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Discover Tuscany!, Issue #014-- "Bumper" issue!
April 19, 2004

Discover Tuscany! is a FREE monthly Newsletter dedicated to helping you get the best from your holiday in Tuscany.

Doesn’t time fly when you’re enjoying yourself! You could almost be forgiven for thinking it was way back in darkest February when the last issue of Discover Tuscany hit your cyber doorsteps. I could reel off a long list of feeble excuses for missing an issue but you’d never believe them anyway. I know, I deserve my legs smacked, sent to bed with no supper and not allowed to watch any cartoon network for a week but I promise to be really good next month. By the way, anyone like to see my skiing snapshots? Since the last “Frosty” issue, the Easter bunny has come and gone, Spring is poking its nose out of its winter hideaway and I can feel my sap rising as we speak! Earlybird, holidaymakers sporting T-shirt and shorts are starting to arrive on the first stagecoach into town, looking all windswept and continental amongst the fur coat and scarf clad Italians. I know lots of you lads and ladettes out there are already dreaming about your summer hols and I kid you not when I say we have more fantastic villas, country clubs, thermal springs and medieval castles than you can shake a stick at. But, hurry, hurry Mrs Murray! Our most popular locations are filling up fast.

Please fasten your seatbelts, armrests down and give the stout, young, Irish lady in the crimplene suit your full attention as she demonstrates this “Bumper” double issue of Discover Tuscany, jam packed full of stuff on bookworms, laptops, day returns, chocolate sauce and other rhyming stuff that I can’t quite think of at the moment. Thank you for travelling with us and enjoy your holiday in the (ppsssttt, what day is it? where are we?) Tuscany area.

-Intro & Thanks
-New properties – stylish villas, charming apartments
-Offers – great discounts
-Trains- all aboard
-Important address change
-Botticelli’s in town
-Books- don’t throw that holiday book away!
-Chocolate- info for chocoholics everywhere!
-Flights – best deals in the skies
-Coming Soon- factory shop page, honeymoon page and new e-books

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To “DISCOVER TUSCANY!” the Newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading it and find the information and advice useful when planning your holiday in Tuscany. We have lots of great ideas for the content but if have any ideas, comments or suggestions, please feel free to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you, just email us. Maybe there is something you need to know before you arrive or a great tip you’d like to pass on after your holiday, (when you get home don’t forget to sign our guest book on the site to tell us about your holiday and upload your favourite holiday snaps!).

New Properties
we have been beavering away over the winter months adding some fantastic new properties to the site. Villa Sassolini is a stunning, newly renovated, uber stylish villa in Valdarno. It has 9 suites, which have already been photographed for a major design magazine. The designer owner has furnished the villa and restaurant with an eclectic mix of modern pieces and his own designs. We’ve also added two, newly restored, charming little apartments in Chianti, overlooking Valdarno, owned by a local beekeeper. Another addition is an independent villa with garden and pool, which sleeps 8 near Poggibonsi. In the pipeline we also have new villas in Montalcino and apartments in Cortona. Keep checking our New Properties Page for details.

many of our owners are already almost full up for the season but have decided to offer some great discounts on the remaining weeks. For example, Casellino has 10% on some weeks in May. Borgo Lucchese, Casa Felice & Frantoio have 20% in May and June. Villa Belvedere has 12% on a number of weeks. If your dates are flexible you could get a great deal or consider asking a few friends to join you in an unforgettable holiday in one of our bigger luxury villas near Lucca. Keep checking our last Minute Offers Page for details.

Driving on the Italian motorway system, where everyone thinks they are Michel Shumacher can be a bit daunting. The Italian railway system in our opinion is efficient, trains are frequent and it takes the hassle out of visiting the major cities, where parking can be difficult to find in high season. However, a little knowledge and forward planning can save you being left sitting on a deserted platform with the next train arriving the day after tomorrow. Train timetables (orario treni) are available online (in English) or you can buy one from any newsstand (€1,50). You can buy all types of tickets from stations, some types of tickets from bars/newsstands, tickets sold at bars/newsstands are for a certain number of kilometres (but if you say where you are going they will know how many kms it is, “solo andato” is one way, “andato ritorno” is return, online (intercity tickets), some stations even have self service machines. Don’t get on a train without a ticket, you will be fined! (only exception is if a station has no ticket office or the machine is out of order) contact the ticket inspector immediately. All tickets must be validated before boarding the train. This means stamping the ticket in one of the yellow machines, which are on the platforms. On shorter journeys (under 200kms) the ticket is valid for 6 hours after it has been stamped, for longer journeys it is valid for 24 hours after. On longer journeys it is possible (sometimes obligatory) to book a seat. On timetables, various symbols are used to indicate the different types of train/services etc. ES*/EC/EN means Eurostar/Eurocity/Euronight and are fast cross border trains. IC/ICN are intercity and intercity night trains, which travel between major Italian cities. Booking is required and sometimes you have to pay a supplement on normal train prices. IR/R means interregional/regional. D means direct. In general, if travelling locally, try to use a Direct train as they are faster. If you catch the train from a small station you may have to take a regional, which stops at every station and takes forever. 1 & 2 mean 1st & 2nd class. A little plane/boat symbol means a train, which connects to an airport/ferry. A car/bike symbol means it can transport cars/bikes. R or R inside a box or circle means booking is required. A little bed symbol means a couchette service. A crossed knife and fork/cup means the train has a restaurant/bar service. A Crossed hammers symbol means the train runs only on working days (Mon – Sat) A crucifix symbol means the train runs only on Sundays. An A inside a circle means working days but not Saturdays. A B inside a circle means every day except Saturdays. A C inside a circle means Saturday and Sunday only. All clear?? All aboard, have a nice trip!

Address change
All in the interests of keeping you abreast of new developments in Tuscan hospitality, I thought it better to point out a slight change in our info pack. The pizzeria formerly known as “The Cotton Club” has now reopened its doors as “Rex” lap dance club. Wouldn’t want a fit, Eastern European lass plonking herself on your lap just as you were about to tuck into your chef’s special. Could get messy! For those of you, who, just to be certain, want to double check the address so as to cancel it off your list of pizzerias. Please send a plain brown email to

For those of you who thought Tuscany was going to the dogs! Good news! Botticelli’s in town. Seems he used to scribble on walls a few hundred years ago, word on the street is the local lad wasn’t half bad either, OK he was never going to be as good as say Rolf Harris but could be worth a look anyway. Have a butchers at you can even buy your tickets online.

one of the simple pleasures of being on holiday is you can justify lazing beside a pool browsing the latest hot bestseller from your favourite author (my favourite-Christopher Brookmyre, superb Scottish crime noir, not for the faint hearted!) I recently came across a neat little idea, which some of you might find interesting! The idea is to “set your book free” Yes! Release it back into the wild!! I’ll explain, you register yourself and your book at the web site then, put a label on the cover of the book with a code number and the web site. Leave the book wherever you want (could be a bar, station, hotel, park bench etc) then after a bit, “log on”, if someone has “captured” your book and been curious enough, they can log on and find out where the book came from. They can write what they think about it and even take part in online discussions. In fact, bookcrossing is a little “on line bookworm community” with the added curiosity factor of seeing where your book ends up. Think of it as a modern version of putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean. Try it!

Although the Easter bunny has long since hopped off into the distance, our house is still jam packed with enormous chocolate Easter eggs. Italy excels at producing over the top, decorated eggs and local chocolate makers in particular produce edible works of art. Two of the main chocolate areas in Central Italy are Perugia and Monsummano terme near Montecatini. Perugia even has a chocolate festival each year, Eurochocolate this year is from 16/10 – 24/10 for details. Well worth a visit. Monsummano has a number of craftsman chocolate makers, who produce various chocolate objects, which look like rusty spanners, keys, horseshoes and even a set of chocolate teaspoons (you let one melt into your coffee) Andrea Slitti is one of the best. Their chocolate sauce is ”to die for”!!

Flight Deals
Ryanair has some fantastic flight offers (ex taxes) Stansted/Bergamo – free, Stansted/Pisa – 49p, Stansted/Forli - 49p Note-Forli airport is closed from 12/4 – 23/4. Ryanair's new check in time is 40 mins before flight. Easyjet are launching a new route from E. Midlands to Rome starting 9 June, prices from £22.99 (inc taxes).

Coming Soon
lots in the pipeline. Our Thermal Spas page is now online. We’re working on a new “Factory Shops” page (designer bargains galore!), Honeymooners will soon have their own page and we’re getting excited about some great e-book ideas, more details soon.

That’s all folks

Catch you soon


PS Discover Tuscany MAY soon become seasonal instead of monthly, Honest, this cutting edge journalism takes time and remember I’ve got to allow time for sitting in the shade under an olive tree sipping wine!

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