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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