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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Why So Many People Fall In Love In Tuscany

Friday, July 22, 2016

Why So Many People Fall In Love In Tuscany

Posted by Mikolaj (22/07/2016)

If you haven’t been to Tuscany, you might be wondering why the region has earned its reputation for being so romantic. Tuscany is known all around the world as a place filled with romance, and there are many stories of people falling in love in this stunning part of Italy.

Tuscany truly is a magical place that inspires special moments between loved ones, but you really do have to visit and discover this for yourself. It’s difficult to sum up why Tuscany is romantic, because there are so many reasons. Here a brief insight into a few reasons as to why so many people end up falling head over heels in Tuscany.

Firstly, it could be due to the Italian way of life, and the particularly relaxed atmosphere throughout Tuscany. The people here have a very good work life balance and enjoy a slower pace of life. If you arrive somewhere and immediately settle into the slower pace and feel relaxed, then romance is more likely to blossom.


The scenery is probably the biggest reason why people fall in love here. There are endless picture perfect views filled with rolling hills, vineyards and some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. Tuscany is also known for its awe-inspiring sunsets, which will no doubt be responsible for creating many magical moments between couples.

The food is another reason why couples enjoy their time together in Tuscany so much. The Italian dishes served in Tuscany are hearty, comforting and full of the freshest local ingredients. Sharing a mouth-watering Italian pasta will no doubt get you staring into each other’s eyes. Eating a delicious Italian dinner in a traditional Italian restaurant by candlelight with someone you are crazy about is definitely a romantic experience.


Then of course, there’s the wine. Tuscany is world famous for its wines, especially reds. You can go on wine tours where you can indulge in a spot of wine tasting with your loved one. What’s more romantic than sipping wine at a rustic Italian farm surrounded by rolling hills and quintessential Tuscan countryside?

The beautiful cities in and around Tuscany are can also provide a very romantic setting. The architecture in cities such as Florence is simply stunning. Then there’s the medieval hilltop towns and adorable little Italian villages that are ideal for couples looking for a quiet, romantic break. Tuscany also has hundreds of impressive castles, many of which are used for wedding venues and celebrations.

The art, culture and history in Tuscany also inspires a lot of couples. You can discover the rich history of this picturesque region together, and enjoy many cultural experiences. There are also lots of romantic activities that help to add to the magic of Tuscany. From horseback riding through the countryside or along the beach to relaxing in the natural hot springs and enjoying a spa day.




Tuscany has plenty of traditional Tuscan villas that are perfect for couples seeking a romantic getaway. Sit back and enjoy some quality time together in your very own luxurious private villa in the Italian countryside and soak up the romantic atmosphere that Tuscany offers. Click here to view our best romantic retreats for two. 
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Places You Should Stop Off at on a Road Trip Through Tuscany

Friday, July 15, 2016

Places You Should Stop Off at on a Road Trip Through Tuscany


One of the best ways to really explore somewhere, is to do it by car. Travelling under your own steam and getting lost on little backwater roads on your journey will open up a completely new side of Tuscany.


If you haven’t driven in these parts before, start by heading into Pisa. The roads are fairly simple to navigate and you’ll be greeted by one of the architectural wonders of the world.

 Filling the Piazza di Miracoli, this collection of beautiful buildings – leaning tower, cathedral, baptistery and cemetery – has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so. Don’t forget to pick up an authentic Italian gelato while you take in the first of your awesome surroundings.


Then head into San Gimignano. Not only will you be treated to some of the most spectacular vistas including the view of the town but San Gimignano itself is beautiful. San Gimignano truly lives up to its UNESCO World Heritage inclusion and status of the Town of Fine Towers.

Follow its winding medieval streets up to the Piazza del Duomo for lunch surrounded by puppet shows and music. Climb the Torre Grossa, the town’s tallest tower, to take in the rolling, unspoilt, Tuscan views. Then spend the afternoon visiting the Museum of Torture or meandering through the narrow streets exploring the quaint shops and gelaterias.


Why not pop into Siena? It has to be said that although you can pop in to this iconic town, you’ll best enjoy all it has to offer if you spend a few days soaking it all up. Stroll up through the bustling streets, trying not to buy too much of the local produce, until you reach the Piazza del Campo. This eatery lined square with its terracotta lustre and sloping floor is one of the most famous and romantic in Tuscany’s medieval history.

Once you’ve had a coffee and soaked up the lively atmosphere of the piazza, brace yourself for the 400 step ascent of the Torre del Mangia. The panoramic views of Siena are well worth the trek. You’ll have the best view of the traditional terracotta roofs and cathedral as well as be able to pick out the ancient, original city walls. Head back down to ground level for a late lunch, after all Tuscany is the home of real Italian food, before exploring the cathedral and crypt and the Museo dell’Opera.


Chianti
No trip through Tuscany would be complete without the obligatory visit through Chianti (with or without fava beans). Once you head south you’ll quickly be engulfed in typical, spectacular Tuscan countryside.

This area is littered with picturesque medieval castles, often tied to wineries where you’ll struggle to tear yourself away from the opportunity to sample. Pop in to see the castle of Montefioralle, the tiny town has been lost in time and was home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (the person not the painting).


Make sure that you visit Greve. This is the heart of Chianti classic country. Visit the wine museum and learn a little more about how it’s made before coming to rest at Panzano. This beautiful hill town is the perfect place to rest your head for a while and really sink yourself into Italian food, wine and culture before heading back to reality….. Until the next trip. 
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Explore The Art Scene In Tuscany

Friday, July 8, 2016

Explore The Art Scene In Tuscany
Posted by Ruth (08/07/2016)

Considered the birthplace of the renaissance, Tuscany has played host to the riches of all art history tapestries that go far beyond picture postcards and paintings. From the Apennine and Roman civilisations to the Medicis and popular Renaissance heroes, if you’re an artist or art lover, Tuscany should be first on your travelling bucket list.

Whether you’re looking for a long weekend or a couple of months travelling, there’s so much to see and experience in Tuscany that you simply can’t see it all. So where do you start?
If it’s a quick break you’re looking for, why not try Florence? It’s Tuscany’s biggest city and although you’ll never be able to cover everything, staying in one place will mean that you don’t waste valuable time travelling around.

Florence itself is a living breathing museum of Renaissance art and architecture, so it’s advisable to start by taking in the full scale of its wonder at the Forte di Belvedere. You’ll be able to see the rolling city beneath you while taking in the latest sculptural exhibition in the gardens.

While you’re there why not pop next door to the vast Palazzo Pitti, and it’s Palatine Gallery? This main gallery contains upwards of 500 paintings from the Medici family’s private collection including breath-taking works from Raphael, Caravaggio and Correggio among others. The rooms within the Palazzo Pitti have even been decorated by Pietro Cortona. Cortona was responsible for some of the most remarkable frescoes such as the Four Ages of Man and the planetary rooms at the front of the palace depicting Venus, Apollo, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.


If you have more than just a long weekend, where to next? Siena! Now you’ve seen some of the most amazing examples of Renaissance art and artistic d├ęcor, take a trip to Siena to reflect on the heart of Tuscany’s medieval heritage.

Start by walking around the city to see the ancient remains of the old city necropolis Poggio del Sole. Then, go to the Piazza Grande, of all the Medieval Squares, this is the one to see. From the Gothic floors of the Palazzo di Fraternita dei Laici to the Vasari Loggia Mannerist artwork and the interior frescoes of the Episcopal Palace there is so much to see.

Siena is awash with churches filled with painted walls, sculptures and paintings. If you have time, visit the Casa Vasari with its decorated rooms, the Civic Museum to sample some of the more contemporary Italian masterpieces and the UnoAErre Jewellery Museum if you’re a magpie too.

Having spent some time landlocked, hop in the car and take in the scenery while heading down to Livorno. This massively underrated city boasts more than it first seems. Visit Venezia Nuova, built by the Venetians (hence the name). Whether you enter by boat or you stroll through the winding canal paths this is a fantastic place to kick start your time on the coast.


This area gives you a real insight into the city’s history. You’re able to observe the brightly coloured buildings and see the new fortress in the city. Early evening is the perfect time to take in the vast Terazza Mascagni, with its checkerboard floor and fantastic views reminiscent of the Great Gatsby, you’ll struggle not to feel transported into an art deco montage.

Then, in the morning why not pop to the Sanatoria di Montenero. You’ll be greeted with spectacular views to the coast and towards Pisa. The altar in the church is magnificent and you can soak up the stunning paintings depicting miracles and stories of the Virgin Mary and region. You can drive there but why not really experience the ascent to the church without the hassle on the funicular railway.

Wherever you decide to go in Tuscany, you will instantly come to appreciate the art scene and the amazing architecture and cultural buildings throughout the region. Click here to book a private villa in Tuscany.


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Food and Drink Events & Festivals in Tuscany

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Top Food and Drink Events & Festivals in Tuscany
Posted by Sonia (01/07/2016)

Located in central Italy and covering almost 9,000 square miles, stretched from the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea you’ll find Tuscany, one of Italy’s most prized foodie regions from Pisa to Siena and Florence.
Known for its history, landscapes and architecture, Tuscany has become known around the globe for its artistic and edible legacy. This rich tapestry of edible history is rustic and simple at its core and rooted in the seasonality and traditional methods of the region.
While exploring this foodie’s haven, you’ll struggle to avoid sampling crostini and fennel salami; mains such as bistecca fiorentina and fish stew, as well as the irresistibly creamy flavours of chestnut cake or castagnaccio and cantuccini. While you’re enjoying these make sure you take a moment to sample Italy’s finest,
Tuscany produces some of the world’s most famous wines including Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino but don’t forget a sip of Vin Sinto, a sweet wine that is best served with catucci/biscotti.
There’s so much to experience in this region that it can be a little overwhelming when planning a gastronomic trip. The simplest plan of attack is to pick a few key foodie festivals or sagre you’d like to experience, where you’ll be able to take in a wide variety of different flavours and then explore the surrounding areas, our top picks are:


Bravio delle Botte, Montipulciano
This annual event takes place in the medieval city of Montepulciano. The festival is based on the traditional method of moving wine of the Montipulciano region and is an exciting competition between 8 different districts of the region. Each team has to roll a botte (wooden barrel of wine) uphill for about 1000 meters to the finish line where they ‘capture’ the flag before enjoying traditional produce from the region.


National White Truffle Festival, San Miniato
Taking place on Saturdays and Sundays in November, this mid-region town celebrates the humble, perfumed white truffle. The festival takes the shape of a heaving town market where you can sample and buy as much local produce as you can carry and more.
 You’ll be able to sample and buy everything from extra virgin olive oil, honey, pecorino, chocolate, focaccia, pickles, cakes and so much more. Have a through brows and sample of the white truffle products including oils and pastes and then pop off to a local eatery for a simple pasta dish cooked with truffle oil and fresh mushrooms.


Fest’ all’Olio, Vitolini
A tradition of the Florentine Autumn, the Fest’ all’Olio takes place in November every year in celebration, as you can probably guess, of locally produced olive oil. Most local restaurants have speciality menus in celebration and there’s a wealth of opportunities to take a tour around the local area to learn more about the region and its produce including olives and chestnuts.
 They also hold a celebratory market where you can sample Florentine products. Perhaps you could even compare the flavours to products from one of your previous visits.

If you want to know more about any of these events, or you’d like to find other events to immerse yourself in Italian culture visit the Italian Tourist Office official website – www.italia.it


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