What to do in Tuscany
Well, if you are taking the time to come to Tuscany, you already probably have a fair idea of what´s on offer. So we won´t preach to the converted, and we have no intention of writing a buide book. There are plenty on the market already.
What we hope to do in this section is help you choose what kind of holiday you want to have, and point out some of the things that make Tuscany such a special place for us to live in.
The Tourist's Dilema
One thing is for certain: here at Patrignone we are on the doorstep of the greatest concentration of art treasures in the World. So if you are an art-lover, especially if you have a Renaissance fetish, then Tuscany is pretty much Nirvana. Even if your art cravings are more pedestrian, then I don't doubt you will visit a museum or two, see a stunning church or two, visit the occasional Renaissance palazio. It goes without saying.
And, of course, you are spending a lot of money to come to Tuscany and stay here. So, of course, it's very tempting to look at the guide books and produce a great long list of 'must-see' places. We totally get that, of course we do.
But herein lies the dilema. Because, even if you're coming to Tuscany for 2 weeks or more, if you try and see everything the books tell you you absolutely must see, then you are going to spend your entire holiday charging around at break-neck speed, going from museum, to cathederal, to palazio, to castle, to museum, to specacular church, to famous statue, to yet another museum....and so on. At the end of your holiday you may have ticked-off everything on your list, what what will you remember? At some point in the distant future you might go through the 1000's of photos you've taken, but will you remember taking them, and what will you remember about the places you've seen?
Wouldn't it be better to go home with some real memories, some experiences to look back on? Yes, of course the Uffizi and the Academia are incredibly important treasure troves of Reneaisance art, but unless you're a Renaissance art scholar, what will 6 hours of oil paintings and statues really mean to you?
This is the dilema that most visitors have to deal with; if you've come so far and spent so much, how can you afford to not see as much as possible? And yet, if you want to have experiences that are unique to you, that means giving up on some of the things on your list to do stuff that's a little less main-stream, giving up A-list sights so that you can relax a little and feel a little of what it's like to like surrounded by all this stuff.
Hopefully, this is where we can help. We want you to go home with some fantastic memories, some unique experiences, and something on your camera other than big oil pointings and churches.
We're not saying you should abandon all the touristy stuff, of course not. By all means read the books and make your lists. Tuscany is famous for all these things, and you should see as many of them as you want. It's your holiday.
But we believe it is possible to do some of these things and enjoy your holiday too. That way, you go home rested, relaxed, and happy, full of amazing tales to tell your friends. And that way, you'll enjoy yourselves so much, that the real magic of Tuscany will get under your skin, and bring you back to us time and time again.
So we're going to suggest, amongst other things, that you go to a morning market and buy fresh fruit and veg, great fresh fish, a freshly roasted chicken, and hunt for those bargain Italian shoes. Take a picnic into the woods, or sit with a bottle of wine out in the olive groves as sun sets - maybe you'll spot deer or a wild boar. Go to some of the open air hot bubbling springs and soak your body in the same sulphurous waters the ancient Etruscans lounged in (many of them free). And visit some of the small, beautiful, medieval hill-top towns that surround us. Not just the famous ones, like San Gimignano and Monteriggioni, which are beautiful, but often so full of tourists you'll feel like your on a Disneyworld set. But the tiny, less visited places, like Gaiole, Volpaia, and Castellina in Chianti, on our doorstep.
Whatever you do, don't try to do it all. Remember to leave something for next time.
Places to see
In this section I am going to try and list the places our guests have raved about that are off the beaten track. We'll add to this as you find your own secret spots...
- Castello Di Brolio - this 12th century hill-top castle, owned by the Ricasoli family, is completely intact, steeped in history, and has views of the Siena walls. Lovely gardens, and wine cellar visitsby appointment
There are lots of lovely beaches less than a couple of hours away, certainly within easy reach for a day-trip. The sea is usually very clean, the beaches tidy and well kept, mainly because there are very few wild natural beaches around, though there are a few.
If you want a list of our favourites, here they are.
Here is a short-list of some of the things you can do while you are here. If you want more info on any of these, just drop us a line.
- Wine-tasting - we will give you some suggestions when you get here based on previous guest experiences - see our current list here.
- Walking - you could spend many hours just walking through Patrignone's woods and olive groves, or set off on one of the many walks that surround us. Alternatively, hook up with some of our local experts for some serious guided hiking - see our links page for more details.
- Guided tours
- Balloon rides - we can help you organise this from here.It's usually a very early (dawn!) start, and can be rather pricey, but a stunning way to see the Tuscan landscape. By the way, we are hping to host our own hot-air balloon mini-festival some time in the summer!
- Horse Riding
- Cycling - from road to off-road - get some ideas here.
- Bird watching - there is plenty to see here all year round, but especially in the migratory periods. If you want to talk to an expert about this try this site and drop Peter (our expert) a line.
- Exploring the Arts - here are a couple of useful sites: the Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence (the home of David) and the Uffizi gallery, Florence.
- Cookery - we do occasionally run cookery classes for small groups. If you are interested in this please let us know in advance and we will organise this for you. Groups should be between 4 and 10 (max) and will cost around €90/head, including all ingredients (and wine), and you get to eat all your own food!
- Eating! - see Where to eat in Tuscany
- Nature, plants, tress, wild-flowers - here's a useful source
- Hot natural springs, spas etc...here are some suggestions, and some more and a few more
- This hot spring resort is lovely: Calidario Terme Etrusche
- Go on a ghost walk through the dark streets of Florence
- Tennis - there are lovely courts at the Tennis Club Poggibonsi
Guided walking tours of Tuscany
If you are looking to explore the hidden delights of Tuscany on foot, what better way than to join up with some lovely friends of ours who organise 1-week walking tours using Patrignone as their base. See their website for more information.
The weather in Tuscany can vary from dry heat in the summer to icy winds and snow in the winter. The summer months are reliably warm and sunny, and because we are high in the hills, the temperature at Patrignone is noticably cooler than the heat of Florence (usually 2-5°C cooler, 3-9°F). We often get a lovely cool breeze in the evening.
If you are interested in more detailed figures...
- here's a useful 2,7 and 14 day forecast for Siena
- quite a detailed 2-week f/c for Castellina in Chianti (10 mins away) with monthly averages for those looking long-term
- and here's one for San Donato which is very close
- try this link for average monthly weather tables for Poggibonsi (and remember to deduct 2-5°C)
- try this link for the long-range weather forecast for Siena
Useful sites listing things to do in Tuscany
- A great calendar of local events in Tuscany can be found here.
- Here's a list of festivals and events we use a lot