Eight Reasons To Take A Trip To Tuscany

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Image source: To Tuscany photocompetition 2012 - Maciej Stronski
Tuscany is a region located on the west coast of Italy. It is a popular holiday destination for thousands who visit the region every year. Tourists fall in love with the culture and there are many reasons why they find themselves returning year after year. If you’re considering travelling to Tuscany this year here are ten reasons why Tuscany is the perfect place for a summer trip away-

Festivals

Festivals are big in Tuscany and many of the festivals that are still held here today date back to medieval celebrations. Along with festivals such as the Pailo horse race in Piazza del Campo and the Viareggio Carnevale there are regular markets and food and wine festivals held across the region. Tuscany has a festival to suit anyone, look up a list of all the local festivals and see which interest you.

Historic Sites

One of the driving factors for people to visit Tuscany is the impressive historic sites it boasts. From impressive architecture, ancient cathedrals and monuments to museums and ruins, Tuscany is a hub of history. When in Tuscany visit- The leaning tower of Pisa, the Sienna Cathedral, the hill top town of Volterra and the Uffizi gallery.

Cuisine

Italian cuisine is one of the most popular foods across the world so where better than to sample in than in Italy it’s self. The region of Tuscany has some stunning traditional dishes to its name and some tourists return just to sample the dishes cooked traditionally with local produce again. Local dishes include- Liver crostini, Pappardelle pasta, the famous Florentine steak and tripe and lampredotto.

Traditional Accommodation

A great attraction to staying in Italy is the idea behind staying in a traditional Tuscan villa. Experience living like the locals and rent a villa for the duration of your stay. Enjoy open airy spaces, tradition Tuscan kitchens, swimming pools and sunny terraces.

Art

The most famous piece of art work found in Tuscany is Michaelangelo’s statue of David that is said to be a representation of the biblical figure David. It can be found in Florence and was created between 1501 and 1504. Along with the statue of David Tuscany boasts many galleries with local art work

Stunning Beaches

Tuscany has some beautiful beaches perfect for relaxing or running around with the kids. Choose from private sandy alcoves or beaches that stretch for miles complete with bars, restaurants and chairs for relaxing.

Sunshine

During the summer months Tuscany reaches high temperatures with long days of sunshine. Get away for a while and enjoy the heat in Tuscany. One of the most attractive factors of Tuscany is that whilst the sun is strong and the weather warm it’s never so hot that you are unable to spend a lot of time outdoors due to the heat being unbearable.

Relaxation

Lots of spas and areas of relaxation can be found across Tuscany including natural spring spas.  Visit the Saturina springs near Siena and the thermal baths in Bagno Vignoni for a truly relaxing and natural experience.
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Your Guide To Tuscany On A Budget

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Capanna di Camporata - Gaiole in Chianti
Such is the situation across most of the western world at the moment; the chances are you will be looking to get away this year without breaking the bank. As the economy continues to stutter families are finding it harder to splash out on their summer holiday and are instead looking for something that will give them just as much stress-free fun and luxury but without the mammoth price tag. You shouldn’t let this stop you from contemplating a trip to Tuscany this year though as there are plenty of reasons why this region offers beauty and luxurious bliss on a budget.

So how do you go about ensuring your Tuscan adventure doesn’t cost un braccio e una gamba (that’s an arm and a leg to you and me)? Here are a few hints and tips.

Make It A Family Affair –

With our Tuscan villas that sleep between 4 and 8 people starting at just over £400 you can afford to say ‘the more the merrier’ in order to keep the cost down. By getting multiple family members and friends together you can split the cost to drastically reduce the price you each have to pay. For example some of our luxury villas that can sleep ten people are around £1000 for the week, which only works out at £100 pounds per person for a seven night stay in beautiful surroundings.

Book Your Favourite Attraction In Advance –

Many of the most popular sites in the towns and cities around Tuscany will allow you to book your tickets in advance and this could save you a lot of money in the process. By deciding which attractions you definitely want to visit and booking them before you come away you will find that in most cases you are offered considerable discounts.

Steer Clear Of The Tourist Prices –

Restaurant and shop owners in the busiest areas know that they can afford to charge higher prices because they have the footfall to warrant it. Many people will just accept the prices in these places and assume it is standard for the whole of the area, but this may not be the case. By buying your souvenirs, eating your lunch or doing a bit of shopping away from the bustling tourist areas you will be able to find a bargain much easier. You won’t be compromising on quality either as these establishments will be just as good as the mainstream ones but just without the price tags that holidaymakers usually don’t think twice about paying.

Sit Indoors –

You may feel like it is a crime to hide yourself away from the glorious Tuscan sunshine but if you really want to save money then this could be a worthy sacrifice. Restaurants and cafes know that people will want to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather and therefore the cover charge will be more if you choose to sit on the balcony or terrace. Take a seat indoors and save yourself some cash while you cool off a bit.

Avoid The ‘It’s OK, I’m On Holiday’ Attitude –

Although you will obviously want to enjoy yourself while you are away; you can still do this and skip those needless purchases in the process. Do you really need that plastic replica of the leaning tower of Pisa or that key ring that just says ‘Tuscany’ on it? It’s so easy to have the attitude of ‘I’m on holiday; it doesn’t matter if I spend a little more’ but you may regret that when your Tuscan escape comes in over budget. Restrict yourself to things you definitely need and be mindful of how much you are spending. It’s a good idea to split your spending budget evenly over however many days you are away for and if you have anything left over from one day it can be rolled over into the next day’s budget.
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La Vita è Bella: Relax in Arezzo

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Image source: eventi-arezzo.it 
With the heat of the Italian summer and the culture rich atmosphere, thousands flock to Tuscany for their summer breaks, which may be off-putting for those looking for a quiet getaway. During July and August, Florence and Pisa become hotbeds of tourism, with visitors from all over the world, and whilst these cities are worth a visit year round, the influx of people may make you feel like avoiding Tuscany all together.

Finding accommodation outside of Italian cities is the easiest way to avoid the crowds and for many, the peaceful surroundings of your Tuscan villa and a good book can be enough to satisfy relaxed holidaymakers. But, if you also want to spend some time soaking up the atmosphere and culture of a Tuscan city and don’t want to be overwhelmed, then head east to Arezzo.

Famed as being one of the wealthiest cities in the region, Arezzo attracts fewer visitors than its famous Tuscan neighbours, offering a more relaxing getaway. So, picking a villa near the beautiful historic city, means that if you get bored of lying poolside, there’s plenty to do and see in Arezzo.

La Vita è Bella Tour

Film fanatics will love Arezzo, with Roberto Begnini’s Oscar winning film La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful) being set in the city. With Begnini being an Arezzo native, and the film an international success, buildings are dotted with signs of film stills in the location that they were filmed. Grabbing a guidebook, or map, and spending a couple of hours taking a walking tour of the city, trying to spot all the signs is a perfect way to spend a hazy Tuscan afternoon.

Basilica di San Francesco

Walking the streets of Arezzo will show you a copious amount of religious buildings for you to visit, each with their own historical importance, but don’t let the exterior of the Basilica di San Francesco fool you-it is well worth stepping inside. The basilica’s Cappella Maggiore houses Piero della Francesca’s most famous fresco cycles, The Legend of the True Cross, which is a masterpiece of Italian Early Renaissance style.

Fortezza Medicea di Arezzo

Built under the orders of Cosimo de’Medici, the fortress that came into the city’s possession in 1893, is now used as a public park. Although, a steep climb like the rest of the city, a trip to the top of San Donato hill, gives you a stunning panoramic view of the city and the Arno river valley that Arezzo rises out of.

La Fiera Antiquaria

The largest square in the city, the Piazza Grande, used to be the central marketplace and is still host to La Fiera Antiquaria.  An Arezzo tradition, every first weekend of the month, antique traders take over the square selling a variety of wares, from furniture to jewellery and everything in between.  Although you may not be looking to make any purchases, a wonder around the stalls to take in the atmosphere could lead to you buying the perfect, possibly expensive, souvenir. 
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Four Great Apps For Learning Italian

Tuesday, November 12, 2013



If you’re planning on staying in our Tuscany villa rentals, there are a few things you need to do before you start your vacation.  You need to do the usual pre-vacation planning like figuring out your itinerary, packing, and scheduling your plane tickets, but there’s something else you should do that could end up helping you a lot during your vacation: learning some Italian.

Nobody is going to expect you to become an expert in Italian overnight, but you should try to learn a few key Italian words and phrases before your vacation.  If you take some time to learn the language you’ll have a much easier time communicating during your trip, but don’t feel the need to sign up for language classes.  If you have a smartphone or an iPad, you already have all of the tools you need to help you learn a language.  If you want to learn how to communicate before your vacation, here are some of the best language learning apps available.


In terms of language learning apps, Duolingo is one of the most acclaimed and widely used apps around.  The app is free for download, and has been proven to show results.  The app uses flashcards, games, and repetition to teach users their language of choice.


Do you just want to learn a few important words before your vacation?  If so, the Learn Italian Flash Cards for iPad is the app you need.  This app is free to download and it contains over 5,000 common Italian words for you to learn.  Each one comes with audio so that you can learn how to properly pronounce the word, and it comes with difference spelling and grammar exercises to help you along your way.


AccelaStudy makes apps for learning a variety of languages, and their Italian language app can help you pick up the language fast.  Their award winning AccelaStudy Italian app can be used on your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and even comes with an audio feature that can gauge how correctly you’re pronouncing a word. 


The Learn a Language With Michel Thomas app is available on a variety of platforms, and this language learning series has gotten rave reviews from people that have used it.  This app is free to download, but you do need to purchase certain special lessons if you want to excel at the language.  This language learning program teaches you your language of choice by first having you listen to the language being spoken, and then having you try to speak it after being immersed in it. 
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Celebrate Tuscany: Fieracavalli

Friday, November 8, 2013



There’s something about Tuscany that makes it the perfect place for festivals.  Every season and month brings about new and exciting celebrations, and if you get the right Tuscany villas you can be a part of the festivities.  There are a lot of festivals happening during November, but there is one celebration that’s happening in Verona that brings in people from around the world.

If you love all things equestrian, you’ll want to visit Verona from November 7th to November 10th so that you can see Fieracavalli, more commonly known as the International Horse Festival.  It’ll take a bit of a drive to get there, but it’ll be worth it if you love horses.  Riders and breeders from around the world come to Verona to show off their equine skills and celebrate the rich heritage of the area. 

Like most things in Italy, this festival began over a century ago.  It all started when the Verona Exhibition Centre was founded on March 14th 1898.  This centre wasn’t made for general events, the Verona Exhibition Centre was built for the sole purpose of having a venue for doing horse exhibitions.  It didn’t take too long for news to spread about the grand new centre, and soon horse champions from across Europe were coming show off their skills.

The centre’s popularity really took off after King Vittorio Emanuele III visited the exhibition in 1906.  After his visit people were eager to visit the centre and put on events.  The Verona Exhibition Centre has seen hot air balloons, motor cars, and the first congress of the Italian Automobile Club, but it’s still most famous for its annual horse shows. 

If last year’s numbers are any indication of what to expect this year, visitors are in for a real treat.  In 2012 Fieracavalli had 650 exhibitors from 28 countries, and over 156,000 visitors.  The festival saw more than 160 competitions, shows, and conventions in only four days, so you can guarantee that you’ll find something there that you’ll like.  Visitors can spend the day viewing the many riding and jumping competitions, watching world famous breeders present their horses, or shopping for high quality riding gear and other equestrian products.  This festival can be fun for the whole family, including its youngest members.  Fieracavalli has an area dedicated to children and their families where kids can learn about horses, horse care, and proper riding techniques.

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Plan A Romantic Trip Away To Tuscany This Summer

Thursday, November 7, 2013



www.to-tuscany.com/ilrattoppo/
Il Rattoppo - Cortona
 
When it comes to a romantic trip away the first destination that comes to mind is the beautiful region of Tuscany. Well known for its stunning scenery, historical sites and delicious cuisine what more could you wish for from a romantic break?  Whether you are planning a long weekend away or a two week tour of the region, there is plenty to do on your romantic break in Tuscany.

Relax On The Beach

No romantic break is complete without at least a day or two relaxing on white sand beaches and paddling through the warm sea.  Tuscany has lots of beaches to choose from. So whether you’re looking for a deserted private beach with beautiful scenery or a busy bustling beach lined with restaurants and cocktail bars Tuscany’s beaches won’t disappoint.

Historical Sites To Visit

Tuscany is rich in history and boasts some of the most famous historical land marks. Whilst in Tuscany visit-

The leaning tower of Pisa-  The leaning tower of Pisa is probably the most famous monument in Tuscany and was built in the medieval period. It was designed to be vertical but started to lean during construction hence its name. It stands at 60 feet tall and is part of the four buildings that make up the cathedral. It is well worth visiting as is the town of Pisa.

The Statue Of David- The statue of David is probably the second most famous sculpture after the statue of Liberty. The statue was created between 1501 and 1504 and represents the biblical figure David. It can be found in Florence and is worth seeing in person as photos do not do it justice.

The Walled Town Of Lucca- Lucca is known as ‘the city of a hundred churches’ as it seems there is a church on every street.  It was the capital of Tuscany during the 10th and 11th centuries and was fortified with a wall running right the way around. You can cycle or walk all the way round the wall for a great view of the city and the surrounding landscape.

Romantic Cuisine

Italians are all about enjoying their food and making a big thing of meal times. Live by the same rules while on your romantic trip away and make a point of sitting down and really enjoying your food. Choose from seaside restaurants lit by candle light, town centre cafes where you can eat al fresco and see the locals pass by or try your hand at cooking traditional meals from local ingredients at home yourself.

Accommodation

When escaping to Tuscany for a romantic getaway there is only one option for accommodation: A traditional Tuscan villa. A Tuscan villa offers privacy, comfort and you experience living like the locals, after all they do say ‘when In Rome...or Tuscany’. You can choose anything from a villa in the hills or in a picturesque village moments from bars and shops. Make the most of your villa and experience
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Escape to Tuscany Today: Four Amazing Novels Set In Tuscany



Maybe it’s the historical museums and churches in the area, or perhaps it has something to do with the local culture.  There’s just something about the Tuscan scenery that seems to inspire authors, directors, and actors.  Many of the people that search for Tuscany villas for rent were inspired to travel to the region because they saw it in the movies, viewed it on TV, or read about it in a book.  Tuscany has been depicted countless times in film and on television, but Tuscany seems to show up the most in literature.  If you want to get into a Tuscan state of mind before you head to your vacation destination, pick up a few of these reads for your plane ride.



Genre: Romance, mystery, historical fiction

The woman posing in one of Leonardo Di Vinci’s most famous paintings is one of the greatest mysteries in art history, and author Jeanne Kalogridis wanted to show a fictionalized account of the model’s possible history.  In I, Mona Lisa the infamous woman is known by the name of Madonna Lisa, and she’s living in Florence during a time where a fanatical preacher is determined to destroy paintings and books.  After Lisa’s love interest is put into danger, she must use all of her bravery and intellect to untangle the web of love, treachery, secrecy, and danger that has been weaved during a turbulent time in Florence’s history. 



Genre: Memoir, Travel

Under the Tuscan Sun seems to be required reading for anyone who wishes that they could escape to Italy’s most famous region.  Some people think that the author’s Italian experience ended once she finished her best-selling memoir, but Frances Mayes still has a lot of experiences to share.  In this sequel to Under The Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany, Mayes catches her fans up on her life since she wrote her critically acclaimed novel.  You’ll read about her experiences living in a 13th century house, her adventures in the mountains of Cortona with local residents, and her appreciation of her simple yet fulfilling life.



Genre:  Non-Fiction, History

On November 4th, 1966 Florence was struck by a powerful rainstorm that managed to drop more than half of the annual rainfall total in 24 hours.  The rain brought up unprecedented amounts of mud, sewage, debris, and oil sludge that that threatened the region’s greatest works of art.  Novelist and writer Robert Clark wanted to tell a story about the brave people (affectionately known as ‘mud angels’) who traveled to the region to clean up the streets and salvage some of the most iconic art in the western world.  This novel won’t just educate you about one of the worst disasters in Florence, it’ll also explore what art means to people and how it could compel thousands of people to put their lives at risk to save it.



Genre: Mystery, thriller, suspense

The acclaimed British writer Mark Mills has weaved a haunting and engrossing tale about the lives of several generations of a family in Tuscany.  It’s 1958 and post-war Italy is still recovering from the destruction that was caused over a decade ago.  The idealistic and young scholar Adam Strickland has come to Tuscany to write a piece on the Docci family and their beautiful villa.  Strickland is surprised by the shocking beauty of the villa’s beautiful grottos and sculptures, but there’s something sinister lurking underneath the striking scenery.  After Strickland arrives he finds himself learning about two intense stories of love and revenge that happened 400 years apart from each other.  And after he starts to connect the dots, he has a terrible foreboding that this villa’s tragic legacy is far from over.
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