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Find here all the interesting news, tips and thoughts about Florence. Reading this page should give you an idea what to see, where to go and eat in Florence. And some info on the lovely apartment you are about to rent!

Travel Tips, News, and Articles on Tuscany

Posted by on Feb 4, 2012 in blog, Useful | 0 comments

While snow and cold tighten up around Tuscany and central Italy, here is an overview of ten great links you should visit. They include tips for traveling to and in Tuscany, great info on Tuscan wine and food, highlights and news on discoveries and main events, and tours for the coming summer season.

Top 25 Tuscan Food Finds
Let’s start with one of the most fantastic “top 25″ Tuscan food lists I have ever read. This entire blog is amazing, but I particularly love this article and the use made of pictures, tracing it from raw ingredient to the finished recipe. You can almost smell them!

Famous Tuscan Wines
After a compilation of great Tuscan dishes, nothing better than some culture on Tuscan wine. Brunello, Chianti, Bolgheri Sassicaia and Ornellaia and other Tuscan wines, some trivia, and fun are all blended in this Squidoo lens.

Chicks With Knives
Not to worry, these chicks will use their knives only to slice food up. April is a great month to be in Tuscany, and it seems it’s also perfect for learning to cook. The program seems exciting and learning to cook in Tuscany while touring the land is just a treat.

Tuscany Apartments & Cooking Classes
And since cooking travel holidays to Tuscany are all the rave, I found this article to provide great insights in case you are looking for a different type of Tuscan vacation. Especially if you are an independent traveler, here are tips to a do-it-yourself cooking holiday in Tuscany to save some extra money.

Skiing in Tuscany: Four Mountains for All Tastes
During these days you can find snow anywhere in Tuscany, but if you want beautiful skiing slopes all winter-round you need to read this informative article on the mountains of Tuscany.

Photos of Paradiso…Toscana
While I am talking about snow, this is a perfect fit. The picture shows the beautiful hamlet of Sorano in Maremma, province of Grosseto. It looks like a nativity scene, and how gorgeous it would be with some house lights on!

800 Year Old Witch!
Not fresh news, but I guess after 800 years it does not matter much. Last September the skeleton of this 30-something woman was found around Piombino (near Grosseto, not Lucca as the article states). Seven nails were put through her jaw bone. It is probably a victim of the witch hunt, and the ground is probably a witch cemetery.

Apartments or Hotels for Your Next Holiday
Do you know whether you should rent an apartment or book a hotel room in Tuscany? Hotel rooms may seem more tailored to your needs and pocket, but this post makes great points to ponder.

The Keystones to Your Wedding in Tuscany: Apartments, Low Season, and Paperwork
A short but useful read on the first steps you should take and the things to know prior to getting started with your wedding in Tuscany planning. Whether you plan it yourself or are getting professional help, a wedding abroad needs to be thought over.

Cruise ship victims mull $14,460 compensation deal
After firefighters stopped searching for the missing of Costa Concordia shipwreck, and plans to remove the ship are under way, many passengers are refusing the 11 thousand, plus expenses, euro that Costa Crociere is offering them in the attempt to avoid or reduce the impact of a class action.

A Tuscan Menu for Valentine’s Day

Posted by on Feb 3, 2012 in blog, Recipes | 0 comments

February is the ‘month of love’ that can carry you to destinations far and wide; you can locate wonderful spots anywhere around the world that will offer you a ‘special’ during the month of February. Renting a luxurious villa and partaking of Tuscan food defines an ideal holiday vacation, especially for a “Valentine’s Day Getaway.”

The North Tuscany Coast reports a very mild climate, grand Tuscan villas and wonderful restaurants along the beach. This is the idyllic region where the people profess adoration for ‘the day of lovers.’ Romance is in the air, the villas are magnificent and the Tuscan cuisine is delicious. What more could two lovers desire?

A Tuscan Menu for Lovers:
Tuscan foods titillate the senses and lovers find them to be delightful. All of the spices, fresh vegetables and the wines that characterize the exquisite flavours of Italy are presented in beef, chicken, pork and seafood dishes served with various Italian pastas. A special restaurant in Florence may offer the following menu to you and your Valentine on February 14th or any day of the year:

• Appetizers
*Puff pastries filled with a very fine liver pate.
*Aromatic salmon, marinated in fine herbs and red wine.
*Bruschetta made with delicious grilled bread, fresh vegetables and balsamic
*Antipasto Platter with grilled vegetables, Italian meats and choice of cheeses.

• For Starters
*A Roasted Mushroom Salad offering the wonderful flavour of organic greens,
young mushrooms and crisp red peppers.
*Cheese and Onion soup with pinches of parsley.
*Classic Caesar salad with a choice of dressings.
*Clam Chowder made with fresh clams.

• Main Meal
*Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail.
It is the perfect main dish when you are ‘undecided.’
*T-Bone Steak cooked just the way you love it.
*Roasted Red Snapper on a bed of lettuce. Choice of potato.
*Lamb braised in Chianti wine with a twice baked potato.
*Ravioli with Italian mild marinara sauce or Italy’s finest, spicy marinara.
*Whole Wheat Fettuccini Pasta in a cream sauce.

• Side Dishes
*Delicately roasted asparagus side dish in lemon sauce.
*Roasted potato in a garlic puree.
*Sugar Snapped Peas.

• Dessert
*A chocolate and cherry cake with swirled cream cheese icing; topped with whole cherries and chocolate swirls.
*Chocolate Mousse with real whipped cream and topped with a cherry.

• Champagne

Whatever the locale or choice of meals, Saint Valentine’s Day will delight you if you share it with the one you love. This special day can be the start of yet another beautiful year to be remembered.

Useful Resources on Tuscany - 7

Posted by on Jan 30, 2012 in blog, Useful | 0 comments

January is almost over, and snow has not yet fallen on Tuscany, apart its mountains of course! There you can ski as much as you want and take in some of the mot gorgeous landscapes in Italy. At any rate, whether forecast says at the end of the week it should snow.
Among other information on Tuscany, below are some videos and pictures of th region’s cities and countryside under a white mantle. It is hard to tell when snow hits Tuscany, but if you get to be spending your holiday while it does, you can consider yourself very lucky!
There will also be some carnival, biking, luxury wine, booking and traveling in Tuscany tips, and a zest of Liguria with a homage to the little five cousins of Tuscany, Cinque Terre, which during last October were badly hit by a flood, and still need all your help.

Abetone Pictures
Let’s start off with some amateur pictures on Abetone and Cimone mountains in the province of Pistoia, in northern Tuscany. Since it will probably be snowing this week, I figured I would give you a glimpse of what Tuscan mountains look like in the dead of winter.

Snow in Tuscany
This is a nice video of Tuscany after the heavy snowfall in 2009. It is full of pictures of Florence under a white snowy blanket, and it is just lovely to watch people and kids alike enjoying it. In Tuscan cities snow is quite a rare event, falling in a quantity sufficient to last a few days only once a year.

Toscana Bike Tourism
The English version of the Toscanabike website is now live, and I thought it would be a good occasion to let all bikers know that now they have another important website to refer to when organizing a biking holiday in Tuscany.

Follonica Carnival
The little town of Follonica can be found along the southern Tuscan coast in the Maremma area. This is mostly a seaside resort town, but unlike many other coastal spots it preserves quite a large population all year round. The carnival is held in February during the first three weeks of the month. It still is a small event when compared to the Viareggio carnival, but if you are around it is worth a visit.

Divino Tuscany 2012
It seems there is no economic crisis for luxury. Divino Tuscany consists of two three and four-day expensive wine tasting experience packages including the best wines, boutique hotels, selected meals and an evening hanging out with Sting at his Tuscan villa. In case you have no idea how to spend your next few thousands of euros, check this out.

The great day is nigh : è finita la caccia (and I’m still married)
A witty post from a witty and informative blog written by a woman owner of Il Palazzone wine farm. It tells of the endemic need that some Tuscans have to go hunting with their gun to bring home wild boars, robins, hare, and so on. Although in the past hunting might have been an understandable practice, it has lost any justification in our days.

Snorkeling in The Wonderful Tuscan Archipelago: Elba and Giannutri Islands
If you are a passionate scuba diver or snorkeler, these two Tuscan Islands hold a treasure of fauna and flora below sea level. Elba and Giannutri are part of the Tuscan archipelago, a wildlife refuge famous for its colorful fish and marine vegetation.

4 Amazingly Romantic Tuscan Getaways
Looking for a place to stay for a romantic escape to Tuscany? Will it be your honeymoon dream-hotel? These 4 high-end accommodations offer the most romantic and refined Tuscany has to offer. Precious brocade fabrics, designer interiors, themed rooms, breathtaking surroundings and pampering services.

Tips on Tuscany: Apartments, Airfare, Best Time to Go and Transportation
A quick read including all that is useful to Tuscany travelers. Where should you stay? What should you visit? And given all this, what is the best means of transportation to get the most out of your holiday in Tuscany?

A Photographic Tribute to the Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is just north of the province of Massa and Carrara, attached to the Tuscan border. This is the seventh of a series of picture posts celebrating these five charming villages perched on the side of a hill and unrolling into the sea. The flood of October 2011 changed their look and gay appearance, killing people and destroying the local economy. They need all the help they can get.

A Travelers Guide to Arezzo, Tuscany

Posted by on Jan 28, 2012 in blog, Historic Places, Useful | 2 comments

Arezzo, a beautiful sun-drenched city on a Tuscan hill, was a wealthy Etruscan city, and then a wealthy Roman city before it became a satellite of Florence in 1384. Among Arezzo’s native sons was Petrarch, who invented the musical scale; Pietro Aretino, who was exiled because of his satirical writings against Papal Indulgences; and Giorgio Vasari, the artist and architect. It was also the home of the French born Guillaume de Marcillat, a glass stainer who came to live and work in Arezzo. His work was so well known that he was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II. Marcillat worked beside Raphael and Michelangelo.

Arezzo, being in the interior of country, is hot and rainy in the summer and can get cold in the winter. One place to visit in Arezzo is St. Francis’ Church, built for the Franciscan monks in the 14th century. The chancel of the church was decorated by the great artist Piero della Francesca and the brilliant stained glass window was made by Guillaume de Marcillat.

Another place to visit is the Piazza Grande, a square surrounded by medieval buildings and the church of Santa Maria della Pieve. This church is famous for its campanile with its many windows. Nearby on the square is an 18th century courthouse and the beautiful palace of the Lay Brotherhood. During the second to the last Sunday in June and the first Sunday in September the square hosts the Saracen’s Tournament. Here, Arezzo’s best horsemen try and run through a dummy figure with their lances in front of a crowd dressed in 12th century garb.

Other sites around Arezzo are the Archaeological Museum, with its interesting bronze Etruscan statues from the 6th to 5th centuries BC. The visitor might also take in the Duomo, which was built between 1286 and 1510 and has lovely stained glass windows by Marcillat and a fresco of Mary Magdalen by Piero della Francesca.

There’s also the Church of Mary of Grace, with its lovely portico by Benedetto da Maiano of Florence and a marble altarpiece designed by Andrea della Robbia.

Handsome, rustic Italian villas abound in the area around Arezzo. One interesting experience would be to stay in an Agriturismo, a working farm that makes its money from both providing accommodations for tourists and agriculture. There are also a wide variety of Hotels to choose from for tourists who prefer this mode of accommodation. One of these is the AC Hotel Arezzo, a Marriott hotel that’s about one and a half miles from the centre of the city. The hotel also has conference rooms, its own restaurant and sleek, modernistic decor. Most of the guests who leave reviews on the website rave about it.

Another hotel is the Hotel Minerva Arezzo, a tranquil place with five sumptuous suites and 125 rooms, many with views of downtown Arezzo. It offers laundry and concierge service, computers, cable television and for some the best of all, it welcomes pets.

The Villa Fontelunga is one of the romantic, converted old Tuscany villas that’s also famous for hosting weddings and receptions among its fragrant olive groves.

The cost of living in Tuscany can be high, but Arezzo, whose population is about 100,000, is not a large city. Small cities and sleepy towns are far less pricey than large, famous cities. The rent for an apartment in Florence, for example, could conceivably be nearly twice that of a similar apartment in Arezzo.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Posted by on Jan 27, 2012 in blog | 0 comments

There is nothing more intense than the testifying power of images. The memory of one of the most atrocious infamies by mankind, the Shoa, must never die.

I cannot remember who said “a nation who does not remember its errors is condemned to committing them again”. Sincerely, I cannot understand how neo-Nazist and neo-Fascist movements can continue to spring up and exist, but I am quite sure that ignorance plays a large role in shaping malleable minds oblivious to questioning.

Therefore I decided to let images do the talking, hoping that some of those who negate the existence of Shoa, or Holocaust, will find the way back into conscious thinking, repudiating all sorts of discrimination, intolerance and racism. The following images are taken from a series of power point presentations by Luciano Zappella, who composed a series of 5 slideshows with annotations. I picked some of the most touching ones, but I invite you to see his full work on WWII Holocaust.

All his slides are concluded with Saul Friedlander‘s quote taken from his 1979 book “When Memory Comes”: “When knowledge comes, memory comes too, little by little. Knowledge and memory are one and the same thing.

[slideshow id=33 w=738 h=533]

Useful Resources on Tuscany - 6

Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 in blog, Useful | 0 comments

As late as usual, here is another issue on what the web has to offer on Tuscany. To catch up with my once-a-week schedule I will have to write another Tuscan resource roundup in the coming days. So if you leave this one craving for more, before Sunday you will be getting another one.

This post includes some of the most informative articles I could find online. Since this is the right time of the year to start looking for summer rentals in Tuscany, some of the links below will take you to quick read ups on tips and shortcuts to find good rentals at lower prices.
Two resources are dedicated to Tuscan wedding locations and tips, so if you are eloping to Italy, be sure to check those out.

Costa Concordia’s Possible Ecological Consequences
I thought I would post the bad news first, then pass on to more cheerful matters. Unfortunately the dead toll on the cruise ship Concordia keeps rising, while infamous news about the captain’s behavior keep coming up. This article focuses on the ecological disaster the boat could bring on the Maremma National Park, few miles from the island.

Gourmet Cooking Vacation and Touring through Bella Tuscany
Ciao Laura offers what is now a best seller cooking course in Tuscany. It seems this is also a fast seller, so you should act fast. Actually, I am a big fan of culinary holidays! The idea is very clever as it combines an authentic cooking learning experience in a relaxed and fun environment where everyone is friendly and cheerful. Plus I like the fact that visits to cities and gourmet food production centers accompany the cooking classes.

AndreaBocelli Live in Tuscany
Besame Mucho, Somos Novios and Can’t Help Falling In Love are the three pieces the opera singer from Pisa interprets very romantically in this abstract from his Live in Tuscany. I think its a perfect Valentine’s soundtrack, and will also be the a nice accompaniment for your further readings below.

How to Relax in Tuscany (Italy) for Free
And in case you needed to really get away from it all and get lost in a pool of thermal relaxation, these free hot spring in Tuscany are the answer. Their location looks astounding, completely nature-made and authentic.

Wonderful wastes of time in Chianti
The cities of Tuscany are the main attractions of the region, but a detour through Chianti is what one needs after so many museums and crowded places. This article suggest great ways to unwind in the Tuscan countryside with places to see and activities.

Take a Holiday on the Coast of Tuscany
Discover the town of San Vincenzo on the coast of Tuscany. If you are searching for a town offering fine beaches, comforts and great fun, this seems the right spot in Versilia. San Vincenzo is along the Etruscan Coast, a true paradise for the lovers of this ancient civilization.

Castle Tuscany Apartments: Make Your Honeymoon Unforgettably Romantic
Four epic suggestions to get married in Tuscany. These castles have all it takes to experience an unforgettable wedding. Here you can get married, have your reception, banquet, and stay with your spouse and guests.

Tuscan Wedding Accommodation and Tips
When getting married, your accommodation is not the only concern. These great tips on organizing a wedding in Tuscany are a great starting point to take the measure of all it takes to make your dream become a reality.

Countryside Vs. City Tuscany Apartments: Which One Should I Choose?
Quite a smart analysis on all the pros and cons tied to renting a property in Tuscany. Choosing between city properties or country villas might be hard for the inexperienced traveler, and I find this read will help some Tuscany first-timers make the best decision and have a happy holiday.

Tuscany Without the Crowds
I hate being constantly right! Now that even the New Your Times is talking about it, will you believe me? I am joking of course, since neither me nor the NYT are saying anything new. Tuscany is an amazing land that should be also discovered during winter time. If you have already savored it during the summer, make it a point to be back during the dead of winter, which in this land is more lively than ever!

Pisa beyond The Leaning Tower

Posted by on Jan 17, 2012 in blog, Historic Places | 1 comment

Pisa offers much more than just the famous Leaning Tower. Aside the fact that in the Miracle Square the Tower is in the good company of the Cathedral, Cemetery and Baptistery, in town you will surely find much more for your eyes to gaze at in wonder. Pisa really is a little Italian treasure, even beyond the boundaries of “Piazza dei Miracoli”. Here artistic beauty is well matched by natural treasures.

Starting with the coast, Pisa offers wild beaches such as the ones of Calambrone and Marina di Vecchiano. In San Rossore you will get to the nature park by the same name, while the city offers a very special botanical garden. The inland continues with a series of marvelous churches and historical buildings telling a long story of wars, hopes, hard work and human development. Did you know that Pisa used to be one of the four Italian maritime republics? From here Italy received a continuous and enriching inlet of cultures and goods, while funneling back its art and manufacture through commercial exchanges with far away lands.

If you want to go beyond the Leaning Tower of Pisa and discover all the city’s history and environment have to offer you, there is no better way to go off the beaten path through a self managed or accompanied walking tour of the city. The windy alleys of the city center will take you to magical spots.

Guided tours usually offer the chance to stop at typical places you would not have discovered otherwise, such as wine tasting shops, artisan laboratories, hidden historical spots and panoramic viewpoints offering majestic views.

Recommendations for a self-guided walking tour of Pisa
The most important monuments and architectural masterpieces you should not miss are Cavalieri Square, Vettovaglie Square, Agostini-Venerosi Palace, Gambacorti Palace, and Blu Palace, where splendid exhibits are often held throughout the year.

The following shop itinerary provides some insights that only locals may be aware of
After enjoying some of the above masterpieces, you will surely be hungry. Head towards Borgo Stretto and stop at the historic Salza bakery that has been in business for more than hundred years. Then go for a slow walk along the so-called “Lungarni” alongside river Arno. Here you will find the iconic Ussero Cafe, an intellectual gathering point in business since the 18th century. Here was one of the most active literary circles in Tuscany, with national and international writers like Dickens, Zola and D’Annunzio.

If you are going to be in Pisa during a cold day, warm up with a hot chocolate at De Bondt, whereas during summer days you can beat the heat with a delicious organic Gelato at De Coltelli. Walking on, you should see the work that late artist Keith Haring gifted to Pisa, his famous “Tuttomondo” mural, right in front of Keith Cafe and wine tasting “La Dolce Vite”, offering one of the best wine selections in the city.

As you can see a visit to Pisa can combine a cultural visit with a casual stroll filled by enticing experiences. Do not miss out on this, go well beyond the Leaning Tower!

Useful Resources on Tuscany - 5

Posted by on Jan 14, 2012 in blog, Useful | 0 comments

This not-so-regular appointment with all-things-Tuscany that you can find online unwillingly happens on the day the Costa Crociere Concordia cruise ship wrecked on the shore of Giglio island. An almost absurd accident. Was there a sea storm going on? Nope. Was the ship hijacked? Nope. Was there a technical problem. Maybe. Was there a human error. Maybe. The humongous 4-deck ship simply mulled adrift to meet the coast of Giglio island, when in fact it should have been 5 nautical miles offshore. The rocky coast did what an iceberg did to Titanic a hundred years ago, but fortunately the bottom of the ship was already resting on the sea bottom. Six people (as of now this is the dead count) died, but were the waters any deeper, what would have been the toll? The first link on the list is the BBC news about the tragedy.

Italy cruise ship Costa Concordia aground near Giglio

La Bandita, Pienza, Tuscany: hotel review
This is a review of one of the most interesting hotels in Pienza by The Telegraph. The opening paragraph describes the property, owned by a NYC couple, as one of the most interesting addition to the boutique hotel landscape. Do you think boutique hotels take away some of the Tuscan charm? In many cases I think so. You need a really sapient chef to mix salt and sugar in a delicious way that does not cloy.

Cala Barbiere Punta Ala: Maremma Tuscany Beaches
Some of the nicest Italian beaches can be found in Tuscany. Maremma has splendid locations that you need to know in order to enjoy them. This is a little secret I spotted out, and will see to meet you there the coming summer!

Debbie Travis in Tuscany
Love for renovating the Tuscan way has brought this home-improvement celebrity to buying a Tuscan house to bring back to life, a-la Under The Tuscan Sun. Debbie Travis wants to share her renovation adventure with all of you blogging each step of the process. Now you know where to follow her.

Tuscany in A Bottle
After Netflix you could call this Nethics…Six bottles of wine from six Tuscany wine regions every six months. Six six six seems quite a Biblical number, but nothing devilish about all this. The offer includes delivery at your doorstep, with detailed info on the wine and the right food pairing. Cheers!

A (lack of) Taste of Tuscany
Call me picky, or even worse, upright pretentious, but I feel the duty of telling you what is truly Tuscan and what not. And this Amazon product is not! The med size basket includes (the large size is not detailed): “Malto Bella chocolate cappuccino toffee malt balls” Why is this Tuscan? Its barely a clash of Italian stereotypes. “Focaccia Crisps Vineyard Collection” No idea what this really is, but crisped focaccia in Tuscany has no history; “importe../../../blog/page/d Grissini-style sesame breadsticks__8221.css; literally grissini are from Tourin, a light year from Tuscany, culinary speaking; “sun-dried tomato pasta fancy cut” hard to interpret: is it pasta or sauce? Sun dried tomatoes are traditional of Southern Italy; “importe../../../blog/page/d balsamic vinegar__8221.css; which is typical of Modena, in Emilia Romagna. Tuscans discovered balsamic vinegar twenty or so years ago. This basket is a bunch of baloney!

Tuscan Windows
Pretty obviously, the title describes what you are going to see..or does it? These are windows during Summer time, full of flowers some one lovingly planted and tended to. They are closed, so maybe nobody is at home, but the sun-baked stucco of the facade tells the story of many lives that in time have lived these city center apartment. When is summer coming?

Tuscan Stuffed Tomatoes
If you have little time to surprise someone with a delicious dinner, this recipe is a life saver. Heck, it will be a great eating even for a night alone with your cat watching a good movie! Plus, it makes vegetarians happy too.

An Espresso Maker, A Tuscan Restaurant And Daylight Savings Time
I love to read tells of first person life experiences in Tuscany written by others. A good “tazzina” of espresso and I am set to read this witty, sequence of funny Tuscan misadventures. I took a good lesson from it: never take a new place for granted, even if so close to your culture!

Olive Oil, Tuscany, Italy, 1996
Last, a fifteen years old picture from one of the websites I love the most. I still remember the first time I saw olive oil pouring out of the machine that separates it from water, the last stage of olive oil production. The fresh scent reminded me of olive wood and chewed olive leaves. I thought that vivid green was so beautiful, dense yet transparent at the same time, giving me the impression of liquid jade. Watching this picture I relieve that moment, and each time the new oil is produced I am thankful for it.

Top Picks for Traveling The Tuscan Maremma

Posted by on Jan 14, 2012 in blog, Historic Places, Nature Spots, Thermal Spas, Towns | 0 comments

An awesome guest article by Elisa from Maremma Tuscany!

Even if you have never been to Tuscany, you can probably imagine its farmhouse villas and breathtaking countryside in an instant.

But for most tourists, Tuscany is Florence, Siena and Pisa. Stop. Most don’t realise there is a whole other side to Tuscany. A side that is more wild and authentic. A side that still breathes laidback country days. A side that truly is Tuscany off-the-beaten track. It’s called the Maremma.

To discover the Maremma, you have to leave the cities behind and plunge into magnificent Southern Tuscany. Just don’t look for any road signs. The Maremma is a centuries’ old name used by the locals to describe their beautiful surroundings. It’s more of a feeling than a title. It conjures up images of hilltop towns separated from their neighbours by medieval walls and a landscape that can shift from idyllic beach to snow-dusted mountain in a matter of hours. For practicalities sake, the majority of the Maremma sits inside what is now known as the Grosseto province.

But you can’t explore the Maremma in one go. The province makes up almost a quarter of Tuscany, and while every inch of it merits a visit, here are some spots you just can’t miss:

Saturnia and its hot springs
The Maremma mightn’t be famous on a international scale, but Saturnia‘s hot springs are. Naturally carved pools in the travertine rock, they could easily be the most luxurious bath you’ll ever take in the most luxurious setting you’ll ever see. The water flows from an underground source down gentle waterfalls into the pools at a constant temperature of 37°C all year round.

If that wasn’t enough, these hot springs are also fabled to have been curing minor dermatological, cardiovascular and respiratory ailments since the time of the Roman Empire. But you don’t have be sick to enjoy the springs, the minerals in the water act as a natural exfoliant. And the best part? They’re free and open all day and night.

Tuscany doesn’t get more evocative or enchanting than Pitigliano. Carved entirely out of tufa rock, the city looks as if it grew organically out of its cliff like a gnarled tree branch. The effect is startlingly, especially at night, when the lights in the valley make Pitigliano look as if it is suspended in air.

Pitigliano is famous for its maze of iconic and picturesque streets lined with artisan craft workshops and boutique speciality stores selling homemade jams and pasta. Just off the main via, Via Zuccarelli, is Piccola Gerusalemme (Little Jerusalem), a nickname given to Pitigliano’s 16th century Jewish ghetto. Unlike many cities of the time, Pitigliano embraced its Jewish neighbours and many of the city’s modern traditions, festivals and dishes continue to have a Jewish flair about them.

Porto Santo Stefano
Moving out to the coast, Porto Santo Stefano is the gateway to Tuscany’s most beautiful islands, Giglio, Giannutri and Elba. Paradisical destinations, each of them is renowned for amazing dive sights and spectacular snorkelling spots.

Then again, you might find Porto Santo Stefano itself so striking, you’ll never want to catch the ferry and leave. This port city is effortlessly chic and home to some of the best seafood restaurants in Italy. A walk along the water’s edge is a must no matter what season you visit, if only to see the fishing boats making their way in and out of Porto Santo Stefano in search of the perfect catch.

Massa Marittima
High up in Northern Maremma, Massa Marittima is a Renaissance city where artistic splendour is only matched by an amazing sense of identity. For a short period in the 13th century, Massa Marittima was an independent city and this autonomy remains with its residents today.

To many in the Maremma, Massa Marittima is a miniature Siena with its terracotta coloured cathedral and beautifully frescoed palazzos. But unlike Siena, this city is hardly ever overcrowded with tourists, and at night, the locals reclaim their home and Massa Marittima is transformed into one big street party, where everyone meets to catch up, listen to street performers and dine alfresco-style, under the stars. In May and August, Massa Marittima travels back to the 13th century with its Balestro del Girifalco. More than 100 years old, this event is an unmissable chance to relive the Renaissance roots of this gorgeous city.

Namastey, Indian Restaurant in Siena

Posted by on Jan 11, 2012 in blog, Restaurants | 0 comments

When the tourist season is at its peak in Tuscany, I always hear the refrain “Yes, Tuscan food is great, but it’s coming out of my ears! Isn’t there any international restaurant?”. Italians have no issues eating Tuscan food day in and day out, but to those accustomed to a lot of variety it might be a repetitive habit.

Fortunately, the Tuscan eat-out landscape is getting populated by more and more international restaurants. After the explosion of Chinese restaurants, which are now slowly turning Japanese, the appearance of several Japanese eateries, and the timid presence of Brazilian meat joints, it’s the turn of Mexican, Indian and Middle Eastern places.

Siena just witnessed the opening of its first Indian restaurant, right in the city center, few hundred meters from the Piazza del Campo square. Being a fanatic of Indian food, I had to go and try it out!
The appearance of the restaurant is not extremely Indian, as the restaurant used to be a trattoria, but the food is absolutely delicious. On Sunday at lunch the place was empty, as many Italians prefer to eat at home at that time. Nevertheless, the food was very fresh.
Beautiful decorated brass underplates welcome you at the table, and the silverware is also typical of India, or so I thought. The menu is quite varied, perhaps not the wealthiest I have seen, but this also means that each entry is mastered by the chef.

Mango lassi opened our lunch, and delicious samosa were the appetizers. Following I had one of the tastiest Saag Paneer in my experience, and the oven roasted eggplants (do not remember the name), were the superstar on the table! Fish Tikka, and Shrimp Vindaloo were also very good. The only slightly negative note was that the Naan seemed reheated, but I could be wrong, and that would be understandable with so few customers. It was extremely good nevertheless. The basmati rice was also perfect. I finished my meal with a great Indian chai tea!

Prices are reasonable, not inexpensive, but I’ve never seen a good and inexpensive Indian restaurant. For the above menu (plus espresso coffee and a water bottle) we spent 53 Euros.

I definitely recommend Namastey restaurant in Siena. I also found great reviews on Tripadvisor by Indian tourists in Siena .

The restaurant is located in Via Pantaneto 32 Phone +39 0577 41858

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