A true gem of Tuscany

We loved our stay at this beautiful place-a true gem of Tuscany! Thanks especially to Alessandra for making all this possible. This Villa was the perfect final destination to complete our honeymoon trip to Italy.
Design and quality of all details are very high standard- making this place easy and special!
We hope to return soon with our whole family. Lots of love and thanks!!


Larissa&Tobias, The Bumblebees- 2021

Le petit dej Était un our délice!

Cette maison était magnifique et avait plein de tous amusants.
LE PETIT DEJ ÉTAIT UN PUR DÉLICE!!
Romain, 11 ans
J’ai beaucoup aimé le séjour dans cette maison !! j’ai adoré la piscine mais ce que j’ai préféré c’est la petit déjeuner!!! Miam!! Clemence, 11 ans! 2021

The decoration of the house is perfection

We have had an incredible week at your beautiful home. The craftsmanship, design and decoration of the house is perfection. 
Davvero eccellente! Our family has been so comfortable and relaxed. We love the beautiful garden and swimming pool. Our youngest son learned to swim in it!!
We have had incredible meals (grazie per Alessandro!!!) and time exploring your beautiful countryside. 
We thank you for your hospitality and the opportunity to stay in your beautiful property. It has been the trip of a lifetime in many ways. 
Speriamo di rivedervi e avere il piacere di un altro soggiorno!
Con saluti e abbracci!!! Grazie mille!!! 

Catherine, Payton Palmer and Cameron, Sheila and Jim -2021

Tuscany: why, where and when you should plan your holiday at best

Where is Tuscany situated?

Tuscany is the most popular of all the 20 Italian regions.

This region is located in the northern part of central Italy and bordering regions Lazio with the capital Rome in the south, Umbria in the east, Emilia-Romagna and Liguria in the north and to the west we have the Tyrrhenian sea with the island of Elba. It is often named Italy’s heart .
Tuscany is about half the size of Denmark, and has 3.5 million inhabitants.

The most famous cities are Florence, Pisa, Siena, Lucca and Arezzo, also each main cities in one of a total of 10 Tuscan provinces. In Tuscany you will encounter both vineyards, rolling hills, towering cypresses, olive trees, marble quarries that makes you think of snowy mountains, but also the beaches and of course the hundreds of medieval cities, which are strewn across the Tuscan countryside.

Where to Stay in Tuscany?

Tuscany is known primarily for the rolling landscape with tall cypress trees and the impressive pine trees, but Toscana is much more than that. Therefore, it is important to decide what your motivation exactly is, before you put together this year’s dream trip to Tuscany.

Roughly Tuscany divided into 4 parts: the capital Florence and its sorroundings, the area north of Siena, the area south of Siena and the area along the coast.

Florence

The Tuscan capital Florence is a city of contrasts. This was where the Renaissance was the cradle, and the city offers everything from world art of architecture, history, gastronomy, wine and street markets for Italian fashion at its best.

Villa Gamberaio is located in the Florentinian area, just 30 mins drive from the city center, halfway between Florence and Lucca. Definitely the best area to visit Tuscany, and to “have it all”.

When is it best to book a holiday in Tuscany?
What is the weather like in Tuscany?

It”s hard to describe the weather in Tuscany with a few words, although the region is only half as large as Denmark, the Tuscan weather is somewhat more unpredictable. This is primarily due to a very large variation in landscape types with everything from high mountains in the north, an extensive coastline to the west, but also the great variation on the plains and highlands of central Tuscany. Roughly speaking, one can say that winters are cool with the possibility of frost, and summers heat up to 30 degrees at midday.

There is precipitation throughout the year, mostly in the form of rain, but snow from November to early April is not unusual. Therefore, the most pleasant travel periods for most people in spring and autumn, but when the weather over most of Europe has been very unpredictable in recent years, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast before departure.

What is Tuscany known for?

Tuscany is known for its landscapes, history, artistic legacy, and its influence on high culture. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and has been home to many figures influential in the history of art and science, and contains well-known museums such as the Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti, as well as many others.
Fun fact: what else makes Tuscany unique?

Tuscany serves as the birthplace of western musical tradition. …and the musical origins can be traced back to Florence in the mid-16th century. A group of poets, musicians and intellectuals, known as the The Florentine Camerata, created new sounds and songs by testing ancient Greek myths along with music on the stage.

Top must-sees for a first-timer in Tuscany

Find out here many itinerary tips and some useful advice: If you are drowning in a deluge of potential destinations, these are some of the major must-sees in Tuscany.

Firenze

Magical, historical, charming… no adjective can adequately describe the Cradle of Renaissance.

We could never leave Florence off the “top 10” list. Piazza della Signoria, the Cathedral, Ponte Vecchio… everything here is worth a visit.

One day in Florence: 10 things you HAVE to do!

Pisa

In addition to Florence, Pisa is at the top of the list, not only thanks to the famous Leaning tower and the Piazza dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), but also because of the many hidden treasures that deserve a visit.

When in town, don’t make Piazza dei Miracoli your only stop: continue along, crossing Piazza dei Cavalieri, Borgo Stretto and Borgo Largo, Piazza delle Vettovaglie, eventually reaching the Lungarno. Here you can find noteworthy spots such as the San Matteo Museum, Palazzo Blu and the beautiful “Chiesa della Spina” church. Alternatively, consider following a Galileo itinerary.

Three days in Pisa, from Piazza dei Miracoli to hidden treasures

Chianti

The iconic vineyards and olive trees associated with Tuscany are spread throughout the Chianti area, situated just a few kilometres south of Florence. You’ll find a series of country roads perfect for a car or bike trip, and this whole area is considered a food and wine paradise.

There are many different itineraries to choose from. One of these is the Chianti Classico route, which touches the towns of Greve in Chianti, Gaiole and Castellina. Another itinerary focuses on the Pesa Valley, including Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, San Casciano Val di Pesa, San Donato in Poggio, Badia a Passignano and other hidden gems in this undeniably beautiful area.

Three days in Chianti, among wineries and villages

Siena

Coming to Tuscany and haven’t scheduled a day in Siena? Don’t make this mistake! Siena has a unique charm and an ancient history: try to dedicate a whole day to this city, walking along its cobblestone streets in the shadow of its brick buildings.

Siena is known worldwide for the Palio, held every year on July 2nd and August 16th. The heart of the city is Piazza del Campo, with its unmistakable shell-shape. From here, you can admire the 88 meter Torre del Mangia (and then even climb it!). Another must-see is the Cathedral, boasting a black and white façade and a spectacular interior, with its magnificent marble mosaic floor and spectacular vault.

10 things not to be missed in Siena

San Gimignano

Known as the medieval Manhattan, San Gimignano is one of the most beautiful hill towns of Tuscany. Characterized by stone towers and narrow streets, it is surrounded by an expansive countryside filled with vineyards that produce the famous Vernaccia wine.

The main square is Piazza del Duomo (home to the Cathedral) where you can also take in the sights of the Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo del Popolo, the Loggia and various medieval towers. For a postcard-perfect view of the Tuscan landscape, climb the Torre Grossa, a tower housing masterworks by Benozzo Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi, Pinturicchio, and Lippo Memmi.

Contemporary art in the heart of Tuscany

Monteriggioni

In the countryside of Siena there is another Tuscan hill town that definitely deserves a mention in this article: Monteriggioni.

Mentioned in the Inferno of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, the hamlet is home to perfectly preserved ten-meter-high fortified walls, along with fourteen towers that stand out from afar. When you enter the medieval doors, you are already in the heart of the village.

Nowadays, Monteriggioni is beloved by pilgrims from all over the world (it is one of the top halting points along the Tuscan section of the Via Francigena) and is also globally known for its medieval festival, celebrated every year in July.

Monteriggioni: a Tuscan jewel on the Via Francigena

Val d’Orcia

When you think about Tuscany you probably visualize green fields, vineyards and rolling hills. This is the idealized image of Tuscany, but the good news is that it genuinely exists, and you’ll find it in the Val d’Orcia!

This area, extending from the hills south of Siena to Monte Amiata, boasts very famous towns such as Pienza,  Montalcino, Monticchiello, Bagno Vignoni, San Quirico d’Orcia… you’ve probably heard of them!

The whole area is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and each small village has its own peculiarities. Hot springs fans will find their heaven in Bagno Vignoni, Bagni San Filippo and Vivo d’Orcia. Finally, wine lovers will be happy everywhere they go around Val d’Orcia!

Two days in Tuscany: a car ride in Val d’Orcia

Volterra

Volterra is one of the most beautiful hill towns of Tuscany. It’s a walled town with a well-preserved past, as evidenced by its medieval and Renaissance buildings, its Roman theatre and its Etruscan sites.

Must-see attractions include the Piazza dei Priori, home to the magnificent Palazzo dei Priori, the Palazzo Pretorio with its Tower of the Little Pig, the Romanesque Cathedral and its Baptistery, the Roman Amphitheatre and much more.

Volterra is one of the most beautiful hill towns of Tuscany. It’s a walled town with a well-preserved past, as evidenced by its medieval and Renaissance buildings, its Roman theatre and its Etruscan sites.

Must-see attractions include the Piazza dei Priori, home to the magnificent Palazzo dei Priori, the Palazzo Pretorio with its Tower of the Little Pig, the Romanesque Cathedral and its Baptistery, the Roman Amphitheatre and much more.

Things you can’t miss in Volterra

Lucca

Nicknamed the “city of 100 churches”Lucca is famous for its perfectly preserved and walkable 16th century walls. This 4 kilometer walkway overlooking the town is a great starting point for a tour of the town.

Don’t miss Piazza Anfiteatro, with its elliptical shape, the Guinigi tower and its trees on top, the forum located in the S. Michele square, and the beautiful San Martino Cathedral. You can access the city centre from 6 different “porte”, or gates.

Nicknamed the “city of 100 churches”, Lucca is famous for its perfectly preserved and walkable 16th century walls. This 4 kilometer walkway overlooking the town is a great starting point for a tour of the town.

Don’t miss Piazza Anfiteatro, with its elliptical shape, the Guinigi tower and its trees on top, the forum located in the S. Michele square, and the beautiful San Martino Cathedral. You can access the city centre from 6 different “porte”, or gates. 

Arezzo

Arezzo has ancient origins and a well-preserved city centre with plenty of monuments, churches and 

Two days in Lucca

museums, offering visitors a chance to travel back in time.

Piazza Grande is a good starting point for a city tour, boasting the Loggiato Vasariano and Palazzo delle Logge (designed by Vasari). Another important stop on your itinerary is the Basilica of San Francesco and its astonishing Cappella Bacci. Don’t miss the Museum of Medieval and Modern Art and the Romanesque church of Santa Maria della Pieve.

The history of the city of Lucca

Lucca was founded by the Etruscans (there are traces of a pre-existing Ligurian settlement) and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular grid of its historical center preserves the Roman street plan, and the Piazza San Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum.
Plundered by Odoacer, Lucca appears as an important city and fortress at the time of Narses, who besieged it for three months in 553, and under the Lombards it was the seat of a duke who minted his own coins. It became prosperous through the silk trade that got a start in the 11th century, to rival the silks of Byzantium. In the 10th and 11th centuries Lucca was the capital of the feudal margravate of Tuscany, more or less independent but owing nominal allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor.

After the death of the famous Matilda of Tuscany, the city began to constitute itself an independent commune, with a charter of 1160. For almost 500 years, Lucca was an independent republic. There were many minor feudatories in the region between southern Liguria and northern Tuscany dominated by the Malaspina; Tuscany in this time was a part of feudal Europe. Dante’s Divine Comedy include many references to the great feudal families who had huge jurisdictions with administrative and judicial rights. Dante himself spent some of his exile in Lucca.

In the common central Italian pattern, internal discord afforded an opportunity in 1314 to Uguccione della Faggiuola to make himself master of Lucca, but the Lucchesi expelled him two years afterwards, and handed over their city to the condottiere Castruccio Castracani, under whose masterly tyranny it became for a moment a leading state of central Italy, rival to Florence, until his death in 1328.

On 22 and 23 September 1325, in the battle of Altopascio, he defeated again Florence’s Guelphs, taking many prisoners and also for this he was nominated, always from Louis IV the Bavarian, duke of Lucca.

Castracani’s tomb is in the church of San Francesco. His biography is Machiavelli’s third famous book on political rule.

Lucca was the seat of a convocation in 1408 that was intended to end the schism in the papacy. Occupied by the troops of Louis of Bavaria, the city was sold to a rich Genoese Gherardino Spinola, seized by John, king of Bohemia. Pawned to the Rossi of Parma, by them it was ceded to Martino della Scala of Verona, sold to the Florentines, surrendered to the Pisans, nominally liberated by the emperor Charles IV. and governed by his vicar, Lucca managed, at first as a democracy, and after 1628 as an oligarchy, to maintain its independence alongside of Venice and Genoa, and painted the word Libertas on its banner till the French Revolution” (Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911).

Lucca was the largest Italian city state with a republican constitution (“comune”) to remain independent over the centuries – next to Venice, of course. In 1805 Lucca was taken over by Napoleon, who put his sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi in charge as “Queen of Etruria”. After 1815 it became a Bourbon-Parma duchy, then part of Tuscany in 1847 and finally part of the Italian State. Lucca is twinned with the English market town of Abingdon, near Oxford.
Unusual for cities in the region, the walls around the old town were retained intact as the city expanded and modernized. As the wide walls lost their military importance, they became a pedestrian promenade ringing the old town although they were used for a number of years in the 20th century for racing cars. They are still fully intact today; each of the four principal sides is lined with a different tree species.

The academy of sciences (1584) is the most famous of several academies and libraries.

The Casa di Puccini is open to the public. At nearby Torre del Lago there is a Puccini opera festival every year in July/August. Puccini had a house there.

There are many richly built medieval basilica-form churches in Lucca with rich arcaded facades and campaniles, a few as old as the 8th century.
•Piazza Napoleone
•Piazza San Michele
•Duomo di San Martino (St Martin’s Cathedral)
•Ducal Palace. The original project was begun by Bartolomeo Ammannati in 1577-1582, and continued by Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century.
•The ancient Roman amphitheatre
•Church of San Michele in Foro
•Basilica di San Frediano
•Torre delle ore (“Clock Tower”)
•Casa and Torre Guinigi
•Museo Nazionale Guinigi
•Museo e Pinacoteca Nazionale
•Orto Botanico Comunale di Lucca, a botanical garden dating to 1820
•Palazzo Pfanner

Lucca hosts the Lucca Summer Festival each year which, in the past years saw the likes of Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Elton John, Tracy Chapman and Santana play live in the Piazza Napoleon.

Tuscan olive oil: why is it the best?

tuscan olive oil

Is Tuscan olive oil good?
Tuscan extra virgin olive oil is a unique treasure. It’s incredibly tasty, healthy and is one of the Italian oils with the highest quality level. Plus, it’s also the expression of an ancient tradition, the result of centuries of knowledge of olive trees and production techniques.
What does Tuscan olive oil taste like?
Its taste is powerfully fruity, fresh, grassy, pungent and complex, yet harmonious and well-structured with a fresh, rich finish of spicy grass. Use this oil fresh in soups, on boiled or raw vegetables, bruschetta, red meats, tomato salads, with plain rice or pasta, as well as well-matured cheeses.

Are there olive trees in Tuscany?

In Tuscany, and in Italy in general, there are olive trees as old as Romanesque Cathedrals and, sometimes, even more beautiful. It is a fact that an olive tree can live for over 1,000 years. Broad, dark trunks that are contorted and hollowed out from centuries of rainfall often seem like strange animal shapes.

What kind of olives are grown in Tuscany?

Tuscany grows four main types of olives, Frantoio, Morale, Leccino, and Pendolino. Frantoio is a Tuscan native, but because of its high demand, is now grown all over Italy, and in parts of Australia, North Africa, and California.

Caring for olive trees

Olive trees may be drought tolerant, but they need to be kept well-watered, as dry spells during early spring can affect flowering and fruiting. They also need feeding regularly with a liquid feed every two weeks during the growing season.

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