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Discover Tuscany!, Issue #006-- the "COOL" issue!
July 08, 2003

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

Yowza! from the R.A.V.I.T. crew as temperatures soar to a toasty "Phew, wot a scorcher!" 40°+ in the shade. The white knuckle roller coaster ride that was last month is quickly fading into one big squishy moshpit of happy holiday memories. Years from now, I can already picture it all, sitting round a roaring log fire, grandkids at my knee, wide eyed in awe as I recount riveting tales about when I was a lad (MMMM!!!), how a veggie relation of Lawrence of Arabia blitzed the Gucci shop, and how a group from the Scots "Oil Bonanza" city of Grangemouth were spotted trying to communicate with a chicken and how there was a Tuscan suppository shortage caused by the French, and how popster of yesteryear "Danny" of the Rubettes, (remember their smash hit single "Shangalang") was in touch, (poor guy lives in a seedy suburb of Dundee and is reduced to playing computer games all day now!) Hi to you all, thanks for making it an interesting month, You all know who you are even though no one else will have the faintest idea what I'm on about. I can just picture those little grandkids, tears of joy trickling down their cherubic little faces, smiling sweetly whilst secretly thinking "senile old git, the sun must have got to him!

Anyway..... In this month's "COOL" issue of "DISCOVER TUSCANY!" We've got stuff and bits on how to take better holiday snaps, info on road tolls, great last minute discounts and how not to donate blood by mistake!..........

So, slip off your shoes, sit back, relax and enjoy this month's edition of "Discover Tuscany!"


1) Intro
2)Contents & thanks
3)New Properties
4)Sometimes it's just like living in a foreign country – Blood
5)Last Minute offers- discounts on some great properties
6)Childs play - sploosshh!!
7)Win Stuff - Oh Chihuahua!!
8)Say - "Cheese!"
9)Pass it along by word of mouse
10)Beep, Beep - Driving info
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

To satisfy the overwhelming demand we've been beavering away visiting some great new villas, apartments and castles, tough job but someone's got to do it! Check out our "New Properties" page for details on a spacious, newly converted, farmhouse with apartments for 4 - 6 and pool near Montebenichi , a converted farmhouse in Valdarno with various apartments and pool, it has really stylish decor with oriental touches. We've also got a great new B&B set in the hills above Florence, it has very elegant decor, four poster beds etc and stunning views over the city. More great properties being added daily.

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

- Hola, si voo plaiz, I'd like a 5 door hatchback, garcon

- Certainly sir, just sit down here and roll up your sleeve

- Uh! and we'd like air conditioning , please

- That's it, be brave, you won't feel a thing

- Wot! and do you have a map of the area?

- Well done, if you step over there the nurse will give you a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit

- Uuuhhh!!,this is AVIS isn't it?

- Yes sir!, of course, AVIS is the Italian blood doners society!

(NOTE!: if it's AVIS the car hire company you're looking for, make sure you follow the signs with the correct red logo ,the blood doners logo is blue and yellow, it should also say car hire or auto noleggio)

Last Minute Offers

If you can be flexible, check out the low cost airlines (see last month's Newsletter for lots of web sites, by the way I said meridiana's web site was .com it's not, it's .it, sorry!) there are stll bargains around and If you can book within 10 days of arrival you can make some great savings on lots of our properties. If you spot a property you like, get in touch, we may have offers we haven't had time to put on the site yet. If you can round up a few friends check out "Villa la Selva, they are offering a massive 20% discount on any remaining weeks this season on superb luxury villas which sleep 22.

And don’t forget our great “NEW” Discount Vouchers. We have discounts on pizzas, ice cream, wine etc. Don’t leave home without yours!

Childs Play -

When the sunshine is wall to wall ie. from now til Sept/Oct, a great way for kids of all ages to cool off and have fun is a visit to the "Crocodile Aquapark". It's near Monte San Savino (Tel 0575 8451776) just off the A1 motorway (from Valdarno take the Rome direction) exit at "Monte san Savino" you can see it from the pay toll. It has a wave pool, a children's pool with toys, slides, a bubble machine, pic-nic areas, bars and a restaurant, Parking is free. In the evening it is also a nightclub with swimming til 2am. It costs €8 adults/€6 children under 13. SPLOOSH!!!

Win stuff!

The answer to last month's competition was of course - Leonardo and Michelangelo - famous renaissance geniuses who changed the worlds of art and science for ever with their innovative paintings and inventions. Anyone who used the words "Turtles or Holy Guacamole!" in their answer was instantly disqualified.
Avid reader, redhead Joan (27) from "Oil Bonanza" city of Grangemouth, Scotland, a past winner of our "tricky" giveaways has been in touch this month telling us that she is actually considering giving up her job in the local chipshop to concentrate full time on "winning stuff". Bubbly Blond Joan (48) quipped, "they've tried to ban me from entering but it's so much fun I just keep sending in my answers, I even got an answer sort of close one time".
That's the spirit Joan!

This month's great giveaway is a copy of catchy Eurohit "Chihuahua" by top Swiss DJ Bobo, which is sweeping the continent like a plague of locusts. You may mock, but believe me, you'll all be boogieing away to this by the end of the summer.
Remember the birdie song and the macarena?? I rest my case!

So, to win this top prize all you have to do is answer this simple question -

Who is the Patron Saint of Chihuahua's?

Say Cheese! -

We all dread it, "you must pop round to our gaf for a pint of Chianti and some cheese puffs, we've just got our holiday snaps back from Boots the Chemist." You prepare yourself for an evening viewing out of focus snaps of Great Aunt Mavis and some waiter on top of a table strutting their funky stuff to the latest Eurohit. (it's called "Chihuahua" and you can WIN a copy in this month's fantastic giveaway competition!)
If you'd rather not bore your chums rigid with your pixs try following our handy guide to "Taking better holiday snaps!"

With today's automatic cameras almost anyone can produce a sharp, well exposed image and with a little thought you can produce holiday snaps to be proud of!

- Get close - One of the most common mistakes when taking photos is not getting close enough to the subject. Don't waste your image with a tiny subject and lots of boring, irrelevant space. When you put the camera to your eye ask if what interests you is prominent in the viewfinder, if not move closer or zoom in.

- Out of focus shots caused by camera shake. Hold the camera steady, relax, take a deep breath and squeeze the shutter release. Of course, sometimes you can intentionally add blur/movement to a shot to convey the emotion, speed or action of a scene. Experiment, especially with digital you can see the result instantly, if you don't like it, try again.

- Placement - you may have heard of the "rule of thirds". Imagine you have divided your frame into thirds, then place your subject on one of the imaginary intersections, thus your subject will be slightly off centre. As a general rule this makes for a more interesting photo. Remember all rules were made to be broken so try other compositions, experiment.

- Busy backgrounds - don't let a cluttered background overwhelm or obscure your subject. Move around, lie down or stand on top of something. Try to get a clear shot at your subject without distractions, watch out for trees, lamp posts and other background objects which might merge with your subject in unfortunate ways.

- Try framing your subject with foreground objects to add depth to the image. For example frame Great Aunt Mavis with a tree branch.

- Try unusual angles - be bold! turn the camera to 45° or try shooting from different heights etc.

- Pay attention to lines. Curves, straight lines and diagonals add energy and movement to your compositions. Watch for natural geometric patterns and place yourself at an interesting angle to them.

- Lighting - use selective lighting to emphasis your subject and place other elements in shadow.

- Details can be just as effective when trying to convey the atmosphere of a place. Try zooming in on interesting details or objects which for you, sum a place up.

We've just added a great "Photo Album" page to the site. You can upload your favourite holiday photos (or send them to us and we'll scan them and upload them) and share them with family and friends. You can watch them as a slideshow and if you want you can even order them as prints and gifts. Have a look, let us know what you think. Send us your favourites!

Pass it along by word of mouse!

Why not do as "satisfied holiday makers" the Chappo family of Grunby Leicestershire do. They manage to turn every conversation round to the subject of holidays and Tuscany. "Oh. that's a sweet little poodle you have madam, great coat. Did you know they eat those with truffles in Tuscany, Italy. Wonderful place! would you like a web address and contact for your vacational needs, dear?
Well done Chappos, that's the spirit!

Beep Beep - driving info -

If you have no experience of rallying, formula 3 or destruction derby's it might take a bit of getting used to driving here in Italy. Read the article by Dave Barry on the site for an idea what it's like. If you plan on driving all the way from the UK or just nipping down to the Ipercoop a great place for advice is the The AA website They have advice on motoring habits, fuel prices, weather and traffic conditions, a handy motorway toll guide (useful when you first arrive and hit the motorway) route planner and ferry guides and info on Euro breakdown cover. They also have a range of maps and guidebooks for sale. If you also need carhire advice check out our

"Car Hire" page

Coming soon -

I have a theory which says "At some point in every high tech, broadband, ADSL, super high speed internet credit card transaction, an old man on a donkey has to take a wad of used banknotes, wrapped in a little note written on a manual typewriter a few miles along a track to another office. He has of course, got to stop for lunch, have a nap under a tree and the donkey is probably a bit lame. When the note and wad are eventually delivered they can merrily zap off into cyberspace again, completing the online credit card transaction. OK, to get to the point, I'll keep you posted when our new online credit card payment system is up and running.

Action - some fantastic films have been made in Tuscany (Room with a view, Hannibal, Life is beautiful, Much ado about nothing etc) we are putting together a "Tuscan Cinema" page with itineries, which visit some of the locations of these and other films.

Well, that's all folks!

Remember to upload/send us your favourite holiday snaps.

til next month

Game over, insert coin.

toodle pip


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