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FEBRUARY 2010 NEWSLETTER
Dear Newsletter Reader  

Welcome to the February To Tuscany newsletter. 

Many of you receiving this newsletter have previously visited Tuscany and have seen the 'golden triangle' of Pisa, Florence and Siena (and everything in between), but how many of you have ventured further south of Siena?  After this months newsletter, we hope many of you will find a reason to drive for a little longer and visit some more of the wonderful towns, villages and scenery that Tuscany has to offer.

Dympna
dympna@to-tuscany.com
 
Southern Comfort!
 
South of Siena is an area in contrast to the familiar hillside vineyards of the Chianti.  It includes 'Le Crete' -  the production area for much of Italys agricultural crops, the Val di Chiana and the UNESCO World Cultural Landscapes site of Val d'Orcia.  The different landscape does not stop the area also producing some fine wines.  In fact some of the Italys most famous brands are grown and produced here: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.

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San Giovanni d'AssoSan Giovanni d'Asso is an area much fought over throughout Italian history with Siena and Florence both taking charge of it at various stages of its development. Napoleon Bonaparte annexed it to the French crown in 1814 but it was eventually returned to Italian rule and to the province of Siena.  It is most famous for the White Truffles which can be found in the area and in November the White Truffle Festival takes place in the town.  The towns Castle houses the museum dedicated to this delicacy which can cost thousands of pounds.  The Medieval history of the area is reinacted in the Giostra di Simone.  This jousting competition takes place at the beginning of August and has contests on horseback and with bow and arrow.  The scene is completed by the people of San Giovanni d'Asso wearing medieval costumes throughout the tournament.

The nearby hamlet of Ampella has recently been added to the To Tuscany portfolio and is the ideal place to base yourself for visiting the tournament, the Truffle Festival or just enjoying the area.  Within the hamlet is also a private villa with private swimming pool - Villa Montisi - sleeping 6-8 people.

 
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MontalcinoAt 564 metres above sea level, Montalcino is one of the highest points in the area and on a clear day, as well as seeing Siena and Pienza, it is possible to see the islands of Corsica and Elba, the Apuane Alps and the dormant volcano of Mount Amiata.  Montalcino hosts a Jazz festival alongside its Wine Festival in July.  International artists and local jazz musicians entertain the crowds who have flocked to the area to taste the famous Brunello wines.



Just 12kms from Montalcino is Casa Cerralta.  This large villa sleeps between 14-18 people and is located within the national park of the Val d'Orcio.  In addition to the chlorine free swimming pool, the villa has a games room with Billiard table and table football game.

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MontepulcianoMontepulciano has featured in Hollywood movies such as 'Under the Tuscan Sun' and 'Midsummer Nights Dream' but is most famous for its wine production and slower pace of life.  The walled city is host to a number of amazing Renaissance buildings and its Piazza is considered to be one of the finest in Italy.  The area has a number of thermal spas making the most of the natural springs that you can visit.  Be sure to try to visit at the end of August for the 'Bravio delle Botti' - in honour of the wine production the 8 areas of the city complete a course through the historic streets whilst pushing an oak barrel weighing 85kg.

The small hamlet of Fattoria Armena is within 30 minutes drive of Montepulciano.  Lying within the Val di Chiana, Fattoria Armena boasts great views, an excellent location and just 3 apartments (sleeps from 4-7 people).  When visiting the area you are also able to enjoy a round of golf at the Val di Chiana golf club.

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PienzaPienza was rebuilt from the village of Corsignano in the 15th Century.  Corsignano was the birthplace of the much revered Pope Pius II and it was he who set about transforming Pienza into the Renaissance town that you see today so that he could use it as a retreat from Rome.  Just outside of Pienza, the monastery of Sant'Anna in Camprena was used in the oscar winning film The English Patient.  UNESCO declared Pienza a World Heritage Site in 1996.



16 miles/26km from Pienza is the farm estate villa Podere Camera.  The villa can be rented for 7 people or for 11 people and even features its own small fishing lake.

The flatter landscape of south Siena need not prevent you from seeing the main cities of Tuscany as the main Rome-Florence railway runs through the area.  The best place to pick up the route is at Chiusi-Chianciano Terme station - almost equi-distant between Rome and Florence.  The sleepy town of Chiusi hides a more active past when as one of the main 12 towns of the Etruscan League it attacked Rome!
 
Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding travelling to Italy or anything within our newsletter. We can be reached at http://www.to-tuscany.com/contact-us
 
Sincerely
 
Dympna Docherty
To-Tuscany
dympna@to-tuscany.com