CONTENTS
WHAT IS A HAMLET?
THE FABULOUS FIAT 500
FRESH SPRING FLAVOURS
Buongiorno Newsletter Reader,

To Tuscany have been renting villas since 1998 but we are still regularly asked the same questions from visitors to Italy. One of the most frequently answered questions is "What is a hamlet? Why is it different to a Villa?". If you dont know the answer, keep reading to find out and you can of course come and stay at one of our hamlets, see below for some links.
The Italian car-maker Fiat may not be as famous as Ferrari, Alpha Romeo or Maserati, but, they did (and still do) produce one of the most iconic cars ever - the Fiat 500. A short history of this little gem of a car which was first seen in 1957 is available for you to read below.
As we are finally getting some real signs that Spring has arrived, how about a tasty Spring recipe to get you in the Italian mood? You will find an easy, but typically Italian, salad recipe at the end of our newsletter
As always, please feel free to let me know any suggestions for items you would like us to cover in our newsletters.
We love keeping in touch with you all but we know you have busy lives, so, if you want a break from our newsletters, you will find an 'unsubscribe' link at the very bottom of this email.

Dympna

dympna@to-tuscany.com

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SO, JUST WHAT EXACTLY IS A HAMLET?

Many of you can picture in your minds the pretty hilltop villages dotting the landscape of Tuscany and Umbria. Tiny little collections of buildings perched overlooking the vineyards or working fields of the area. These are the 'Borgo's" (hamlets) of Italy.

In their original form, Borgos were a collection of stone houses and farming sheds, connected by winding footpaths with a courtyard in the heart of the buildings, some garden areas and often a small chapel. The occupants of the borgos were share-croppers and their families who rented the accommodation from the landlords when they were employed to work in the fields gathering crops or harvesting the grapes & olives. The borgos were generally in the middle of the fields or vineyards so that the workers did not have far to travel for work.

The industrialisation seen in Italy after the war and the decline in traditional agricultural farming methods led to an exodus of workers from the rural areas of Italy towards the towns and cities, leaving the borgos empty and unused and many fell into decline.

Montebuoni Hamlet

Over the last 30 years or so, private investment has meant that these tiny borgos have been re-invented into individually privately owned apartments and villas run under 'condominium' status with shared facilities such as swimming pools. Strict local preservation laws forbids any changes to the 'footprint' of the borgos and any exterior walls and window areas must remain exactly where they were. Original materials have to be re-used with tight controls on 'new' period-style materials being allowed in certain circumstances. Interiors, however, are allowed to be altered to ensure high-quality furnishings and fittings can be installed. What you get today, therefore, is an authentic reconstruction of the borgo with the living accommodations divided to give private self-contained apartments, cottages or villas within the original layout of a centuries old hamlet.

If you are tempted to try a hamlet for yourself, the hamlets To Tuscany offer today all have a history behind them and often photos of the original buildings can be found within the apartments showing you exactly how things were improved. Each of the properties within the hamlets is self-contained and private with practically every apartment also having some private outside space. There are communual areas shared by everyone - gardens, swimming pools, laundry areas (where available) and some even with tennis courts - and their positions amongst the fields and vineyards always offer fantastic countryside views for you to enjoy.

This link will take you to all the hamlets offered by To Tuscany, there is still some availability for this summer but it is booking up quickly. Click here

IT MAY BE SMALL BUT IT'S NOW AN ICON!

The Fiat factory first launched the original Fiat 500 in 1957. It was launched as a cheap vehicle to reflect the post war need for economy. The compact size of the car meant it was perfect for navigating around the small Italian streets and it was easy to manoeuvre into the smallest of parking spaces. This popular car was easy to repair yourself and had sales of over 3.5 million cars during its twenty years in production.

In 2007, the Fiat 500 was relaunched to mark 50 years after the first car was introduced. Its retro styling is a contemporary version of Dante Giacosa's original brought up to date with modern technology. The current 500 is proving to be every bit as popular as its predecessor perfect for driving in town and offers a choice of half a million finishes/trims and colours so buyers know that the chances of coming across exactly the same car is as theirs is extremely unlikely - very appealing in todays style conscious world.

Just a note: The photo of the original Fiat 500 above was a winning entry in the To Tuscany 2012 photocompetition ("Tall Dutchie, no Fiat fit!") from Anita Jansen of the Netherlands. Anyone travelling with us in 2013 is able to enter our competition, click here to see the 2012 details and find out how to enter.

FRESH SPRING FLAVOURS

Italians love salads so what better way to enjoy a taste of Italian spring-time wherever you are in the world, than to enjoy an easy tasty salad.

For a simple, fresh and healthy addition to your meal throw together some seasonal tomatoes (diced or halved), fresh basil leaves (they must be fresh to enjoy the flavours) and add a handful of pine-nuts for added crunch. Mix with a tablespoon or two of the best olive oil you have (salads work best with the finest olive oils) and add salt if required/desired.

Quick Links

We hope that you have enjoyed reading our newsletter and we look forward to sharing our summer sunshine in Italy with you.