Get Married In Tuscany!

Friday, August 30, 2013


Italy is considered a very romantic city, specifically the region of Tuscany. When it comes to weddings, nothing beats getting married in Tuscany. Choose from saying ‘I do’ on a beautiful Tuscan beach, in a thousand year old cathedral or in a rustic Italian castle, all with the back drop of the beautiful region of Tuscany. Choose Tuscany for your wedding to wow your guests and create memories you will remember for a life time.

Setting

There are lots of towns and cities in Tuscany to choose from. Whether you want a beach side wedding, a city do or a traditional service in one of the historical towns, Tuscany has it covered.

For a wedding in one of the thriving and bustling towns choose-

        Pisa- This is one of the oldest towns in Italy and is known for its leaning tower. Choose from gothic and roman churches and various other historical buildings.

        Sienna- This gothic town boasts some amazing historical buildings including the town hall and cathedral.

        Florence- Choose from the historical town hall, castles, villas and historical churches.

For a beach wedding choose-

        Cala Piccola, Monte Argentario- This unusual and usually private cove is perfect for a romantic and unique location to get married. The cove boasts aquamarine water and a small sheltered pebble beach.

        Marina di Alberese, Grosseto- This four mile beach has beautiful grey-white sand, is part of the Monti dell'Uccellina nature reserve and has amazing sunsets. This is a very quiet beach which is often empty, perfect for a private beach wedding.

Accommodation

For a truly rustic experience choose a Tuscan villa to stay in on your wedding night. A great idea is to turn your wedding into your honey moon too and choose to stay and explore Tuscany. You can hire villas in all shapes and sizes, so if you decide you want your wedding party to stay with you or close by this is always an option.

Tuscan villas vary from luxurious villas with swimming pools to rustic villas nestled in the Tuscan hill side. So whatever experience you hope to create you can’t go wrong in choosing a Tuscan Villa.

Cuisine

When in Tuscany take full advantage of the local cuisine and traditional dishes and choose to have the food at your wedding prepared by a local chef. Traditional Tuscan dishes include-

        Live Crostini- A great option for a starter, Crostini is a traditional Tuscan dish of liver pate on warm thin sliced bread.

        Pappardelle pasta- When in Tuscany nothing is more traditional than homemade pasta. Try Pappardelle which is traditional served with a wild boar sauce.

        Cantuicci- Tuscany isn’t huge on deserts but something the locals do enjoy is a biscotti style biscuit with a glass of Vinsanto, a sweet desert wine. Perfect after a slightly heavy meal of bread and pasta.
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Safe Travel 101: Common Scams and Schemes Abroad

Tuesday, August 27, 2013



Your vacation abroad should be a time to relax, but when you’re traveling to a foreign country you should always be on your guard.  It doesn’t matter if you’re on a beach in Rio, staying in Tuscany villas with friends, or in a hotel in China.  Criminals and scam artists are everywhere, and tourists and foreigners are usually their favorite target.  If you’re going to be traveling abroad soon, make sure you don’t fall prey to some of these popular scams.

The “Counterfeit Police”

You’re walking down the street when all of the sudden two uniformed men stop you.  They claim that they’re part of an anti-counterfeiting task force that works with the local law enforcement officials.  After quickly flashing you their badges, they demand to see the money you’re carrying so they can inspect it for fake currency.   You may be in a foreign country with different laws, but no police officer or other uniformed official would stop someone and demand to inspect their money for fake bills.  Don’t believe what they’re saying and politely walk away.  If you’re being pursued, go somewhere public and contact the actual local law enforcement officials.

Found Valuables

As you’re walking to your hotel someone in front of you suddenly picks up a nice looking piece of jewelry.  After they marvel at the high quality they ask if it’s yours.  When you say no they claim that they would love to keep it, but that they can’t because of religious reasons or because they live in a bad area.  Since they “found” the jewelry they offer to let you keep it if you give them money, but it’s only for the fraction of a price it would normally cost.  This scam is one of the oldest scams around.  The “high quality” piece of jewelry is usually just painted brass and fake jewels, and they person who “found” it noticed it because they purposely covertly dropped it in front of you.  Never purchase anything if you find yourself in this situation, even if you think you’re getting an amazing deal.

A Night On The Town

You’re approached by a very attractive member of the opposite sex that wants to spend time with you.  Maybe they want to practice their English with someone over dinner, or maybe they know of a hot new club that a lot of other tourists don’t know about.  Either way they want you to follow them to a new place for food and drinks.  Before the bill arrives your new friend excuses themselves to use the restroom, and almost as soon as they leave you’re presented with an extravagant bill that costs you several hundred dollars.  You don’t see your new friend anywhere, and when you try to leave some very large and armed people demand their money.  This scam has become surprisingly common abroad.  The best way to avoid a situation like this is to insist on picking the place you and your new “friend” will go.  If they insist on going somewhere they choose, it’s very likely that you’re being scammed.
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Terrible Tourist Syndrome: Four Tips For Being Respectful When Traveling Abroad

Friday, August 23, 2013



Traveling abroad can be a wonderful and eye opening experience, but the people who live at your vacation destination may not be too excited about it.  It seems like every week there's some new story about a tourist on vacation doing something embarrassing or down right disrespectful, and nobody wants to shame themselves, or their native country and culture when they're away.  We specialize in finding people luxury villas in Tuscany, but good manners can be appreciated in every country.  If you want to avoid being a bad guest when you're abroad, make sure you follow these tips.

Be mindful of the different culture

If you're going to a fairly conservative country, don't be shocked or angry if you get some strange looks when you walk around in revealing clothing.  If you're going to be visiting a different country, you're going to have to expect that some things are going to be different abroad.  You'd be surprised by how many tourists get annoyed at the fact that they have to abide by certain cultural rules when they're abroad.  Being from a different country doesn't give you an excuse to openly flaunt your disregard of certain rules and expectations.  Do your best to learn about the local culture before your vacation so you don't unknowingly offend people.

Ask before you take pictures

Imagine that you're taking a break from work at nice and relatively well-known local park.  You're sitting enjoying your lunch and the scenery when all of the sudden you notice several flashes of light.  You look up and see a stranger snapping pictures of you when you're trying to relax.  When you kindly ask them to stop, they simply smile and walk away.  That scenario sounds strange to you, but for some people living in popular vacation destinations it's an everyday reality.  Taking somebody's picture without their permission is very rude, and it could cause some problems for you if the person you're photographing is upset.  Always ask someone before taking their picture.  If your grasp of the language isn't very good, miming the act of taking picture can get your point across. 

Don't block traffic

If you need a moment to check a map or look at your GPS, try not to do it in the middle of a busy sidewalk or when you're crossing the street.  One of the biggest pet peeves locals can have about tourists is their ability to unknowingly block foot and road traffic when they're on vacation.  You may be on vacation and not have anywhere to be, but there are thousands and possibly even millions of other people where you are that do.

Keep opinions to yourself

Some tourists can feel the need to voice their negative opinions about where they're staying, but if you're unhappy about something you should keep it to yourself.  Would you go to a friend's house and complain that you think their furniture is ugly?  Would you loudly say negative things about people in your neighborhood when you're sitting on your porch?  If you wouldn't dream about doing those things at home, why would you do them when you're abroad? 

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4 Things Tuscany Is Famous For


Image from Maciej Stronski
If someone was to mention Tuscany to you your thoughts might immediately turn to rolling hills bathed in sun and glistening seas in front of breath-taking backdrops but there is so much for which this Italian region is famous. Year after year tourists return to their Tuscan villas on holiday; happy to retreat once again to a place that has given them so much to enjoy in the past.
So let’s celebrate everything that Tuscany has given us because sun isn’t the only thing that drenches this landscape. History, culture and beauty can all be found in abundance in a region that really is at the heart of Italy.

Art –Tuscany is sure to be on any art lover’s list of places to go and the chances are that it’s somewhere near the top. With museums that showcase the work of such greats as Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Botticelli; it’s literally a paradise for anyone who enjoys the finer things in life. Perhaps two of the most famous galleries in the world, let alone Tuscany, are the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery where you can find Michelangelo’s David; both of which are situated in Florence.

Wine –Whilst other areas of Italy might be famous for their acidic, dry whites such as Pinot Grigio; Tuscany is where your will find fruity, full bodied reds like the iconic Chianti. This type of wine is grown all over central Tuscany and there are plenty of vineyards that will be happy to open their doors to let you sample the fruits of their labours. Another great wine from the Tuscan region is the lesser known Montepulciano which is wonderfully intense and lively and definitely worth a try.

Architecture –If buildings were humans then Tuscany would have the most attractive locals in the world. It’s impossible to avoid the architecture which graces the towns and cities that really does offer an intriguing insight into the history of such a culturally rich region. A medieval feel runs through most of the area and infamous structures such as the leaning tower of Pisa and Siena Duomo are complemented by less known (but equally as beautiful) fountains, churches and abbeys.

Food –You only have to look into the long list of food festivals to see how much of a big part food plays in Tuscany. There are events dedicated to gelato, pizza and cheese and that’s before you even get to the ones that encompass everything. Pecorino cheese is widely produced as well as some of the best tasting olive oil and cured meats that you’ll ever enjoy. History isn’t just found in the buildings and art galleries that populate the cities but in the food that the local people eat too. There is sure to be no shortage of opportunity to experience a real taste of Tuscany.
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Five Famous Tuscans

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tuscany is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Nearly 10 million people visit Florence every year, due to the immense collections of art, culture, food, and people. Gathering to enjoy the fruits of Tuscany, from the wine to the food to the company, is a classic vacation many wish to experience.

While Tuscany may be known for its fine wines (such as Chianti) and its art (think da Vinci), Tuscany also boasts such exports as Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, and many other geniuses. Their long-standing tradition of excellence in all fields is a proud part of Tuscany’s history.

Here is a list of five of the most famous Tuscans. Whether they were scientists, explorers, or artists, they all made significant contributions to the world.

Leonardo da Vinci
Perhaps one of the most well-known geniuses of the world, da Vinci was a true Renaissance Man. A painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer, he introduced many new concepts to the world, including the idea of a flying machine. He was renowned primarily as a painter, and his works are displayed all over Tuscany, though his Mona Lisa is in France. His accomplishments are too many to list here, and interest in him has not faded.

Dante Alighieri
Though only some were made to read it, Dante’s Divine Comedy is a well-known and oft-studied work, and is considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language. The Inferno is the most famous part of his Divine Comedy, and is extremely vivid for modern readers. Purgatorio is the most human, and has many real poets in it as characters. Paradiso is heavily theological, but is also the most beautiful. Born in Florence, Dante’s work is part of the cornerstone of Italian literary language, and Italian is to today sometimes called “la langue de Dante” in French.

Galileo Galilei
Many youngsters learn about the Tuscan Galileo in grade school: He was a physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played an important role in the Scientific Revolution. He improved the telescope and has been called the father of modern observational astronomy, physics, and science. His astounding observations, such as the heliocentric theory that the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun, have contributed greatly to our modern understanding of the solar system. It is well known that he was charged with heresy for his heliocentric theory, and spent the rest of his life in house arrest, where he wrote two of his finest works: Two New Sciences.

Michelangelo
Michelangelo was a famous painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer of the High Renaissance. His influence on Western art is felt even today, and his output in life was nothing short of prodigious. His works, like da Vinci’s, are displayed prominently, the most famous being his statue of David and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo spent four years painting the Sistine Chapel, mandated by Pope Julius II. He hated the task, and preferred sculpting. His statue of David is proudly displayed in Florence, and is a symbol of strength and human beauty.

Sandro Botticelli
Botticelli studied under Lorenzo de’Medici in what would come to be called a “golden age,” and he was commissioned to help paint the walls of the Sistine Chapel. His two most famous masterpieces are the paintings Primavera and The Birth of Venus. Interestingly, he was on the committee to decide where Michelangelo’s statue of David would be placed.


Tuscany has been home to many geniuses over time, and these are only five of them. To experience their lasting legacy, villas for rent in Tuscany are a great way to stay comfortably, explore Tuscany, and have a gorgeous place to come back to at night. 
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A Tuscan Wedding Ceremony

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Italy is one of the first places to spring to mind when the word “wedding” pops up. The country is a gorgeous wonderland of scenery, food, and love. Vacationers can wander around quaint villages and modern museums, seeing art from long ago and taking pictures “holding up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The heartland of Tuscany is a perennial favorite for wedding ceremonies, for good reason. The verdant hill rolling for miles create a romantic backdrop for a rustic celebration. There are a few things that make a wedding feel Tuscan, whether you marry in the region itself, or just want to evoke the feeling of amore.

Wooden Décor
One of the simplest ways to recreate the charm of rural Italy is to use wooden pieces of furniture. Old wooden tables and chairs make everyone feel as though they are sitting down to a family dinner, and can help bring even strangers closer together. The familial feeling can be fostered with smaller free-standing table, or long tables that fit dozens of people. It feels just like Grandma’s old kitchen table. They are also easily decorated, going well with any theme and color scheme.

Simple Centerpieces
Another way to capture Tuscany is to fill your tables with simple and natural centerpieces. For example, a wrought iron candelabra surrounded by flowers allows people across the table to see each other and converse. You can also create small bundles of twigs and hang candles or ribbons on them, and sprinkle flower petals along the table. The centerpieces should feel organic, like nature couldn’t help but to lean over to see the celebration.

Peonies and Greeneries
Again, your décor should feel like it grew there, so clean flowers like peonies would be perfect. They come in a variety of colors, and can be worked into all different arrangements. A lot of green also helps the natural feel, so adding a lot of leaves, ivies, and other plants will add a lovely element. You can decorate plates with herbs, as well.

Lantern Light
Nothing says romance like candlelight. Stringing small hanging candles through the surrounding area of your wedding adds a soft component that inspires love, and the lights look so pretty dancing in tree branches and on strings. Lanterns on the tables are also a great way to set the mood. For something new, try setting up candles in an intricate swirling pattern on the lawn. It makes for a perfect photo opportunity!

The Right Food
A Tuscan wedding calls for Italian food, of course! Along with fresh pastas and delicious dishes for dinner, your cocktail hour can start the feast early and stay in theme. Wine is a staple, and you should have an excellent red and white on hand for everyone’s tastes. For cocktail dishes, you can start with French bread and seasoned oil for dipping, then move onto a platter of tomatoes, mozzarella, prosciutto, and olives.

Location
The location of your wedding can also add to that sense of Tuscany. Any backdrop of trees, forests, or hills evokes that grandeur. You can also fly right to the source and host your wedding in Italy! Tuscan villa rentals are the perfect setting, and you can even start your honeymoon there! Guests can rent one if they so choose, and you can all enjoy Tuscany in the comfort of a classic villa.


Tuscany is one of the most perfect places for romance. Planning your wedding with  Tuscan theme is easier than you’d think, and you can use these tips to make your day beautiful and memorable. 
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Five Foods To Try When Holidaying In Tuscany

Friday, August 9, 2013

Image source: bistecca-fiorentina.it 


Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines worldwide and many tourists flock to Italy every year to sample rustic Italian dishes. Part of travelling and experiencing new cultures should always be to try the local dishes cooked by local chefs. Tuscany is home to some unique and famous local dishes that are a must try when visiting Tuscany. Holidays are about enjoyment, new experiences and over indulging. With this in mind here are five dishes to try when holidaying in Tuscany-

Minestra di Farro Lucchese
This soup is a signature dish from the Tuscan town of Lucca. You will find it in almost every restaurant and cafe in the town and even on some street stalls. The soup is made using Farro which is an ancient grain used for centuries in Tuscany. This is a great light dish to have for a rustic Italian lunch or as a starter.

Tartufo- Tuscan Truffles
Both black and white truffles are an extremely popular ingredient in Tuscany and Tuscan truffles are considered to be one of the finest examples of truffles in the world. Sample the black truffles between October and March and the white truffles between October and December. Truffles are a key ingredient in many well known Tuscan dishes; try something simple such as Tuscan bread dipped in Truffle oil or Tuscan pasta with truffle shavings.

Pasta al ragu di carne
This ragu dish is very different to the pasta ragu dishes we know. In Tuscany they use little and sometimes no tomato in their ragu. Traditional Tuscan ragu is made from simmered down veal and pork and various vegetables using including carrots and onions.

Bistecca alla fiorentina
This Tuscan steak is very well known and comes from the regions Chianina cattle.  It is well known for being tender and full of flavour. It is usually served simply, cooked with salt, olive oil and rosemary and grilled on a wood fire served rare with a salad.

Cantucci and Vin Santo
Cantucci is the Tuscan version of Biscotti. Here in the UK we often eat biscotti with coffee but in Tuscany it is traditionally served with Vin Santo which is often served as a house wine in many Tuscan restaurants. This is a great light choice for after a heavy meal as Vin Santo is a sweet wine which is great for drinking with Cantucci.

This are five favourite local traditional Tuscan dishes that are highly recommended to try, Tuscany is an ideal place to visit if you are looking for a relaxing holiday filled with good food and wine. You may even consider trying to make some of these dishes yourself from the comfort of your Tuscan villa.
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What to Wear in Tuscany

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tuscany is an area well-known for fashion: it is the heart of Italian fashion, and that fame dates back to the Middle Ages. The fashion and textile industries are the pillars of Florentine economy, something they take pride in. While everyone in Tuscany dresses comfortably, they dress well.

As a visitor, having to narrow down your closet for your trip is always difficult, especially going to a place where the weather is notoriously unpredictable. You need a few basic outfits that can mix and match, transition from day to night, and be respectful for touring around. This is easier than you’d think!

For Him:
Men have things so easy when it comes to fashion. A few button downs, a few nice tees, a pair of jeans, a pair of nice pants, and two pairs of shoes. If it’s summer, he brings a pair of swim trunks. That’s it. The hardest part is making sure they’re to his taste. The colors and patterns should be his choice, but should be a similar scheme so he can mix and match it all.

Shorts are generally frowned upon for visiting places like basilicas, so a light pair of pants for the summer would be best. Whether they are chinos or denim, they should be appropriate, fit well, and look tasteful. Button downs can be any color or classy pattern, and they can be dressed down for summer (rolled sleeves) or layered for winter.

Accessory-wise, it depends on the season. Summer, not much is needed. In the winter, he can pack a nice coat, a scarf, and gloves. Depending on the amount of time he plans on spending in Italy, he can bring more or less.

For Her:
Women’s clothing is definitely more varied than men’s, and that can create some tension when packing. Dresses, or pants? Tank tops and sweaters, or long-sleeve shirts? Ultimately, it’s up to each woman to decide what she packs according to her sense of style, but there are some basics.

Dresses are very popular in Italy, so a sundress or two and a maxi dress should be perfect. She should bring a sweater or a pashmina to cover her shoulders when visiting churches and other more traditional places. Shorts and tank tops can be worn, especially in the high heat of summer. Pants or modest skirts are also good choices. Whatever she prefers, it should be tasteful and stylish.

For accessories, she can bring whatever jewelry she likes, along with a scarf and coat for cooler weather. Shoes should be comfortable, such as flat boots, cute sneakers, and sandals. Staying in a Tuscany villa for rent enables her to pack more and worry less about bringing too much.


Dressing for Tuscany isn’t as complicated as people may think. A few basics can guide you to packing the right clothes for the right season. 
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Secrets of Tuscany

Tuscany is the region most people envision when they think of Italy. The ochre-hued hills, red-roofed yellow stone buildings, sprawling museums full of Renaissance art: the idyllic wine-soaked countryside is the dream vacation of many an office-bound person.

Some of the most famous places in Tuscany, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, for example, may get crowded with tourists. The lawns of Pisa get overrun with people reenacting the ubiquitous “push the Leaning Tower” pose seen in every photo set. But Tuscany has a hidden heart, full of the art, food, and villages you still imagine.

Season
One of the secrets is to travel in the winter. In the summer, tourists pack the region in the shimmering heat, and although the vacation is still entrancing, the winter offers a completely different trip. The colder weather calms the heat and bustle, and reveals a surprisingly verdant Tuscany, brimming with wildlife.

Tuscany in summer is inimitable in its beauty, but the winter is when the region settles into its roots again.

Food
The food, it is said, is better in the winter, as well. Olives are harvested in November and added to the oil, which gives it a spicier flavor. The animals eat grass instead of hay, and therefore the pecorino cheese is creamier. The winter brings about hunting season, so the meat is fresher.

Winter is also a time for “big” wines, full to bursting with flavor. It pairs perfectly with all the seasonal foods that ripen in the fall and winter. It’s definitely eating season there. Don’t miss cooking classes, so you can recreate the delicious dishes at home!

Art
While you can skip the most infamous tourist places, there are certain places you should definitely visit. First, seeing Michelangelo’s statue of David is a sight that is worth seeing. Also, the Uffizi Gallery, home to exquisite Renaissance art, is a must-see. Il Duomo di Firenze, the Basilica in Florence, is a triumph of Gothic architecture and art, as is the Duomo of Siena. Don’t forget to visit the classics – they’re classics for a reason!

Villas
Of course, the best way to discover Tuscany and its secrets is to stay in Tuscany villas. In the summer, the gorgeous villas offer pools and outdoor seating, with lounges, a kitchen, and bedrooms. In the winter, they make cozy places to return to after a day of exploring. Whether you are traveling in a large group, or want to meet new people, a villa that sleeps up to 20 people is the right way to stay in Tuscany.


Discover the undiscovered, and savor the things that have stood the test of time. By branching out and trying something new in the popularity of Tuscany, you can have a vacation that is more than tourist-crowded ports and areas. 
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