5 Top Tips For Any Tuscan Holiday

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Image from Bartosz Mrozowski
As the weather finally seems to have taken a turn for the better it’s only natural that our thoughts turn to our plans for the summer. Top of a lot of peoples’ list will be jetting away somewhere beautiful to enjoy an extended break from all the stresses that are associated with everyday life and where better to do this than in the glorious Italian surroundings of Tuscany?

Tuscany is enjoyed by millions of tourists every year and is home to some of the most breath-taking scenery and architecture in the modern world. So how best to go about your holiday to this fantastic part of Europe? Well here are five great tips to get you started.

Rent A Luxury Villa (Obviously) –

When booking a holiday the second thing you naturally do, after deciding where you would like to go, is decide what sort of accommodation would suit you best. Usually the choice is between a hotel and a holiday villa and I think it will come as no surprise that we are advocating the latter.

Villas in Tuscany are situated in some of the most idyllic and picturesque surroundings that you will ever encounter and will serve as the perfect base camp for your Tuscan adventures. Enjoy your own slice of privacy as you relax in your luxury home from home with all your loved ones around you.

Take Advantage Of Car Hire –

There are lots of different ways of getting around the region but without doubt the simplest of most efficient of these is by hiring a car. Having a vehicle at your disposal will mean that you don’t have to rely on public transport or your knowledge of the local language or customs.

By having access to your own car you can dictate what your holiday will involve and the only time constraints that you’ll have to adhere to are your own. Be wary about choosing an airport pick up though as you can usually find a much better deal at town or city locations.

Plan Ahead –

The best way to get the most out of your break and to cram as much into your time away as possible is to plan as much as you can in advance. Obviously it’s nice to go where the wind takes you some of the time and decide to do something on a whim but if there is anything that you know you definitely want to see or do then it’s a good idea to arrange it beforehand.

You may need to book tickets prior to the event or you may want to look at opening times so that you can visit at a time that is going to be less busy, but either way planning ahead is sure to enhance your holiday.

Get Off The Beaten Track –

Tuscany is famous for its headlining sights such the leaning tower of Pisa and the beautiful streets of Florence but to get a real taste of what life is like in this part of the world you will need to venture off the beaten track a bit.

There are so many hidden gems dotted around the region and they will be enjoyed all the more due to the fact that you won’t have to fight against waves of tourists to experience them. Hop on a train or bus, or if you have taken our advice of hiring a car then grab a local map and head to somewhere that takes your fancy. If you’re looking for places to start then check out our article on the shiniest hidden gems in Tuscany.

Immerse Yourself –

When travelling to any foreign country the best way to really enjoy yourself and get a feel for local life is to truly immerse yourself in the culture. If you’re too busy worrying about whether you should do something or whether it’s worth going to see that famous statue then you’re sure to miss out in some way.

Eat things you’ve never tried before, go to places you’ve never heard of and maybe even give the Italian language a go. No? Well two out of three ain’t bad I suppose.
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Tuscany, Italy: A Romantic Getaway

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

If you want to enjoy a vacation with your loved one, then there is no place like Tuscany. While in Tuscany, there are tons of things to do with your loved one. Look into Tuscany villa rentals in order to experience the following: 

Beautiful scenery

There is nothing like a gorgeous landscape to bring you and a loved one closer. Luckily, in Tuscany, you and your loved one will be surrounded by unmatched scenery no matter where you go. One hotspot to check out is the Ponte Vecchio Bridge where you can view the Arno River while shopping for an exquisite piece of jewelry. 

The countryside

Tuscany has a mesmerizing countryside, especially if you like sunflowers. Take a day to enjoy the countryside by taking a picnic full of fresh Tuscan foods to a sunflower field. Make sure to bring a camera, too. The countryside of Tuscany is very picturesque. On the hills of Tuscany lay old medieval villages, the remains of castles, and farmhouses. This is a great location to choose Tuscany villa rentals, since you can relax while enjoying the soothing sights. Don’t forget to pack some wine.

The arts of Florence 

Florence is full of art which will leave you and your partner breathless. Visit the Galleria dell'Accademia to experience an artistic and cultural tourist destination.  The Galleria dell'Accademia is famous for the collection of sculptures by the artist Michelangelo. Additionally, you will find the Statue of David, which is a personal favorite for many.  Duomo Museum is another attraction you and your loved one can enjoy, which has the original Gates of Paradise and Michelangelo’s Pieta. 

For an excellent vacation away from home, visit Tuscany, Italy with your significant other. You can view the sights, enjoy the countryside, or experience the arts of Florence.
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Top Five Things to do in Tuscany

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Have you been searching for the ultimate culture-enriched getaway? This year, take a trip to Tuscany, Italy. This is a country full of culture, wineries, and natural scenery which will blow you away. Booking luxuryvillas in Tuscany is the perfect way to enjoy your Italian holiday. Here is a list of five things to do while you visit Tuscany: 

1. Visit the museums and culture. 

For anyone who enjoys spectacular art, visiting the Uffizi Gallery is a must. Located in Florence, Tuscany, you can find some of the most notable artists in the world, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, Giotto, and Sandro Botticelli. 

2. Take a taste of Tuscan wine. 

Visit Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano during your stay in Tuscany. If you are a true wine lover, you will appreciate the dessert wine, Vin Santo. 

3. View some of the history. 

Tuscany boasts a ton of history, such as Ponte Vecchio, which is an incredible bridge with shops built around it. This bridge was built during the Roman times and is a very popular tourist attraction. It is full of jewelry stores which is perfect for anyone who wants to come home with gorgeous souvenirs. 

4. Enjoy fine dining.

If Italy is known for anything, it’s for delicious food. Visit high-rated restaurants, such as Il Santo Bevitore, in Tuscany for the perfect dining experience. While dining in Tuscany, don’t forget to dip your bread into olive oil and sip on some of the world’s greatest wine. Visit All'Antico Vinaio for some of the freshest focaccias. 

5. Visit Giotto's Bell Tower. 

Giotto’s Bell Tower is the perfect place to obtain excellent views and photographs of Tuscany, Italy. However, remember that there are over 400 steps to climb. 

Luxury villas in Tuscany can help you to enjoy all that this part of Italy has to offer. Take a tour of the incredible museums or visit the shops on the Ponte Vecchio.

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Celebrate Tuscany: The Festival Of The Thrush

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Some people think that summer is the perfect season for traveling to Tuscany, but people who believe that have clearly never been in Tuscan villa rentals during fall.  All of the natural beauty of the Tuscan landscape is augmented with vibrant shades of gold and orange, and the weather in the beginning of autumn is extremely pleasant.  Some people choose to travel to Tuscany in the summer because they want to experience the array of festivals in the region, but festivals don’t end when the summer months do.  There are plenty of fall festivals you can see, and there’s one you must visit if you have a taste for poultry and fine archery.

The small hill town of Montalcino has been observing the Festival of Thrush on the last Sunday of October for over half a century.  The four quarters of the town, Borghetto (white and red), Pianello (white and blue), Ruga (yellow and blue) and Travaglio (red and yellow), compete in an archery competition that people from around the country come to view.

The Festival of Thrush has its roots in a much older hunting tradition.  Each fall migratory birds make the Mediterranean region their home while they wait for the harsh winter pass in their usual habitats.  Countless species of birds make the migration, but the thrush is the most prominent bird that makes its return to Tuscany.  In the Middle Ages hunters would venture out into the woods during the fall migration and would come back with surplus of game.  During these days of plenty of feasts and banquets were held that would welcome both the common folk and nobility.  During the feasts men would compete in jousts and women would focus on cooking and serving.

Today the people of Montalcino still celebrate this time of year with a festival.  The festival starts off with a traditional song and dance to according music.  After the music, a procession of locals dressed in historical costumes begins complete with historically accurate trumpets and drums.  The town crier officially announces the beginning of the Festival of the Thrush from a window under the municipal tower that overlooks the town’s main square.  While the announcement is made birds are set free in the town square to honor the festival and pay tribute to the Lordship of the Fortress.

From there people move to the Piazza Garibaldi to watch the archers from the competing town sections get blessed in front of the town’s ancient church of Saint Egidio.  Soon the archery competition begins while guests can view the archers and eat a great feast.  Local wines flow liberally and guests dine on local dishes, many of which involve poultry.  At the end of the competition, the town section with the most points win. It isn’t a symbolic victory; the captain of the winning section receives a silver arrow with the name of their section inscribed on it.  The winning section also gets something we know as “bragging rights” in the UK and America.  The winning section has the right to sing hymns of victory about their team and songs of ridicule to the losing section.
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Three Unique Things To Try In Tuscany

Friday, October 4, 2013

Image source: rete.comuni-italiani.it
Tuscany is a region like no other and is a popular holiday destination for visitors across the globe. Tuscany boasts beautiful scenery, sunny weather, friendly locals, delicious cuisine and unique things to do that you can’t do anywhere else in the world. These are just a few of the reasons why so many people choose Tuscany for their summer holiday. If you choose to visit Tuscany this year consider doing one or all of these three unique things during your trip-

Hike Through Etruscan Carved Roads

Prior to the Romans settling in Tuscany the region was ruled by the Etruscans. One of the most impressive things left behind by the Etruscans are the passages carved into stone near the town of Pitigliano. What is so unique about these passages is that there has never been a definitive answer as to how the Etruscans carved several meters down into the stone to make the passages. It is also unknown what they were used for, although it is assumed they were possibly made as water channels or roads connecting burial grounds and sacred areas. 
Hike through the network of carved roads known as Vie Cave for a truly impressive and unusual hike that will be hard to forget.

Bathe In Therapeutic Natural Thermal Springs

Located in Saturina are the famous ancient thermal springs dating back to 2nd century B.C. The thermal spas were used by the Etruscans and the Romans and it was thought that they were created during a battle between Jupiter and Saturn when Jupiter’s thunderbolt fell to earth. The water is at a constant temperature of 37.5 degrees and is said to have healing properties. As well as the thermal spas in Saturina there are also two waterfalls you can visit at   Cascate del Mulino and Cascate del Gorello. These waterfalls also have thermal springs and these are open to the public to bathe in the warm sulphuric waters.

Learn To Cook Traditional Dishes Like The Locals

Italian food is an extremely popular cuisine worldwide but Italian food just isn’t as good unless made using traditional methods just like the locals. Tuscany boasts some stunning traditional dishes that once you’ve tried in Tuscany eating them anywhere else just isn’t the same. While in Tuscany why not learn to cook just like the locals and take part in Tuscan cooking lessons. There are various cooking lessons in every town and city across Tuscany, from lessons in popular Italian resultants to a rustic experience in the Tuscan villa of a local, there is something for everyone. Learn to make pasta and pizza dough from scratch, sauces and starters and sample Tuscan wine as you go!
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Faux Pas Abroad: Five Mistakes People Make When Traveling Abroad

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 1 billion people traveled to different countries in 2012, the largest amount ever recorded.  The UNTWO found that Europe is the most popular international destination for people in 2012, more than 500 million travelers visited the continent to stay in villas for rent in Tuscany, see Paris, and experience European culture.  Millions of people choose to visit other continents and regions around the world, and travel numbers are only expected to increase from here.  In a world where you can find adventure in a different country after only a few hours of travel, international tourism is more popular than ever.  People love to travel, but sometimes they make simple mistakes that end up causing a lot of problems.  If you’re planning on heading abroad soon, don’t commit any of these common travel mistakes.

Cell phones have become an integral part of every life, but when you go abroad your phone may not work like how you’re used to.  Before you travel to a different country, contact your provider and ask them about service in the country you’re visiting.  Mobile phone networks differ from country to country, and your phone may not be compatible with the networks in your vacation destination.  In some cases you may be able to receive texts and not make calls, or you may be able to make calls and be unable to receive them.  You should also be sure to ask about roaming rates.  Many cellphone plans don’t cover usage abroad, and making one call or receiving one text could cost you a significant amount of money.  If roaming fees do apply, you may be better off taking a vacation from your cell phone when you’re abroad.

Getting a passport isn’t like walking into the DMV and getting a license.  Passport processing time can take anywhere from four to six weeks, and that’s assuming that the process goes well and that there aren’t any issues.  There’s also the issue of international passport laws.  Some countries require tourists to have a passport that has been valid for at least six months from the planned date of arrival.  If you don’t already have a passport, start the application process as soon as you know you’re going to be traveling abroad.  Also check out the passport laws in your vacation destination to ensure that you’re in compliance.

Most banks have various systems in place to protect their clients from fraud and robbery, and almost all of them closely monitor the client’s accounts for suspicious activity.  If your bank is used to seeing charges being made in Poughkeepsie, New York, and suddenly sees a lot of account activity from Thailand, they’re going to assume that your account information was stolen and will freeze your account.   If that happens you’ll be stuck abroad with no access to your funds, and you’ll spend days trying to correct their bank’s mistake.  Do yourself a favor and contact your bank before you travel to let them know that you’ll be traveling to another country.

So many people make the mistake of not learning about the currency exchange rate for the country they’re visiting.  Some local vendors try to take advantage of tourists by charging them more for goods and services because they know that the customer won’t know they’re being cheated.  Take a five minute lesson on currency values before you go, it will end up saving you a lot of money.

You’re traveling abroad to explore and experience a different country, so why would you insist on acting like you’re still in your home country?  Tourists who refuse to abide by cultural norms don’t just end up offending locals, they also put themselves in a dangerous situation.  Inappropriate clothing, taking pictures without permission, and inappropriate displays of affection could result in jail time or fines depending on where you’re staying.  Do yourself a favor and take time to truly learn about cultural expectations and norms before you travel.  If you do you’ll be able to have a great time on your vacation, and you’ll avoid making a major travel faux pas. 

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