Tuscan Products & Specialities

Friday, February 24, 2017

Regional Products & Specialities You Must Try In Tuscany

Posted by Sonia (24/02/2017)

One of the reasons I love visiting Tuscany so much is the wonderful range of local delicacies and products to sample. Food is very much at the heart of the culture here, and the local people take a lot of pride in the quality products they produce.

You simply can’t go to Tuscany without trying some of these things and bringing your favourites home in your suitcase. Here are some regional products and specialities to look out for and sample on your holiday in Tuscany.

The Olive oil
We tried olive oil at a local farm, and I can still remember the taste of the wonderful flavours. It’s by far the best olive oil I have ever tasted. We loved it so much we brought some back in our suitcase, but I wish we could have brought more! Extra virgin olive oil in Tuscany is world class, and known for its fruity but bitter flavour. They pick the olives by hand and start harvesting them in November.

The wine
Everyone knows that Tuscany is known for its famous wines, especially the Chianti region. Don’t miss out on the chance to go wine tasting. You can pick out your favourite wine to bring back with you. You will also learn about how the wines are made and a little about the history of Tuscan wine.

Make sure you try the Chianti Classico in Chianti (our favourite was the Riserva), and the Brunello di Montalcino in Montalcino. If you would like to book wine tasting for your holiday in Tuscany, click here for more information on the best places to go wine tasting in Tuscany.

The pecorino cheese
I have never heard of this cheese before visiting Tuscany, but we ended up eating it every single day for lunch. It goes perfectly with fresh tomatoes and Tuscan dried meats. You can also use it as an ingredient in salads and pasta dishes. It’s made from sheep's milk.
It’s age from 8 to 12 months to create a strong taste and granular texture. I keep trying to find it in the UK but haven’t been successful, so make the most of this tasty cheese whilst in Tuscany.

Almond biscuits
There’s no better way to finish a meal than with an espresso and sweet, nutty almond biscuits. They also go very well with sweet dessert wines such as Vin Santo (we tried some at the end of our wine tasting). Cantucci biscuits are a famous Tuscan biscuit that are also called ‘Biscotti’, which literally means ‘twice baked’. They are oblong shaped dry crunchy biscuits that are very moreish!

The cured meats
Most restaurants in Tuscany will have a starter on their menu that consist of dried meats. You can also purchase a variety of different cured meats at local shops and supermarkets. Cinghiale is a favourite, it’s made from dried wild boar meat and is often used in paninis and Tuscan starters.
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The Shopping Scene In Tuscany

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Shopping Scene In Tuscany 

Posted by Dympna (17/02/2017)

Tuscany may be known for its famous wines and unbelievable beauty, but it also has a lot to offer when it comes to retail therapy. The range of shopping you get across the region is unlike many other places. There’s the rustic local shops selling handmade and fresh local products, and the more upmarket shops selling designer clothes in the cities.

Local shops
If it’s more traditional shops and products you are after, you won’t be disappointed. Many local shops sell souvenirs and charming locally made gifts. Tuscany is famous for products such as olive oil, wine, leather goods, lace, terra cotta and in some places, jewellery. If you love shopping for unique products and good that tell a story, you will feel right at home in Tuscany’s local shops.

Each town and city offer something unique. Lucca for example is particularly good for antiques and olive oil. If its terra-cotta and ceramics you are after, then stop by Montelupo Fiorentino and Impruneta. For jewellery, your best bet is Arezzo. The best way to find one-of-a-kind and unique products in Tuscany is to stumble upon them. Simply stop off in the hilltop towns which are full of surprises and interesting produce.

Outlet stores and designer shopping
If you are after a bit of high end retail therapy, then head to Florence or Siena to stock up on designer brands. You will find well-known Italian designers such as Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci.

If you want to shop for some of your favourite brands at discount prices, then try one of Tuscany’s outlet malls. The Mall is a huge luxury outlet centre just 30 minutes outside of Florence. Barberino Designer Outlet is also a 30 minute drive from Florence. Between Siena and Arezzo you will find Valdichiana Outlet Village. Even though these shops offer very discounted prices, a lot of the luxury items are still pretty pricey.

Then there’s the markets, which you won’t want to miss. The markets in Tuscany sell all sorts, from clothes, antiques and bags to fresh fruit and local delicacies. You can pick up some fresh food at the markets to take back to your apartment, or shop for souvenirs and gifts to bring home. There’s also special antiques markets if you are looking for something specific.

If you are visiting Florence, be sure to check out some of the markets including  Mercato di San Lorenzo and Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio. For a list of which markets are on which days throughout Tuscany, click here.

 Most Tuscan towns and villages have a weekly market, open air markets usually open between 7.30am till 1.00pm. Mornings are the best time to head to the markets because you get the freshest and best selection of products.

If you want more information on things to do in Tuscany, and where to shop, check out our handy guide.
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4 Stunning Luxury Villas

Thursday, February 9, 2017

4 Stunning Luxury Villas You Need To Book Right Now 
Posted by Mikolaj (10/02/2017)

Here at To Tuscany, we personally inspect each and every property to ensure they all reach our extremely high standards. However, within our huge selection of villas, we have a very special collection.

Only 36 of our 703 villas have earned a place in our Luxury Collection. These are the finest villas in Tuscany and they offer something extraordinary. Here’s why To Tuscany’s Luxury Collection is a cut above the rest.

       We hold all our villas up to an exceptionally high standard, but those in our Luxury Collection are in a league of their own.

       These villas have particularly outstanding facilities and an unmistakable air of sophistication.

       The entries in the Luxury Collection combine particularly beautiful locations with up-to-date modern conveniences such as gorgeous private pools, Wi-Fi and a host of other benefits.

We’ve selected four of our luxury villas as an example of what you can expect when you rent a villa from this collection.

Surrounded by cypress and olive trees, the pool at Il Poggio isn’t just private - it’s an “Endless Pool”. This allows you to swim against a continuous counter-current, and with its salt-water cleaning system, the water is completely chlorine-free.

As well as a plush indoor hot tub, Il Poggio has a gym for those who like to stay fit on holiday, and boasts extraordinary views of the gorgeous Chianti countryside.

2. Unique property with charming features - Villa Ludovica, Pistoia
With plenty of luxury conveniences, but packed with character, Villa Ludovica stands out from the pack as soon as you catch sight of it. Its distinct brightly coloured design is both eye-catching and classy, while the interior holds more surprises.

Impressive artistic décor and quirky antiques make it a highly individual and memorable place to stay. What’s more, its location allows you to enjoy wonderful views of the valley, down to Montecatini and beyond.

3. Classic Tuscan charm in a stone-built villa - Le Volte, Gaiole in Chianti
Located in the tiny hamlet of Colle di Ama, this villa is set among awe-inspiring views of the Chianti countryside. The magnificent saltwater infinity pool is perfectly placed to admire the surroundings, and a nearby pool-house provides an ideal place for adults to unwind while the kids play in the pool.

Le Volte has the ideal combination of a rustic atmosphere and modern luxuries. As well as a swimming pool, there’s the added bonus of an indoor gym and air conditioning in every bedroom.

This 400 year old secluded villa oozes luxury. Traditional Tuscan features and modern décor combine to make Le Pratola both authentic and extremely comfortable. Surrounded by two hectares of private land with olive, fig and cypress trees spread across the hills and gardens, Le Pratola provides a perfect place to sit back with a glass of Chianti wine and admire Tuscany’s natural beauty.

This villa is currently available as a special offer, but hurry, it runs out soon so book now to avoid disappointment.
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Coffee in Italy tips

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Posted by Ruth (03/02/2017)

There is such a variety in coffees, how do I order the coffee I like?
We have put together a list of many of the most popular the coffees in Italy for you. When you order coffee in a typical Italian coffee bar, know what you want beforehand, the barista asks you what coffee you would like. There is no menu and no time to waste.

Un caffè –
An espresso as you know it. When you use the word espresso to order you will get one but Italians say caffè. Definitely you will have more success and fun ordering the Italian way.

Un caffè ristretto –
Extra strong espresso in a small cup! An unbelievable boost for your system this little coffee wonder.

Cappuccino –
Espresso with a little bit of warm steamed milk and foam. Without the well known cacao powder. Strong cappuccino? Cappuccino con doppio caffè. Less milk? Un cappuccino scuro. When the morning is over please order another kind of coffee to keep your barista happy. 
When you order a cappuccino after lunch or, even worse, after dinner you will get a friendly but stern response. Do you really want a cappuccino now? Sometimes it is just not possible to order a cappuccino after 11 o’clock in the morning. Some restaurants won’t even be able to provide it.

Latte Macchiato –
Known by us as caffè latte. A glass of warm milk with a drop of espresso. Without foam and served in a larger cup. A proper morning coffee for the Italians.

Caffè Americano –
This is an espresso with hot water added. Together with the Lungo this meets a regular coffee. Italians almost never drink this coffee, this a tourist cup only. The Lungo is the stronger version.

Caffè Lungo –
Served in a larger cup, coffee where more water (40ml) has run through. When in craving of a regular cup of coffee this is the one to make you happy too.

Caffè Macchiato-
Espresso with a little bit of warm milk and foam. Other kinds are macchiato caldo – with hot milk, macchiato freddo, with a dash of cold milk, or macchiato con schiuma di latte, with milk foam, and milk foam only! This little bit of milk is fine to order the whole day.

Caffè Doppio-
Double espresso, strong stuff! Watch your heart rate.

Un deca –
Decaf coffee, un caffè deca, cappuccino deca etcetera.

Caffè con panna –
Espresso with whipped cream, in some countries (it is true!) known as a cappuccino.

Caffè freddo-
Ice-cold coffee, best to order in summer, espresso with ice cubes and sugar. Or order the more hip caffè shakerato (shaked!) all ingredients are shaken till creamy and soft. Nicely served in a champagne glass or wineglass.

Caffè corretto-
Espresso with a splash of liquor like Grappa, or bitter. Normally used as an aperitif.

Coffee dessert- finish the day with a caffè affogato –
Vanilla ice cream drowned in freshly made espresso. A scoop of ice cream with hot espresso poured over it. Gelato con caffè. Super easy to make delicious dessert.

Believe it or not, hot steamy creamy delicious chocolate milk does exist in Italy. Order a cioccolata calda and enjoy.

And the list continues….
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