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.

September 28, 2018

The Puccini Opera Festival

Lucca and Pisa, Events, Tuscany

The Annual Puccini Festival is performed in an open-air theatre in a park in Torre del Lago near the home of the famous composer.


September 28, 2018

The Matanna mount ring

Lucca and Pisa, Tuscany, Hiking, Active, Climbing, Garfagnana and the Apuan Alps

A one-day adventure trek in the southern Apuan Alps


September 28, 2018

The local Palio at Casole d’Elsa

Central Tuscany, Events, Tuscany, Culture, Festivals and Events

It's not just Siena! Lots of villages have their own races, and so does my home town, Casole d'Elsa!


September 28, 2018

The Garfagnana

Tuscany, Hiking, Active, Climbing, Garfagnana and the Apuan Alps

In the North of Tuscany there are 2 mountain ranges that run parallel with each other and form deep and beautiful valleys


September 28, 2018

Taste of Tuscany: Brined pork chops with salsa verde

Tuscany, Cookery Classes, Restaurants, Food and wine

Our Tuscan holidays are memorable for many reasons, but one of the main ones is the fantastic food on offer in the region


September 28, 2018

Operas and concerts under the stars at San Galgano

Siena and surroundings, Events, Tuscany, Historical landmarks, Culture, Music

It would be difficult to find a more dramatic setting for a summer opera or concert than this roofless Cistercian Abbey in Tuscany


September 28, 2018

Museo Guarnacci in Volterra

Central Tuscany, Tuscany, Museums

The Etruscan Museum in Volterra, "Museo Etrusco Guarnacci" is in the heart of Volterra and has one of the most fascinating Etruscan collections in Italy.


September 27, 2018

What to see and do in Umbria

Events, Historical landmarks, Culture, Food and wine, Umbria

Welcome to Umbria, the green heart of Italy – Once the home of St. Francis, Umbria is blessed with a gentle landscape of lakes and rivers but also marked by...


September 27, 2018

Michelin recognised chef is returning to Tuscany

Siena and surroundings, Tuscany, Restaurants, Food and wine

Alida Solomon has announced her plans to return to Tuscany with business partner Frank Heaps, where they will open a unique combination of microbrewery and restaurant.


September 27, 2018

Learn the art of Tuscan cooking

Tuscany, Cookery Classes, Food and wine

Part of a trip to Tuscany is sampling the local cuisine – relaxing in a local restaurant and enjoying traditional dishes.


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