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Discover Tuscany!, Issue #007-- the "MELT DOWN" issue!
August 11, 2003

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

For those readers who hover sentinel like over their ‘puter at the start of every month, awaiting the latest, HOT news from darkest Tuscany. (Hi Ged!) I am not worthy, I admit I’m a tad late this month. I could tell you about being at a local festa organised by the Communist Party (the commies always do the best festas!), listening to old Rick Astley tunes and pigging out on pizza and plonk last night instead of sending out the newsletter but you’d never fall for that (readers voice – huh, the old Communist Festa, Rick Astley excuse, they all try that one!)

It’s official (probably) the world’s lost the plot completely. I was going to make you all really jealous with tales about how toasty hot it is and how I’m sitting here wearing only flip flops and a smirk (hope you’re not about to dig into a bit of nosh whilst reading this!) BUT in fact we’ve just had a hail storm! Funny old world.
Things here are reaching fever pitch as holiday season cranks up to full revs. I could tell you about the flash “boy-dee” clan from Leicester lugging a dvd home cinema all the way to Tuscany to watch dodgy B-movies under the stars (at least the popcorn was local) or that Tuscany is suffering from one of the severest wine shortages in yonks after the O’Haneghans’ “wine tasting” session but it would all take up too much room and anyway some of you think I make all of this up every month!

Avid readers may have heard about the latest European Community directive, which has just been approved, it takes force immediately and states that all teenage boys entering Italy must wear the same replica football kit for the whole time they are here and spend at least 8 hours a day staring at a Game Boy. If anyone dares suggest they might be better off doing something else, they grunt in disgust about how they will soon be on level 7 and how they like cold pizza anyway! Whatever will the suits in Brussels think of next! These kids are our future.

Sling Backs & Vespas, Electric Chairs & Sand Dogs, Audrey Hepburn & Gerlac of Valkenberg! Struth! it’s all goin down in the bonzer “MELT DOWN” issue of “Discover Tuscany!”

On On………..

1. Intro
2. Contents & Thanks
3. New Properties
4. Festas
5. Alternative Museums
6. Last Minute Offers
7. Sand Castles
8. Car Hire Queues
9. Competition results
10. Barganews
11. Coming soon

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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

Lots more owners of beautiful properties have been in touch with us in the last few weeks (we’re now hitting top positions at all the major search engines and the site is in the top 1% of the internet) and those, which meet our quality standards are being added to the site as quickly as possible. Keep checking regularly for more info and photos (now being taken on Jim’s NEW Canon D10 digital camera!!!!oooooooooooh)


Festa season is in full swing. These Festas can take various forms but usually involve eating and drinking industrial quantities at some point in the proceedings. Check out local Billboards or buy the magazine “Toscana Tascabile” for full details. Most towns and villages have some type of festival during the summer, (the ones organised by the local Communist Party called “Festa del l’Unita” are a hoot) involving men in tights waving flags, that sort of thing and some form of competition between the different areas of the town (rolling barrels up hills, throwing things at each other, knocking each other off horses etc all done in a caring way of course), others are a celebration of a particular type of food or drink (wild boar, beans, nutella etc). Most have outdoor music (bloke in a silver jacket playing the accordian) and dancing (proper stuff!) in the evening. So, make sure you are hungry enough to eat a pig, pull on your best dancing trousers and get ready for a bit of social intercourse with the locals, an experience not to be missed!

Frescoed out?

May sound like a lot of old cobblers but for girlies suffering from EMS (Emelda Marcos Syndrome) the Salvatore Ferragamo Shoe Museum is an interesting alternative museum. Situated above their beautifully stylish store in Via Tornabuoni, Florence it has shoes and lasts of Hollywood’s most famous feet including stars such as Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren to name but a few and tells the fascinating story of Ferragamo. It is open to the public by appointment only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 2 to 6 p.m. Admission is FREE. There's even a bookshop with postcards, slides, videos, posters and small gifts including scarves with a shoe motif. The museum is at Via dei Tornabuoni 2, 50123 Florence. For information and reservations, call +39 055 3360456.

Our second alternative museum is for all the Football Strip clad, Game Boy playing, teenage boys. It’s the Museum of Medieval Torture in San Gimignano. Not for the squeamish! but, if you’re into spiked instruments and gory descriptions of where they were put, then this is just the place for you. It includes a collection of torture instruments, both originals and reproductions, from the 17th century until today, Medieval costumes, prints and documents. Teenager Jamie thought it was cool “ a good bit of violence never hurt anyone” he reckons, the girlies went for an ice cream! Opening time: Sat and Sun 11-1 and 2-6, other days 10-1 and 2-7(summer) Admission charges: full price €6 concessions €4
Via del Castello
San Gimignano
Tel. +39 0577 942243

Our last Alternative Museum is another for the lads. It’s the Vespa Scooter Museum at Pontedera near Pisa. The world famous scooter maker has a great museum full of vintage models and memorabilia. The state of the art museum (the front entrance has a vintage 1936 silver locomotive crashing through the glass) also hosts art & photography exhibitions and conferences. Can be combined with a day trip to see the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” (not much else to see in Pisa, in my opinion). It can easily be reached by car on the Fi-Pi-Li Motorway. Take the Pontedera – Ponsacco exit, direction Pontedera. Follow the indications for the Piaggio factory on Viale Rinaldo Piaggio 7. The Museum is open Wed – Sat, 10am – 6pm FREE ENTRANCE, The museum web site is excellent and worth checking out for details of exhibitions etc. directions etc

Piaggio Museum “Giovanni Alberto Agnelli” 56025 Pontedera (PI), Italy
Tel +39 0587 27171.

And you thought Tuscany was only famous for statues of blokes with their kit off!!

Last Minute Offers

It’s now the beginning of August and although some folks are already booking for 2004, we know some of you are just beginning to think about a summer break. If you are a “Last Minute” type, there are still some great bargains to be snapped up. Our advice is to contact us with your details (group size, dates etc) and we’ll let you know what’s available. Although we try to keep the site up to date, things are changing daily.

Sand Castles

as a past sand castle champion (Millport 1964) myself, I know how much fun you can have with a bucket, a spade and bit of imagination. When I was a nipper we went prepared. We already had a collar and lead for our “sand dog” and a full set of masts and flags for our "sand boat", while the other kids heaped up a piles of sand, my dad and I constructed a scale model of the Queen Mary (I kid you not!). Check out these sites for some great sand sculpture ideas. Sand Castle Central Team Sandtastic The look on the face of a 3 year old as she sits on the back of a 10 foot sand crocodile, while you invent a story about little girl and a magic sand crocodile is priceless. Have fun!

Car Hire Warning

Firstly I’d just like to make it clear I’m not saying you shouldn’t book your hire car with any company you choose but I like to keep you informed of the reality here on the ground. I experienced it myself and have heard similar stories from others that in smaller airports people who have booked flights and car hire together on the same website (for arguments sake let’s say an Irish low cost airline, for example) all rush to the same desk to get their hire cars, whilst the queues for the other car hire companies are virtually non existent. If some cars have not been returned on time this results in a lot of angry holidaymakers without cars. Check out our Car Hire page for alternatives. Great prices and no queues.Let us know about your experiences with car hire.


The answer to last month’s was, of course – Hubert of Leige but at a pinch we would also have accepted Gerlac of Valkenberg! I know, lots of you are kicking yourselves, it was just sooo easy! Our competition dept. is taking a well-earned break this month (ok, I can’t think of a question!) but will be back next month, maybe.


just a quick plug to our chum Keane over in Barga (nr Lucca in Northern Tuscany). Barga is the town every West of Scotland fish and chip shop /ice cream shop owner originates from. In fact every year Barga hosts a “Scottish Week” and even has a “Fish and Chip Festa”. Check out Barga News it is written in English and one of the best sites on the web, full of useful info and written in Keane’s unique style. Wot a Guy! (better give us a plug in return, I say!)

Coming Soon

More and more couples dream of tieing the knot in Tuscany. To help them celebrate their special day we’re presently working on expanding our Weddings/Honeymoons page.It will soon have lots more info on venues, catering, flowers, photography, transport etc and its own enquiry form.

Although Tuscany is fantastic in summer it is also worth considering at other times of the year, imagine tucking into Christmas lunch in front of an enormous log fire in a rustic farmhouse or medieval castle. We’re working on a special “Christmas in Tuscany” page at the moment (this means decorating farmhouses, Christmas trees etc for photography in August!)

For those of you faithfully following the saga. The donkey has finally arrived! The little old man has delivered the hand written document (in triplicate), which means our “Secure Credit Card” page may just be up and running any at any moment! or maybe the sun has got to me and I’m being blindly optimistic, only time will tell.

Must scoot, it’s Monday, so it’s wild boar and chips for dinner.

Keep warm

Toodle pip


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