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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 abundance.


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 & Wine tours





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.
EasterThe 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.

crossGood 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 23.00.

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 harvest!
Scoppio del Carro
Scoppio del Carro

easter eggsEaster 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 16th-30th April)


Many airlines offer cheaper prices for mid-week flights, click here for flight information for Tuscany 


La Selva 



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. 

Rose and Wine FestivalSan 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. 

Torselli GardensOne 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 di Pesa:

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 people:


Casa di Giorgio is located 2kms from the town and can sleep up to 10 people:



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 soup3 Carrots
1 Onions
4 Scallion
2 sticks Celery
1 can chopped tomotoes
Savoy cabbage (one third)
Black cabbage (half)
500gr cannellini beans
Stale bread

(All vegetable quantities can be changed according to taste)


Put the Cannellini beans in water over night to rehydrate them.
Cook the beans in plenty of water. (Do not throw out the water).
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 sticking)..
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 times.
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 photo
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 entry to 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.

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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!

Click here for contact details

Tanti Saluti
Dympna Docherty