Uncovering San Gimignano

Friday, December 30, 2016

Uncovering San Gimignano

Posted by Kiri (30/12/2016)

Of all the medieval hilltop towns in Tuscany, San Gimignano is possibly the most well-known. It’s famous for its 13th century walls and medieval towers and houses. Naturally it was on the top of my to do list for our Tuscan trip. I had done my research and browsed pictures of San Gimignano online. I had a pretty good idea of what it might look like, but the reality surpassed my expectations.

I was first captivated by this charming town when we were driving through the bendy Tuscan roads and I caught a glimpse of San Gimignano in the distance. Seeing it from afar definitely entices you to get closer. Once you get to the top of the road that leads to the town, you will instantly notice the towering walls.

I would recommend going early in the morning, rather than just before lunch time like we did. Parking is a bit of a struggle. If you are feeling active you may want to park outside the town at the bottom of the hill, but be prepared for a climb.

Once inside, you can admire the architecture and really start to uncover the town. It felt like we were inside some sort of medieval castle or village, especially when you are walk along the cobbled streets and notice all the buildings. You won’t fail to notice the distinctive The Duomo di San Gimignano, a 12th century church in the centre.

One thing I particularly remember about San Gimignano is the quirky shops. If you want to buy some traditional Tuscan goods such as pottery, pasta, Tuscan sausages, olive oil and wine then you will be spoilt for choice here. I also remember the two torture museums which unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore, but they definitely added to the medieval atmosphere of the town.

There’s also plenty of restaurants to try, but some are tucked in hidden corners and up cobbled paths. You have to investigate the backstreets properly in order to find some of the really local restaurants.

We settled for a traditional pizza place run by a local family. We tried the Tuscan sausage and spinach pizza, which didn’t have tomato sauce, but was delicious nonetheless. The spinach in Tuscany has so much flavour, I have tried to recreate it back home b8ut it never tastes the same.

Make sure you save some time to walk to the highest point in San Gimignano where you can enjoy spectacular views. You can see right into the Tuscan countryside and beyond. Some of the restaurants also boast amazing panoramic views so you can take in the scenery whilst tucking into your meal.

I made a video of our time in San Gimignano. Unfortunately it was raining, but that didn’t stop us from really appreciating this unique medieval town. Check out the video here and see what we got up to. Thinking of booking a holiday to Tuscany? Take a look at some of our luxurious private villas we have in and around San Gimignano and find out more about the town here. 
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Stay In A Private Tuscan Villa

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What Is It Like To Stay In A Private Tuscan Villa?

Posted by Kiri (23/12/2016)

I had all sorts of ideas about what it might be like to stay in a traditional Tuscan villa in the middle of the countryside. For me, that’s my ideal place to stay. I’d much rather stay somewhere with character and charm than a fancy hotel.

Every apartment you stay in is different, and has it’s own defining features. It’s the interior decor and the attention to detail that makes an apartment very special. That’s what you get when you stay in a private villa or apartment with To Tuscany. They have hand picked all their villas, personally visiting each and every one of them. We were lucky enough to stay in one of their stunning villas, and I want to share with you what it was really like.

Our apartment was way off the beaten track, not far from Lecchi in Chianti, which meant we got to stay in the depths of the Tuscany countryside. It didn’t matter that we were out of the way a little, because we hired a car. Radda in Chianti, a lovely hilltop town, was only around 15 minutes away. I think being in this location really added to the magic of this place, because we felt like we could really switch off.

It was so quiet. We couldn’t hear any cars, people or noise. Instead, the only things we could here were the melodic and soothing sounds of the birds singing, and the sound of bees buzzing around the beautiful flowers.

I think the best thing about our villa was the spectacular view from the balcony. If you picture a dreamy Tuscan view with rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards, then you can imagine what our view was like. Sitting out on the balcony with a glass of wine in the sunshine was blissful.

Inside the villa had character features such as a fireplace and oak beamed and terracotta ceilings. We had a kitchen with all the amenities we needed plus TV and of course, Wi-Fi.

The bedroom had an enormous hand-made iron bed and views out to the vineyards. The villa also had air conditioning and heating, neither of which we used because we visited at the end of March, when it was just beginning to warm up for spring.

There are a total of 14 villas situated in the heart of Chianti wine country. We were able to walk to the local farm for a wonderful wine tasting experience. The villas have a shared pool which looked lovely, but it was off season so it wasn’t open when we went. There’s only a few villas clustered together here, but it feels a bit like a Tuscan hilltop village on a very small scale. I would highly recommend staying here if you want to experience a real piece of Tuscany and truly get away from it all in picturesque surroundings. Click here to view the villa and book online today with To Tuscany.

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A Day In Florence

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Holiday Highlights - A Day In Florence

Posted by Kiri (16/12/2016)

Another of my favourite holiday highlights was the time we spent in Florence. I have wanted to visit this charismatic city for quite some time now, so on our road trip through Tuscany, I made sure we stopped off in Florence. Unfortunately we didn’t have a much time there as I would have liked, so we had to go on a whistle stop tour.

If you only have a few hours in Florence, what are the most important things to see? This was the tough decision we faced, but we managed to narrow it down. When we got there the queues for all the museums and galleries were very long, a little tip, try and arrive early in the morning rather than near midday like we did.

It’s also a good idea to get the train into Florence rather than drive if you can. The city has some restricted areas where cars aren’t allowed to go, if you enter them you will be fined. However, we had no option but to drive, and parked in the train station car park in the city centre for about 3 euros an hour.

We then wandered around the city, trying to take in all of the main sights. There’s plenty of shops in Florence, so if you have time you can indulge in a spot of retail therapy. If you are heading to Florence for the day, the main sights you should at least see and snap a photo of (if you aren’t able to get inside) include the Duomo, Giotto’s Campanile,  Palazzo Vecchio, The Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio and the  Palazzo Pitti.

We discovered that apparently the Palazzo Pitti was originally home to the government, and they built the Ponte Vecchio in order to be able to walk to their offices without coming into contact with the general public.

By far my favourite moment in Florence was taking in the views of the city at the Piazzale Michelangelo. Half way up the steps there are some lovely gardens with equally amazing views, and then you make your way to the top to enjoy what I think is the most impressive spot in the city. We had a nice buffet lunch on the way down which included all you can eat meatballs, veg and salad for just 8 euros.

You can’t really go to Florence without trying the famous ice cream, there’s literally an ice cream shop on every corner. It was impossible to choose which shop to go to, but the ones on the back streets and away from the main crowds tend to be better. 

If you head over the bridge you will find some quirkier shops and lots of jewellery stores. It’s slightly less crowded here, and there’s a few sandwich shops where you can grab some light bites.

I wish I had more time in Florence, ideally you need a couple of days if you want to see the city in all its glory. We will definitely be stopping by again on our next Tuscan adventure to uncover more of this magical city.
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7 Moments In Tuscany

Friday, December 9, 2016

7 Moments In Tuscany That Will Make You Feel Like You Are In A Dreamland

Posted by Dympna (09/12/2016)

There’s nowhere on earth like Tuscany, it’s a region that captivates your imagination and sends your senses into overload. Sometimes, you will wonder if what you are experiencing really is reality, or whether in fact, you are dreaming. A lot of Tuscany looks like a place from your imagination.

When you drive past the cascading hills, spectacular sunsets and breathtaking countryside views, you will realise that you are in one of the most special places on earth. Tuscany is the perfect place to escape the pressures of the modern world, as it’s so peaceful and beautiful, and when you are in the middle of the countryside, you really can get away from it all.

Here’s seven moments you might experience in Tuscany that will make you feel like you are living in a dreamland.

1. When the mist falls over the mountains
If you head to Tuscany’s mountainous area, or visit somewhere like Casentino National Park, you might just wake one morning to a mist covering the hills. These mystical views will make you feel like you are stuck in beautiful dream.

2. When the sun sets over the Tuscan hills
Tuscany is world famous for its spectacular sunsets. During your visit, if you are out and about at the right time in the evening, you just might catch a few breathtaking dreamy sunsets. If you can, wake up early to catch the sunrise over the olive groves and vineyards.

3. When you wander through a medieval castle
There’s a huge selection of medieval castles to uncover in and around Tuscany, you won’t go far without seeing signs for one. A castle with some of the most amazing views that you absolutely have to visit is Brolio Castle. Walk around the outside of the castle and the views will make you feel like you have been transported into another world.

4. When you uncover the dreamiest of hilltop towns
Tuscany’s hilltop towns really are the stuff of dreams. As you approach a hilltop town like San Gimignano or Montalcino from a distance, you will be taken aback by how magical they look. The views from some of the hilltop towns are jaw-dropping, you can see miles out into the countryside and surrounding mountains. Pitigliano (also known as Little Jerusalem), a quaint town in Grosseto, will make you feel like you have stepped back in time.

5. When you stumble up Tuscan wildlife
A lot of people aren’t aware of the wonderful wildlife that you can see in Tuscany. You might be trekking through the countryside and come across a few deer, some hares, a red fox, or maybe even a porcupine!

6. When you bathe in the natural hot springs
There’s something magical about bathing in natural hot springs in the middle of the woods. It feels like you are in a mystical world filled with waterfalls and bright blue pools of water.

7. When you are sitting on the balcony of your Tuscan villa
Finally, you will be impressed by the amazing views from many of our apartments. Sit on the balcony with a glass of wine, take in the beautiful scenery and let your imagination run wild.

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Photos in Tuscany

Friday, December 2, 2016

Photos in Tuscany - 2016 Photo Competition Winners

Posted by Mikolaj (02/12/2016)

One of the most special things about a holiday to Tuscany is the scenery. There are endless opportunities to capture the most stunning photos whilst on your travels. It often feels like every corner you turn there’s something new and awe-inspiring to photograph.

We love to see creative and inspiring pictures of Tuscany, and that’s why we decided to run a photo competition. We asked our clients to submit their competition entries via the client login area, and then we had the impossible task of choosing a winner. The prizes included an iPad mini for the winner, and a beautiful Food Hamper direct from the Chianti region for second and third place.

The entries we got were excellent, and they showed all aspects of Tuscany, including the rolling hills, vineyards, luxurious villas, wildlife, architecture, culture, food and even the beaches.
Take a look at all the entries here, and you will see why it was so hard to pick just three photos.

The winning photos

First place
We were totally blown away by Olaf Schumacher’s picture ‘morgenröte’ which means dawn or red sky. This image truly captures the real beauty and magic of Tuscany. You really can wake up to a mesmerising sunrise that looks just like this.

The fog that engulfs the land portrays the mysterious side of Tuscany and the colours depicted in the photo are gorgeous. It’s hard not to be wowed by this impressive picture. Congratulations to Olaf for winning our 2016 photo competition.

Second place
In second place, Justyna Baran’s photo titled ‘look ahead Tuscany’. This charming photo features two kids gazing out at the magnificent views in front of them. We love it because it shows how Tuscany can captivate and wow children, to them it’s a mysterious land that’s perfect for exploring. The kids are looking out on a vineyard with the mountains in the distance on what looks to be a beautiful sunny day. The little girl’s sun hat is adorable and really pops out of the photo.

Third place
Finally, in third place we have Linda Dion’s image ‘Borratella Spirit’. This picture shows the laid- back Tuscan lifestyle at its best. We love how they have managed to really capture the scene with the pool and gorgeous villa in the background. It makes us want to jump on a plane so we too can sit poolside and drink Tuscan wine with some fresh locally made Anti pasti. The sunlight and shadows that cascade over the building make this image even more impressive.

Heading to Tuscany next year? Be sure to snap some beautiful photos during your travels and you could win our 2017 photo competition. Feel free to send us any pictures you take whilst on holiday in Tuscany, we really enjoy seeing our clients having a fantastic time. Click here to see a list of all the competitions we are running.

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Why You Will Fall In Love With Siena

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Why You Will Fall In Love With Siena

Posted by Virginie (25/11/2016)

I’m going to explain why I think you will fall in love with Siena. Before going to Tuscany, you have probably mainly heard about how amazing Florence is, and I don’t disagree, it is, but personally I preferred Siena. Here’s why.

There’s just something charming and magical about Siena. The city is quite spread out, so even when it gets busy it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. Plus Siena is a relatively small city, with a population of around 50,00. The cobbled streets and old walls that line the city will immediately captivate you and you will quickly discover why Siena is a much-loved Italian city.

Siena is different from any other city I have visited. It’s definitely got its own distinct personality, and it doesn’t really feel like a city. To me it seemed as though we had been transformed back in time.

It feels like a local town in disguise. The city is split into 17 districts, each with their own specific names and colours. Each time you visit Siena you will discover new shops, places to eat and hidden gems.

Siena has arguably one of Europe’s best Medieval squares, it’s the perfect place to go and enjoy an ice cream, gather your thoughts, or grab a bite to eat and sit and admire the magnificent architecture that surrounds you. The Piazza del Campo is at the heart of Siena’s historic centre. It’s also world famous for hosting the Palio horse race.

Other major sights to see in Siena include Siena Cathedral, which definitely rivals Florence Cathedral. It’s even more impressive once you get inside. Watch out for the Fonte Gaia in the main square, it’s the largest fountain in the city. You will also be in awe of the Palazzo Pubblico, a stunning 13th century palace that was built in 1297.

If you visit Siena you absolutely must make your way up to the top of the Torre del Mangia.It’s an 87 metre high tower that offers panoramic views of the city. Not only can you see the entire city from above, you can also gaze into the distance and admire the countryside and mountains in the distance. It’s not an easy climb, it gets quite narrow towards the top and you have to climb a grand total of 400 steps, but it’s well worth the effort.

Siena’s centre is closed to vehicles aside from buses and cars with a local permit, so you may want to get the train. We drove and managed to find a car park just outside the city walls for two euros an hour. Siena was only about a 45 minute drive from where we were staying in Lecchi in Chianti.

It’s easy to see why Siena is such a charismatic European city, but you really do have to visit it for yourself to understand. If you are going on a Tuscan road trip, be sure to stop off in Siena.
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Regular Travel Can Improve Your Mental Health & Wellbeing

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ways Regular Travel Can Improve Your Mental Health & Wellbeing

Posted by Ruth (18/11/2016)

Hans Christian Andersen once said ‘to travel is to live’. It’s a simple notion, yet so true. Travel is not only great for learning, getting to know different cultures, and broadening your mind, it also has huge mental health benefits.

It’s not surprising that when life seems to weigh us down, we say things like ‘I need a holiday’, or ‘I need to get away’. It’s because travel has a highly beneficial impact on our wellbeing, and when we return from a holiday we come back feeling refreshed and ready (albeit reluctant) to face the world again.

In a world where everything moves too fast, a holiday can provide the opportunity to slow down and switch off. It’s often nice to go on holiday just to switch off from the digital world and appreciate the wonders of the real world. Although a lot of hotels and private villas offer Wi-Fi these days, often it’s best not to use it unless you have to. The social media world will cope without you for a week or two.

Travel can also help your mental health by enabling you to appreciate what you have. When you see others around the world who are perhaps not as fortunate as yourself, you realise that maybe your life isn’t so bad after all.

It’s important to switch off from work every once in awhile, and enjoy some quality down time. Travelling breaks the stress cycle, and gives you time out from the worries of everyday life. You leave your problems at home and can unwind for a set period of time.

A study by the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Assn. found that travel can lead ‘to decreased risks of heart attack and depression and even the promotion of brain health.’

The mental health benefits of travel vary depending on what sort of destination you visit, and what type of holiday you have planned. Here at To Tuscany, we have been thinking about the mental health benefits that a holiday in Tuscany might have. As soon as you arrive and take in the scenery you feel instantly at ease.

Taking time to appreciate the natural beauty of this region of Italy helps you to focus on what’s in front of you, rather than your stresses back home. Tuscany also has a huge variety of spas where you can enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation, and treat yourself to a day or two of pampering. What better place to relax than in the soothing hot springs of Saturnia, or by a pool surrounded by the breath-taking Tuscan countryside?

There are so many wonderful activities on offer in Tuscany that can help you switch off. From horseback riding on the beach, to cooking classes, wine tasting and hiking in the countryside.  It’s definitely a destination that offers a very relaxing setting. Plus, when you visit, you will find that the pace of life is slower here. The locals lead a very laid back lifestyle, and seeing them so content makes you instantly feel relaxed too.

So what are you waiting for? Book a holiday to Tuscany and you will come back feeling totally refreshed. Take a look at some of our luxurious private villas available to rent.
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Tips For Travelling To Tuscany In The Spring

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tips For Travelling To Tuscany In The Spring

Posted by Sonia (11/11/2016)

Spring is one of the best times to visit Tuscany, if you don’t mind the weather being slightly cooler. However, in April and May, temperatures can still rise to between 20 and 23 degrees. This is an ideal temperature for a lot of people, because it’s not too hot to go sightseeing and walking around.

It’s also less busy during this time, and prices are lower, so you can take advantage of some amazing deals. Spring in Tuscany is very beautiful, because the flowers are all starting to bloom. You will see sunflowers and poppies filling the fields and stunning floral displays in some cities.  If you are planning to travel to Tuscany this spring, here’s some helpful tips and advice:

Spring weather and climate in Tuscany
Overall, temperatures in spring can range between 8 and 20 degrees. April and May both have sunny and rainy days, but it’s obviously generally a lot warmer in May. Average highs in April are around 19 degrees, and in May they jump to around 21 degrees.

If you are going towards the end of March, prepare for it to be a lot cooler, with average temperatures sitting at 15 degrees. Be aware that it can get a little chilly at night time, average lows in March and April can be between 5 and 8 degrees, and in May temperatures can drop to 11 degrees.

What to wear in Tuscany in spring
What you will need to pack in your suitcase for your spring Tuscany trip depends on exactly when you are going. If you are going in March or April, make sure you pack some warm clothes for the cooler days.

You will definitely need a good jumper/jacket for the evenings, and a raincoat to keep you dry on rainy days. Bring lots of layers if you want to stay warm enough on chilly days and evenings. If you are going in May you will need to pack some lighter options including t-shirts and shorts, but still be prepared for a little rain and cool evenings. Here is a list of some of the things you may need to bring:
     Rain jacket
     Sun cream
     Swimming gear
     Clothes that are appropriate to wear in churches and religious buildings

Tuscany has some wonderful events in spring. You might want to plan your trip to coincide with an event. Experiencing one of these events can really add something special to your trip, and give you a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Here are some of the main events in spring:
     Scoppio del Carro (“Explosion of the Cart”), Florence, 27th March.
     Torciata di San Giuseppe, Pitigliano, 19th March
     Gelato Festival, Florence, 30th April to 3rd May
     Sagra del Carciofo, near Asciano, Siena, 25th and 26th April
     Sagra della Fragola/Strawberry fair, Terricciola (Pisa), May 7-8
     Sagra dei Pici/Pici pasta festival, Celle sul Rigo (Siena), 29th-31st May
     Easter, Florence, Easter Sunday (lots of celebrations take place)

Things to do in Tuscany in spring
Spring is a wonderful time to visit Tuscany, because everyone is in good spirits as the warmer weather arrives, and all the flowers are in bloom, bringing vibrant colours to the Tuscan hills.

If you are wondering what to do in Tuscany during March, April and May, here’s some helpful ideas:
     Visit flowering fields, parks, national parks and botanical gardens, where you can really appreciate the flowers in bloom and take photos. Lucca, Pisa, Florence and Siena and many more towns and cities have stunning botanical gardens and parks.
     Go sightseeing as the weather is perfect and not too hot for wandering round the cities.
     Attend a spring event (perhaps one of the ones mentioned above).
     Visit the thermal baths (Saturnia is the most famous) and bathe in the warm waters. You can still do this if the weather isn’t very warm.
     Go on a culinary tour or cooking class and take advantage of the fresh spring seasonal ingredients. Lots of food festivals called ‘sagre’ take place in spring.

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Got €40 million spare?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Got €40 million spare? You Can Buy An Entire Tuscan Village

Posted by Dympna (04/11/2016)

If money was no object, would you purchase an entire village in Tuscany? For some people, it would be a dream come true. Even if you don’t have 40 million euro lying around, it’s still fun to imagine what you might do with the land (click here for details).

The 800 year old abandoned village is located in Poggio Santa Cecilia, which is about 25 minutes from Siena. The noble Buoninsegni family owned the village from the 1500’s to the mid-20th century. The family lived in the main property and the estate employees who worked on the land lived in the surrounding houses. The village was abandoned in the 1960’s when the residents left to migrate to the cities in search of work.

 Even though the village was sold into private ownership, the houses remain untouched, many still have their original furniture. The village also has a medieval castle, 20 individual farmhouses, an underground cellar, vineyards, lakes, forests, orchards, olive groves, and even a church with a bell tower. The total land area is 700 hectares, and the current owners are adamant that the village will be sold as one lot, rather than individual houses.

The owners say ‘We first started buying the farmland surrounding Poggio Santa Cecilia with the intention of raising organic cattle. Though we never developed the village to its full potential, we have worked hard to maintain the property.’

You may be wondering why the current owners would want to get rid of this amazing little village. They feel that they are now too old to run the estate and want to see a new buyer take control of the agricultural business, and restore the village to its full potential.

The owner of the development firm marketing the property, Francesco Carlucci says the village ‘offers the chance to buy a real piece of Italian history.’ However, whoever does take on this village has their work cut out for them.

Although lots of the buildings still look fine from the outside, they still need a lot of work. A few of the houses are more like ruins, so need to be partially or completely restored. An expert has said that buyers should be aware that the cost of restoring the village could be about 200 million euros, which is no small investment.

What this little village needs is someone who has an infinite supply of money, and who will restore the village to its former glory. It’s clear that whoever takes this on will have to have a real passion and drive to get this village back to its best.
Don’t have 40 million euro. You can still get a taste of Tuscany by hiring your very own luxurious private villa. Click here to book a holiday to Tuscany.

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2010 Brunello Is A Big Hit

Friday, October 28, 2016

2010 Brunello Is A Big Hit

Posted by Mikolaj (28/10/2016)

Tuscan wine lovers will be pleased to know that the well-known Brunello is making waves in the wine world. Tuscany is highly respected worldwide for its wine production. Many people visit the region purely to sample the wines and go on wine tours in the beautiful vineyards.

Some of the best known wines from the region include Chianti and Brunello. Tuscany is celebrated particularly for the reds that are produced here, which are primarily made with the Sangiovese grape.

Brunello wine is one of the most expensive wines you can buy in Tuscany. Not long after appearing on the shelves around the world, Montalcino’s world famous Brunello wine is making a huge impact. Wine critics have been singing its praises, with plenty of experts giving the 2010 Brunello 100 out of 100.

One respected critic from America, James Suckling wrote:

‘The 2010 vintage is a new benchmark for Tuscany’s icon wine, producing reds with wonderful intensity, structure, and energy. I find the depth of fruit, flavour and savoury, almost mineral undertone of the wines spellbinding.’

One of the area’s highly regarded producers has claimed that the 2010 Brunello is the vintage of a lifetime. Suckling also went on to say:

‘I tasted close to 200 different Brunellos from the vintage and it was almost impossible to find one that was not outstanding quality. It is a tribute to the greatness of the vintage as well as the wonderful evolution in quality winemaking for the region.’

On your next trip to Tuscany, make sure you visit Montalcino and try some of this world class wine. However, you will need to be quick, because our sources have discovered that many of their favourite winemakers have already sold out of the 2010 Brunello. If however you do find some of this exceptional wine, experts recommend that you lay it down for a few years, and in time you will enjoy an unforgettable wine experience.

Here are some interesting facts about Brunello wine:
     The wine is named for the town of Montalcino.
     It’s a wine that needs to be aged (sometimes up to 20 years) and should be left for a good few hours to allow for aeration.
     It should be served at room temperature between 18 and 20 degrees.
     The wine must be made entirely from Sangiovese to attain the label; even the non-reserve wines must spend 2 years in the oak barrels. (source:http://www.yourwineiq.com/kindsofwine/redwine/sangiovese.html)
     The flavours you will find in Brunello include black cherry, black raspberry, blackberry, leather, violets and chocolate.
     It’s a full bodied, dry, warm, robust and harmonic wine.
     The first vintage of Brunello di Montalcino dates back to 1863, produced by Ferruccio Biondi-Santi
     Brunello di Montalcino should be served in crystal glasses, balloon shaped, in order to capture the complex and harmonious bouquet. (Source:http://www.tuscany-wine.com/brunello_di_montalcino_docg.htm)
     It tastes best with game, red meat, truffle dishes and cheese.
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7 Fascinating Tuscan Facts

Friday, October 21, 2016

7 Fascinating Tuscan Facts

Posted by Virginie (21/10/2016)

Tuscany is full of surprises. You might have an impression of the region in your mind, but when you visit, you will discovered it’s more spectacular than you could ever had imagined.

If you are lucky enough to uncover every corner of the region, you will soon discover the variation in scenery and the surprises that Tuscany has up its sleeves. There are some facts that everybody knows about Tuscany, and then there are things that people might find very surprising or intriguing. Here are seven fascinating facts about Tuscany.

1. You can go skiing in Tuscany
Believe it or not, you can actually go skiing in Tuscany. Most people associate the region with its rolling hills and vineyards, but have no idea there’s an alpine side to the area. There are eight ski resorts in Tuscany, 96 kilometres of slopes and 42 ski lifts.

2. You can do a degree in wine production
Siena is home to Italy’s only University that does a degree in wine production (‘Oenology’). Oenology is defined as ‘the science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking except vine-growing and grape-harvesting, which form a subfield called viticulture.’

3. The Crete Senesi region has lunar like landscapes
There is a region underneath Siena called the Crete Senesi region. When driving through this area you might feel like you are on another planet. It’s characterised by lunar landscapes and low rolling hills.

4. Tuscany has a total of seven UNESCO sites
Tuscany has more World Heritage Sites than some entire countries do. Pienza, San Gimignano, Siena and Florence are all listed. Florence (the capital of the region) was the first Tuscan site to be put on the UNESCO list.

5. The author of Pinocchio was from Florence
You have probably heard about the world famous 1940 Disney Film, Pinocchio. The original story was actually written by a man called Carlo Collodi who was from Florence.

6. The Leaning Tower of Pisa isn’t the only one
A lot of people are unaware that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is not the only one. It is one of the most visited landmarks in the whole country, and people travel from around the world to snap photos in front of it.

There are actually two other towers that lean, the Campanile of San Michele Degli Scalzi and the Campanile of San Nicola, both of which are also in Pisa. Part of the problem with building here was that the city was built on marsh wetlands, which presents challenging construction issues.

7. There’s no legal drinking age

You will find that there is no legal drinking age in Italy. However, there is one catch. A person has to be 16 years or older in order to be served alcohol in a bar. Binge drinking isn’t a big problem here, which is partly why the rules are relaxed. Although you have to be 16 to purchase alcohol, kids younger than this often enjoy wine with their families at mealtimes. 
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6 Reasons To Hire A Private Chef In Tuscany

Friday, October 14, 2016

6 Reasons To Hire A Private Chef In Tuscany

Posted by Ruth (14/10/2016)

Whilst in Tuscany, it’s worth considering hiring a private chef. If you want to do something really special, then why not have a talented chef cook you a mouth-watering Tuscan meal in the comfort of your private villa?

We know a selection of excellent private chefs in and around the region, and we’ve heard some great things from our guests about this amazing experience. You choose the dishes you want from their specific menu and they will tailor everything to your dietary requirements. Here are six reasons to hire a private chef in Tuscany.

1. Get a real taste of Tuscany
You can go to local restaurants and sample Tuscan delicacies while you are out and about, but that doesn’t come close to having your own private chef. You will get to experience real food and dishes prepared from scratch, by local culinary experts who have grown up in the region. Hiring a private chef is an excellent way to sample some of Tuscany’s best dishes and appreciate the local cuisine.

2. See how Tuscan food is cooked
When you hire a private chef, they come round to your private villa, and cook up an amazing meal right before your eyes. You can literally watch them cook some of the dishes and see the kind of preparation that goes into Tuscan meals. This is something you don’t get to witness in restaurants, and most chefs are happy to answer any questions you have about their methods.

3. Celebrate a special occasion
Celebrating a special occasion whilst you are in Tuscany? Perhaps a birthday or wedding anniversary, or you may even be planning on popping the question. Hiring a private chef is the perfect way to celebrate. Create a romantic atmosphere for two, or get a chef to cook for a small group of you.

4. Enjoy the perfect evening in after a long day
Sometimes after travelling around and doing lots of walking you don’t always fancy going out for dinner, or attempting to cook for yourself. Relax, put your feet up and let a private chef serve you dinner, you won’t have to lift a finger.

5. It’s an experience you will never forget
This is an experience that you will remember for a long time. It’s not every day that you get a professional Italian chef serving up a delicious home cooked meal. It’s a wonderful way to experience the delights of Tuscan food.

6. You deserve a treat
Hiring a private chef doesn’t cost too much more than a meal out. A lot of people assume that it would be extremely expensive, but there are different menus to choose from, many of which a very reasonably priced considering what you get. You deserve a treat, and hiring a private chef is a wonderful way to treat yourself.

Interested in booking a private chef? Click here to choose from a range of top quality Tuscan chefs that we have relationships with.
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