As we are now halfway through 2012, many of you have already organised your holidays for the summer so, in this edition, we are highlighting some of the "extras" available to ensure that you get the most from your well-earned time-off. In the first section are ideas for couples and in the second section we have some ideas to keep the children happy too.

It seems like only yesterday that we were excitedly telling you all that we were about to have 500 friends on our Facebook community, now we have 1400 people! If you havent already visited our Facebook page or found us on Twitter (@ToTuscany), why not do so now and keep up to date with useful information and special offers.

Entries have already started to arrive for the 2012 photocompetition, remember to keep your cameras at the ready when in Italy and send in your entries (up to 5 j-Pegs) when you return.

Some new properties have been recently added to our growing portfolio of Villas and Apartments which do have availability for the peak summer holiday dates. If you havent already booked, it might not be too late. Click here to go to the website

As always, please feel free to let me know any suggestions for items you would like us to cover in our newsletters.


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Holidays are a precious time for relaxing and escaping the trials of everyday life. So, why not treat yourself to one or more of the To Tuscany top picks for couples shown below?


Foodie BloggerForget about spending time in the local supermarket finding ingredients for a meal or deciding who has to drive back from the restaurant: have a meal prepared for you in the comfort of your own apartment or Villa.

The experienced chefs on our website can help you decide on a perfect menu for your meal - from typically Tuscan simple meals to elaborate 5 course events. If you want help with the wine choice, they can do that too.

Click here for details of our recommended chefs.


Montecatini TermeWhat better way to relax when on holiday than by having a massage or a spa treatment. Whether you want to make a day of it and visit one of the Spas in Tuscany or book a professional masseur to visit you in your Villa or apartment; there is a way to ensure you have some 'me time'.

The Buddha Spa is a Clarins operated Spa within the La Bagnaia Resort on the outskirts of Siena. A range of fantastic treatments are offered for Men and Women visiting for the day. If you differ in your views of relaxation, there is an 18 hole golf course at the resort too!

Montecatini Terme was designed as a spa resort by the Grand Duke Leopold in the 18th Century and for the past few hundred years has been a centre of well-being and health. Tourists have the opportunity to visit the thermal springs and spas for the day but there are still people who follow a complete programme of detoxification sometimes lasting 3 months. Montecatini terme and its neighbouring town of Monsummano Terme are approximately halfway between Florence and Pisa on the highway.

MassageIvana is a Professional masseur who has spent a number of years studying and working in the larger Spa resorts within Italy and has now become 'freelance', visiting clients in their homes or their rental Villas and apartments. There are a range of treatments available which can be booked as 'one-offs' or as a number of treatments for your group.


Silvano Franconi has decades of experience recommending and choosing wines from his time working within some of Tuscanys top restaurants. He offers wine-tastings for couples (and groups up to 20 people): Wine tasting sessions typically last 1 - 2 hours and include crostini, cheese and salami as well as the wine. When the tasting session ends, you get to keep whatever wine is left!
Click here for other wine-tasting opportunities
Simone owns the Malborghetto Restaurant in Lecchi that many of our regular guests will be familiar with. He offers cookery lessons for two people at the restaurant with the chance for you to enjoy what you have cooked accompanied by wine. If you have always wanted to know how to make those chocolate fondant cakes which ooze with chocolate when you put your spoon into them, Simone is the person to show you!
Click here for other cookery schools


Italy may be a magical place full of Castles, History and Culture but it doesnt stop children saying "I dont want to go to a stuffy museum"! To help you win over your family, why not try some of these ideas. You will of course still have to provide lots of Italian ice-cream and pizzas but you may just get to see some of the things that you want to see without too many complaints!
Our biggest tip if you are planning to visit any of the museums in Florence or the Leaning Tower of Pisa during your stay, is to make sure that you book your museum tickets in advance through one of the recognised agencies- no advanced ticket for the Uffizi Gallery can mean 2-3 hours wait in a queue in July and August!
 A good way to explore Florence with children is to use the 'hop on, hop off' tour buses that operate in a number of languages with English always being available with an audio guide and headset. The ticket for the tour bus lasts for 24 hours which is plenty of time to see as much of Florence as possible. Stops include the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace. There is also another route covering the lesser known areas of Florence and on out to the Etruscan city of Fiesole. Using the bus can help divert the attention away from tired little legs.
Pinocchio Collodi is a lesser known area of Tuscany but is famous as the birthplace of Pinocchio. The original story of Pinocchio was a weekly cartoon in a local newspaper that became a series of books and of course, most famously, a Disney movie. In Collodi the Pinocchio Park is more true to the original version rather than the Disney character but younger children will love to explore the park and the story of the naughty boy is little changed, whichever version you prefer. Various factsheets on Pinocchio state that the story is reputed to be the second most widely published book in the world after the Bible.
In Pisa, children love everything about the Leaning Tower, whether its having their photos taken in just the right spot so that it looks like they are holding up the Tower or whether it is getting dizzy racing up the stairs to the top! As in Florence, booking your ticket in advance saves lots of time and also disappointment as during the height of the tourist season, some days all visiting times for the tower tour are sold out.
If you are staying in the Chianti area, why not take them to learn how to make ice-cream at the Antica Delizia Ice Cream parlour in Castellina in Chianti. This family run parlour promises them fun and plenty of tasting of the different flavours.
Paola and Simona of the Toscana Mia Cookery School work their magic from their professional kitchen (between Radda and Lecchi) and ensure that the children enjoy learning about food and making their lunch with the adults allowed to join in too!
For more ideas, click here to go to our website section on Travelling for children
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We hope that you have enjoyed reading our newsletter and we look forward to the 2012 season with you.