Boardless Games You Don't Need to Pack

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Boardless Games You Don't Need to Pack

At some point on holiday you’re going to want a night in and what better way to get everyone together and having fun than with a game? Obviously you’re not going to want to sacrifice your new sarong to find space for monopoly, so we’ve put together a list of great games you can play without a board. They’re great to play in your Tuscany villa and you can even play some of them in the queue to the Uffizi!

Four Fourths of a Ghost
This is a spelling game where each player has to add a letter to the word. Player 1 picks a letter, for example ‘L’ and then the next player adds any letter which could spell a word, such as ‘O’. Player 3 must then add another letter being careful not to complete a word. If player 3 adds another ‘O’ they will have lost the game by spelling ‘LOO’, so they must find another letter, such as ‘N’ passing the buck to player 4.
Players can try and bluff it by saying a letter where they can’t think of a word that it could lead to. However if they are challenged and can’t think of a word then they lose and become one fourth a ghost. If the player is challenged and can produce a word then it is the challenger who becomes one fourth a ghost. For instance if Player 4 said ‘D’ and was challenged and they said ‘LONDON’ the challenger loses, but if they say ‘LONDIFUL’ the player loses. The ultimate loser is the person who becomes four fourths a ghost first.

How’s Yours?
With this game a player is selected to be the questioner and leaves the room or covers their ears whilst the others decide on an object or thing that they all have, for example a car or a telephone number. Then the questioner returns and can only ask individuals the question “How’s yours?” to which people must answer with a detail that doesn’t give a lot away, but also isn’t so vague that the game can’t progress. The questioner must overcome their growing frustration and work out what the object is! Then a new questioner is nominated and the game continues.

When I went on my holidays…
This is a memory game where players take it in turns to add an item to a list that must be recalled before adding your item to the list. For example, player 1 could say “When I went on my holidays I brought with me some flip flops” then player 2 could say “When I went on my holidays I brought with me some flip flops and a game of Tetris” and player 3 “When I went on my holidays I brought with me some flip flops, a game of Tetris and my sense of dignity!”…And so on. If you make a mistake you’re out and the winner is the last one standing.

Fortunately Unfortunately
This storytelling game is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Each player takes it in turns to add a sentence to the story, alternating with either fortunately or unfortunately to start the sentence. For example:
Once upon a time there was a frog sitting peacefully on a water lily.
Unfortunately his feet were stuck to the leaf and he couldn’t jump off.
Fortunately a wave came along and the frog realised he’s a rather talented surfer.
Unfortunately the leaf split in two and he discovered he wasn’t quite as good at water skiing…

Wink Murder
Gather everyone together in a circle and decide who is going to be the investigator. Get them to leave the room and nominate somebody as the murderer. Bring the investigator back in and the game can begin. The murderer must wink at people to signal their death. The person being winked at must then die in as dramatic a fashion as possible for extra fun! The investigator then has three chances to guess who the murderer is.

Hope you have fun playing all these brilliant games! Have a look through our Tuscany villas and find yourself the perfect place to get all your loved ones together and start the hilarity!
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How to Take Holiday Photos that will Impress

Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Take Holiday Photos that will Impress

Have you recently purchased a new camera, ready for your holiday in the beautiful Italian countryside? You might be looking to take some decent, high-quality photos, but you’re still uncertain about some of the camera’s settings. We’ve come up with some tangible, sensible advice to help you shoot some truly spectacular holiday snaps.
Some of the following ideas may seem fairly obvious, but these are some very real issues that most amateur photographers should be looking to avoid:

Firstly: What are you shooting?
Your photographs should be interesting, relevant and aesthetically pleasing. You want to capture a beautiful scene so that you can keep it forever. Unfortunately however, there are some scenes that just should not be captured. The secret behind good photography therefore, is knowing when to shoot and when to just admire the view.

Portrait Frames
The secret to a good portrait is the positioning. Imagine there are 9 squares in a photograph, like in this well-positioned image below:

To start off with a classical portrait style, your subject should be centred on the middle square. This can take practice in aiming and framing your shot correctly, but once you have this clear in your mind, your portraits will suddenly stand out and look more professional.
Have your model look away from the camera to smile before turning back in time for the ‘click’. This method can lead to the most natural shots, reducing the risk of an overly exaggerated pose.

Always try and keep the sun’s position in mind when taking a photo. Try and keep the sun behind you when taking a quality photo, as your camera will overcompensate for its brightness. This will lead to darker photos with less detail.
The best landscape shots are taken at dawn and just before dusk. This time of day produces the optimum lighting in which to take a good photo. A good sunset photo should be taken when the camera is steady, meaning that you either need to purchase a tripod, or position your camera on a steady wall.

Select and Edit your Slide-Show in more than One Sitting
The importance of selecting the right photos to show others cannot be overstated. Your friends may be polite and not say anything whilst sitting through an interminable display of your recent holiday snaps, but someone needs to tell you: No photo-show should last any longer than seven minutes.
If you have two images that are even slightly similar, select the best one and delete the other. Place more importance on photos of people and interesting, quirky images than pictures of buildings.
Always remember that a photo should tell a story. If you need to explain the story behind the photo a little, that can be interesting. If you have to explain why the photo is even there in the first place, you should probably remove it.

Contact Us
We hope that you enjoy taking excellent shots of your holiday in your Tuscan villa rental. If you have any questions about any of the local history in your villa’s area, please don’t hesitate to ask us. You can call us on 0121 286 7782 or e-mail us here.
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Who else wants to go Kitesurfing in Tuscany?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Who else wants to go Kitesurfing in Tuscany?

There is so much to do in Tuscany it can be hard sometimes to make an itinerary. If you are planning your holiday in Tuscany this summer around your love of water sports, please do beware that most in-land lakes in Tuscany belong to protected national parks. As a result, most water-sports are banned from these areas.

For more advice, intermixed with some useful leads on where to go, read on below:

Charter a Yacht            
You can find sail-boats in the south of Tuscany, positioned idyllically on the beaches, waiting to be chartered. The coastline off Tuscany is famous the world over for its crystal clear Mediterranean waters and its stunning sea-food. You can see some of the most beautiful islands in Europe, including Elba and the Ponza islands within a few hours of leaving the mainland.

Please do note that certain areas of this coastline are protected by law and all fishing is illegal. Please check local maps and with the local authorities if you are looking to go fishing on your boat.

Windsurfing and Kitesurfing
Almost all of the Etruscan coast could be considered a water-sporting dream. Head to the beautiful white-sand beach at Rosignano for some excellent kite-surfing, before taking the train down to Follonica beach for much of the same. Talamone beach is particularly famous for its strong thermal winds, making for excellent kite-surfing conditions. To check up on the latest conditions, please see Kitesurf Tuscany’s Facebook page.

Canoeing and Kayaking
There can be no finer way to see some of Italy’s stunning maritime areas than in a canoe. Paddling gently up stream or along a coastline, you can be assured of a better view by staying closer to the water-level. With the right water-proofing, it can be one of the best ways to take a stunning photo.

One of the best locations to go kayaking is at Lake Roffio, near Pisa. There is a rowing club, which also holds rowing regattas every year. You can hire two-man canoes and take them out for day-trips.

Scuba Diving
If you like to view fish and other sea-dwelling creatures close-up in their natural habitat, you must go scuba diving. The Etruscan coast has many diving centres which can take you out on excursions and also hire equipment. For a full list of scuba centres in Tuscany, please follow this link.

If you are looking for Tuscany villas to rent, we have the perfect accommodation to fit your water-sports holiday. Please e-mail us with any questions you may have; we’d love to help.
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Travelling with your dog

Travelling with your dog

As a pet owner, you will have a little more to consider when planning your holidays.
When choosing your ideal villa, please take care to note if it states in the description,  “Pets allowed’’ or ‘’Pets welcome”

In general most owners do not accept fighting dogs. When booking your holiday house please specify the breed of your dog.
Apartments and individual houses where pets are not accepted are very popular with people with allergies, so understandably the owners may not make any exceptions.
Even if pets are welcome, some villas accept dogs for free but others may charge an amount for the extra cleaning. In general the amounts will be paid on site on arrival.
Once you have chosen the best place for both you and your pet, you need to check entry requirements for pets into Italy.

EU rules apply for holidays with pets in Italy:
Your dog needs an EU pet passport with a veterinary confirmation of anti-rabies inoculation and a microchip (this carries a unique code which can be scanned in animal shelters, animal rescue centres and veterinary practices).
In Italy a leash and muzzle must be taken.
It is advisable to take out pet insurance.
Food and water bowl must of course be part of your luggage. The water bowl should be stored within reach, together with a bottle of water. You should also take along your dog’s own basket/pillow so your pet will feel at home.
Remember to include your dog’s favorite food, treats and chew bones so that they do not experience any stomach upset. Do not make changes to their food or bowls for the holiday period.
A small first aid kit for pets should not be forgotten. It is useful to have medications for diarrhoea, parasites and wound care, as well as a pair of tweezers for removing thorns or hedge-fern (the so-called “forasacchi”).
You should also inform yourself about the local risk of ticks, although the tick problem in Italy is not as bad as in other countries. A spot-on preparation or tick collar and tick-tweezers may be worth taking with you.
In the car, the dog should always sit in the back, separated by a solid partition grid or in the foot area of the passenger seat.
You can transport your dog properly and safely if you buy a transport basket or a seatbelt. If your little four-legged darling is not wearing a seatbelt or not housed safe, it could not only be very dangerous but also very expensive when you have to pay a fine.
Travelling with dogs is not always easy for the dog owner. In Italy you can often have more problems than in other European countries.
In many restaurants dogs are not allowed. Therefore please inform the desired restaurant in advance about bringing a four-legged family member (possibly also weight and breed).
Even if dogs are welcome in apartments they are often undesirable within the estate, for example by the pool or in the restaurant. At any property dogs are not allowed in the pool.
Also dogs are usually not allowed in museums. Even carrying little dogs in your arms or in a bag is often not permitted.

Travel Checklist

·         dog basket
·         dog pillow
·         favourite toy
·         food, treats, chews
·         food bowl, water bowl
·         collar, harness
·         leash
·         muzzle
·         EU pet passport
·         pet first aid kit (tick tweezers, feet care, spot-on or tick collar and bandaging material)
·         transport basket and/or seatbelt for the car
·         insurance policy for dog liability

Dog beaches in Tuscany
In general most of the dog friendly beaches are marked with signs in Tuscany. These are usually free beaches, public beaches - not leased beaches. That means you have to bring your own umbrella to protect your four-legged friend.
Important:  please remember to take enough water with you because often the nearest place to top up can be far away or you cannot reach it with your four-legged friend.
At some beaches you will find areas for the excrements and where you can get rid of this.
To avoid problems you should always carry the necessary bags with you.
In most public dog beaches it is not permitted to allow your dog to run without a leash.
Throughout Tuscany the number of dog beaches has increased significantly in recent years. Comparing the region of Tuscany with other areas you will find Tuscany has the most.

As of 2012, the following are dog beaches along the Tuscan coast:

Dog beaches Pisa Province

·         Calambrone(Pisa): outside of Pisa It is a part of a public beach where pets are allowed (see signs!). Please note that the area is better known for its industry!
·         Marina del Lago di Torre Puccini (PI): about 2km public beach


Dog beaches Livorno Province

·         Livorno: lungomareArdenza
·         Isola d’Elba: the beach Fonza outside of Campo nell’Elba. You will reach the beach after about 4 km unpaved road.
·         Antignano(LI): individual parts along the beach
·         Cecina (Livorno): south of the sandy beach of Cecina, or north (FossoNuovo and Gorette).

Part of the beach behind the holiday village “La Cecinella” also allows dogs. 

·         Marina di Bibbona/Cecina Mare (Livorno): in the nature park between Marina di Bibbona and Marina di Cecina
·         Marina di Castagneto Carducci (Livorno): right at the roundabout, follow the signs to Spiaggia per cani. The beach is outside of Marina di Castagneto (direction Bibbona, along the sea).
·         San Vincenzo (Livorno): “Dog beach” coming from San Vincenzo towards Piombino about 800m after the city-limit sign. Parking along the street.
·         BarattiBay (Livorno): left of the church San Cerbone and the small jetty, along the road
·         Piombino(Livorno): SpiaggiaBernardini
·         Perelli 1 (Livorno)

Dog beaches Grosseto Province

·         Follonica/Scarlino(Grosseto)
·         Puntone di Scarlino(Grosseto)
·         Punta Ala(Grosseto)
·         Marina di Grosseto (Grosseto)

To Tuscany wishes you and your four-legged friend BuonoVacanze!

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