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 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.


November 06, 2018

The mysterious Battle of Anghiari

Culture, Arezzo and Cortona

While the Battle of Anghiari was one of the most talked about and frequently represented battles of its era, it was also one of the strangest. Yet Leonardo da Vinci's...


October 31, 2018

10 Best Tuscany Recipes and Food Blogs

Tuscany, Food and wine

The aromas of food can transport you back to a place. I often cook Tuscan favourites when I'm missing Italy, or when I want to remember a particular time of...


October 11, 2018

5 classic dishes found in the Chianti and beyond

Chianti, Food and wine

Wine often is drunk to accompany a Tuscan meal; yet in many recipes it becomes a major player, either simmering along with the main ingredient or waiting to saturate a...


October 11, 2018

5 dishes that take you back to Tuscany

Central Tuscany, Food and wine

While smiling and pointing at your fellow diners' chosen dish may work when you order, here are a few tips about words that may help you decipher a menu in...


October 10, 2018

Equi Terme - The Alpine hamlet where the ancient Romans took the cure

Active, Museums, Garfagnana and the Apuan Alps

The sheltered medieval hamlet of Equi Terme sits on the slopes of the mighty Pizzo d’Uccello peak in the Apuan Alps. Named for the mineral rich spa that eased the...


October 10, 2018

The Jewish ghetto of Pitigliano

South of siena, Museums, Historical landmarks, Culture

​In the striking town of Pitigliano, high on its tufo ridge, a Jewish settlement begun in the 15th C. flourished to such a degree that the city was known as...


October 09, 2018

Siena's hidden rivers: The Bottini

Siena and surroundings, Museums, Historical landmarks

As a city built on a hill, Siena had to confront the problem of where to find a reliable supply of water, particularly if under siege. Taking inspiration from the...


October 09, 2018

The Partisans of Northern Tuscany and the village that doesn't forget

Museums, Historical landmarks, Garfagnana and the Apuan Alps

In the final years of World War II, German military reprisals against the Italian Resistance movement horrified Northern Tuscany with the brutal annihilation of a mountain village. Seventy-five years may...


October 09, 2018

Discover Pontormo, the artist Vasari snubbed

Florence and surroundings, Museums, Culture

Neglected for centuries and belittled by the biographer Vasari, the Tuscan artist known as 'Pontormo' is a discovery worth making. Ignore the Renaissance bad press, seek out his works and...


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