7 Fascinating Tuscan Facts

Friday, October 21, 2016

7 Fascinating Tuscan Facts

Posted by Virginie (21/10/2016)

Tuscany is full of surprises. You might have an impression of the region in your mind, but when you visit, you will discovered it’s more spectacular than you could ever had imagined.

If you are lucky enough to uncover every corner of the region, you will soon discover the variation in scenery and the surprises that Tuscany has up its sleeves. There are some facts that everybody knows about Tuscany, and then there are things that people might find very surprising or intriguing. Here are seven fascinating facts about Tuscany.

1. You can go skiing in Tuscany
Believe it or not, you can actually go skiing in Tuscany. Most people associate the region with its rolling hills and vineyards, but have no idea there’s an alpine side to the area. There are eight ski resorts in Tuscany, 96 kilometres of slopes and 42 ski lifts.

2. You can do a degree in wine production
Siena is home to Italy’s only University that does a degree in wine production (‘Oenology’). Oenology is defined as ‘the science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking except vine-growing and grape-harvesting, which form a subfield called viticulture.’

3. The Crete Senesi region has lunar like landscapes
There is a region underneath Siena called the Crete Senesi region. When driving through this area you might feel like you are on another planet. It’s characterised by lunar landscapes and low rolling hills.

4. Tuscany has a total of seven UNESCO sites
Tuscany has more World Heritage Sites than some entire countries do. Pienza, San Gimignano, Siena and Florence are all listed. Florence (the capital of the region) was the first Tuscan site to be put on the UNESCO list.

5. The author of Pinocchio was from Florence
You have probably heard about the world famous 1940 Disney Film, Pinocchio. The original story was actually written by a man called Carlo Collodi who was from Florence.

6. The Leaning Tower of Pisa isn’t the only one
A lot of people are unaware that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is not the only one. It is one of the most visited landmarks in the whole country, and people travel from around the world to snap photos in front of it.

There are actually two other towers that lean, the Campanile of San Michele Degli Scalzi and the Campanile of San Nicola, both of which are also in Pisa. Part of the problem with building here was that the city was built on marsh wetlands, which presents challenging construction issues.

7. There’s no legal drinking age

You will find that there is no legal drinking age in Italy. However, there is one catch. A person has to be 16 years or older in order to be served alcohol in a bar. Binge drinking isn’t a big problem here, which is partly why the rules are relaxed. Although you have to be 16 to purchase alcohol, kids younger than this often enjoy wine with their families at mealtimes. 
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6 Reasons To Hire A Private Chef In Tuscany

Friday, October 14, 2016

6 Reasons To Hire A Private Chef In Tuscany

Posted by Ruth (14/10/2016)

Whilst in Tuscany, it’s worth considering hiring a private chef. If you want to do something really special, then why not have a talented chef cook you a mouth-watering Tuscan meal in the comfort of your private villa?

We know a selection of excellent private chefs in and around the region, and we’ve heard some great things from our guests about this amazing experience. You choose the dishes you want from their specific menu and they will tailor everything to your dietary requirements. Here are six reasons to hire a private chef in Tuscany.

1. Get a real taste of Tuscany
You can go to local restaurants and sample Tuscan delicacies while you are out and about, but that doesn’t come close to having your own private chef. You will get to experience real food and dishes prepared from scratch, by local culinary experts who have grown up in the region. Hiring a private chef is an excellent way to sample some of Tuscany’s best dishes and appreciate the local cuisine.

2. See how Tuscan food is cooked
When you hire a private chef, they come round to your private villa, and cook up an amazing meal right before your eyes. You can literally watch them cook some of the dishes and see the kind of preparation that goes into Tuscan meals. This is something you don’t get to witness in restaurants, and most chefs are happy to answer any questions you have about their methods.

3. Celebrate a special occasion
Celebrating a special occasion whilst you are in Tuscany? Perhaps a birthday or wedding anniversary, or you may even be planning on popping the question. Hiring a private chef is the perfect way to celebrate. Create a romantic atmosphere for two, or get a chef to cook for a small group of you.

4. Enjoy the perfect evening in after a long day
Sometimes after travelling around and doing lots of walking you don’t always fancy going out for dinner, or attempting to cook for yourself. Relax, put your feet up and let a private chef serve you dinner, you won’t have to lift a finger.

5. It’s an experience you will never forget
This is an experience that you will remember for a long time. It’s not every day that you get a professional Italian chef serving up a delicious home cooked meal. It’s a wonderful way to experience the delights of Tuscan food.

6. You deserve a treat
Hiring a private chef doesn’t cost too much more than a meal out. A lot of people assume that it would be extremely expensive, but there are different menus to choose from, many of which a very reasonably priced considering what you get. You deserve a treat, and hiring a private chef is a wonderful way to treat yourself.

Interested in booking a private chef? Click here to choose from a range of top quality Tuscan chefs that we have relationships with.
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Things You Can Learn On A Trip To Tuscany

Friday, October 7, 2016

Things You Can Learn On A Trip To Tuscany

Posted by Sonia 07/10/16
A trip to Tuscany can provide far more than just a holiday. If you are looking to get more from your travels, then grab the opportunity to take something away from your visit to Tuscany.

Getting involved in educational activities and one of a kind experiences can help to create memories that last. Bring a piece of Tuscany back with you by booking an experience you can learn from.

Here’s six things you can learn on a trip to Tuscany.

1.    How to speak Italian
Why not enhance your Italian experience by booking a language lesson during your visit? If you are going to spend a fair amount of time in Tuscany, or plan to visit on a regular basis, then learning Italian is well worth it.

There are plenty of language schools in places like Florence. Even if you don’t manage to fit in a lesson, try and pick up some key words and phrases from the locals to help you get by.

2.    How to taste wine properly
Learn to taste wine as the Italians do, and discover a wealth of information about wine on a wine tour. These tours offer you the chance to learn exactly how the wine is produced in Tuscany, and uncover what makes the wine here so special. You will also learn which wines go with which dishes, so that when you are dining out in Tuscany, you can select complementary wines to go with your meal.

3.    How to ride a horse
This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but of all the places to go horse riding, Tuscany should be at the top of your list. You can go on a romantic horse ride along the beach, or get some fresh air in the stunning countryside. If you have never ridden a horse before, you can book a lesson, and beginners can head out on a ride with a guide who knows the area.

4.    How to cook Italian dishes
As well as its world class wines, Tuscany is also known for its culinary delights. Book a food tour or cooking class where you will learn how to make your favourite Italian dishes and find out where to buy all the ingredients. Then you can make some mouth-watering Tuscan dishes when you return home and reminisce about your trip.

5.    How to ride a Segway
You might assume that riding a Segway is fairly straightforward, but it does take a bit of practice. The Segway tour guides will give you a brief at the beginning of your tour, explaining the basics. You will have the chance to get the hang of it, and after a few hours riding round a Tuscan city, you will feel like a pro. Segways are a handy way to see everything cities like Florence, Pisa and Siena have to offer.

6.    Photography
The scenery in Tuscany will blow you away, and knowing some basic photography skills can help you to capture it more accurately. You can go on photography courses and book photography lessons whilst in Tuscany. Play around with different settings and visit a few different spots to take some truly breath-taking shots.

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Useful Italian Phrases

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Useful Italian Phrases That Will Help You Whilst Travelling in Tuscany

Posted by Dympna (30/09/2016)

In many of the main cities in Tuscany, you might be lucky enough to discover that some people speak English. You can also easily go to the tourist office in places such as
Florence and speak to an English representative. However, if you are planning on venturing into the Tuscan hills and visiting some of the smaller, more traditional towns and villages, you may find that the locals don’t speak much English.

Even if you do go to the larger towns and cities, it’s nice to be able to communicate with the local people in Italian. Making an effort to speak their language is polite, and even if your Italian is less than perfect, most locals will appreciate your efforts.

 It’s also handy to know a few key Italian words and phrases when you visit Tuscany, as this will help you to get by. If you get lost, you can ask for directions, you can also ask locals about the best places to visit and you might even learn a few more words and phrases while you are there.

Attempting to speak the language is often a key part of visiting any travel destination. It really makes you feel like you are on holiday and are enriching your life with the delights of learning a new language.

There are some places within the region where you can attend Italian language lessons, but unless you are visiting for a prolonged period of time, it’s best to get started in advance of your trip. Purchase an Italian language book, do an online course or attend lessons locally for a period of time. Bring an Italian dictionary with you to Tuscany so that you can look up any words you are unsure of, and learn more whilst you are away.

Here are some helpful Italian words and phrases for holidaymakers who want to be polite and make an effort to speak a bit of Italian in Tuscany.

     Hello/Goodbye – Ciao
     Do you speak English? - Parla Inglese?
     Please - Per favore/per Piacere
     Thank you - Grazie
     Good morning - Buongiorno
     Good evening -  Buonasera
     Good night - Buonanotte
     Excuse me - Mi scusi / Scusi
     How much does it cost? - Quanto costa?
     Goodbye -  Arrivederci
     Restaurant - ristorante
     Do you accept credit cards? - Accettate carte di credito?
     Pharmacy - Farmacia
     Hospital - Ospedale
     Doctor - Medico
     Supermarket -  Supermercato
     My name is - Mi chiamo
     How are you? - Come sta?
     Yes - Sì
     No - No
     Where is the station - Dov'è la stazione?
     I don’t understand - Non capisco
     Excuse me (to get attention) - Scusi

     Table for two – un tavolo per due
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Healthy Eating In Tuscany

Friday, September 23, 2016

Healthy Eating In Tuscany
Posted by Mikolaj (23/09/2016)

There’s no debating the fact that the Italians know how to eat, drink and live well. All these things are ingrained in their traditions and way of life. Italians don’t eat to live, they live to eat, and you will quickly notice this when you spend time in Tuscany.

If you expect Italian food in Tuscany to mainly consist of pasta and pizza you will be in for a surprise. Often people visit Italy and discover the ‘traditional dishes’ are not what they might expect, and are very different from the meals served up in ‘Italian’ restaurants in the UK.

Thanks to the variety of landscapes and being on the coast, Tuscany is able to grow and catch all kinds of healthy foods including fish (freshly caught from the sea), meat and vegetables. Wild game is always available thanks to the Tuscan countryside, which is home to animals such as wild boar, rabbit, partridge and pheasants.

Tuscan cooking
Traditional recipes are cherished here and often passed down through many generations. The people here very much believe that excellent food is based on the quality of ingredients that are used.
Fresh local ingredients are key to a delicious Tuscan dish. Elaborate sauces are rare, as the people here feel the mask the taste of the fresh ingredients. Think basic, hearty and wholesome dishes with simple yet tasty ingredients. The food here is consistent with the delights of the Mediterranean diet.
One of the reasons why the food here is so healthy is because no nasty additives are added and you benefit from the vitamins and minerals that are naturally found in locally grown ingredients. Of course a diet that consists of fresh, homegrown and homemade food is going to be extremely healthy. The food in Tuscany is a fine example of the very best of Italy’s home cooking.

Plenty of veg
Over centuries, the people here have learned how to grow their crops in a way that brings out their full flavour. You will have the opportunity eat plenty of fresh, locally grown vegetables in Tuscany.
Another tradition here is to only eat vegetables that are in season, which provides the local people with a healthy variety of different vegetables throughout the year. Plus vegetables that are in season simply taste better. Vegetables in Tuscany are often served raw or steamed and drizzled in a healthy drizzle of olive oil.

Bread and pasta
Bread and pasta are also extremely popular throughout Tuscany. Most dishes are served with some sort of bread. You may think this isn’t that healthy, but the bread doesn’t contain salt, and the pasta is usually always made from scratch.
Although we have been lead to believe that a diet full of carbs is unhealthy, we still need enough carbohydrates in our diet to stay healthy. Freshly baked bread and homemade pasta are far from unhealthy (if consumed in moderation).

Olive oil
One of the main things that Tuscany is famous for is its olive oil. When added to salad and drizzled on dishes, olive oil adds some much needed good fats to your meal. It’s much better than using animal fat for cooking and it has many beneficial properties. For example it is very rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E.

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