Dear Newsletter Reader,
March sees the beginning of the build up to the
main holiday season in Tuscany and Umbria; the
weather is warming up and festivals are in
Easter is one of the major celebrations in Italy
- this is not surprising for a Nation which
still has a majority of people following the
Catholic religion. In this issue we give you an
idea of some of the Easter festivities in the
different areas. There is still time to book
your holiday for this Easter or you could
consider visiting next year.
Feedback from you, our guests, has resulted in
what will become a more regular feature for the
newsletters - an Italian recipe! This month we
are featuring Ribolita soup; this is a hearty
soup, perfect for warming you up through the
winter or for taking you from the cold evenings
to the Spring days.
As always, please feel free to let me know any
suggestions for items you would like us to cover
in our newsletters. Forthcoming features will
be: Travelling with Children; Cookery Schools &
Easter is the second most important holiday in Italy
after Christmas and it is in fact, the most
important religious holidays for Italians. Many
thousands of Italian and overseas visitors
congregate in the Vatican City to hear the Popes
Easter message and more recently, many thousands
gather in Florence for the Easter Celebrations here.
Whatever your religious beliefs, Easter is a
fabulous time to be in Italy.
weeks leading up to the long Easter weekend is
subdued as people observe the traditional fasting
period of Lent. Just prior to the weekend of Easter,
traditional food fairs take place selling Easter
breads and cakes in preparation for the festivities.
Friday (22nd April) brings people to the streets to
watch the many parades depicting the Stations of the
Cross: re-enacting Christ's walk to Cavalry Hill
with his cross. The participants of the walk wear
costumes of the time - near the Duomo in Siena is a
good place to watch one of these re-enactments.
Easter Saturday (23rd April) sees the priests in the
many towns and villages visit local homes and
businesses to bless them for the coming year with
holy water. Easter Eve is celebrated by a midnight
mass - the Duomo in Siena starts filling up from
Easter Sunday (24th April) is time for celebration
as this is believed to be the day of the
Resurrection of Jesus. In Italy the celebrations
for this day are mixed with pagan traditions for
celebrating the coming of Spring and the forthcoming
harvest. The most famous celebrations on Easter
Sunday (outside of Vatican City) take place in
Florence where the Archbishop is responsible for the
"Scoppio del Carro" - the explosion of the cart.
This is a tradition which dates back over 300 years;
the Archbishop fires a 'dove' (electronic) across
the square into an ornate cart packed with fireworks.
A big explosion is seen as an indication of a good
Scoppio del Carro
Monday or Little Easter (25th April) is a day for
the Italians to gather together with their family
and celebrate with good food, Easter breads and a
special almond cake called La Colomba, which is
shaped like a dove and covered in white icing.
Chocolate eggs are also exchanged, and eggs in
general feature throughout Easter as a sign of new
life. On Easter Monday some towns hold Pallio
dell'Uovo - the racing of the eggs!
TO HELP YOU
CELEBRATE EASTER IN ITALY, YOU CAN BEGIN YOUR RENTAL
ON ANY DAY
OF THE WEEK DURING THE EASTER PERIOD.
(This offer applies to
weekly rentals only between the dates
airlines offer cheaper prices for mid-week flights,
here for flight information for Tuscany
THE ROSE FESTIVAL
San Casciano in Val di Pesa is a pretty Chianti town
which host the annual "Rose Festival" in May -
Saturday 21 - Sunday 22 May 2011.
Casciano in Val di Pesa is famous for its
cultivation of Roses of all types and it is a
tradition that has grown up alongside the local wine
industry after it was discovered many years ago that
Roses were a good indicator of any natural diseases
that may go on to affect the vines. In San Casciano,
the tradition of growing roses has become a
profitable business by itself.
The Rose Festival in the town is a fabulous assault
on your senses with carpets of floral displays in
the main squares and the scent of the roses carrying
far outside of the town.
Over the course of the weekend of the Festival (which
is also known as the Rose, Bread and Wine Festival),
you are able to buy rose bushes, speciality breads
and local produce and Chianti wines - including the
lesser known Chianti Rose wine.
of the highlights of the Rose Festival is the
opening of the Villa Roselli Gardens - listed as one
of the Great Gardens of Italy - to the public.
Visits to the Gardens are normally limited and have
to be arranged many months in advance. These
Renaissance Gardens are a delight to see and still
maintain many of the original features of the 16th
Century garden that it dates back to.
To Tuscany has two properties in San Casciano in Val
Villa Olga is located in a
residential part of the town itself so is within
easy walk of the Festival. The Villa sleeps 7-9
di Giorgio is located 2kms from the town and can
sleep up to 10 people:
RIBOLITA SOUP RECIPE
Many of you ask for recipes following your visits to
Tuscany, so we thought that a perfect way for you to
bring a little of Tuscany into your own homes would
be to give you some favourite recipes.
We have asked the chefs that you are able to hire
for private dining to give us some of their
favourites and our debut recipe has been supplied by
Andrea from 'Il Fiasco'.
All of our private chefs can be contacted through
our website, click
here for the link:
RIBOLITA SOUP: SERVES FOUR
2 sticks Celery
1 can chopped tomotoes
Savoy cabbage (one third)
Black cabbage (half)
500gr cannellini beans
(All vegetable quantities can be changed according
Put the Cannellini beans in water over night to
Cook the beans in plenty of water. (Do not throw out
Cut onions, carrots, celery and scallion into large
pieces. Put them into a large frying pan with a
little oil and cook them for a few minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the sauce
becomes a little thick. (If the vegetable mixture
becomes a little dry you need to add some water to
stop it burning)
Roughly chop the cabbages and the chard and add to
the frying pan. Cook for a few minutes until the
cabbage softens. (Again, you may need to add a
little water to prevent the tomato sauce from
Divide the beans into two, add half to the
vegetables, cover with water from the beans and
leave to simmer gently for 3 hours, adding water
from the beans as necessary. Do not let the mixture
become dried out as it will burn.
Puree the other half of the beans and then add to
the rest of the vegetables about 30 minutes before
the end of the 3 hours cooking time.
In a large dish place layers of the bread and spoon
over the soup mixture - repeat this process several
Leave to stand until the next day.
When you are ready to eat, just reheat the bread and
soup mixture slowly on the hob and serve with fresh
olive oil and chopped onions.
The soup can be frozen in servings.
Winetasting - Mikolai Mrozowski, 469PP
Dont forget about the To Tuscany 2011
photocompetition. Entries (maximum
of 5) must be sent in JPEG format and the
prize is a hamper of Tuscan delicacies. Send your
firstname.lastname@example.org with your name,
reservation code and a title for each of the photos.
This months photo was sent to us by Mikolai
Mrozowski from Poland who stayed at the villa
Cornino di Radda.
We hope that you find the information in this
months newsletter useful.
Please let us know of any content that you would
like to see included in our newsletters and we
wish you a fantastic year wherever you are
for contact details