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Life in Tuscany

Tuscan life is generally simple. Lots of events happen around food, wine and life in the countryside. There are still weekly markets in most towns and larger villages and many of the traditional festivals are deeply felt and honoured by the town inhabitants. 

Living in Italy does have some differences to your home country. We have put together some information that will help you know how to do as the locals do.

Life in Tuscany

Guide to Taxis in Tuscany | To Tuscany

Not planning on hiring a car or driving in Tuscany? No need to worry, you can get around easily by taxi, especially if you are staying in one of Tuscany’s cities. You can’t hail a taxi from the street in Tuscany, you have to find a designated taxi rank. The taxi ranks are usually located in major squares and at train and bus stations. You can also call a taxi company in advance.

Most taxis in Tuscany are metered, so you won’t need to try and haggle the price down. Be aware that if you want to travel from a city out into a small town where taxis are unlikely to get a return fare, they may charge you double.

Contact our concierge (experiences@to-tuscany.com) for assistance in booking cars with drivers or taxis in advance.

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Tuscany Trains

An alternative way of travelling to and around Italy is by train. There are good international connections from mainland Europe to most of the major Italian cities, as well as an extensive network of local trains serving the smaller towns and villages.
Tickets are generally not too expensive, and you can use your Credit/Debit Cards for payment.

Omio
Omio is a great website easily allowing you to search for various transport options all on one page. You can also book Trenitalia tickets directly on their website and app as well, making search and booking a breeze.
www.omio.com
For motorail
A good site for motorail service in Europe is
www.railchoice.co.uk
For the Italian State Railway, including international trains to and from Italy.
www.trenitalia.it

Another excellent website that provides information about travelling to Italy by train is Seat61, this website provides information about fares and timetables based on travel from the UK
Trainseurope
Trainseurope have over 10 years experience in booking European rail tickets for individuals as well as tour operator groups, and they will be happy to discuss any requirements you may have. In addition to arranging tickets from the UK to most destinations in Europe, they can also arrange tickets for travel between many European cities, making twin-centre city breaks a real possibility. For all point to point tickets as well as Eurostar connections, contact them and an experienced consultant will be happy to help you.

Using the trains to travel around Italy is an excellent way of taking a day trip to visit the many historical towns and cities. The rail network in Italy is quite extensive and travelling between cities and towns by rail is an ideal way to travel. Once on board you can sit back and relax and take in the ever changing view from the window. Forget the hassle of driving…take the train and enjoy the journey.

There are a number of ways to purchase tickets; at the station, certain local travel agents and it is now possible to prebook tickets via the internet before you leave home. Visit the Italian State Railway website www.trenitalia.com for up to date information on how to purchase tickets and consult timetables.

There are various different types of train that run on the Italian rail network. The types of train and their symbols are listed below.

Eurocity (EC) and EuroNight (EN). These trains offer fast intercontinental journey times throughout Europe both day and overnight to Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Prague and Budapest.
Eurostar (ES) and Intercity (IC). These are fast trains operating between the major Italian cities. Eurostar trains are all high speed trains, very comfortable but more expensive, you do not need to book a seat as this is automatically done when you buy your ticket. Seat reservation on Intercity trains is optional and costs €3; however during peak periods it is advisable to prebook seats.
Rapido (R) - a long distance express train, stops at many of the stations.
Espresso (E) - stops at all the major stations, so it is slower than the Rapido!
Inter-Regionale (IR) - travels between regions and sometimes is in service only on weekends and holiday periods.
Regionale Diretto (D) - travels at faster speeds than the Locale and stops at fewer stations; this train travels within a region and bordering regions e.g. In Tuscany or between Tuscany and Umbria
Regionale Locale (L) - slow train which stops at every station within a region e.g. from Florence to Siena, it stops at all stations in between, even the tiniest towns.

You may find the following terms useful when at the train station.
treni in arrivo - arrivals
treni in partenza - departures
binario - platform
in orario - on time
in ritardo - delayed

Before boarding a train make sure you validate your ticket at one of the machines (“obliteratrici”)on the platform. Please note that it is no longer possible to purchase or validate tickets on board trains. Failure to validate your ticket before travel or travelling without a valid ticket could result in a fine. In the larger cities, e.g. Rome and Milan, bus, metro and tram tickets are valid for a certain period of time normally 75 minutes, so you can get on and off as many times as you wish within the period indicated on the ticket. The same ticket will allow you to use all public transport within the one city, however only one metro ride is allowed. When in Rome and Milan, you can buy a special 24hour ticket which offers a full day’s travel on buses, metro and trams.
Below is an alphabetical list of all the stations in Tuscany with their addresses and province. To check routes, timetables and ticket prices go to www.trenitalia.com website


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Driving in Italy

To drive in Italy there are some important things to remember;
When driving in Italy you must always carry these documents:
Driving License
Car registration document/log book (this should be provided with hired all cars)
Car insurance (this should be provided with all hired cars)
Other Italian Laws
Autostrade Speed Limit 130 km - Motorways with green coloured signs - Toll roads
Super Strade Speed Limit varies/usually 90 km - dual carriageways with blue signs - Free
You must carry identification documents at all times (passport).
You must wear a luminous reflecting jacket if you get out of your car on all main roads, this should be provided if you hire a car.
You must have purchase receipt within 20 meters of purchase.
In vehicles, when you park you must turn the visible clock on the windshield to the time parked. If you do not you may receive a parking ticket.
Check List
Before setting out on your trip to Tuscany by car we suggest the following checklist.
1 Check insurance cover - make sure you know what to do in the event of an accident.
2 Breakdown insurance - check you are fully covered for breakdown insurance even if your car is new!
3 Remember to drive on the RIGHT - we suggest that you stick a note on your steering wheel to remind you to drive on the right, even the most experienced of drivers should do this!
4 Car Service - check that your car has been fully serviced including tyres and brakes one week before you travel.
5 There are main dealers for most of the major car companies here in Tuscany should problems arise while you are here; don't forget your dealers guide.
Italian Motorways
There are 24 hour Petrol Stations along the Motorways, you should try and fill up before leaving the motorway, fuel is sometimes difficult to find in the countryside and more expensive. Tolls can be paid for by Credit Card in Italy, this is often easier on long journeys.
For the latest traffic information on Italian Motorways, petrol stations and for a toll calculator www.autostrade.it (English version available)
Maps
For excellent maps and driving directions click here to look at the michelin website. This site also provides cost of tolls.

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General Information

TELEPHONE
To dial overseas once in Italy first dial 00 then the country code, then omit the first 0 from the area code and dial the rest of the number. Public phones mostly take cards, which can be bought from bars, tobacconists and newsagents. Very few public phones take coins. Cheaper rates are between 22.00 – 08.00 hrs daily. Saturday afternoon and all day Sundays and Bank holidays.
International phone cards are available from most Tabacchi shops and some newsagents.
Calling from a public phone - Lift the receiver and check for the dialling tone (intermittent 2 short pips). Tear off the perforated corner before using the card. Insert coins or phone card on the right hand side of the telephone. The amount of money inserted should now be displayed on the top left hand side of the telephone. Dial the number.

SECURITY
Please be aware at all times of pick pockets, especially in larger towns and crowded areas such as markets, stations, etc. Be very wary of persons approaching you asking for money, do not stop, walk firmly and quickly past these people. Leave all valuables ad documents in hotel safe deposit boxes. Only take what you need. Never leave any valuables in cars, even if out of sight.

LOSSES AND THEFTS
Should you have anything stolen or lost, it is necessary to complete a police report for insurance purposes. This is called a “denuncia” and can be obtained from the local Carabinieri police station. This must be done within 24 hours.

BANKS
Currency and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at banks and hotels.
Banks are generally open from 8:20 to 13:20 and one hour in the afternoon (from 15:00 to 16:00 normally but it can vary depending one the bank) but not for currency exchange. Please take your passport with you for all transactions. Always check you have been given the correct amount, and your passport has been returned. Most banks offer cash on a credit card service and have got Cashpoint facilities.
Please note that credit cards are not widely used in Italy especially for small sums and some hotels do not accept credit cards for payment of extras

TRAVELLERS CHEQUES - Emergency cancellation numbers
(Freephone numbers in Italy)
American Express……………800 864046 (then press 0)
Citicorp………………………....800 057083
Thomas Cook………………...800 872050
Visa…………………………......800 018548

POSTAGE
Post offices are open from 8:30 to 13:00 only, except in larger towns where some stay open until 17:00. Stamps (“francobolli”) cost the same for letters and postcards within the EU. Stamps can also be bought from tobacconists (“Tabacchi”) and bars (look for a big black T on the sign outside the shop), usually they can be bought together with postcards.
The sign for a Post Office in Italy is a yellow circle with the letters PT printed in black.

ZEBRA CROSSING
When crossing the road always look both ways and try to always cross on a zebra crossing for your own safety.
Unfortunately just standing on the zebra crossing will not automatically mean that you have the right of way and so cars will not stop to let you pass as in many countries. However with a little patience and caution eventually someone will let you pass.
If however there is no zebra crossing where you would like to cross, cross the road very cautiously and NEVER cross by the traffic lights if they are RED – even if there are no cars actually passing. This is for your own safety.

HEALTH FACILITIES
Should a doctor be required during you stay please contact the villa owner for assistance. An emergency service is available during weekends and at night by calling 118. Chemists (“Farmacia” –look for a big green illuminated cross) are normally open from Monday to Saturday, they have the same times as the shop opening hours. On Sundays in larger towns they open on a rota basis, in smaller towns there is usually a note on the door with a telephone number for emergencies. Unlike in some countries chemists do not sell perfumes, develop films or provide assistance for wearers of glasses or contact lenses.
Most medicines are not available over the counter – depending on the medicine, a doctor’s prescription may be required.

HOSPITALS
If you are unfortunate enough to have to spend time in the hospital, please remember to bring your insurance form to the hospital with you.
Hospitals have an Accident and Emergency department (‘Pronto Soccorso’) which functions 24 hours a day.

SMOKING
Smoking is not permitted in public places, if you are caught you will be fined.

WATER
The water from the tap in Italy is not always pleasant to drink. If you wish you can buy bottled water in your hotel, supermarkets, bars, restaurants and local shops. There are 2 types:
Sparkling water – ‘Acqua minerale con gas’ or ‘Frizzante’
Still water – ‘Acqua minerale naturale’ or ‘senza gas’

MOSQUITOES
These can be a problem for some people, especially if you have sweet blood, as you are more likely to be a victim! The local chemist can provide you with anti insect bite cream or sprays.

ELECTRICITY
Electricity in Italy is 220 Volts.

CHURCHES & CATHEDRALS
Most churches and cathedrals around Italy close during the lunch break.
As a sign of respect, it is generally required when visiting that ladies keep their shoulders covered and refrain from wearing short skirts and shorts. Gentlemen likewise are required to dress respectfully and wear long trousers.

QUEUES
Unfortunately Italians do not like to queue and tend to push to the front. Often this can be annoying (especially when it causes you to miss the bus!). So remember “when in Rome do as the Romans do”. 

TIPPING
This custom is widely used throughout Italy. At restaurants and bars for example, a tip of 10% is usual and a small tip to taxi drivers, porters and mini – bus drivers is also expected. Please do not use small coins however, as this may be considered an insult!

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
1ST January -- New Years Day (Capodanno)
6th January Epiphany (La Befana – a kind of witch who brings extra Christmas toys and sweets)
Easter Sunday
Easter Monday
25th April -- Liberation Day
1st May -- Labour Day
2nd June -- Festa della Repubblica
15th August -- Assumption Day (Ferragosto – the biggest bank holiday)
1st November -- All Saints (Italians visit cemeteries)
8th December -- Immaculate Conception
25th December -- Christmas Day (Natale)
26th December -- Santo Stefano

On all public holidays shops, banks, museums, etc are all closed. Restaurants and bars are open; it is advisable to reserve a table on these days, as they will be busy.
Many towns have local feast days, held to honour the town patron saint, on these occasions banks, etc. may be closed, but only in that particular town.

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Travel Information

UK Government Foreign Office Travel Advice
To view the latest Foreign Office Travel Advice on Tuscany, please click here

The FCO's country-specific notices are regularly updated to ensure that travellers are well prepared before their departure.
For information on passport regulations and requirements visit the UK passport site by clicking here.

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Taking your Dog on holiday

Is a holiday without your beloved four-legged friend out of the question? With To Tuscany, holidaying with your dog becomes child’s play. We offer an extensive selection of dog-friendly holiday homes and apartments.

Tuscany is the ideal holiday destination for dog owners and their faithful companions. Long beaches and vast landscapes – in short nature at its best make the hearts of owner and dog beat faster.

There are a few things to consider to make a holiday with your dog become an unforgettable experience. And our To Tuscany team can tell you what these are. We are at your side with info and tips!

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To Tuscany Villa Collections

Not sure what sort of villa to stay in, or what sort of location would suit you? We’re here to help you book your perfect holiday. Here you will find a helpful guide to numerous types of villas that we provide throughout Tuscany.

Whatever type of villa you are looking for, you will find it by searching through the information below. As well as selecting the type of villa you want, you also need to think about what sort of setting you want your villa to be in.

We have outlined some of the main regions for you to choose from below, including Chianti, Tuscany and Umbria. You will also need to consider whether you want to stay in a hamlet, village, town or city.

We have a huge variety of villas, each with their own distinctive style. Our villas are all hand-picked by our staff. We only offer the highest quality, To Tuscany approved villas for our customers. Browse through the Tuscany Villa collections below and book your holiday online today with To Tuscany.

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Dietary advice in Italy

Travelling abroad or even dining out in your home town is never easy if you have food allergies or if you have opted for a vegetarian diet. Here To Tuscany provides some tips that you may find helpful during your holiday in Tuscany and while travelling in Italy.

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