A day in Florence

Florence is the heart of renaissance, an open air museum that you can easily walk.

Florence

florence -mercato centraleWe always recommend our guests and friends a tour of the Mercato Centrale, the food market where Florentine go to shop. It is a lovely experience and it’s a great place to take very nice pictures and buy great food.

prosciuttoWe have many guests that have been to Florence various time and we like to suggest them a different view of the city with  a “gastronomic tour” followed by a cooking class or private visit to Vasari Corridor or other places that are less accessible to tourists.

But we know that even if you just decide to walk around you’ll have a wonderful day full of memories as fantastic Art and great Food can be founded on each corner of this enchanting city.

Duomo

Piazza del Duomo with the imposing Duomo, is the symbol of Florence, a daring and majestic structure from the top of which you will get a wonderful panoramic view of the city, and also of the interior of the Cathedral. Beside the façade stands another giant, Giotto’s campanile (bell tower), slender and many-coloured, also affording a fine view of the city.

florence - signoriaWalking through Via dei Calzaiuoli you’ll reach the enchanting Piazza della Signoria dominated by the fourteenth century Palazzo Vecchio with its high tower, it is surrounded by other important buildings: the Loggia della Signoria and the Palazzo degli Uffizi on the south side, the sixteenth century Palazzo degli Uguccioni on the north side and the Palazzo del Tribunale di Mercanzia (about 1359) on the east side.

Pass next to the Uffizi Gallery to reach the Arno and take some nice shots of Ponte Vecchio. A walk on the bridge is a must to see the beautiful antique jewels shops.

ponte vecchio

At this time you must be tired and hungry, our suggestion is to stop for a quick-lunch at Ristoro Dei Perditempo (our favorite for informal meal) sit by the window that overlook the Arno and Ponte Vecchio and enjoy some delicious food.

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DSCN0001_3There are various option for the afternoon, perhaps you just want to go back and do some shopping or you can climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo to enjoy a beautiful view of Florence or get lost in the Boboli Garden.

View from sitting room

View from sitting room

If you wish to stay in Florence and enjoy the beauty of this city for more than one day we highly recommend our beautiful apartment Duomo to have your private room with a view…

For info an booking contact Tuscan Views. 

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Off the beaten path: Sarteano

White Tuscany 9

Sarteano is a lovely medieval village located in southern Tuscany near the Umbrian border, just 6 km from the exit of the A1 (the highway that goes from Milan to Naples) half way between Rome and Florence. Both cities can be reached in 1,5 hours by car and by train from the main railway station in Chiusi (10 km from Sarteano).

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Dinner in the upper square

Jazz & Blues

Jazz & Blues

Life here is quiet and peaceful but there are also various festivities and activities organized all year around: Giostra del Saracino, Tempo dell’Olio (olive oil market), Jazz and Blues Festival, Christmas with the Elf, Carnival (this year Las Vegas Carnival) and much  more.

Santa Claus in Sarteano

Santa Claus in Sarteano

carnevale-sarteano

Las Vegas Carnival logo

Your ideal day in Sarteano starts with a cappuccino and cornetto at Bar Central (in the upper square) you can then walk through the narrow streets of the medieval section, exploring the Etruscan Museum, and climb up to the Castle but don’t miss a stop to the San Martino Church to view the beautiful “Annunciazione” by Domenico Beccafumi.

After all you deserve a typical Tuscan lunch and our suggestion is Osteria da Gagliano in the upper square.

CENA-08-0019The Castle dominates the medieval section and the country surrounding Sarteano. The castle was built before the 1038 but was completely destroyed and rebuilt between 1467 and 1474. There are guided tours from May to October. Various activities during the summer and a magnificent medieval dinner organised by the Giostra del Saracino around the 10th of August each year.

The Theatre was built on 1734 has been completely restored recently. The Compagnia degli Arrischianti performs from May until September. Today the theatre is also used as a venue for civil weddings.

Beccafumi_AnnunciazioneSan Martino church inside the medieval walls, contains wonderful treasures of the 1300, 1400 and 1500 such as the “Annunciazione” by Domenico Beccafumi.

San Lorenzo church: beautiful paintings by Girolomo del Pacchia, a wooden choir gift of Pope Pio II and a marvellous tabernacle by Marrina. Situated at the end of the “corso” can be reached by an old stone staircase from the main parking.

The Archaeological Museum. Located in one of the most beautiful and old building of the village hosts all the finds of the Etruscan Necropolises of Sarteano. One of the rooms hosts and exhibition of the finds of the “Pianacce” Necropolis where the most beautiful and important discovery of the Etruscan world has been made: La Tomba della Quadriga Infernale”

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Tomba della Quadriga Infernale  

Dating second half of the IV century BC situated on the Pianacce Necropolis this is an extraordinary discovery, one of the image represented on the walls is unique of its kind in all Etruria: a figure of a demon in a moving cart drawn by two lions and two griffons. To visit this exceptional findings you  must book at the Archaeological Civic Museum of Sarteano

a_maggioIf you would like to spend a wonderful holiday in Sarteano villa Il Maggio is our guests favorite villa.

Olympic athlete Iwan Thomas chose Il Maggio to prepare for the London Marathon.

Maggio_jacuzzi5Private but not isolated, Il Maggio is within walking distance from the main square.

For info and bookings contact Tuscan Views

Iwan Thomas on Villa Il Maggio

“I thought a long weekend in Tuscany would be the perfect place to prepare for the London Marathon.”

This is what Iwan Thomas wrote on the Mail on Sunday about his trip to Villa Il Maggio in Sarteano last spring.

“With good weather almost guaranteed and a short flight time from the UK, no wonder thousands of Britons head to this part of Italy every year. We flew to Florence, and from there it was a 90-minute drive to our 18th Century farmhouse, Il Maggio, near the delightful city of Siena. Another of the attractions of this stay was the chance to have a cookery lesson – I was runner-up on the BBC’s Celebrity MasterChef several years ago, and I’m really passionate about food.”

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“Il Maggio was very impressive, with attractive limestone floors, terracotta tiles and original beams. There was underfloor heating throughout the house too, which I particularly liked.”

“The property had its own spa area, including a Jacuzzi, while outside were lovely gardens, and – this was a nice touch – a small outhouse containing a traditional pizza oven.”

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“After a relaxing first day, we headed to the local village for our cookery lesson. We were shown how to make ravioli and other types of pasta (actually, I learned how to make pasta during my stint on MasterChef, but it was great to have a refresher course).”

pici4Pici lesson

The village Iwan is talking about is Sarteano, located south of Siena. Stella Severini chef at Misenplace hosts a cooking class to teach Iwan how to make PICI a typical Tuscan handmade pasta, and she did a great job as Iwan made a very long PICIO. To learn how to make pici see our Pici all’aglione recipe. 

“Afterwards, we went to do some food-tasting, and later that evening we went out for dinner. It’s a good job I have a big appetite.”

Iwan at Il Granaio

Iwan had the food tasting at Il Granaio di Gabriello a lovely shop in Sarteano. Andrea and Marina were great hosts and shared their knowledge of local produce with Iwan who really enjoyed the local bear Olmaia brewed in the UNESCO heritage site of Val d’Orcia. More info about this lovely shop on our post: Il Granaio. 

The dinner took place at local Osteria da Galliano where Angela and Giuliano prepared a delicious dinner including spelt with Chianti and pecorino cheese, handmade pasta with rabbit and fennel ragout, wild boar prepared according with an antique Florentine recipe with cacao and Bavarian cream with spices used for Panpepato.

“The next day I had to remind myself that I was here to get in some last-minute London Marathon training, so I headed into the hills close to our villa. The weather was gorgeous and (believe it or not) I was having such a good time that I ended up covering 15 miles – much more than I had originally intended.”

I’m happy to say I finished the London Marathon in four hours, which I was pleased with. That session in the Tuscan hills obviously did the trick.”

The road where Iwan trained while at Il Maggio is a wonderful panoramic road that goes from Sarteano to San Casciano dei Bagni. It is a 16 km road that goes along the side of Mount Cetona and overlooks the Val di Chiana. Some days when there’s fog on the valley the view is even more spectacular as Città della Pieve on the other side of the valley appears as an island crowned by Tower bells. It is the favorite road for locals to run or walk during the week-ends.

As the return flight was late afternoon, Tuscan Views together with Country Tours organized a full day tour with visit of a farm near Siena that breed Cinta Senese (an ancient race of white and black pigs) with tasting and a light lunch. After lunch they went to visit a local winery in the Chianti hills and tasted Chianti Classico and Supertuscans. The tour ended at the Florence’s airport where Iwan said goodbye to Tuscany.

To book your stay at Il Maggio contact Tuscan Views

Read the full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2272753/Iwan-Thomas-The-perfect-way-prepare-London-marathon-A-Tuscan-diet-pasta-hills.html#ixzz2K6yR2dOO

Romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day

Some of the most romantic ways to spend Valentine’s Day.

Florence is a city full of art and history and one of the more romantic of Italy. Our apartments in the heart of Florence are the perfect base for a romantic getaway, to be treated and pampered as in a 5 stars Hotel but with the privacy and comfort of a private accommodation.

We love to organize special surprises for couples during their holidays and Valentine’s day is a very good excuse to organize something really special and various time it has been the perfect moment to pop the question.

I would like to tempt you with three proposals:

Pici lessonA gourmet day to combine your love for food and for each other. A private chef will guide you to the local market to pick up the local produce and back at the house you’ll learn how to cook a special Tuscan meal. When everything is ready the chef will leave the two of you to enjoy a romantic dinner in front of the Duomo lightened by the shades of the sunset.

OrnellaiaIf you love wine and want to turn the Valentine’s day into a new amazing adventure our suggestion is the exclusive helicopter trip to Ornellaia. A luxury sedan will pick you up at your apartment and drive you to Campi Bisenzio where your private helicopter awaits you for your trip to Bolgheri. As soon as you arrive you’ll be guided to a private visit of the cellar and vineyards. Just before lunch a visit to the lovely Bolgheri village and then back at the Ornellaia winery to enjoy an exclusive and private lunch with vertical of 4 vintages of Ornellaia wine.

Vasari corridor

For art lovers a private visit of the Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano) is the most exclusive experience to organise in Florentine museums. Normally the Corridor is not open to the public but Tuscan Views will be delighted to ask a special authorization to museum local authorities to open and visit it. This extraordinary passage connects the three Medici’s palaces by crossing the Arno river along a hidden path through the Ponte Vecchio, winding with banked up towers and antique buildings. The visit ends in the Boboli Garden where you can enjoy a glass of Prosecco.

If you love the countryside what’s better than a lovely and cozy villa with working fireplaces, underfloor heating and a delightful heated outdoor Jacuzzi.

Spa area

Il Maggio is our guest’s favorite villa.

Il Maggio fireplace

Perfect for couples and honeymooners, Il Maggio is located within walking distance from the main square of Sarteano. Ideally located to visit all the most beautiful medieval villages of Southern Tuscany: Pienza, Montepulciano, Cetona, Montalcino, Siena, Cortona and Arezzo.

Maggio_diningIt is possible to organize private cooking classes followed by a romantic dinner, a private wine tasting directly at your villa, a relaxing day spa at the nearby exclusive Fonteverde Spa and much more, just tell us what your dream is and we’ll make it real.

Contact Tuscan Views to book accommodation and services or to ask for a quote.

Memories

Christmas is over but good memories are still with us.

I would like to share with you some special moments made for kids but loved by everybody.

Sarteano's main squareThe carriage with horsesThis year Sarteano celebrated the holiday in a very special way, a group of parents has worked hard to create the Elf Village were kids have spent lovely afternoons writing letters to Santa, making cookies, painting and enjoying the company of other kids and the Elf.

The Elf VillageSending letters to Santa

On the 24th Santa finally arrived in the main square with presents  and candies. It was magic and thanks to Dario Pichini we’ll keep good memories of 2012 Christmas. Santa is comingVN-12-0089