Tuesday 21 December 2010

Bed & Breakfast accommodation in Tuscany

Bed and Breakfast accommodation in Tuscany, Italy, provides an excellent and often very economical alternative to a hotel for those who have no need of the additional facilities offered by hotels and/or who would like to stay in a village or the Tuscan countryside where hotels are not very commonly found. Most Tuscan B&Bs offer just a few rooms in a farmhouse or, rarely, in a classic Tuscan villa (for example Corte di Valle), often with access to a swimming pool and a terrace or garden for relaxing in the sun. Sometimes they are air-conditioned although air conditioned vacation accommodations in Tuscany are not common, in large part because air conditioning is not really necessary and is incredibly expensive to run because of the high cost of electricity in Italy.

Here are some useful links to information about Tuscan B&Bs:

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Saturday 11 December 2010

Truffle festival at San Giovanni d’Asso

The Tuscan truffle festival at San Giovanni d’Asso takes place during the second and third weekends of November.

 truffle festival at San Giovanni d’Asso
Display of truffles and other fungi at San Giovanni d'Asso

The Tuscan truffle season lasts roughly from September through December. I went there this November and can strongly recommend it. It's a smaller occasion that the truffle fair in San Miniato, on the same intimate scale as the truffle fairs in the villages around San Miniato, and tremendous fun for anyone interested in Tuscan food and folklore. There is a group of stalls selling white truffles, plus food stalls and restaurants selling truffle-flavoured specialities. During the festival, it's a good idea to book your restaurant. If you buy a truffle, make sure you're in a position to use it within three days - next day if possible - because their incredible aromatics disperse into the atmosphere at a rapid rate. San Giovanni d'Asso is located about 80 km southeast of Florence and about 30 km southeast of Siena in the picturesque area known as the Crete Senesi. It's a small village dominated by a large castle which now houses the truffle museum.

Sometimes the "Nature Train", a steam engine with antique carriages, makes the journey to and from the San Giovanni d'Asso truffle fair with an option to book a truffle lunch.

Tips on the truffle festival at San Miniato near Florence.

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Thursday 9 December 2010

Tuscan villas to rent

Tuscan villas to rent - what are they? For architects, the villas of Tuscany are patrician residences set in a garden and integrated visually into the wider Tuscan landscape, dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, and derived during the Renaissance from a concept of country life in Augustan Rome. For many tourists visiting Tuscany, however, a Tuscan villa seems to equate with any free-standing house - hence the many advertisements for "Tuscan villa vacation rentals". Both usages are common practice and perfectly acceptable, but tourists should be sure not to narrow their search too much by over-reliance on the expression "Tuscan villa". Most houses and, indeed, most free-standing vacation rental accommodations in Tuscany are in fact farm houses - case coloniche - and not villas. For a small family, a farmhouse or a farm apartment (both are referred to as "agriturismi") provides more than enough space. Several families travelling together or a wedding party, for example, might reasonably seek a genuine Tuscan villa - not a Renaissance villa, but one of the many 19th century villas that dot the Tuscan landscape.

When is a Tuscan villa not a Tuscan villa?

What is the difference between a Tuscan villa and a Tuscan farmhouse?

Villa Podere Felceto is a typical and beautiful Tuscan villa available as a self-catering holiday home.

If you prefer a truly deluxe Tuscan villa, try Villa Vitigliano.

Corte di Valle, in contrast, is a Bed and Breakfast accommodation located in a magnificent villa in Chianti - an opportunity for a couple or a family to experience villa living.

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