Corsa Italia, Castiglion Fiorentino
Castiglion Fiorentino lies at the centre of a triangle formed by important cities such as Florence, Siena and Perugia. Originally an Etruscan settlement and later a medieval village, lies close to the famous Valdichiana and Cortona.
The tower of the ancient castle dominates the town. This charismatic town has much to offer any visitor including its beautiful medieval walls, beautiful churches, art treasures and numerous Renaissance structures - e.g. the Loggia by Vasari at the Piazza del Municipio. However, the town is not your usual tourist stop. It is a working town and when you visit this jewel of Tuscany, you will see more than the architectural and artistic treasure - you will glimpse a way of life, a culture of warmth and friendliness -
Castiglion Fiorentino also has many festivals throughout the year including the famous Palio dei Rioni (a horse race around the town – similar to the festival in Siena) which includes a colourful and energetic display of the ancient custom of flag-waving - dating back to the 13th century. Both of which are extraordinary shows not to be missed.
There are also many artisans in the town who offer unique works - from sculpture to clothing and so on. One favourite of ours from the town is the work of Edi Magi. Edi is responsible for the murals above our beds, the breakfast ware and other works here. But, she is not the only one and a trip to Castiglion Fiorentino - is worth the effort and will allow you to discover much more than the Tuscan sun..
Plus an array of bars and restaurants waiting to offer a special welcome to you as guests of Casa Portagioia
via garibaldi, anghiari, 52031
Anghiari is well worth visiting all year round thanks to its active cultural life. There are exhibitions, fairs, local festivals, a busy theatre program and an active interest in the conservation and re-enactment of historical and folklore traditions all contributing to the cultural life of the town. Visitors enjoy the enchanting atmosphere enhanced with fairs, markets and open-air shows and the excellent local cooking and warmth of the Anghiarese add their special taste to this superb landscape.
Anghiari is a lovely medieval town lying between two rivers, the Tiber and the Arno. The powerful thirteenth century walls made the town an invincible fortress which constituted an important reference point and kept the Tuscan flag flying during the many historical events that occurred in this delicately balanced border area. On the 29th June 1440 the famous Battle of Anghiari, which was subsequently painted by Leonardo da Vinci in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, reaffirmed Florentine rule in Tuscany. Anghiari and its surrounding area has seen the lives and works of the greatest men of the Renaissance who brought the seeds of the modern age from the land intra Tevere et Arno to the whole of Europe.
Surrounded by castles and country churches Anghiari looks out over the beautiful High Tiber Valley landscape, a natural amphitheater filled with the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi. The countryside around Anghiari has an untouched atmosphere with ancient woods dotted with monasteries and archaeological sites. Artisan shops and the workrooms of furniture and antiques restorers enrich the small squares of the town; its towers and churches are embellished with masterpieces of painting and sculpture and there are breathtaking views and vistas to be found from every corner of the ancient town.
Cortona, Tuscany, Italy
Cortona is now famous for “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Francis Mayes – and later , Cortona was transformed and given the Hollywood once over during the making of the film version – which included a huge set of fountains with Roman lions etc – however, don’t go searching for this as it was merely something installed to make the town “more authentic”!
Cortona with its Etruscan origins is rich in art and history. The prevailing character of Cortona’s architecture is medieval with steep narrow streets situated on a hillside (altitude 600 metres) providing magnificent panoramas to every point of the compass, embracing the whole of the Valdichiana.
The Museo Diocesano is home to a superb collection of paintings, including "Annunciation" and "Madonna and Saints" by Fra Angelico, and also a group of work by Giuseppe Maria Crespi known as Lo Spagnuolo called "Ecstasy of St. Margaret".
Inside the Palazzo Pretorio is the Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca that displays items from Etruscan, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations and also art and artefacts from the Medieval and Renaissance eras.
Cortona has a range of restaurants catering for all tastes. We shall be pleased to offer you some advice and help you book a table.
As with most Tuscan towns the churches are magnificent and well worth a visit.
Corsa Italia, Arezzo
Capital city of the Tuscan province, Arezzo perches on a hill, south and east of Florence, overlooking the Arno and Tiber River valleys. This geographical position has favored the development of artisans (especially gold craft) and industrial activities. The city has given birth to famous people like Petrarch, Aretino and Vasari, and has maintained an extremely interesting historical and artistic tradition since the Middle Ages. The historic center contains stupendous works of art and testimonies from every era.
Arezzo has a monthly antique market held on the first weekend of each month when hundreds of stallholders come from all over Italy and visitors crowd the streets of the ancient city center.
One of the many famous churches in Arezzo is the Church of S. Francesco, which is a 13th century Gothic construction. The church contains paintings by important artists such as Loretino d'Arezzo, Spinello Aretino, Niccolò di Pietro Aretino, and Piero della Francesca, some of whose most important works are in this church. Restoration of his Battle between Hercules and Cacus and the Discovery and Proof of the True Cross by the Superintendence of Arezzo and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure of Florence, and the public can now view them
Arezzo is the nearest major city to Casa Portagioia (roughly 20 Km) served by both rail links (See Trenitalia for trains) and easy Car Hire
Assisi is known as the city of Peace. Its main characteristic is its medieval structure that has remained intact over the centuries. The town sits on the slopes of Mount Subasio along overlapping natural terraces. Outstanding architecture, convenient geographical position as well as its mild and dry climate make it an ideal tourist spot all year long.
But of course, Assisi is famous all over the world, thanks to its favorite son, St. Francis. The Basilica of St. Francis houses the tomb of St. Francis and has been a popular pilgrimage destination and tourist attraction. Following the devastating earthquakes of September 1998, the basilica has been fully restored. One of the artistic highlights of the basilica are the frescoes by Giotto and other leading artists of the day. The church has three parts: Upper basilica, lower basilica and the saint’s tomb.
However, Assisi is more than just the home of St Francis. A stroll through the main square, Piazza del Comune, gives an idea of this central Italian town’s rich history. You will find the Roman temple of Minerva, the Roman Forum and a Romanesque tower.
Eremo Le Celle
The famous Le Celle monastery in its beautiful surroundings behind Cortona is visited year round as the place St. Francis of Assisi lived in the 12th Century, before returning to Assisi where he died. This is thought to be the oldest monastery in the world.
Le Celle is a stunning example of a Franciscan convent set on the slopes of Monte S. Egidio, about 3 1/2 km from Cortona. Saint Francis had it built in the early 1200's. Today one can still see the cell where Saint Francis stayed.
It is the object of many tourist visits. A lot of people come to pay tribute to St Francis' cell: a narrow quadrangular room, 1.80 x 2.50 m. and only 1.90 m. high. The Saint's bed is still preserved inside, as well as an old sandglass and a copy of a painting of the Madonna and Child in front of which St. Francis used to pray. Through a small window in the wall facing the Torrent one can see the place where the cell of Beato Guido was built, which was destroyed by a serious flood.
In April, 1226, during an interval of improvement, Francis was moved to Cortona, and it is believed to have been while resting at the hermitage of the Celle there, that the saint dictated his testament, which he describes as a "reminder, a warning, and an exhortation"
From Castiglion Fiorentino - 7 miles / 11
Set in the green foothills of Mount Ingino, with spectacular views of the Umbrian Valley, is the ancient town of Gubbio. It is one of the most picturesque and characteristic towns, not only in Umbria but also in Italy, thanks to its nearly intact medieval features. Gubbio has a simple street plan of five parallel streets running at different levels on the slopes of the hill with interconnecting alleyways.
The buildings are mainly Romanesque in shape. An unusual aspect of the town is the so-called “Door of the Dead”, a narrow pointed arch door above street level, which, according to tradition, was reserved for the passage of coffins. However, a more likely scenario is that they were used as a means of entry to their homes by way of a retractable wooden ladder thus protecting themselves during the middle ages.
The main building is the Palazzo dei Consoli, which dominates the town. There is also a Roman theatre - one of the largest surviving of its kind dating from the 1st. century A.D Besides the famous Basilica of St Ubald, there are numerous churches and museums which are well worth a visit along with various shops specialising in local art and craft. A market is held every Tuesday.
This age-old traditional event, which may well date to the pagan era, is normally held the day before the feast day of St. Ubald (16th May), patron saint of Gubbio. The Ceri are three enormous wooden statues of St. Ubald, St. George and St. Anthony. The townspeople carry statues on their shoulders as they race through the historic city centre, up to the Basilica of St. Ubald on the top of Mount Ingino. The high point of the event is the race: as the Ceraioli dash through the city streets and up the steep slope, they are accompanied by the thrilled crowd of shouting onlookers. This one-day event is one of Italy's most traditional and well-known popular/religious events.
Castiglion Fiorentino / Gubbio – 45 miles / 72 kilometers
Montepulciano and Lucignano
Montepulciano and Lucignano
Wine, Architecture, Festivals and More Wine!
The biggest and highest of southern Tuscany's hill towns Montepulciano has been called the "Pearl of the 1500s" thanks to the numerous works created by famous Renaissance artists.
The main square "Piazza Grande" is surrounded by magnificent buildings such as the Palazzo Pubblico, the Cathedral and several residences by Vignola, Sangallo and Peruzzi. Artistic treasures abound in the many churches. The most beautiful is the tempie of San Biagio.
Montepulciano celebrates several traditional events. Between July and August, Piazza Grande becomes a stage for concerts and for the Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte (International Arts Workshop). At the end of August the people of Montepulciano perform - the 'Bravio delle Botti', a competition between the 'contrade', the different districts of the town, where empty wine barrels are rolled up through the town in a race to Piazza Grande.
And wine is, in fact, the most famous product of the land around Montepulciano. Most of the wine cellars dug into the ground under the town are of historical interest; here visitors may take a break between one museum and another. In the 17th century, when Francesco Redi wrote his poem, Bacchus in Tuscany, he described the Noble Wine of Montepulciano as "The King of all wines.” Around the area are numerous vineyards where you can taste and buy wine.
Lucignano is a small-fortified town and represents one of the most intact and perfect examples of medieval town planning. Its roads are an intricate maze leading to the highest point of the town, where the Palazzo the Comunale, Chiesa of S.Francesco can be found
The church of San Francesco has numerous beautiful frescoes and there is a museum close by the church.
Driving Distances: 23 miles / 37 kms
Pienza, Tuscany Italy
Pienza is a small town close to Montepulciano and Siena. It is a rare example of Renaissance town building. Defined, from time to time as the "ideal city", or the "utopian city", it represents one of the best-planned Renaissance towns. It was here that Renaissance town-planning concepts were first put into practice after Pope Pius II decided, in 1459, to transform the look of his birthplace and gave it its name Pienza ("Pio's Town").
The Duomo is now suffering from serious subsidence at its eastern end. It is flooded with light from the vast stained glass windows stipulated by Pius II as he wanted to create a domus vitrea ("a house of glass"). The palazzo Piccolomini is next to the Duomo. It was home to Pius II's descendants until 1968. The apartments, which are open to the public, include Pius II's bedroom and library. At the rear of the palazzo there is an ornate arcaded courtyard with hanging baskets and a triple-tiered loggia. From here there are stunning views across to the wooded slopes of the Monte Amiata.
Pieve di Corsignano is where Pope Pius II was baptized. This is an 11th century Romanesque parish church on the outskirts of Pienza. The interior can be seen by appointment via the Pienza Tourist Office (+39 0578 749071)
Pienza was used as the setting for Zeffirelli’s film Romeo and Juliet. Gladiator and many other blockbusters
From Castiglion Fiorentino to Pienza – 27 miles / 43 kilometres
Siena, Tuscan Italy
Palio, Piazza del Campo, Gothic Architecture...
Siena has retained much of its medieval architecture and charm, including walls and gates that surround the city. The cathedral (11th-14th century) is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Italy and some say it is the most stunning cathedral in Tuscany. Here you will find works of famous Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Pisano, Donatello and Bernini. Another interesting feature is the marble mosaic floor dating from 1369
The Gothic-style municipal palace, begun in 1288 and finished in 1309, now houses the city archives, including certificates and documents designed and executed by famous Sienese artists.
The famous Piazza del Campo, where the famous Palio horse racing takes place, with its stunningly beautiful Town Hall, is a spectacular example of Renaissance art and architecture.
Siena's intimate medieval streets are lined with both local handicraft shops and some international chains.
San Gimignano, Tuscany Italy
San Gimignano - The original Manhattan!
Think of Cher, Maggie Smith and others in the film: Tea with Mussolini...
From every angle San Gimignano’s appearance is medieval. Perched on a hill with its towers and green mountains behind it offers one of the best views of the Tuscan countryside.
Of the 72 towers that once defined the profile of San Gimignano, only 14 remain. (The film “ Tea with Mussolini”, taken from Franco Zeffirelli’s autobiography, suggests that a group of English and American women saved the remaining towers towards the end of the Second World War)
Around the Piazza del Duomo are a number of its monuments, including palaces, the cathedral with its famous frescoes, and 7 of the 14 remaining towers. The triangular Piazza della Cisterna, which is paved with stones set on edge, has a well in the centre. These squares date to the 13th and 14th centuries
In addition to the churches and other buildings, another attraction of San Gimignano worth a visit is the Museum of Torture - featuring such ancient relics as a fingernail clamp and a metal pig's head which, some say, medieval women were temporarily forced to wear for nagging their husbands too much!
Wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano, made from the grape of the same name, is one of the best-known wines in Italy and the world. There are many vineyards in the area where tourists are welcome
Castiglion Fiorentino to San Gimignano – 62 miles / 100 kilometers
Trequanda, Tuscany Italy
The medieval village of Trequanda is crowned by the remnants of the ancient Cacciaconti castle. There is also the parish church of the Saints Peter and Andrea, dating back to the 13th century. It is a beautiful Romanesque-gothic construction with a particular facade covered with white and ochre colour stones forming a geometrical chessboard pattern.
San Giovanni d'asso
San Giovanni d'asso
San Giovanni d'asso has a castle, which in November hosts the famous White Truffle Market.
The ancient Romanesque church of San Giovanni Battista is close to the castle, while in the lower part of the village lies the most important church in the area San Pietro in Villore.
Within the locality is the picturesque village of Montisi, with its Chiesa dell'Annunziata and its historical grain tower. Here, every year, on the Sunday nearest to the 5th of August (the Festival of the Madonna delle Nevi and a jousting contest - the "Giostra di Simone" - takes place.
The drive from here to Montalcino and Pienza, is one of the best dives in Tuscany....
Montalcino, Tuscany Italy
Montalcino is completely surrounded by ancient walls and some of the original 19 towers can still be seen, as well as some of the fountains. The impressive fortress, built in the second half of the 16th century is still intact and from its ramparts there are magnificent views across the Val d'Orcia. The surrounding countryside is now devoted to the production of the wine acclaimed throughout the world - the Brunello, and the younger Rosso di Montalcino. Friday is market day
The Abbey of Sant'Antimo, which is about ten minutes from Montalcino is also well worth a visit. You may be lucky and hear the monks chanting.
Torneo di Apertura della Cacce (Tournament for the Opening of the Hunting Season) - Second Sunday in August
This festival marks the beginning of hunting season. The festival starts with trumpeters and drummers. In the afternoon, a costumed procession proceeds to the fortress where archers from the four neighbourhoods (Borghetto, Pianello, Ruga, and Travaglio) compete in an archery tournament.
Sagra del Tordo (Festival of the Thrush) - Last Sunday of October
The festival kicks off with a town crier who walks through the streets announcing the start of the festival to the accompaniment of drums. A dance called the Trescone is performed in the streets. Later a procession to the fortress takes pace with residents in 14th century costumes, rolling flags, trumpets and drums. This marks the beginning of the food fair, which includes typical local dishes such as polenta, pinci, bruschetta etc, as well as Brunello and Roso di Montalcino. At the fortress, the four neighbourhoods (Borghetto, Pianello, Ruga, and Travaglio) compete in an archery tournament and a torchlight procession marks the end of the festivities.
Florence, Tuscany Italy
Michaelangelo, Canaletto, da Vinci, Botticelli, Raffaello etc etc
Florence should definitely be on your itinerary. Full of history and well-known attractions - appealing for travelers of all ages. (an hour from Castiglion by train)
A distinctive feature of Florence's skyline is the Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore work on which started in 1296, and the Campanile (bell tower). Opposite the cathedral stands the Baptistery dating from 11th century. The Florentines commissioned a series of bronze doors with relief sculptures. The third pair of these doors, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, were of such rare beauty that Michelangelo christened them the ' Gates of Paradise.'
There are many galleries and museums in Florence; the most famous is Galleria dell'Accademia as it contains one of the most famous statues in the world, Michelangelo's David. Michelangelo's David originally stood in front of the Palazzo Vecchio at the beginning of the sixteenth century but in 1873 it was moved to the Galleria and was replaced by the copy, which now stands in its original location.
The De Medici family founded the Uffizi Gallery in Florence in 1581. It is one of the oldest museums in the world. Many important works of Italian and other schools, dating from between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries are on view here, including the largest collection of Tuscan Renaissance paintings. The gallery features works by Botticelli, Canaletto Michelangelo, Raffaello, and da Vinci - to name but a few.
The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) is unique because it is the oldest surviving bridge in Florence. Originally, It was used by blacksmiths, butchers, tanners and others who used the river as sewer. Towards the end of the Renaissance period, goldsmith's and other artisans established themselves there. Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge in Florence that survived W.W.II.
There are many shops and markets in Florence some more famous than others. One worth a visit is Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella. The pharmacy dates back to the 17th century and is open to the public in its original form. When you go into the shop the aroma of the preparations, and the sight of this monumental environment immediately overwhelm you.
There are many other attractions both in the city and on the outskirts. These include gardens and villa, and just outside Florence is Fiesole – well worth a visit
Visiting the Wineries of Tuscany, arranging for you to visit
Tuscany, also famous for its wines!
Fattorie Le Capezzine, 53045 Valiano di Montepulciano.
This well-run vineyard, a 19th century farm estate owned by the Falvo brothers and their partners, offers a full range of quality whites and reds, as well as a superbly rich Vin Santo. Visits to the vineyard are free, although the proprietors stress that they prefer to receive genuine wine-enthusiasts.
The tour meanders through spacious cellars for vinification (the process of making wine), aging and storing. Don't miss the Vin Santo, unique to Tuscany, where mature white and red grapes are laid out until April on straw and cane raft shelving to air, dry and sweeten before being pressed and vinified to produce fabulous sweet wines. Also of interest is the "round vineyard," an experimental vineyard and segmental land management system.
Vineyard tours, scheduled by appointment only, are available Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wine can be bought on the estate.
Via Fontago 1, 53040 Montepulciano Stazione (SI) Tel 0578-738171
A few miles northeast of Montepulciano, near the small village of Gracciano, is the modern estate of Poliziano, founded in 1961 from an original nucleus of 54 acres of vineyard. Today, the property consists of 200 acres and is among the best producers of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
CASTELLO DI MONSANTO
Loc. Monsanto, Via Monsanto 8, 50121 Barberino Val D'Elsa (FL) Tel: 055-8059000
Owned by the Bianchi family since 1961, the elegant Monsanto estate, situated on the western side of the Chianti Classico area, offers an interesting visit to its cathedral like vaulted cellars.
The initial impact is breathtaking. Picture a 150-foot-long gallery, which has been specially designed for making sparkling wines, situated 120 feet under a hill. Continuing, one meanders through an even longer gallery with impressive rows of barrels, punctuated by niches specially built for aging bottled vintages. The atmosphere is quite medieval.
Vineyard tours should be booked in advance. They start every half hour, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5 p.m.
CASTELLO DI VERRAZZANO
50022 Greve in Chianti (FL) Tel: 055-854243
Verrazzano, one of the founding members of the Consorzio Chianti Classico, offers a superb blend of history, winemaking and wonderful views. Gino Rosi, Verrazzano's friendly expert guide, speaks perfect English. Rosi can suggest a combination of tours, including the gardens and the centennial cellars, as well as wine tastings accompanied by typical Tuscan farm products in an elegantly furnished restaurant with magnificent views of the vineyards and surrounding countryside. Of particular interest are the historical stone-vaulted cellars and the quantity of wooden barrels and barriques;
DIEVOLE Via Dievole 6, 53010 Vagliagli (SI) Tel: 0577-322613
Just a short distance north of Siena, Dievole, owned by Mario Schwenn, a young producer with artistic flair, extends a warm welcome.
A tour of Dievole is an immersing experience into its roots, with a small museum exhibiting original land deeds, traditional farm tools and black and white prints of Dievole and the Tuscan countryside a century ago. The vineyard tour includes the fermentation room as well as the aging cellar with its vaulted ceiling, narrow passageways and rows of barrels. On the tour, you are offered wine tasting accompanied by local delicacies.
Vineyard tours are available daily from February to November, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and are (currently) free of charge.
Loc. Altesino 53028, Montalcino (SI) Tel: 0577-806208
Altesino, one of the best producers of Brunello, is off the beaten track, south of Siena on the road from Buonconvento to Montalcino. Perched on a hill opening onto a view of the gentle, rolling landscape, this small farm estate is a real jewel for the elegance of its wines and its breeding of prestigious Arabian horses. Altesino makes a variety of wines, from Brunello to a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend. The cellars are beneath the 14th century Palazzo Altesi, with the exception of the barriques, which reside in a separate temperature-controlled room.
Visitors are welcomed and shown around the estate Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5 p.m. If there's time, a taste and a chat over a glass of Brunello or Rosso di Montalcino is a fine way of mellowing into the peaceful atmosphere of Altesino.
Castello Banfi Poggio alle Mura, San Angelo Scalo, Montalcino Tel: 0577-840111
Castello Banfi is owned by the American Mariani family. Everything here is on a vast scale, from the hundreds of acres of vineyards to the dozens of fermentation vats. Endless rows of oak barrels and casks in the aging cellar leave you speechless. Bookings for vineyard tours, held Monday to Friday from 4 to 5 p.m., are advised due to the many visitors who make the pilgrimage to this imposing estate. Make sure you visit the castello itself, especially the glass museum and the wine bar, where you can buy a bottle from the Banfi roster of wines or order a glass from a selection of 12 wines (between €3 and €6 per glass). The museum and enoteca are open weekends, although the wine cellar is closed.
FATTORIA DEI BARBI
Loc. Podernovi, 53024 Montalcino (SI) Tel: 0577-841111
Fattoria dei Barbi is one of Montalcino's oldest estates. In fact, its oldest vintage, for show only, goes back to 1892. Today, the vineyard is a well-run commercial operation, which has managed to preserve its charm.
The tour of the old cellars is well worth the visit, and your guide will regale you with fascinating anecdotes. A selection of three wines is usually available for an informal tasting after the tour at a cost of about €8 per person. The wines include a Brunello and two super Tuscan reds, Brigante dei Barbi and Brusco dei Barbi..
Brief Guide to Tuscan Wines
Tuscany, the fifth-largest region in Italy, has been making wine for centuries, but it is only over the last two decades or so that it has emerged as a leading producer of quality wines. Covering a little more than 15,000 square miles in central Italy, Tuscany is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea on the west and southwest, Liguria to the northwest, Emilia Romagna to the north, the Marche and Umbria to the east, and Lazio to the southeast.
The key wine producing areas include Brunello di Montalcino, Bolgheri, Carmignano, Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Sangiovese is the main grape for most of Tuscany, producing everything from light and refreshing simple Chiantis to big and powerful Brunello di Montalcino or Chianti Classico riserva. International varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are also important, either as small additions to traditional wines or as major components in groundbreaking ones. Traditional white varieties such as Trebbiano and Malvasia are used widely, although the best dry whites at the moment are made with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Basically, Tuscan wines are grouped into three categorie: IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica); DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata); DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).
The IGT designation covers the broadest range of wines from light Sangiovese for everyday drinking to powerful, long-aging Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots. IGT is also the most flexible of the appellations in Tuscany, with very little regulation. Many of the "super Tuscans" are IGT, as it gives winemakers more freedom. The fact that many of Tuscany's greatest wines carry this lesser appellation remains an anomaly in the classification system.
DOC and DOCG wines are held to much more stringent standards. They meet government-approved specifications for a wide range of aspects, everything from the yields and alcohol levels of grapes harvested to the amount of time a wine is required to age before bottling. There is even a mandatory tasting for wines given DOC or DOCG approval.
Tuscany includes more than two dozen DOCs today. There are only five DOCGs: Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Chianti, Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Shopping in Tuscany
Shopping in Italy
...........Things to do when it rains........
If you are looking for Italian Designer Clothes – at Bargain Prices, here is a list of some of the outlets in Tuscany:
The Prada outlet, as it is frequently called is actually called SPACE and it is home to not only Prada. Other names such as Helmut Lang, Miu Miu and Jill Sander.
How to get there : By car: take the A1 autostrada - Exit 'Valdarno', Out of the toll turn right and follow signs for ‘Montevarchi’ or ‘Centro’. At the big round about that has an IPER - COOP supermarket exit left. Then continue towards Arezzo. Pass through Montevarchi and 'Località levanella' after the village pass a gas station and then follow signs for Space. The sign for the outlet is at a traffic light. On your left is a huge grey/white factory that is all Prada and the outlet is in the back of the main factory complex.
How to Shop:
It is best to arrive at Prada before it opens at 9.30. At the door you take a ticket from the slim stainless steel dispenser and then retire to the very chic bar/café next door, which has an electronic number counter to let you know when it's your turn. The choicest items are always there first thing and go quickly, later in the day there can be a long wait before getting in to the out let.
Keep your ticket. Any thing you think you might want to buy you can give to a sales assistant who will store it for you whilst you rampage on to the next discovery, at the end you have a second chance to re look at every thing calmly and make your final selection.
The store is very busy during weekends, public holidays and sale periods (when the best old stock is sent to the stores) As with all outlets, it can be hit or miss, some times you will be lucky and other times you will not find any thing worth buying.
At Prada 9 times out of 10 you will be stuck for choice the 1 time you won't find a thing to buy, it depends on luck.
THE MALL - Agnona, Bottega Veneta, Emanuel Ungaro, Ermenegildo Zegna, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Loro Piana, Hogan, La Perla, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tod's, Sergio Rossi, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent
Via Europa 8, 50060 Leccio, Reggello – Firenze
Opening hours: from 10 to 19 non-stop Monday to Saturday and 15-19 on Sunday.
How to get there:
BY ROAD Take the A1 motorway towards Florence and take the exit marked Incisa. Stay on the right towards Pontassieve until reaching Leccio. Soon after passing the center of Leccio, The Mall will be on the left.
FENDI OUTLET - :Via Pian Dell'Isola 66/33 - Rignano sull'Arno (FI) Also houses CELINE and LOEWE.
Tel: +39 055 834 981 Fax:+39 055 834 9820
Monday to Saturday 9.30 - 18.30.Sunday 14.20 - 18.20
DOLCE AND GABBANNA.- Spaccio Aziendale: Localita S.Maria Maddalena, 49-Pian Dell'Isola,Incisa in Val A'arno (FI) Tel: +39 055 833 1300 Fax +39 055 833 1301
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9.00 to 19.00. Sunday 10.00 to 19.00.
How to get there
To get to Fendi, D&G and Gucci, exit the A1 at Incisa and turn right. Follow the SS69. Look for a brown and yellow sign for Fendi and/or D&G on the Left. Dolce and Gabbana and Fendi are almost neighbours, on the same street despite the different ways of describing the location. To get to Gucci, continue past the turn for Fendi and D&G on the SS69 until you see signs for THE MALL.
For Shoes, There are factory outlets in Valdichiana and another in Arezzo
Street Markets in Tuscany
Street Markets in Tuscany
Foiano della Chiana: Town centre - food market. 08:00-12:30
Pieve S. Stefano: Town centre - general market. 08:00-12:30.
Radda in Chianti: Food market. Open in the afternoon of the fourth Monday of every month.
Anghiari: Town centre - general market. 08:00-12:30.
Sansepolcro: In the streets around the centre - food market. 08:00-13:00.
Civitella di Val di Chiana: Food market (not huge). 08:00-12:30.
Monte S.Savino: Town centre - general market. 08:00-12:30.
Camucia - Authentic market experience
Lucignano: Locally produced items. 08:00-13:00.
Montevarchi: Locally produced items.
Montepulciano: Local produce. 08:00-12:30.
Trequanda: Food market. Open on the first Thursday of every month.
Castiglion Fiorentino: Mixed / Locally produced items. 08:00-13:00.
Pergine Valdarno: Town centre - general market. 08:00-12:30.
Montalcino: Fresh local produce. Open all morning
Pienza: Food items. 08:00-13:00
Arezzo: General street market with over 100 stalls. Open in the morning.
Cortona: Locally grown fruits and vegetables. Open in the morning.
Arezzo: Every first Saturday of the month from 10.00 to 20.00 in Piazza Sant’Agostino, the organic market "Open Countryside" takes place.
Bike rental Tuscany, How to unwind - on the windy roads of Tuscany!
For many years, our guests have enjoyed exploring the Tuscan scenery and the local area. Castiglion Fiorentino and, especially our vale di Chio have many places to explore on foot, or by bike. We can arrange the rental of a high quality bike for you - either before you arrive or, whilst stayng with us. The bike rental Steels in Castiglion Fiorentino will bring the bike and safety helmets along with maps and other helpful guides to Casa Portagioia - the easy road !
An enjoyable pastime, to walk or, to ride slowly around the valley to explore its many off-road paths and treks, villages and the occasional local winery for respite.