• Art in Tuscany,  Culture,  Tuscany

    The pregnant Madonna of Monterchi

    Madonna del Parto - Monterchi

    A long while ago a well-respected Roman doctor told me a story of his youth. He had been dispatched from Rome to visit a small village near Arezzo. The inhabitants were all complaining of “bubons”, unsightly growths on their necks and faces, and he was asked to find out why He stayed for a while, discovered that their water source was contaminated and cured the village. One of the villagers, in gratitude, offered to show him their local secret and lead him to a small, dilapidated chapel. Kicking the doors open the villager stood back, proudly pointing at the fresco inside. It was a masterpiece by Piero della Francesca, and…

  • Owner Interviews,  Tuscany,  Villas in Tuscany

    Castelonchio, why we love our Umbrian farmhouse

    Dan Wrightson’s drawing of Castelonchio Castelonchio is a beautifully restored stone farmhouse, set above Lake Trasimeno.  Barry used to have a beautiful house in Mensano, a village close to my parents’ house Timignano. It was remarkable because although it was on the first floor it had a beautiful stone well in a raised courtyard. When he and Karen wanted more space they moved further south, to this beautiful location overlooking Lake Trasimeno. They brought an old property back to life and now live next door and are both discreet and a great help to their guests.  This property is a favourite among our clients for its comfort, the pool set…

  • Travel Tips,  Tuscany,  Where to Eat in Tuscany

    Food restrictions in Tuscan restaurants

    Eating out in Tuscany is one of the pleasures of visiting this part of Italy.  Happily, with a vast array of fresh ingredients at hand and an inate sense of quality dining, most restaurants do not find it difficult to provide for customers with dietary restrictions.  In fact, the Italian spirit of hospitality spurs them to making sure you find something digestible and delicious. Food allergies and intolerances are not at all to be taken lightly, but as some Italians themselves are also lactose-intolerant or celiac, strides have already been made in Italy to provide alternatives for those needing to avoid certain ingredients.  Gelato can be with rice or soy…

  • History,  Tuscany

    Easter in Tuscany

    Easter in Tuscany is celebrated over a 5-day period which falls anywhere between 22 March and 25 April.  Perhaps a more heartfelt holiday to an Italian than Christmas, they say “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” – Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you wish.  Having survived a long winter indoors, they can hardly wait to get together with this ‘whomever they wish’ and raise a joyful noise.  On Thursday and Friday this noise is somewhat contained in church masses, re-enactments of religious events and evening processions.  But with the coming of Easter there is colour and company and outdoor excursions, ‘gite fuori porta‘. venerdì santo On…

  • 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…

  • Culture,  History,  Tuscany

    Bartali, the unsung cycling war hero

    On the outskirts of Florence, in an unprepossessing building close the motorway, is a small museum. It is dedicated to the memory of Gino Bartali, a man with a remarkable story that has only recently come to light. Gino Bartali is a star of world class cycling, and an inspiration to many. Paolo Conte sang a wonderful song about the cyclist and the many miles he travelled; we now know he wasn’t just training. During the second world war Bartali was already a well known figure, having won the Giro d’Italia twice, in 1936 and 37, and the Tour de France in 1938. During the war he continued to go…

  • Culture,  Food and Wine,  For children,  History,  Tuscany

    20 Italian Food ideas and Experiences you can’t miss in Tuscany

    There are hundreds of good reasons to visit Tuscany—but fabulous food has to be near the top of the list; after all, what’s more fabulous than sipping Brunello with a crusty loaf of bread and some olio nuovo as the sun sets over the terrace of your 19th century villa? Or enjoying fresh capellini with a rich, fragrant pomodoro sauce prepared by your own Tuscan cook? That’s the beauty of Tuscany—there are food experiences to tempt your eyes and your palate everywhere you look. If you’re looking for reasons to visit this magical region of Italy this year, here are 20 one-of-a-kind experiences you should add to your list. 1.…

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