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Discover Tuscany!, Issue #015-- "Thaw" issue!
May 18, 2004

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

“One swallow doesn’t make a Spring” as the bishop said to the actress and indeed after boldly opening my trap in last month’s “Bumper” issue of Discover Tuscany, ol’ Mutha Nature decided to show me in no uncertain terms who wears the trousers in her house. The Tuscan Tourist Board has rush issued a “fun Springtime things to keep you amused on your hols” list, including the “best beaches to ski on” and the first “All Tuscany, Outdoor Swimming Pool, Free Style, Figure Skating Championships” took place last week. In true “Michael Fish” style I reckon it will soon be “hot as toast” as we say in the trade, all the same I’d pack one of those enormous plastic ponchos that you wouldn’t be seen dead wearing except on holiday, just in case.

Since last month’s issue was rushed to you by a little kid with braces on his teeth, riding his bike along your street, throwing rolled up issues of our virtual newsletter onto your front porch, I’ve been literally snowed under (well, not literally), nay inundated (does two count as inundated?) by your welcome back messages. That’s the spirit! As the main season cranks up, please feel free to contact us either before or after your hols, with any who, what, why, where or whens! Talking of who, it’s always a pleasure to put a face to a name, so a big “hallawrerr” to the crew from “Oil Town” Grangemouth who were sojourning at Casellino last week. I’m not saying people from Grangemouth are tough but these roustabouts survived for a fortnight on raw meat washed down with pints of local firewater. Nice to touch base folks!

As you may have noticed, our major international publicity campaign was launched this week and after considering such run of the mill blatts as the New York Times, Guardian, National Enquirer etc we decided “not to go too far too fast” and chose the award winning Ulster weekly “The Banbridge Leader” as the perfect publicity vehicle to spread our message worldwide (starting with Banbridge). The “Leader” as it is affectionately known locally is famed (if you live in Banbridge) for breaking top travel “hot spot” stories. Pick up your copy soon (available from news stands all over Banbridge) for some fantastic never to be repeated soaraway summer offers.

This month’s big “Thaw” issue of Discover Tuscany is stuffed to the gills with handy tidbits on dodgy construction work in Pisa, queue dodging in Florence, where to go for top ‘er we go and the inside word on the best snappers.

So, without further ado, peeps, slip on that casual Gucci LBD, slouch back on your Ikea futon and devour this month’s Discover Tuscany.

-Intro & Thanks
-New Properties
-Which Miniguide
-Pisa Leaning Tower
-Flight Advice
-Tuscan Photos
-Long Term Lets
-Audio Tours
-Lucca Welcome Card
-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
Last issue we mentioned the stunning “Villa Sassolini”, we now have another two apartments each sleeping 2, designed by the same owner. They overlook Florence and have pool, garden, breathtaking views and ultra chic interiors. We’ve also added three stylish properties sleeping 16 near Rufina and a beautiful villa near Montalcino with its own thermal pool, sleeping 26. Check out our New Properties Page for details.

Which Online
Claimed your free digital camera yet? (matchbox sized! But it works and even does video!). Sign up for a free 30 day trial subscription to the respected magazine’s web version and receive a free digital camera. There are a number of very useful reports on Tuscany, flights, holiday insurance etc. Especially handy is the Tuscany Miniguide.

There’s more to Tuscany than culture and wine tasting! it seems local team Siena have been promoted to the top division, meaning all the top “Serie A” teams will be playing in the local Stadium. After chatting to a few puzzled “lads” who are into Italian football, it seems they’ve had trouble finding “Italian footie” info, re fixtures, tickets etc. in English. Although I know zilch about football! (readers voice “hasn’t stopped you writing about stuff before!”) I’ve had a tootle about on the web and I reckon one of the best Italian Footie sites is actually the Channel 4 “Football Italia” site It’s got all the gossip on the top teams, interviews with tricky little inside rights, where to buy tickets etc. It also links in with the tv prog and I believe they also do a nifty little magazine. Ere we go, ere we go, ere we go!

Although the world is choca full of dodgy building work, none has become as famous as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You just have to see it once! Personally I don’t find much else in Pisa worth hanging around for after. (However, I’m sure the local tourist office would disagree). Check out for more info.

Flight Advice
The European, budget airline phenomena is clearly here to stay, although the competition is fierce, new kid on the block “Duo” recently went bust after only 3 months trading leaving thousands of passengers stranded or without holiday flights.
A few words of advice on getting the best deal.

-The more flexible you are the better. If you can fly Mon – Thurs, you can save lots
-Very early and very late departures are also usually cheaper.
-Check flights from lesser known airports (“Which Online” gives a whole list!)
-Sign up for the Airlines’ Newsletters for advance warning of flight deals.
-Sites such as or or can save you time and money by checking a number of airlines at the same time to find the best deal.
-Keep an eye on the newspapers for limited time discounts or readers offers.

Low cost airlines can save you money but remember!

- there is no such thing as a free lunch! Even “free” tickets cost ie departure taxes, airport taxes, passenger service charges plus credit card fees. Not to say it’s a bad deal but be realistic about the total price.
- the baggage allowance can be lower than full cost airlines.
- Children under 2 usually travel free (with no seat), over 2 pay full adult price.
- Low cost airlines offer a “point to point” service ie if your flight is delayed you may miss your connection even if it is with the same airline. Leave plenty time between flights!
- Food and Drink – bring your own! Snacks are available but costly.
- Seats – usually no allocated seats. If you have kids you are usually allowed to board first.
- If flights are delayed or cancelled, budget airlines do not supply food/drink or accommodation vouchers.
- Most Low cost airlines are ticketless, the only record you have will be an email. Remember to print it out and bring it with you.
- Booking direct with an airline means you are not covered by the ATOL financial protection scheme if it goes bust. You are covered by your credit card company but only if the total booking cost is over £100.
Budget Airlines can save you lots but as with everything there are risks involved. It’s your decision! (Ryanair and Easyjet flew over 20 million passengers each last year)

Tuscan Photos
The Tuscan landscape is rightly considered one of the most beautiful in the world. However, capturing it photographically is not always easy. If you are looking for inspiration or just enjoy beautiful images check out these top Tuscan photographers. Sandro Santioli my personal favourite Andrea Rontini. and another photographer producing top quality images is Paolo Busato (can’t find a good site with examples),As you travel round Tuscany you should be able to find their work in books, calendars, postcards etc. These stunning images make ideal gifts or a perfect way to remember your holiday. For advice on how to take your own better holiday snaps, check out our back issues. and remember when you get home upload your best snaps to our online photo album.

Long Term Lets
Feel like quitting the old rat race for a while? need a bit of peace and quiet to write your memoirs or just fancy a change of scene? (with modern technology you can keep in touch anywhere!) A few of our owners have villas and apartments, which they would be happy to rent on a long term basis, from a few months to a few years. If you are interested, get in touch, let us know what you require. It could be a life changing experience!

Uffizzi Gallery
Avoid the knee high, mile long queues of Japanese tourists (unless you happen to be Japanese reading this, in which case have a good old chin wag while you wait, no offence meant!) book your tickets online for the world famous Uffizzi Gallery.

Audio Tours
Learn about the history of a number of Tuscan cities (Lucca, Volterra, Pienza) as you walk around town. Handy audio guides can be hired from Local Tourist Offices. They are available in various languages and you even get a handy map to keep. Lucca – Piazzale G. Verdi, Volterra – Piazza Dei Priori 20, Pienza – Piazza Pio II.

Lucca Welcome Card
If you’re visiting this beautiful Tuscan city for more than a couple of days, drop into the local tourist office (Piazzale G. Verdi, Nr Porta San Donato, Tel 0583 442944) and ask for your “Welcome Card” It entitles you to discounts in lots of bars, restaurants, ice cream shops and various local sights.

Coming Soon!
Our “Bargain Outlets” page is nearly finished. We’ve started working on an “everything you ever wanted to know about Olive Oil but…..” page and we hope to get a “Footie” page up and running soon (remember though, it is a game of two halves). We’ll soon be setting up a New 2004 online photo album so you can upload embarrassing photos of Auntie Flo dancing on a table with that nice young waiter chap.

That’s all Folks

Assistant Powder Monkey

Please Note: no animals were harmed in the production of this Newsletter, well, except the cat who got a slap for sitting on the keyboard while I was trying to type and I did have fish fingers for lunch but I don’t suppose that really counts, does it? I mean, fish don’t really have fing………………………………………………………….aaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhhh

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