Posts filed under ‘Things to Do’
Italy is wonderful for so many reasons, but let’s face it: nothing beats the food and wine! While there’s no such as thing as a bad meal in Italy (well, almost)…it’s nice to know which places are tried and true. Here, a RentVillas customer shares his experience at Villa del Castello and lists some of his favorite restaurants in Umbria (if you get as excited as we do about spaghetti al tartufo nero, you’ll want to take notes):
“We can’t really think of anything you would need to bring. The owners provide cell phones, a TomTom, spices, olive oil – if you plan to cook. We did do our big grocery shopping in Acquapendente which is very close. Great restaurant there. I believe one of our favorite experiences was in Montepulciano in a small restaurant called A Gambe di Gatto. We had a 3 1/2 hour lunch there and it was fabulous. We also enjoyed the town of Pitigliano and lunch at La Magica Torre. We had the Antipasto de la Casa and there was no end to it. Ristorante Cavour in Todi was really good. As you can tell, we ate a lot and we drank a lot of wonderful food and wine. One more place in Orvieto, actually two, La Palomba, which was recommended by many, and Bevipiano. The owner is from Sicily and he plays a mean piano. There is music there on Friday and Saturday. The chef is also from Sicily and the food was great.”
If you’re renting a villa in Tuscany or Provence in November/December you’ll find fewer crowds, lower rates…and olive oil and truffles! This is the season of l’olio nuovo or l’huile nouvelle (the “green gold” produced in the first olive pressing) and the harvesting of fabulous fungi. Gastronomic festivals in Tuscany and Provence abound.
Renting a villa in Tuscany in summer 2011? See Val d’Orcia by vintage steam train! TrenoNatura, a branch of Ferrovie Turistiche Italiane, runs veteran steam locomotives on beautiful stretches of train line no longer used by the state railway. Departures from Siena and Florence as well as locations in Lombardy.
You probably won’t find the church of Santa Maria del Carmine on the average Florence tourist’s “Top Ten” list. And yet it’s here, in the Brancacci Chapel, that you’ll find one of the greatest masterpieces of the Renaissance. To catch a glimpse (literally), here’s the scoop: Reservations for a 15-minute visiting slot in the Brancacci Chapel are mandatory. The good news is reservations are FREE if you call the chapel directly: 011 39 055 276 8224; English is spoken.
Where can you see the earliest known portraits of writers Dante and Boccaccio AND enjoy a gourmet Tuscan meal? Alle Murate. This Florence ristorante (open since 2006) is located in the Palazzo dell’Arte dei Giudici e Notai, a 13th-century guildhall covered with frescoes. Enjoy a memorable (if pricey) holiday meal while renting San Lorenzo 2 this winter.
Attention, oenophiles! If you’re going to be renting a Florence apartment this winter 2010 or next spring 2011, don’t miss “Vinum Nostrum“, an exhibit at the Museo Galileo, or Institute and Museum of the History of Science, on the origins of European viticulture (through April 30th; 8 Euros). This museum is often missed and is truly on of the city’s gems; put it on your next Florence itinerary!