Local secrets of Provence, The Italian Lakes, Tuscany and Umbria

Provence, The Italian Lakes, Tuscany and Umbria present a dazzling array of places to visit and things to do - but it's good to have some inside information to find out exactly what they are. On this page you'll find a wealth of articles on how to have a wonderful time no matter where you book your villa - including some very special local secrets.

Naturally, you'll find information about the best villas for certain holidaymakers (couples, groups, families) or particular events (weddings, birthdays, reunions), including romantic retreats, rustic cottages, historic properties and 5-star villas.

From countryside hideaways to accommodation in hilltop towns and medieval villas - here you'll find all the inspiration you need for your next holiday in Italy or France.

November 28, 2018

The REAL Ragu recipe

Recipes, Tuscany

I'd like to tell you how I make my "Ragú". The classic Italian dish is a much loved and also much mistreated recipe - for this reason it can get...


November 15, 2018

Palazzo Davanzati - how the well-to-do lived in the Middle Ages

Florence and surroundings, Museums, Historical landmarks

​For the best look at how a well-to-do family lived in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, stop at this ancient Florentine tower house.


November 13, 2018

5 Tuscan dishes both visitors and Sienese locals love

Siena and surroundings, Recipes, Food and wine

Citizens of Siena have only to look beyond their ancient walls to admire the countryside that surrounds them. It is no wonder many their favorite ingredients come from this generous...


November 13, 2018

Visitors who gave the Bay of Poets its name

Culture, Northern coast of Tuscany

Reading like a literary Who’s Who, a Bay of Poets guest book records the visits of well known writers, painters and artists, ranging from Dante and Petrarch to D.H. Lawrence...


November 09, 2018

5 Tuscan dishes that recall its mountains and coastline

Recipes, Food and wine, Northern coast of Tuscany, Garfagnana and the Apuan Alps

From the shoreline to the mountain tops of northern Tuscany there are sweeping views that cause a visitor to pause with pleasure; yet regional restaurants also elicit admiration for the...


November 08, 2018

Tuscany's 'mezzadria', what the Chianti owes to sharecropping

Tuscany, Chianti, Culture

The development of agriculture and wine producing in the Chianti owes much to the system of sharecropping, 'mezzadria', that existed in Tuscany from the late Renaissance to post-WWII.


November 07, 2018

5 dishes from the heart of southern Tuscany

Recipes, South of siena, Food and wine, Southern coast of Tuscany

The farmers and fishermen of southern Tuscany may not have been well-to-do, but they knew how to make the most of the ingredients they had to hand. The dishes they...


November 07, 2018

Gulf of Baratti, the great Etruscan seaport

Museums, Historical landmarks, Southern coast of Tuscany

The only Etruscan burial site ever found by the sea, the necropolis at Baratti was also for three centuries one of the most flourishing centres of iron smelting and trade...


November 06, 2018

5 popular dishes on Florence and Arezzo menus

Florence and surroundings, Recipes, Food and wine, Arezzo and Cortona

When traveling in Tuscany, don't shy away from the unknown on a restaurant menu. You may simply enjoy something you've never tasted before or discover a dish you'll want to...


November 06, 2018

Galileo: Astronomy and House arrest

Florence and surroundings, Museums, Historical landmarks

Galileo, the great Italian physicist, astronomer and philosopher born in Pisa, finished his life in Arcetri, a region south of Florence, blind, suffering from insomnia, but ever prolific.


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