Famous Tuscany Villas

Friday, April 27, 2012


With their flair for quietly beautiful regions, it was highly unlikely that the rich of the modern world would leave the lavish Italian region of Tuscany untouched for long. Tuscany villas owned by noteworthy movers-and-shakers, or used for entertainment purposes, are far from a rarity these days. Recently, two of them caught the media and general public’s attention when they were put on sale.

The first of these was owned by former Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson, and frequently visited by former British PM, Tony Blair. Bought in the early 1980s, this 19th-century villa is now being put on the market for a price of £5 million. Mr Robinson has restored and refurnished the property, making it even more attractive than when it was originally bought and a delight for any fans of high-end Tuscany villas.

The other noteworthy property put up for sale in recent times was the one featured in the movie adaptation of ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’. Tuscany villas are incredibly scenic, both in construction and in interior design, and it is therefore no surprise that they should be featured prominently in Hollywood productions set in Italy. The fact that, in this case, the story is actually set in the region was even more of an excuse to feature a beautiful, luxury villa, which has recently been put up for sale at a price of €9.5 million. The fully renovated 16th century villa, currently owned by a wine-making couple, includes 10 bedrooms and about as many toilets, fully justifying its seemingly steep price and making it a dream home for fans of the Tuscan sun!

As you can see, then, Tuscany villas are a hot commodity among the rich and famous – why not experience the luxury and comfort of one yourself?
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Villa Rentals help you Enjoy the Italian Countryside

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Tuscany villa rentals will enable you to take your time enjoying one of the most culturally important regions in the world. Beautiful Tuscany has been home to many brilliant and famous artists, thinkers and scientists including Galileo, Dante, Plutarch, Puccini, Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Tuscany villa rentals can provide you with traditional stone and wood villa homes with contemporary comforts and conveniences, as well as a magnificent location that allows you to experience the exquisite beauty of the area's rolling hills and fruitful green countryside.

The best Tuscany villa rentals are furnished with style and warmth that will make you feel welcome and comfortable. Your villa will be your secure basecamp as you explore the surrounding countryside and the Tuscan capital, Florence (Firenze). Enjoy the succulent Tuscan cuisine, classical art, and architecture as you explore.

Many Tuscan villas have private or shared pools. Modern kitchens and baths are typically included in these moderately priced homes, as well. Private gardens and countryside views will enhance your visit an enable you to dine alfresco.

Tuscan Villa rentals are available in all sizes from one bedroom to twelve or more bedrooms, are available on weekly basis, and are very economical when compared to hotels. With a well-fitted kitchen, you can cook up a storm using fresh produce from the Tuscan local markets.

When looking for a Tuscany villa rental, make certain you like the interior design and furnishings. A garden is important if you want to enjoy the landscape. Other key features to look for in a rental can include Internet, a washing machine, fireplace, barbeque and especially a furnished terrace.

Tuscan villa rentals were originally vineyards, farm houses, cottages and barns and having been well-renovated, they make excellent accommodation while retaining their original charm.

While seeking your ideal vacation home, keep track of the rates and seasonal pricing offers. Sometimes there is a variation in high and low season rates and if you are not particular about the time of year you may be able to save hundreds of dollars.

A culturally rich and naturally beautiful vacation home awaits you when you search for Tuscany villa rentals. Book yours today!
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Lucida Mansi: the story of a mysterious woman



IMAGE CREDITS: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Daderot

Fans of folklore and popular culture will relish the stories passed down from generation to generation in Tuscany:Villas, castles, palaces and the ancient countryside are often deemed to be inhabited by extraordinary characters which hover between reality and fantasy.

Among these characters is the Tuscan noblewoman, Lucida Samminiati, better known as Lucida Mansi. Her story unfolds in the countryside surrounding Lucca, in one of the most famous of the Tuscany Villas, Villa Mansi.

According to our research, the villa was erected by the Benedetti family in the sixteenth century. Over the years it was subjected to expansion and numerous renovation projects until it reached its present state. Around the beautiful Mannerist style facade are elements of French baroque style and flickers of nineteenth-century romanticism which are found in the park surrounding the villa.

Lucida Samminiati, a stunningly beautiful woman, was born in the early 1600s and was widowed when she was young. After her husbands death Lucida married Gaspare Mansi a wealthy gentleman of the Mansi family. They were a noble family that became the owners of the villa in the seventeenth century. Villa Mansi soon became one of the most gossiped about Tuscany Villas because of Lucida’s extravagant lifestyle. She was renowned for indulging in a glamorous social life which led to excesses and debauchery of every kind. Surrounded by handsome young lovers and unbridled luxury, Lucida became mesmerized by her own beauty. She filled her house with mirrors, especially in her bedroom, so her lovers could gaze at her at any time...

There are many different accounts of Lucida’s death: officially it is believed that she died of plague in 1649. The legend, however, provides a completely different version of events. Lucida’s immense beauty led to vanity and she was obsessed by the fear of aging. She is said to have made a pact with the devil, trading her soul in exchange for thirty more years of youth. When the time finally arrived, the devil came to Villa Mansi on a carriage to redeem the debt. Sitting side by side, Lucida and the devil crossed the walls of Lucca, before tumbling into the pond in the city’s Botanical Garden. Even today tourists come to gaze at the beautiful face of the forever-youthful woman resting at the bottom the water!
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Tuscan Villas Let You Experience Italian Life

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


For a true vacation right in the heart of Italy, a stay in a Tuscan villa rental must be considered. Tuscan villas allow a visitor not just to stay in Italy, but to feel like they live there, exposed to the daily life, hum, and taste of the country at the most authentic level.

Tuscan villa rentals can be rented from us at To Tuscany for a few weeks even few months, depending how long a person wants to stay. Depending on the location, villas can be located both in-town or in the countryside to enjoy the rolling hills of Italy. Villas range in size and property type, as well and tourists can enjoy a stay in a cottage, apartment, farmhouse, self-catering villa or even a castle!

As an added benefit, many of our To Tuscany villa rentals come with dedicated or shared pools. During the summer months the pool can be a nice respite from the Italian summer heat. A nice outdoor meal in the evening can wrap up a wonderful Tuscan day and can ready visitors for the next one.

There is no shortage of To Tuscany villas in the area, so visitors will always have a good selection of locations to choose from and make a memorable vacation with. Like Frances Mayes indicated in her interview in the Washington Post in March 2012, you have to live the Italian life to truly enjoy and understand the pleasures of its simplicity. To Tuscany villa rentals can bring visitors closer to that reality in a simple, easy way, right in the heart of Italian daily life.
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Visual Curiosity

Friday, April 20, 2012


The dome of the Abbey Church of SS. Flora & Lucilla

Entering the church of SS. Flora and Lucilla in Arezzo, also called the Church of Badia, you will be faced with a truly amazing visual effect. If you stand inside the church, look up towards the ceiling and you can admire a dome built so beautiful that it will leave you speechless… Alas, this is no ordinary church dome, in fact there is no dome at all! The effect is actually created by a trompe-l'oeil, a style of painting that gives the illusion of photographic reality. The creator was Andrea Pozzo, a Baroque architect and painter, who was alive during the second half of the eighteenth century. The fake dome was painted in 1702 and with the new renovations made recently in the Abbey, you can admire it in all its beauty. This singular beauty is one of the best things to see in this part of Tuscany. Villas in the area are the perfect holiday destination for families and groups of friends alike.
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Tuscany and the cinema: love at first sight

Friday, April 13, 2012

Life is Beautiful

Have you ever visited a city’s historical centre, or one of the many Tuscany Villas and had the feeling of being in a familiar place? Deja vu perhaps, a memory imprinted in your mind from a scene in a famous film?

Tuscany, due to its architectural and natural beauty, is one of the most desirable filming locations for some of the all time great Italian directors and directors from all over the world.

The list of Italian films shot in Tuscany is endless though we should give a special mention to film director and Oscar winner Roberto Benigni. He moved the world with his film "Life is Beautiful" in 1997. It is the tragic story of a father and son imprisoned in a Nazi death camp. For the filming Benigni returned to Arezzo in Tuscany, where he was born forty-five years earlier. Still today, walking around the historic city centre, it is not uncommon to find places that you will recognize from the film.

Tuscany is also linked to many other Italian directors like Federico Fellini. He set some of the scenes of his masterpiece “8 ½” in the famous spa town of Chianciano. There is also Bernardo Bertolucci who filmed parts of “Stealing Beauty” in Villa Geggiano, in the hills of Siena.

Besides the famous Italian directors, Anthony Minghella filmed parts of "The English Patient" in Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi. Ridley Scott’s award-winning "The Gladiator" was shot in San Quirico d'Orcia, near Siena.

The use of seaside resorts, historic centres and monuments are common. Filmmakers are also attracted by the houses, palaces and the Tuscany Villas and the amount of times that the villas in Tuscany have been used as film sets is innumerable. You may recall films such as "Much Ado About Nothing" which was directed by Kenneth Branagh and filmed at Villa Vignamaggio in the province of Florence. Another is "Portrait of a Lady" by Jane Campion, filmed in Villa Reale, which is undoubtedly one of the most popular of the Tuscany Villas.

More recently famous films shot in the area include "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Audrey Wells , a dedication of love for this land, plus Spike Lee’s controversial film “Miracle at Sant Anna” that tells one of the most dramatic accounts of the Nazi invasion of  Italy.


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Stone the colour of the sky

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Pazzi Chapel
Fonte: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Gryffindor

What unites the beautiful Renaissance gallery of the Uffizi in Florence, the walls of Etruscan Fiesole and many of the most beautiful Tuscany Villas? Is it their beauty? Without a doubt, but beauty is not the only thing....

Another answer is a particular type of stone. Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy called it "Boulder", while Benvenuto Cellini called it "Stone the colour of the sky", hence the Italian name of "Pietra Serena".

Its colour is more of a grey-pearl blue than the bright blue of a summer’s sky. What matters most is that for centuries this stone has been one of the basic building materials for the greatest architects of Tuscany. Villas, palaces and the monuments of Tuscany show evidence of this.

The stone is a fine sandstone, but very compact and weather resistant and is mostly found in the hills around Florence. Because of its physical and aesthetic properties, it isn’t often used for walls, but for individual architectural elements or decorative use.

The first people to consider the stone’s structural qualities were the Etruscans, who built defensive walls around the city of Fiesole; later the Romans used it to build the temple of Mars in Florence.

But you don’t have to be an architect or art expert to recognize it; we have all admired this stone, even if only in photographs. If you have seen a Florentine Renaissance building then you have come across this stone.

With the arrival of the Renaissance period, the popularity of this stone grew. The colour contrast between the white plaster and grey stone became a hallmark of the entire architecture of this period. Among the most famous, we must mention Brunelleschi's works in Florence; such as the Pazzi Chapel that is inside the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Hospital of the Innocents and the Basilica of the Holy Spirit. During this period the stone was used by everybody from Michelangelo, in the Laurentian Library, to Giorgio Vasari.

This type of stone was also used in more common architecture, where it was often combined with other materials such as wood or marble. Typically found in the statues, fountains and stairways of Luxury Tuscany Villas, plus the colonnades of the palaces and government buildings in many of the Tuscan towns.
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The Devil’s Tower

Thursday, April 5, 2012


The Devil’s Tower

Photo by http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Mac9

The Devil's Tower is part of the Castle of Poppi, a small town in the province of Arezzo, in eastern Tuscany. Villas in area give you the perfect opportunity to discover the dark history of the tower. Its history is closely linked to that of Matilda, an attractive, young woman who is remembered in history for both her irresistible charm but also for her malicious cruelty. She has been compared to the praying mantis, the female insect that eats her partner after mating.

Apparently, according to legend, the young Matilda was not far behind. She first married a member of the Guidi family, who was the owner of the castle. It was one of those marriages typical of the medieval period, arranged specifically to expand the territorial boundaries of the families who would be joined. Unfortunately, for poor Matilda, the groom was an elderly man who was entirely unable to satisfy her and, moreover, was almost always absent because he was committed to spending time on the battlefield. Because of this the disconsolate Matilda decided to surround herself with the company of minstrels and servants; mostly young and handsome and well-prepared to match the desires of their mistress. Over time, the amount of her lovers increased dramatically and the risk of Matilda being discovered or becoming subject to blackmail was, of course, higher. Matilda was not, however, a woman with many scruples and she devised a strategy to silence once and for all her many lovers.

At the end of each night of passion, her lover was made to escape through a secret passage that proved to be a death trap for the unfortunates who fell deep into a pit where there was absolutely no possibility of escape. However, perhaps she had not thought through her plan enough, because the sudden and rising mortality of young men in the area soon began to look suspicious. It didn’t take long before a few locals began to piece things together and pointed a finger at the beautiful Matilda. One day, whilst Matilda’s husband was absent, the castle was attacked. The young Matilda was captured and buried alive in the tower, where she died of hunger and thirst.

It seems that today the spirit of Matilda can still be found around the walls of the castle; maybe she is still looking for young men to seduce. Many people confess to having being lured into her intriguing web, stunned by their lust for a mysterious, charming young woman. But once they have succumbed to her charms and deception, she vanishes into thin air. If you find yourself staying in Tuscany villas close by to Poppi, then a trip to the tower is highly recommended.
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The Enchanted Garden of Daniel Spoerri

Monday, April 2, 2012


Image thanks to http://www.flickr.com/people/giona/

“But unlike a building, a garden never stops growing...”

With these words from his book "Brida", Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho uses a metaphor to describe two ways that we can think about our existence. The first he compares to the construction of a building; an undertaking which, sooner or later, is complete. The second he compares to caring for a garden; which, on the contrary, is an unrelenting commitment that lasts a lifetime.

If then a man, his garden, art and nature blend together; the combination will reach beyond life, to infinity. This is exactly what is happening in Seggiano, in one of the most charming Tuscany Villas, situated on the slopes of Mount Amiata.

In the mid-1990s, an extravagant Swiss-Romanian artist, Daniel Spoerri, went in search among the Tuscany villas for his perfect retreat.  He was one of the foremost pioneers of the New Realism movement and he was looking for the perfect place that could give life to his grand plan:
a park-museum of sculptures and artistic pieces.

He found his dream Tuscany Villa in Seggiano.  Immersed in sixteen acres of park land he restored and transformed the derelict buildings into his mansion-laboratory. Soon, Spoerri’s works of art started to appear all over the park. Then other artists were invited to join in and add their imaginative ideas to help with the project.

In amongst the mazes the enigmatic figures and unlikely sculptured sofas made of grass appear from nowhere. The most remarkable pieces is the one titled "No 13 Chambre de l'Hotel Carcassonne." This creation is made of bronze and reproduces every minute detail of the hotel room in Paris where Daniel Spoerri stayed for a long time before settling in Tuscany.

There are dozens of interesting artistic displays here and their unpredictable locations are often striking. The works remind you of camouflaged soldiers, stationed behind the bushes or on trees, waiting to launch and ambush the perusing visitors! Interwoven with the works of art there is  a developing botanical tour, a guided tour round the park land.

The garden can be visited from spring to autumn or during the winter months if you book in advance. This experience is unique and not to be missed!
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