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Discover Tuscany!, Issue #005-- the "HOT" issue!
June 07, 2003

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

A big “PHEW, WOT A SCORCHER!” from all the Rent a Villa crew.

In this month’s bumper “HOT” issue of “Discover Tuscany!” we have flung together a great big writhing heap of bits n' bobs to educate and entertain you!
Plate etiquette, alcoholic ice cream, “HOT” sun advice and the low down on online travel auctions!

So, cool mirrored shades and leopard print thong at the ready………… here goes, sort of……..

Contents :

1)“Phew, wot a scorcher” from downtown Chiantishire!
2) Contents & Thanks
3)“NEW” Properties – Frescoed 16th C chapel, Chianti villas, seaside farms!
4) Sometimes it’s just like living in a foreign country- Crockery.
5)“Bargain” Last Minute Offers – save on villas if you book within 10 days of arrival.
6)“NEW” Tours – Wine tasting, Tuscan cities, shopping, Ferrari Museum.
7) Win Stuff – Enter our fun, easy to win competition.
8)“Ice Cream” – Yummy!!
9)“Seat backs in upright position” – the low down on the skies!
10) Tell all your buddies, chums and pals.
11)“Could you just rub a bit of this sunfactor 35 in please”
12) Coming SOONish – Credit card payment and more DISCOUNT Vouchers!

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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).

“NEW” Properties

Some of our top Villas are now fully booked for the Summer season (can you believe, some are even filling up fast for 2004!) So we’ve been busy selecting lots of fantastic new properties. You can have a sneek preview on our “NEW Properties” page, with full details and more photos to follow soon. How about honeymooning in a 16th C. Chapel with original frescoed ceilings, now converted into a superb stylish apartment for 2, it’s set in the countryside yet only minutes from the centre of Florence.
Or for those of you who like good food and wine, we have a selection of apartments in a villa/farmhouse with a pool/jacuzzi, which produces its own fine wines and has a Michelin star restaurant.
We are also adding a number of new properties down at the Tuscan Coast. The first on the site is a converted farm with various sizes of apartments. They have a restaurant serving local specialities and the beach is only 4 kms away. Keep checking, more are being added daily.

Sometimes it’s just like living in a foreign country! – Crockery

Roast beef and 2 veg, spam, beans and chips, chicken nuggets (the ones shaped like baby dinosaurs) oven chips, smothered in curry sauce. All great culinary combinations I’m sure you’ll agree! but Italians would be shocked and stunned at these gargantuan heaps of nosh! In this neck of the woods when the menu down the local “Bistro” says “sausage” that’s exactly what you get! A sausage on a plate! As you can imagine, by the time you’ve ordered a belt tightener of a 5-course snack lunch, the table will be groaning with crockery. Italians tend to arrange a couple of plates nearby, eating from each in turn and then eating the salad or other stuff after. All very continental, so don’t you worry if the waiter can barely see you over the mountain of grub you’ve heaped up on one plate as you order your after dinner cappuccino! Buon Appetito!

Last Minute Offers

Book within 10 days of arrival to get great discounts. For example at Casa dei Fiori, both the apartments Vigneto & Glicine have 10% discount at the moment. If you can be flexible some of our owners also do short breaks and others will even give you a free dinner for each week booked.
And don’t forget our great “NEW” Discount Vouchers. We have discounts on pizzas, ice cream, wine etc. Don’t leave home without yours!


Wine Tasting in top Tuscan wineries, Dinner in the Liberty Style Villa used as a setting in the Oscar winning film by Italian Director/Actor Roberto Benigni. A trip to the Ferrari Museum near Modena, Discount Designer shopping trips (buy that little black dress you’ve always dreamed about, in fact, at these prices, why not buy the wife one as well!) Just a few of the great “Tours” we have arranged in partnership with a local company. Check out the site for full details.

If you don’t enter you can’t win!

Last Month’s answer was, of course “ooo, ooo, Harry Web”.
This month’s “HOT” giveaway is simple. Just complete the list and tell me the connection.
Donatello, Raffaello, …………., ……………
Haven’t decided on the prize yet, probably be liquid and red in colour (Readers Voice - Bottle of ketchup??)
Note - New Competition Rules !
a)If the same person wins three times in a row they get to keep the winery (Bit like Brazil winning the world cup)
b)No one whose surname begins with “H” can enter.
c)No one who lives anywhere near an Oil Refinery can enter.
d)It’s my competition so I can make up the rules any way I want

Hope you had a great holiday Joan and team!

Ice Cream

When the temperature soars to a toasty 90°c in the shade, what better way to cool down than a tasty “Gelato”. Florence proudly claims the 17th C. copyright to the “Gelato” recipe (amazing, I always thought it was Nardini’s in Largs) but things have come a long way since the original, rich, cream based “gelati” made from churned, sweetened, milk and egg yolks.

Ice cream is big business in Italy, with 120,000 tonnes being slurped each year. (By my reckoning that means that the entire Italian population consumes 3.275 cones every 15 mins for their entire life!). To satisfy this national craving Master Ice Cream Makers have invented many delicate and unusual flavours to tantalise every holiday makers taste buds. Some flavours are inspired by local specialities such as fruit (eg Sicilian blood oranges) or cheese (eg Mascarpone) others have modern inspiration (such as “Big Babol”, which is chewing gum flavour or “Puffi” which is the Italian word for the Smurfs, not sure what it tastes like but it is a lurid blue colour!).

To ask for an ice cream in Italian you can say “un cono da un euro cinquanta” – a €1.50 cone or “una coppa con tre gusti” – a tub with three flavours. A bit of pointing and miming usually works too!

One delicious innovation has been the combination of two of Italy’s passions - Wine and Ice Cream. Wine ice cream comes in a variety of mouth watering flavours ranging from Brunello di Montalcino to Chianti to Passito di Pantelleria and is available in both creamy and sorbet versions. Adding wine to ice cream is particularly challenging because alcohol has a low freezing point, adding sugar is an essential and finding the right amount for each type of wine is an art form in itself.

Some of the best ice cream in the Valdarno area (these are our favourites, there are lots of others) can be found at -

Cassia Vetus -Via Setteponti Levante 18/c. Tel 055 9704110 Closed Tuesday
A stylish restaurant near San Guistino Valdarno, food is excellent and the ice cream is hand made using lots of fresh, local ingredients (make sure you get your voucher from us when you book a villa, for “FREE” ice cream when you eat here) They also have a delicious range of chocolate and coffees worth tasting.

Loro Cuiffenna - The Gelateria on the bridge, you can’t miss it! At weekends just look for the crowds outside.

Montevarchi - Gelateria Venturini in the piazza in front of the station. Buy your cone or tub (Cono/Coppa in Italian), sit outside by the fountains and people watch.

Terranuova Bracciolini - “Bar Marisa” on the main street (Via Roma) towards the Loro Cuiffenna direction, next to a new marble Piazza. Serves great ice cream (my favourite is “Panna Cotta”)

Slightly further afield but well worth the journey are –


Vivoli - Via della Stiche 7 Tel 055 292334
World famous, family run, ice cream shop. Situated in the S. Croce area opposite the English Language cinema.

Arcobaleno -Viale Gianotti 29a Tel 055 6810651
Via Uguccione della Faggiola 7r Tel 055 6801358
The owner Alberto Manucci uses a rosè wine from Antinori in his ice cream and also produces a mouth watering Brachetto sorbet.


Galliano - Viale Marconi 127, Viareggio (LU)
Enzo Vannozzi has a historic shop on the waterfront (headquarters of the Ice Cream Academy) He produces a superb Champagne sorbet and another made from Brachetti di Acqui.

Castiglione della Pescaia – This seaside resort down on the Tuscan coast is one of our favourites. There are 2 or 3 excellent ice cream shops in the centre of town near the port.

Experiment, mix different flavours (“Gusti” in Italian) and if you find the best ice cream shop ever, let us know!!

“Seat backs in upright position” – the low down on the skies!

As we widen our customer base (each month, folks from over 40 different countries check out the site) we are always trying to find ways to help our guests from outside the UK. The low cost airline phenomena started by companies such as Ryanair is now slowly spreading to other countries. 9 new low cost companies have been launched this year and over 100 destinations are now served by these airlines. Companies such as Air Berlin Germanwings Volareweb Costameno basiqair Sterling aireuropa . Buzz was recently bought by Ryanair and meridiana is also worth checking out. Scotland is now served by flyglobespan and bmi baby flys from East Midlands. Not all are presently flying into Italy but as the market grows (the low cost market grew by 30% last year) they will I’m sure all add new routes. It is also worth using a bit of lateral thinking when working out flights. Most folks from the UK think of a flight into one of the London airports as the obvious choice before catching their flight to the continent. Instead, it may be possible to fly into Holland, Germany Ireland, Belgium etc and then catch your ongoing flight. Doesn’t always work out with connections but worth checking just in case. We’ve done this via Belgium and Holland and it worked fine.

Ever thought about buying airline tickets in an online auction? May at first seem a bizarre idea but the days of the local Travel Agent having the monopoly on booking flights have gone forever. Online Travel Auctions are similar to traditional Auctions but each site has its own set of rules. Registration is usually required. You are generally required to buy the item in the event you are the highest bidder. If you win you will be notified by e-mail. Find a good auction site and you may find the bargain you’re looking for, find a bad site and you’ll just waste time. Try E bay (select your country’s version) the best known auction site on the net. Sky Auction is a great place for airline tickets (it has an international section) or try Priceline , which is not exactly an auction site, you “name your own price” and “Priceline" will try to find it, you must agree to buy if they find the price. Priceline gets its deals from airlines who have unsold seats. If you can be flexible about departure dates and have the patience to bid and wait, there are bargains about.

Tell all your buddies, chums and pals!
Word of mouth is always the best publicity. If you like our web site, don’t keep it to yourself! Tell all your buddies, chums and pals. If they book, tell them to mention your name (we’ll find a way to say thanks!) remember to leave a message in our guest book on the site when you get back home.

“Could you just rub a bit of this sunfactor 35 in please” – Burning issue - the SUN!

Whether it’s lazy days lounging by the pool under the warm Tuscan sun or eating “Al fresco” on the terrace of your villa on a balmy evening the WEATHER and most importantly the SUN plays a vital part in most peoples holiday. Remember to check out the WEATHER PAGE on the site, it has a direct link to “The Weather Channel” and is constantly updated. It shows a 10 day forecast and has satellite pictures etc. Italy has a varied climate ranging from the Alps in the North to Sicily in the South. It is also a mountainous country with thousands of kilometres of coastline. You can safely say from around mid May til Mid September it will be sunny, in July and August it will be VERY sunny and hot! Temperatures in Tuscany should be around 25°c on average in May and Sept and can soar to 30 – 35°c+ in July and August.

Lovely! you’ve been dying to try out that “chic” leopard skin print thong you got in the “What every woman wants” end of season sale! BUT if you’re not used to this much sun (ie anyone from the UK or Ireland!) don’t try to soak up too much, too soon! Do what the locals do, in the middle of the day when the sun is at its most torrid, have lunch and maybe a snooze under a tree!

A great site for Advice & Products for the SUN is Boots . It is packed with advice on Suncare, self tanning, holiday health, beachwear, sunglasses, travel games, miniature toiletries, cameras, films etc. They have a great section on choosing your suncare protection, (in the Med. they recommend sunfactor 25 for the first 3 days then sunfactor 15 after) They even have an interactive test to help you choose the correct suncream, remember a SPF of 15 will reduce the risk of burning but won’t stop you tanning. If you’d prefer to arrive already bronzed check out their range of self tanning products, these days they really work, you won’t end up streaky orange! The site is clear, well written and fast and you can buy all their products online.

Coming SOONish – Credit card payment and more DISCOUNT Vouchers!

After much research and high level negotiations we’ve finally decided on a credit card payment system which doesn’t involve us giving blood to the bank manager for every transaction! Just a few more forms to complete in triplicate and it should be up and running.
Our discount voucher scheme is proving popular, so we’re busy adding more great discounts. You can now get free wine, wine tasting, winery tours, free ice cream, discount on pizzas and we’re working on a voucher for the thermal springs. Make sure you get yours when you book!

That’s all folks, Game over, insert coin
Til’ next month

President of vice, General Dogsbody & Head Bottle Washer

Contact us at -
“a corner of paradise in the heart of Italy”

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