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Dear Newsletter Reader,

With the summer holidays looming, and because you have asked for this again, this months newsletter is all about 'Travelling with Children'.

Visiting the spectacular Cities of Florence, Pisa and Siena are high on the list of parents choice of things to do, but dont always rate highly with the children. Why not start involving your children in the planning of your holiday now by showing them all the things they can do or even by getting them some fantastic books aimed at children about Tuscany that will whet their appetite and encourage them to actually want to go round that Museum or Art Gallery with you!

Whether its exhausting them with a quick run up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a visit to make some ice-cream or seeing just how advanced Leonardo da Vinci was with his experiments, there is definitely plenty to keep your children occupied.

You may have to provide lots of pizza and ice-creams afterwards, but it will be worth it to have everyone enjoying their day out.

Below is a round-up of the favourites from our guests and staff to help you get planning!

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

(Please note that all books mentioned below were available on Amazon at the time of this newsletter being published. Prices for Apps may be subject to change or may not be available in all countries or available for all phones)



Tuscany is a magical place full of Castles, History and Culture. Whilst this often gains the attention of adults, children around the world can be heard saying "I dont want to go to a stuffy museum". However, with a bit of planning, downloading and pre-reading they just might surprise you.


If you are planning to visit any of the museums in Florence during your stay, make sure 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!

Hop on Hop off Florence

A good way to explore the city with children is to use the 'hop on, hop off' tour buses that operate in a number of languages (English, French, German, Dutch and others) 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.

If Florence is where you want to explore, then make sure you pack the 'Kids Go Europe - Treasure Hunt Florence' book. This is aimed at children from aged 8 upwards but adults will find that you will discover parts of Florence you would normally miss using just the 'adult' guidebooks. The book is designed to give some historical information in small chunks for the children with spaces for them to add their own notes or even sketch their version of the statue of David. It also makes a great journal/scrap book for them to record their trip to Florence.

Palazzo Vecchio MuseumA 'hidden gem' for families in Florence is the Palazzio Vecchio Family Museum which is located in the heart of the City Centre and offers family fun for children as young as 3 with an upper age limit of 88 although they welcome anyone older! Two theatres, characters throughout the museum to bring it all to life, frescoe painting and a tour of the secret passageways will certainly while away the hours for you.


Holding up the Leaning towerIn 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.

A fun App for the children to download is the "Tower of Pisa Inclinometer". The inclinometer can be used with any structure to see if it leans but as the name suggests, its particularly interesting for the children to use the Leaning Tower of Pisa to measure just how far that 'lean' is! This App is great if you have a budding mathematician or scientist in the group.

Another App which can be used offline so that you dont incur any roaming charges whilst using it, is the Pisa Walking Tour. There are 8 walks that you can follow and each walk ensures that you take in 6-7 places per walk.

Piccolo Mondo ParkJust outside Pisa City (not far from the airport) is a small childrens theme park (more suited for children up to around 8 years of age). The Piccolo Mondo Park has free parking and free entrance; you pay only for what you use - ideal if you have children that might not like to go on everything.


Siena PalioSiena is famous for its Palio - held in July and August. Some of the older children travelling may have seen parts of the race in the the spectacular opening scenes for the James Bond Quantum of Solace film starring Daniel Craig.

Walking tours of the City will take you to the different "Contrades" of the City that race for honours in the Palio. These can be self-guided or with a knowledgeable local tour guide.

You can download the Siena Walking Tours App which covers 6 tours including a night tour of the City. Each tour ensures you take in between 6 and 10 sights within the City.

The fantasy-adventure novel by Mary Hoffman - City of Stars - sees Siena become the fictional city of "Remora" in the book. City of Stars is part of the Stravaganza series and is aimed at ages 12-14.


Ice cream makingWhether is learning to make pasta or pizzas, finding the secret to making great ice-cream or understanding how cheese is made; there is something all children will enjoy discovering. We call it "Foodylicious Fun", just click here for more information!

Marmore FallsAnyone staying with us in Umbria or Southern Tuscany (and any other children that can persuade their parents to drive a little further) can enjoy white water rafting at the Marmore Falls - Europes highest. The only restrictions to taking part in the rafting are, that you must be in good health, be able to swim well and be over the age of 16. For more information, click here.

On a creative note: in Radda in Chianti, children can enjoy ceramic painting lessons with a Dutch/Italian woman. Originally from the Netherlands, Lies, speaks Dutch, English, German and Italian and has some beautiful creative designs and irresistible ceramics on display. The studio is the setting for the art and ceramic classes. Lies also teaches drawing, painting and clay modelling classes to all levels and ages. She doesn't have a website, but you can get in touch via email or phone:
Studio: (+39)577 739006 or Mobile: (+39)335 1741573

PinocchioCollodi 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 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.

For your children, you may want to watch the DVD before travelling or buy The Authentic Story of Pinocchio of Tuscany by Carlo Collodi and Roberto Gabani

leonardo da vinciLeonardo da Vinci is possibly the most famous Italian throughout history and in his home town of Vinci you will find a fabulous museum depicting his early life, his inventions and copies of his art work.

For older children the "Leonardo da Vinci for Kids: His Life and Ideas, 21 Activities" is a fascinating book for them to read and try the activities before travelling - after all his designs include diving suits, helicopters and hang-gliders which were not formally invented until years after his death. For adults who need to brush up on their knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci, the Dummies Guide Series of books have one called "Da Vinci for Dummies".

The Magic Tree series of "Merlin Mission" books, has one called "Monday with a Mad Genius" which transports the characters, Jack and Annie, back to Renaissance times where they need to spend the day with non other than Leonardo da Vinci.

Time has not stopped Leonardo da Vinci keeping up with technological advances and the local Leonardian museum in Vinci is in the process of making the Madrid Codices and the Codex Atlanticus - two collections of scientific and technical drawings - available as a free digital archive called e-Leo. Dan Brown fans will be disappointed though, the App is aimed more at scientists than code-breakers!


This months recipe is a summer favourite for the Italians and would be a welcome addition to any meal or BBQ for our guests.


Papa al Pomodoro1.5 kilo tomatoes, a mix of varieties roughly chopped
4 cloves of crushed garlic
Large bunch of fresh basil, torn with hands. (Save a few leaves for serving)
500g day old bread cut into (Tuscan bread would be best of course)
Chilli flakes
Very good olive oil


Heat some olive in a pan and add the crushed garlic and chilli.
Add the tomatoes and cover the pan with a lid for approx 45mins until there is a generous amount of liquid from the tomatoes.
Turn off the heat, add the bread and basil to the tomatoes and gently mix together.
If there is not enough liquid, you can add a little water.
Pour in some more olive oil, serve and add extra olive oil and basil leaves to garnish.

These amounts should serve 4 people.

Private chef

This months recipe was provided by Emily from "A Tuscan Table". All our chefs details can be found by clicking here


Sunset at Borgo Bonorli
View from Borgo Bonorli - Richard Pethybridge 1755PP

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 entry to with your name, reservation code and a title for each of the photos.

This months photo was sent to us by Richard Pethybridge from the United Kingdom who stayed at Borgo Bonorli in August 2010.

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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 spending it!

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Tanti Saluti

Dympna Docherty