hadn’t taken our bikes, because of the endless beautiful roads to cycle along. The 2016 Giro d’Italia also went through a town near where we were staying.  We were envious of all the cyclists we went past. So next time, we will either take our bikes or hire some, and try and cycle on some of Tuscany’s most impressive roads.

It’s early days, as we are not planning on going until autumn 2017. I will post a more detailed itinerary closer to the time, as I’m sure there’s loads more activities and experiences I will want to try and fit in. Watch this space!
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What’s It Like To Visit Tuscany In The Winter?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What’s It Like To Visit Tuscany In The Winter?


Posted by Sonia (12/08/2016)

Most people assume the best time to visit Tuscany is in the spring and summer, however, there are many benefits to visiting in the winter. Travelling to Tuscany in the winter months will enable you to see a completely different side of this popular Italian region.

Everything slows down a little in the winter as the crowds disappear and the locals are more relaxed and friendlier. If you must have sunshine and hot weather when you go away, this is not the time to visit, but if you want to see Tuscan’s real character and see its sights from a completely different perspective, then book a winter trip. Here are just a few reasons why Tuscany is a wonderful place to visit in the winter.

It may be colder and rain a fair amount, but that won’t dampen your spirits. The quintessential Tuscan landscapes look completely different when touched by the cold. In autumn, there’s a vast array of colours and in winter frost and mist form a blanket over the fields. The Tuscan hills look refreshingly green and fog often hovers above the valleys.

Tuscan’s beautiful landmarks are simply stunning in the snow. If you are lucky enough to experience snow during your visit you will get to see things like the Leaning Tower of Pisa encased in snowflakes and cities such as Florence looking magical. Tuscany’s historic sites are very impressive and picture perfect when covered in white snow.

Tuscany is known for its natural thermal baths, particularly the ones in Saturnia. Experience bathing in these warm waters with the cool winter air on your face. The Viareggio coast can be appreciated in a different light in the winter on stormy days when the rough seas cascade onto the shore.


Many people are unaware that you can actually go skiing in Tuscany, it’s very mountainous and there’s plenty of snow in the winter. You can go skiing in the
resorts such as Abetone, Monte Amiata and Cutigliano. Or, if you fancy a challenge, go trekking and hiking in the mountains and Tuscan countryside.

During the festive seasons the villages and towns are filled with decorations and Christmas lights. Siena hosts spectacular Christmas concerts, Pienza puts on the annual panforte tossing contest and Florence is a great place to spend New Year’s Eve.

During winter, some people feel Italian food is at its best. What better time of year to enjoy a warming glass of red wine with a hearty Italian meal? In winter the Italians cook dishes such as wild boar stew and lots of very fresh meat dishes because this time of year is hunting season.

Olive are also harvested in November and have a distinctive spicy, green flavour soon after being made into oil. The sheep have fresh grass to eat in the winter instead of hay, which makes the Pecorino cheese creamier.


Other benefits to going in the winter are that accommodation is cheaper and things aren’t as busy. You probably won’t have to reserve a table or book tourist attractions as far in advance, and you won’t be waiting in long queues. Take advantage of bargains from the 7th of January when many of the shops go on sale.

In winter you can cosy up in your gorgeous private Italian villa. Hire a private chef to cook a meal in your villa and sit by the fire with a glass of delicious Tuscan wine. A sense of calm settles over Tuscany in the winter, and many locals would say it is a wonderful time to visit. Book a last minute trip to Tuscany this winter, or plan a festive trip for winter 2016.
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Why You Should Go On A Girls Holiday In Tuscany

Friday, August 5, 2016

Why You Should Go On A Girls Holiday In Tuscany


Posted by Dympna Docherty (05/08/2016)

They say Tuscany is filled with romance, but it also offers a lot of things that ladies would want as part of a girls holiday. I go on a girls holiday with my girlfriends every year, we have been to all sorts of places including Rhodes, Nice, Majorca and the Isle of Wight. Each year we struggle to decide on where to go, because it’s hard to find destinations that have everything we want from a girls holiday.

I am not talking about a booze fuelled clubbing holiday in Malaga, we just want a relaxing holiday in a destination where we can go out for delicious meals and drink good wine. That’s why I am going to suggest Tuscany for this year’s escape. When I think about it, the region has everything you could want for a sophisticated holiday with the girls. Here’s why:

The wine
The wine is definitely a big selling point. Tuscany is famous for its wine, particularly reds, which means you will be able to enjoy a fair few glasses of top quality wine with your friends. You could even go wine tasting together, where you can all learn about how the wine is made locally and the history of Tuscan wine. Buy some wine from a local farm and enjoy a few nights in with the girls, go on a wine tour or head out for a meal to sample the local wines.

Tuscany is full of activities that aren't solely for couples. You can go on segway tours through cities such as Florence, Vespa tours through the countryside or even go horseback riding on the beach. If you and your friends are active then you can go cycling, hiking and walking around Tuscany.

 You could also plan a road trip around Tuscany so that you can see as much of the stunning scenery as possible. If you and your friends are interested in history and culture and love to go sight seeing, then you will find plenty of sights to see and cultural tours to go on in Tuscany.


The cities
Tuscany has numerous cities that are perfect for a girls holiday. Places such as Florence, Siena and Lucca are all wonderful places to stay and explore with your girlfriends. Get a sense of Tuscan culture in the cities and admire the impressive architecture. The cities have lots of trendy bars and cafes where you can enjoy a few drinks together.

The food
If you enjoy going out for meals with your friends, then you won’t be disappointed with the choice of restaurants in Tuscany. The food here is made from fresh local ingredients that are packed with flavour. Enjoy traditional Italian food and sample some local Tuscan dishes. You can also go on fantastic food tours where they take you to the shops and markets to buy ingredients and show you how to cook like the locals do.

The spas
There are lots of spas throughout Tuscany, so you can all enjoy some much deserved pampering on your holiday. Tuscany also has some natural hot springs, make sure you pay a visit to one of the historic bath towns such as Saturnia.


The shopping
No holiday with the girls is complete without doing some shopping. Tuscany has a fantastic selection of different shops, from luxury high end boutiques to high street stores and quirky little antique shops. There are also plenty of local markets where you can buy souvenirs and fresh produce.

The private Tuscan villas
Tuscany has many private villas that are ideal for groups. Rent your very own luxury private villa with a swimming pool so that you and the girls can relax in style  
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Lucca, A Charming Medieval Town

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Lucca, A Charming Medieval Town With A Twist

Posted by Kiri (26/07/2016)

There’s a whole collection of amazing medieval hilltop towns dotted around Tuscany. They are like different brands of the same product, they are all similar, but also very unique. Of all the hilltop towns I have seen so far, I would say Lucca is the most unusual.

 Lucca is famous for its Renaissance walls and pretty tree-lined pathways.
There’s just something different about Lucca. The stone walls that go all the way around the city immediately catch your attention.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Lucca, and would definitely go back again. It’s the perfect place to stop over for a few nights and unwind. We stayed in a budget hotel about ten minute's walk outside the city centre, which was a bit like Fawlty Towers, but in a good way.


They gave us bikes to use for free (albeit very old retro ones), and we had the best time riding around the path that runs along the inside of the city walls. Cycling is a great way to see Lucca at its best, you can peer into the town and catch a glimpse of what’s inside in one direction, and look out to the countryside and mountains on the other. We filmed our experience of cycling around Lucca on my GoPro, so you can get an insight into what it’s really like. Check out the video on YouTube here.

There’s lots of places to hire bikes around the city. If you don’t want to cycle, you can easily walk everywhere. There’s lots of unique little local shops selling goods such as jewellery, antiques and local delicacies including olive oil, which Lucca is well known for.

There was something very relaxing about Lucca, it’s a laid back Tuscan town with bags of character. We went out for dinner at a local restaurant and had some very satisfying pappardelle pasta with wild boar sauce.


We also grabbed lunch at a small fish restaurant where a lot of locals were hanging out. We got a mouth-watering fish selection and a glass of wine for around ten euros. There’s plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes where you can grab a quiet drink.

There’s a lovely little stream that runs through Lucca which adds to its charm, and the architecture is also impressive. We strolled past a beautiful white Church, and admired all the houses in the centre.


Lucca is easy to get to from Pisa airport, it’s only just over half an hour’s drive. If you are planning a trip to Tuscany, make sure you schedule some time to enjoy Lucca, you won’t regret it. It was definitely one of our favourite places. 
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