Valentine’s day shopping ideas

If you want to surprise a woman there are three things that you can buy and make her happy:

Diamonds – Shoes – Bags

If you can afford to buy a diamond then go for it and this Valentine Day will be an unforgettable one.

Last addition to my collection but in purple...

Last addition to my collection but in purple…

If money matters but you still want this Valentine’s Day to be unique then go for a bag, but not an ordinary one. You must try Cellerini leather’s shop in Florence, my favorite.CIMG0338

I love their bags and accessorizes. Apart from choosing the color of your favorite item you can decide the type of leather and color for lining, thread and hardware colors, change or add pockets. It is so easy to get addicted!

A great gift is not necessarily an expensive one, a custom-made make-up or jewel bag in her favorite color is a very good choice.

jewelmake up bags

Via del Sole 37/r, 50123 Firenze
Tel. +39 055 282533 – Fax +39 055 283109

Email                   Shopping on-line at:


The art of ceramic

BAE Ceramiche
Another typical “bottega” where you can see artisans working and buy some lovely gifts to bring back home.

Next to the Mosaic shop this small ceramic workroom owned by Gianfranco and his daughter  Roberta will welcome you and show you the art of creating and painting beautiful ceramics as well as Etruscan “Bucchero”.

On request they also organise classes.

Via Dell’Opio nel Corso 16 – Tel.: 0578 758430.

A real artisan in Montepulciano

LMA – Laboratorio Mosaici Artistici

There are a lot of shops in Montepulciano but we’ve selected just a few that are not just shopping places but  places where you can see real artists working and realise their products.

The LMA is a small typical “bottega” with a real artisan that realises reproductions by famous painters and characteristic Tuscan landscapes in mosaics.

You can just enter the shop and watch Albo working on his lovely mosaics.

Via di Cagnano 4 – Tel.: 0578 757272. Closed Sunday

Food and the city…

Florence is not just about art and history. Florence is also about food. Great food.

I always suggest our guests to start a day in Florence by touring the Mercato Centrale,  a two-story warehouse just off the Piazza San Lorenzo.

If you just stay for a day tour is a great place to take beautiful pictures and an ideal stop to lunch as many Florentine workers do, if you stay longer is the best place to buy great food and enjoy cooking them in your own kitchen.

From cheese to sausages, from meat to vegetables, everything is there waiting for you, even the famous “trippa”. Meat is an important part of traditional Tuscan and Florentine cousine and as per tradition every part of the animal is precious for cook great dishes.

The “Trippa alla Fiorentina” is one of my favourite

While touring around the specialties that the Mercato Centrale has to offer you, there’s an experience you can’t miss: eat a Lampredotto.

Lampredotto is, like the more familiar trippa, part of the cow’s stomach. It is boiled in a broth of vegetables and herbs, then sliced and served inside a “panino”. This is typical street food.

No matter if you go for lampredotto or trippa, you must  enjoy them with a gottino di vino (small shot of red wine)

The Mercato Centrale is the place where Florentines go for shopping and if you look at the photos you’ll understand why.

Via dell’Ariento – Firenze. Open every morning from 7am to 2pm. Closed on Sunday and public holidays.

Check out Duomo and Signoria our amazing apartments in the heart of Florence.

Perfumes of Tuscany

I have to admit that I found this shop by chance by simply following my nose…

I was walking down Via San Gallo to go to a meeting when I smelt an intense fragrance. I momentarily forgot my meeting and followed the scent to this wonderful, quite magical, shop. I stepped in and immediately felt intoxicated by the perfumes and the colours of the wonderful glass vases.

Unfortunately on this occasion I didn’t have time to truly explore the shop, however soon returned and bought a fragrance for the office: Vanilla and Mandarin.

Rosso Nobile: The exclusive decanter which airs the extraordinary perfumes comes in the most beautiful packaging and makes a splendid present.

I now try to stop at Dr. Vranjes every time I go to Florence so I can try out the new fragrances.

The last time I went to visit the shop I discovered the Rosso Nobile Collection – a collection of fragrances which incorporate the essences of fine wines.

Other fabulous Collections are the Limited Editions taking the names from the beautiful Gardens of Florence: The Boboli Garden and The Rose Garden.

The Boboli Gardens of Florence are reflected in the mix of fresh lemon and orange flowers, blended with the green notes of the box tree, typical scents of this classic Italian garden. Hints of heirloom roses and green moss are veiled in the intense notes of Jasmine flowers, fresh fragrance of wild mint and aromatic cypress woods.

The elegant crystal glass bottle, handcrafted by master glassmakers, is worked with gold leaf.

These essences form the enveloping fragrance that brings to mind the romantic charm of an unforgettable walk in these beautiful Florentine gardens.

The Rose Garden is a rich fragrance, which encapsulates the images and scents of a walk through the Rose Garden of Florence in the month of May.

This shop is an absolute temptation. From just one smell, these Tuscan fragrances can transport you to a Florentine Garden, a day out in the countryside or a wonderful evening sipping a glass of red wine. Simply close your eyes and breathe deeply when you want to be reminded of your time in Tuscany.

This is what perfumes are made for – to evoke memories!

Dr. Vranjes – Closed Sunday and Monday morning

Via San Gallo 63 R – Firenze
Tel. +39 055 494537

Via della Spada 9/R – Firenze
Tel. +39 055 288796

Borgo La Croce 44 R – Firenze
Tel. +39 055 241748

Flavours of Tuscany

Andrea at a local food market

Il Granaio di Gabriello

If you enjoy great food and great wine, and like to sample the flavours of the region you are in, this  lovely “bottega” is a must.

Andrea and Marina have personally visited all the local producers and carefully chosen the best quality products which also offer good value for money, which they can personally select and recommend to their clients.

Every day you can choose from  “Cinta Senese” or “Chianina” cold cuts, fresh and seasoned pecorino cheese, the best local wines, three special beers made in the Val d’Orcia and everything else to enjoy the real taste of Tuscany.



What’s more, every Friday and Saturday you can buy fresh handmade PICI (PICIO is a typical Tuscan pasta, like a thick spaghetto) or Ravioli (a handmade pasta stuffed with ricotta and spinach, perfect with butter and sage sauce)

We work with Andrea and Marina so our guests can enjoy food tastings at this lovely local shop trying typical regional produce, plus they also hand prepare our beautiful food hampers which await guests when they arrive at one of our villas.

Contact us for more info about the tastings and food hampers.

Il Granaio di Gabriello (closed Monday afternoon) – Via Campo dei Fiori 1 – Sarteano (SI)  –