I grew up in Tuscany, first on a self-sufficient farm and later in Florence. As a teenager, I studied art and philosophy in Florence, then went on to read architecture in the UK at Sheffield and Cambridge University. You’ll see my love of art and architecture reflected in the homes we choose – from elegant Florentine apartments with Baroque facades to frescoed Chianti villas. For me, it’s the details that set a place a part, not matter how grand or modest its size. Over the years, I’ve done drawings of many of our homes, too, which you’ll see throughout the website and in our brochures.

  • Cycling,  Tuscany

    Cycling around Radicondoli

    Strada Bianca near Casole d'Elsa and Radicondoli

    Tuscany is a fabulous place for cycling – both on and off road. The ‘strade bianche’ are a well maintained network of dirt roads made famous by the revival of the “Eroica“, gravel riding on vintage bikes. I’ve done a lot of riding around Tuscany – and around Radicondoli and Casole d’Elsa in particular – and I love exploring by bike; there is very little that can stop you as you can always lift the bike on your shoulders to get over any obstacles. There are abandoned castles, old mines, wonderful hill villages that can all be reached on quiet roads, often through evergreen forests where you may well see…

  • Arezzo,  Markets and Fairs in Tuscany

    Arezzo Antiques Fair

    Antique Camera at Arezzo Antiques Market:, Tuscany

    There are few better ways to spend a lazy Sunday than idly strolling around a market, and Arezzo’s famous Fiera Antiquaria (Antiques Fair), established over 50 years ago, certainly doesn’t disappoint. Held on the first Sunday of every month, its main hub is situated in the impressive Piazza Grande but with over 400 stalls it sprawls outwards – running under the stunning Loggiato Vasariano and then down and around the surrounding streets. Like all good antiques markets, it’s the kind of place you’ll find anything and everything; from improbably-sized rusty keys which lead you to imagine the palazzos they once unlocked, to retro cameras, artworks, silverware, books, and furniture from…

  • Owner Interviews,  Villas in Tuscany

    Pietrina, why we bought our Tuscan Villa

    Villa for 10 | Gardens with Lavender | San Giustino Valdarno

    One of the lower bedrooms has french doors leading directly out into the garden Pietrina is a beautiful old Tuscan farmhouse on a ridge in the hills south of Florence. Like many houses it had been abandoned when the original owners moved to the city and it took the loving care of the new owners to bring it back to life. Today it’s a warm family home with beds for 10 people, an ideal spot for a relaxed family reunion. This is our interview with the owners: How long have you owned Pietrina? We’ve now owned it for 15 years, though it took a while to complete the renovations after…

  • Weddings

    How to get married in Tuscany

    Outdoor wedding in Tuscany

    Nowhere is more magical than Tuscany for a wedding. The heartland of the Renaissance is dotted with beautiful towns, little chapels, romantic castles and luxurious villas. And your photographer will be over the moon with the choice of backdrops – cypress-lined driveways, sprawling vineyards and hilltop villages abound. Below is an introductory guide to getting married in Tuscany, from how to start the legal process to the cheat’s way that’s faster and simpler. The celebrity wedding favourite If you decide to tie the knot in Tuscany, you’ll be in famous company. David Bowie, model Kate Upton, baseball player Justin Verlander, actress Melissa Joan Hart (aka Sabrina the Teenage Witch), singer…

  • Siena

    Secret Tuscany: Siena’s Hidden River and How To Find it

    Pigeon drinks Fonte Gaia

    Concealed far below the graceful streets of the hilltop town of Siena lies the mysterious Bottini river. It helped make this hilltop Tuscan town great, yet few have ever laid eyes on it. Find out how it all began – and how you can see it for yourself With its prime location on top of three hills, Siena seems to have it all. Yet for centuries, it lacked one vital component – fresh water. In the Middle Ages, engineers solved the problem by carving 25km of tunnels beneath the town. Known as the ‘Bottini‘, this marvel of engineering still supplies Siena with water today.  A vast underground river, it’s a…

  • Siena,  Travel Tips

    How to get to Siena

    Siena from Orto dei Pecci

    Siena’s city centre is largely pedestrianised, so it’s a great city to visit with public transport. It also has some good parking spots on the outskirts of the city from which you can walk or bus in. Here’s our advice for getting to Siena. Closest Airports to Siena Florence, Perugia, Pisa, Bologna and Rome are the closest airports to Siena, in that order. Pisa airport is the most popular for flights within Europe, while Rome is the most likely airport of arrival for US and Canadian visitors.  Florence Airport (FLR) Perugia Airport (PEG) Pisa Airport (PSA) Bologna Airport (BLQ) Roma Fiumicino Airport (FCO) Roma Ciampino (CIA) Getting to Siena from…

  • Travel Tips

    Travelling to Europe with Pets

    Toby the Dog

    Leaving your beloved pet behind can be an enormous wrench. so why not bring him/her with you? We have a number of Holiday Villa Owners that are happy to accept pets (see our dog-friendly villas here) – but if you’ve found a perfect place to stay you still need to get there. Travelling between the UK and mainland Europe requires knowing and following some rules so that your pet – and I’m talking dogs and cats here – doesn’t get quarantined anywhere and you don’t get hit with any charges. UK-EU Pet Travel Rules There are a number of long-winded regulatory documents that you could read if you wish, but,…

  • Art

    Painting Villas in Tuscany

    Watercolour of swimming pool at Cuculo

    We often receive postcards or notes from our customers to thank us for finding their holiday villa. This summer we had a particularly delightful card from some clients who had stayed at Cuculo, a large villa for 8 south of Siena. Liam Thompson, a painter and tutor had been staying there with his family and painted this beautiful watercolour of the swimming pool at the villa. They made a card of it and sent us one in the post. It’s a wonderful card and a wonderful painting. It’s also a pleasure for me as I really like Cuculo but it doesn’t come across in the photos. I’ve been meaning to…

  • History,  Pisa

    Who paid for the Leaning Tower of Pisa

    Detail of Battistero Pisa

    Everybody knows the Leaning Tower of Pisa, endlessly about to topple. The famous tower is in Pisa, Tuscany, a city that now hosts the region’s main airport, but was once the capital of a powerful sea-faring Republic. So how did the Tower get built? And where did the money come from? To answer these questions, we’ll have to dip into some history: A brief history of Pisa Pisa has a proud history, and was founded in a strategic position by the Etruscans. The advantages of its protected position on the coast saved it from the worst damage after the fall of the Roman empire. It become a popular port, with…

  • Pisa,  Travel Tips,  Tuscan Cities

    Getting Tickets for the Leaning Tower of Pisa

    Leaning Tower of Pisa

    If you do decide to visit Pisa, you will want to see the leaning tower, set in The Square of Miracles, or Campo dei Miracoli, which has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987. At the far side of this grassy square is the leaning bell tower,  next to the beautiful Roman Catholic Duomo di Pisa built in the imposing Pisan Romaneque style and a vision in white marble. The square also houses the domed baptistery, where Galileo was baptised, and the Camposanto Monumentale which is the final resting place of notable Italians including Fibonacci. This square takes visitors through every stage of the lifecycle – from birth and baptism, through a…

  • Tuscan Villas by Type

    Family Villas in Tuscany

    Dipinta di Blu | Invitation to Tuscany

    Family holidays can be wonderful but it’s important to get the villa and the position right, so you can keep everybody happy. Many of our clients come on three-generation holidays, with ages ranging from 1 to 91, so a very wide range of needs and aspirations. One sure-fire way to shorten the search is to make us do the hard work – just send us a list of your requirements and we’ll prepare a short list of possible properties. We visit them all so any advice is first-hand. Contact us via the button below. Help my find the perfect family villa Finding a Great Villa for family holidays If you’d…

  • Culture,  History,  Siena,  Tuscan Cities

    Map of Sights and Museums in Siena

    Map of Siena

    This is an idiosyncratic and personal map of what to see in Siena. There is more conventional google map at the bottom of this post, but this is a map I sketched and it’s my feeling of how Siena hangs together. There are two centres of power, the religious and the secular. The focal point of religious power is the Cathedral, built on the highest point of the city. The focus of secular power lies lower down, in the “Piazza del Campo“, literally the “square of the field“. The famous shell-shaped square is divided into 9 segments, to represent each of the members of the “consiglio dei nove” who ran…

join the family

Subscribe to our mailing list and keep in touch