Thursday, 6 January 2011
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Grown up kids and mini adults alike love the run up to Christmas with all the glitz, parties, sparkly bling pretty much everywhere you go, yes even your local coffee shop!
What did you get in your advent calendar this morning??
People get back in touch with those they don't hear from very often (if at all...) during the year, everyone gets into a party mood and start thinking of presents and decorations, bite size party food and bubbly party drinks, then the ''oh my goodness, am I going to get into my dress by new years?''....... haha!!
So we've also put together some amazing ideas for you to take advantage of before the start of the new year.
One Thing to Note - you will need to contact us directly to be able to take advantage of some of these amazingly special offers, as not all are available on the website, because they are reserved for you as your bonus to following the blog!
Which means these are exclusively for you, and anyone you choose to forward our blog to.
Let's pull the first special out of the ViT Christmas sack.......
Woohoo - A Super Saver!!!
This is for the beautiful Villa di Collina.
Book by 31 December and visit between now and 26 February 2011 and you will get a stunning 15% off.
Next up - An Early Bird!!
Again, for Villa di Collina.
Book by 31 December and visit between 26 February and 2 July 2011, and you will receive 10% off the regular price.
More to come soon!!
The ViT Team.
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
If you would like to book a property on offer for longer, please contact us directly and we will organise everything with you.
You can find all the last minute offers HERE.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
the goose is getting fat,
so much to do in Tuscany,
it's really where it's at......
There are signs of travel to Tuscany for Christmas and the New Year, which is great, so we'll be posting which properties are still available (at time of posting - after that nothing is guaranteed!) and any special and last minute offers that come up.
We already have a couple of great deals for those who travel before 31 December, and also for those who book before the end of year.
Keep posted so as not to miss these fabulous opportunities........
Monday, 15 November 2010
Friday, 12 November 2010
Here's a line up of weekend events for 13 & 14 November.
Figline Valdarno (FI) - Agriculture, Environment, Food
There's loads going on here in and around the centre.
Florence - Piazza Santa Croce
Extra Virgin Olive Oil in abundance
Scarpiera (FI) - Circolo MSL
Truffles galore - with pasta, meat and the famous Tortelli Mugellani
Bagni a Ripoli (FI) - Via Roma
10am - 7.30pm Olive Oil
Pontedera (PI) - Via Rinaldo Piaggio 82
Pisa Unica Terra di Vino - Wine festival
Pisa - Piazza Chiara Gambacorti
Massarosa (LU) Stiava
Horse Chestnut festival
Anghiari (AR) Town Center
Novello wine, stalls and stands, Antique Fair, and much more
Viareggio (LU) Circolo il Fienile
Wine and dancing.
Camaiore - Montemagno, localita' Piopetti
Horse Chestnuts galore
Camaiore - Lungomare Lido di Camaiore
Montespertoli (FI) - Parco Urbano
White Truffle festival, wine and oil
Borgo San Lorenzo (FI) - Foro Boraio
Truffles, meat, wine and local delicacies
Pergine Valdarno (AR) - Town Centre
Oil, bruschette, paintings, ceramics, artisan products
Pian di Sco' (AR) - Town Centre
Oil and Horse Chestnut festival
This is just a general idea of what there is out there.
Prices, if relevant, may not be included, so check before going.
Nice try! My goodness, there is SO MUCH to do around the place, especially where food is concerned.
The Tuscans really know how to use the countryside resources and have a great time.
That is what is so special about Tuscany - they still adhere to eating what's in season - unlike many other countries who eat tasteless out of season container shipped produce.
So, I'll take care of filling you in on where to go, what to do, and all you'll have to do is choose which of the many delicious platters to eat, as the chefs/cooks/etc will advise you on which wines go superbly with which foods.
There are so many, so I'm putting them into different blogs.
If you know of any other events, or have one yourself that you'd like us to mention, please post it on Facebook or email me and I will put it on the blog too.
Thursday, 23 September 2010
What's cooking in Tuscany right now?
With precisely a week to go till October this is what's happening:
Mostra Mercato Internazionale dell'Antiquariato in Florence - September through to October - a massive antiques fair.
Impruneta's (just outside Florence) Festa dell'Uva (Grape Festival) - 26 September is a great day of popular dances, performances, local produce to taste and a procession of allegorical carts of the four districts of Impruneta.
Castelnuovo Berardegna Wine Festival in Vagliagli - a week long of wine and local product tastings. Traditional dressed men and women accompany the carts during the procession.
Certaldo, near Florence, hosts the Sagra della Bistecca (la tagliata is a delicious cut of steak) e del Fungo Porcino from the 9 September to 10 October over each weekend within that period of time.
24 - 26 September in San Miniato, near Pisa, is the Sagra del Tarfufo Bianco e Fungo Porcino.
White Truffles and Porcino Mushrooms - and on show are the local specialities made with these highly prized foods.
Prato instead hosts a more highbrow affair over the 24 - 27 September weekend. An economics fair with music and exhibitions, and Nobel prize winners speaking too.
Truffles are worth 'investigating' if you have never tasted, smelt or seen one up close.
They are an underground mushroom basically, usually found around certain trees depending on the type of truffle, and look like a cross between gingseng, ginger and a potato.
They are highly prized, the season lasts until January during which bidding and trading for both black and white truffles can reach a veritable frenzy! They're already being sold online from £500 / $780 up for 300g.
The most expensive white truffle to date was bought by a casino owner who paid £165,000 / $330,000!!!
It weighed in at 3.3lbs.
They used to be sniffed out by pigs, but dogs are also used nowadays.
Please contact ViT for more information on villas or accommodation in Tuscany that will either organise a truffle hunt for you, or put you in touch with the local connoisseur when you are there.
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Italy has a very rich tapestry of traditions and culture which are very much still alive to this day. The Latin vivaciousness is enthralling, thrilling, colourful and extremely tasty, and Tuscany does not lack in any of these at all. These traditions, sights and tastes have played an extremely important part in Tuscan life for centuries, and are not shows put on for tourists just a very real part of life in Tuscany.
So, as promised a good long while ago, I will be doing an ongoing series of what Tuscan traditions have to offer the locals and visitors alike.
I can’t guarantee that I will cover every single event happening in Tuscany, as this isn’t a dedicated ‘’what’s on’’ service, as I’d like to give an idea of the rich culture and of what is possible to do and see around Tuscany.
If anyone would like to share an event they know about, please contact me or post a comment below the blog and I will include it in a new blog.
Cin Cin – to your good health and happy stay in Tuscany.
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
The sun is still shining but everyone's gone a little serious again.
Summer is apparently over, done, finished for another year, kids are back at school, the autumn/winter fashion has been in the shops for at least a month, and Harrods is already selling Christmas paraphernalia - yikes!!
That's all folks, summer is no more.
Says who though?
Go round with a smile on your face and you will always bring sunshine into people's lives.
And of course, the infamous 'Tuscan Smile' has that glint in the eye and Italian feel to it.....
Open a bottle of Tuscan wine you brought back home with you from your wonderful tour round the winery and you've just accessed another piece of Tuscany - one that not only keeps a smile on your face, and of all those that drink with you, but will also give you some invaluable antioxidants to keep you going through the winter months devoid of vitamin D (well, for some of us anyway) until you can get back to the Tuscan pool and Giuseppe, who always picks you up from the airport.
Don't believe the hype.
Don't buy into the doom and gloom of no more summer.
Go online and book your Tuscan early bird now - whatever the weather from now till July, you can smile as much as you like (and more) as you've secured 'your summer' and you will carry that through the next few months on your smile.
Oh boy, it's good to talk Tuscan!!
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Thursday, 25 February 2010
Ok, When, and Where? Done. Excited? See you there!
Essentially there are no rules to ''Catch Up''. Just agree (!) on a day, a place and a time, which serve as a springboard into the Catch Up Zone, and the rest is open to interpretation and improvisation.
ViT is off on a Catch Up, having just arrived in the UK from ViT-HQ, and is thoroughly looking forward to it all.
Pancake Day aka Shrove Tuesday is now long past (actually 2 days after Valentines Day), we're still in Lent (what have you given up??!!) and Easter is on it's way.
ViT has been recieving emails from people asking for suggestions as to where families and groups of friends can go in Tuscany to enjoy a change of scenery over the next few weeks.
New blogs will be along the lines of ''Easter in somewhere or other'', or ''Easter doing something or other'' etc. In fact, I will write about places people ask about most often first, so drop ViT a line if you'd like a blog on somewhere or something specific.
So, what to do and where to go over the Easter period....
There are many public celebrations to enjoy and Tuscany is a hive of activity; snow is still on the mountains and skiing is great; the days are longer and after 5.32pm GMT on 20 March we are officially in Spring - yeay!!; the sun's strength is perfect for that sun kissed look whilst sunbathing by the pool, and is not too strong for kids to have to be kept out of the sun during the middle of the day; temperatures are on the up and it's hot enough to start having all meals outside (the best way to start the day - breakfast outside under the sun taking in that panorama - oh yes!); Nature's colours are vibrant as flowers are opening up, crops are shooting up, and a new lease of life is bursting forth after the long hard winter we've all just experienced; birds will be in full song, and little ones of all species will be trying out for the first time their legs or wings or fins or whatever.....!
Spring in Tuscany is a sure fire winner - the place is buzzing with energy, it's not too hot, it's not too cold, flights are cheap, and finally we can all get outdoors and breathe in deeply that fresh positively charged air whilst walking barefoot on the negatively charged grass or sand and really be perfectly in balance with nature and ourselves.
Tuscany comes to life again in full force and courses start up again as well, cooking, chocolate, wine tasting, to name but very few.
Golf, horse riding, paragliding, hot air ballooning, sports galore are accessible, and it's a great time to try something new...
What would you prefer?
A large house for everyone, pool and ample ground to chill out in. Maybe get a chef in for a few evening meals who can cook traditional Tuscan, international or whatever you wish. Maybe organise a masseusse, beautician and baby sitter to come round so the adults can be pampered and totally unwind whilst the kids are entertained.
A set of appartments with communal spaces within the same location, maybe an old farmhouse or very large villa for example, so that whilst everyone is all together there is still a high degree of independance.
All ViT accomodations have pools, bbq, and so much more, it just depends where you'd like to be situated too - completely out in the countryside or near to town.
There are farmhouses, country villas, estates, appartments that cater to all your requirements, so why don't you email me with your preferences and I will send you various options and information on what's going on in that area around the time of your Together-Time holiday.
I think you'll agree that whilst playing catch up in the UK at the moment, ViT is actually ahead of the game where Tuscany is concerned.
Life is good, Tuscany is great, ViT is a Tuscan winner!!
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
What a start to the week!!
Blue sky, warm sun, a trip to Sassetta and then off to the sea for lunch before heading back to ViT HQ.
About an hour from Pisa, Sassetta has everything - out of the madding crowd, but still close enough to shops, and 'life' to enjoy a bit of everything.
It's close to the sea, half an hour away, and up in the hills so you have an amazing view of the surrounding area.
ViT is sitting right now writing this from a sea front bar on an amazingly sunny day in mid February.
Probably a little cold to swim, but certainly not to paddle and enjoy the sea air and warm sun on my face!
Sassetta is a medieval town that sits right on top of a rock - pretty spectacular to see for the first time when you arrive.
It is steeped in history, and is a wonderful place to go for a wander around the winding alleyways and passageways, see the castle and stop for a drink in one of the bars.
The surrounding area is covered by oak and chestnut trees which give it that timeless feel and shade from the sun in the summer.
There is so much to see and do around here - Etruscan ruins, medieval fortress, the Island of Elba (Isola d'Elba), Populonia, diving, cycling, hiking, thermal baths and spa, then just relax and enjoy the wonderful cooking back at your accommodation.
Sweetie for the first one to see the sea....!!!!
Friday, 12 February 2010
Mangiare is the Italian for 'to eat'.
A long 'a' makes it 'mangiaaare' (add a little theatrical Sophia Loren movement), and just by opening up your jaw to pronounce the Italian word your whole body starts to desire getting that deliciousness off the plate and into your mouth.
Whereas the English word 'eat' (pronounced 'eeet') closes the mouth and jaw and sounds like 'eeeek', which doesn't exactly get the system going does it?
Food for thought..... (I know, I know, but hey!)
The Italians love their food, in case no one had ever noticed, and they really notice if there is a lack of taste as they are so used to locally grown food in great conditions.
The Mediterranean diet has many scientific studies extolling it's virtues and on your holiday you will understand why.
Food is fresh, sourced and sold locally where possible, picked when ready to eat, and there is a good organic movement too.
Alot of places are biodynamic and natural laws and rhythms are followed.
Many people also have the possibility of eating their own home grown fruit and veg.
Worth noting is the fact that many Tuscans won't eat foods out of season.........because the taste isn't as good.
Some are only seasonal - truffles, chestnuts etc.
They live what I'm doing my masters on, what so many others have forgotten, and what, after all, is a natural way of eating.
Here in Tuscany some vines are sprayed with chemicals against this and that, but so many villa owners I talk to are not doing that, in fact they don't use anything and don't have any problems.
The same goes for the olives our villa owners grow.
The taste of Tuscan cold pressed olive oil is just something else.
For those who have never had the privilege of tasting it please try sourcing it as it is so worth it.
Add this oil to freshly picked nutrient packed salad, in season vegetables, raisins, maybe some soaked seeds or sprouts, and you find, there before you, an amazing source of vital force energy.
So many Villas-in-Tuscany.com villas and farmhouses have their own orchards and vegetable patches that guests have access to.
There is just something so beautiful about eating food you know has been grown on the property you're holidaying in, that has been picked 10 minutes before eating it, that maybe you yourself chose and that is bursting with real flavour, not to mention the rest!
Farmers markets are always great to go to, as there is local freshly made cheese, milk, yoghurt, meat, and of course fruit and veg.
You can go there by yourself and wander around buying whatever takes your fancy, or be accompanied by your cooking teacher and then go do the lesson and eat it afterwards.
There are also so many events around Tuscany that you can bet your bottom dollar great food will be there too.
Specialised raw foods are harder to find, and raw & vegan food is not mainstream.
Tuscans know they have the most amazing food, and can see raw as a restriction.
However, when food is prepared with love and is local produce it is a winner every time!
Meal times are an important part of Italian life, it's a social thing.
The preparation beforehand, talking, laughing, joking, even singing all happens around food (ever been to a olive or grape harvest?).
It's family and friends time - so many people around a table all together.
Children and grown-ups alike all join in, and it really brings people back into that community spirit, it's a time to pass down family history, keep communication open, discuss everything in an open manner.
It's a very positive aspect of life.
Many property owners tell me that guests love getting involved with the preparation of meals, and whilst some nights they will go out to restaurants, others they will stay in and get someone to prepare for them, do it themselves or even organise a cooking class.
So much of the time we take food for granted, and just think of it as delicious fuel, but there is so much more to it, and Tuscany has a subtle way of making you realise and appreciate food in a totally different light.
Whatever your way of eating, there is so much the Tuscan earth can provide for you to enjoy to the max on your vacation.
Contact ViT to find out which villas, apartments and farmhouses have organic home grown produce.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
So here ViT is in Montepulciano for a few days checking out the area for you, such a tough job!
It's not the greatest of weather by summer standards, but it's February and ViT doesn't mind at all visiting our published accommodation in this sort of weather.
In fact we appreciate that if a villa or farmhouse looks great in the rain, with no flowers etc around then it's going to be stunning when in full bloom, and both the villa and farmhouse were fabulous.
Both of them have amazing panoramic views.
The villa has an infinity pool and it's own fruit trees you can pick your breakfast off! The interior design and furnishings are definitely not your ordinary run of the mill, and the shower heads are those amazon rain forest types. No worries about pressure either, the whole set up was purpose built and everyone could have a tropical shower and not notice a difference.
The farmhouse is very cosy and well thought out. Different seating areas follow the shade, so you breakfast in one part, move 10 mt to lunch under another shaded area, and evening meals are around the bbq area. The pool is the longest I've seen and is so inviting for swimmers and those who like to sit in shallow water alike - one end of the pool is about 20 cms in depth and nice and wide so you can sit and cool off without having to waste energy keeping yourself afloat. Also great for small kids to paddle in, but they need to be supervised at all times as it does get deeper.
Driving around yesterday in the Castiglione D'Orcia area was just spectacular.
The fields are bright green at the moment, and there is snow on the higher up hills.
Unfortunately, someone forgot to charge up their photo phone so only a couple of photos before it shut down.
Today, we're fully charged up and ready to go.....
Nearby there is Monte Amiata where you can ski, and now is the perfect time.
More snow is forecast too.
After a hard days skiing with an empty bottle of red in your backpack you could head back to your farmhouse accommodation, apartment or villa (loads of choice around here) for an apres ski aperitivo already waiting for you, or go straight to the baths to avoid any muscle aches the morning after.
A day skiing, a day with your favourite wine, time in the baths, a day in Siena, Montalcino, then Pienza, and don't forget to visit S. Anna in Camprena.
With so much to do around this area you might have to prioritise unless your here for a couple of weeks.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Ok, inundated is a little exaggerated but it’s a great question and one that ViT'd like to address right here, right now!
Tuscan Times is the title ViT has given to this blog as it recounts anything and everything that goes on in Tuscany. This can mean your times in Tuscany, ViT’s times in Tuscany, events and everything that ViT has listed in the brief outline up top of the Blog.
I guess ViT could have called it something else, but Tuscan Times it is, as ViT believes it captures the essence of everything will be blogged on.
www.villas-in-tuscany.com is not changing it’s name, but it is in a phase of being completely revolutionised, revamped and restructured - the 3 R’s.
It’s a great project to be working on, and ViT can’t wait to see the final results, and, of course, will keep you updated with the new features and changes as and when.
ViT site has already the Facebook badge up and the blog link too and these are the first improvements that are obvious, but believe ViT when I say that there is a veritable hub of activity going on in the background behind the scenes that will be visible at a later stage.
All very exciting!
Properties will be showcased in a different manner to the present one, searching for accommodation will be omnilateral as opposed to unilateral at the moment.
You will be able to see what interests you and find accommodation that way too.
Information on places to go, things to see, what’s what and who’s who so to speak.
For the time being that information will be found here in the blog, so ViT’s going to be very busy scribbling away for you.
Let ViT know if you would like anything specific that hasn’t already been addressed, which is pretty much everything at the moment!!
That way ViT can scribble away for YOU and your questions directly , otherwise I’ll just keep burbling away as I’m presently doing.
You are ViT‘s inspiration, that’s why I’m writing, so you can find out as much about Tuscany as possible before visiting, or be reminded how wonderful Tuscany is and keep that special Tuscan feeling with you.
Because YOU’re worth it!!!!!
Monday, 8 February 2010
How do you say ''it''?
I love you?
Do you express yourself with a dozen roses delivered to your loved one's desk at work?
A romantic or saucy text?
A hand written letter for those who reminisce of the chivalrous golden times?
A dinner prepared at home with a top notch bottle of red?
A few days away in the Region of Romance Tuscany is so suited to?
Tell your loved one to pack hand luggage only and whisk yourselves away for a wonderfully womantic weekend (thank you Wossie) in the Tuscan hills, or Florence or any other citta' romantica you wish to stay in.
So many romantic locations and accommodations to choose from to suit all your desires.......well, let's keep it decent here!
But how would you love to visit Willy Wonker's chocolate factory (so to speak)??
How about a course in chocolate?
Surprise your loved one with a finger licking good time and a local bottle of wine.
By local ViT is, of course, referring to a DOC Tuscan Grape!!
Visit the Chocolate Valley, it couldn't be easier seeing as it is situated around Pisa and Florence, perfectly placed for airports, trains and highways.
Chocolate and Wine, and a Candle Lit Dine
Is what you need to say 'You're Mine'....
(not quite how ViT'd say 'it', but a little artistic license makes it all rhyme nicely...)
ViT is here to help you find the perfect accommodation, restaurant, wine or chocolate tastings to make San Valentino sparkle with that 'pzazz' these Latin Lovers are famous for!
Sunday, 7 February 2010
Tuscan Times this morning started off with that amazing winter light. The last few days have been a little misty to say the least, but hey, mist around here makes like an Ansel Adams photo.
We had mist and some rain whilst further up north (Milan, much to the disgust of friends there) it was snowing again.
Villas-in-Tuscany (ViT) headed east instead to go to an absolutely stunning place, Bibbiena, to see one of the properties on the site and meet with the owners.
Started out great, but the further up it went the mistier it got.
A smattering of snow on the ground then got deeper the further along the road ViT progressed and it was snowing too!
One thing in Tuscany to permanently keep in the car during winter are chains for the wheels, which of course the ViT-mobile didn't have - yikes!
Well, didn't think for one minute I was off into Winter Wonderland did I, otherwise I'd have taken the Arezzo route, which I did on the way back down.
I did wonder at one stage if I was going to have to turn around, but holding the faith the ViT-mobile and I suddenly popped out of the Snow Queen's garden to a view of a dry and sunny valley - most welcome!
The villa is an absolute gem, in lush countryside, and we had a quick 'jar' of their limoncello to get some blood circulating, or that was the excuse anyway!
You feel straight away at home there as the atmosphere and Zizi' are just so welcoming.
They source and use all local products, so everything is fresh and tastes as it should.
Do listen to Zizi's directions and don't count on your gps one thousand percent.
'Doris' (the GPS dame) and I had a bit of a barny after she guided me to a road in a nearby town which had a set of street steps ''The Italian Job'' would have been proud of, as the only through way.
Doris was convinced that was the only way to go, the ViT-mobile on the other hand thought better of it.
So today ViT has stayed put as it has been warm enough to be in a light jumper out of the wind, and perfectly sunny for a Vitamin D top up.
Not chancing another snow adventure without skis, and besides, with a circus acrobatics workshop in the afternoon and M's hot chocolate afterwards there wasn't much that was going to coax me out of the warmth and sun!!!
Off tomorrow to a magical castle near Florence......
Che magia la Toscana!