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Nature Train 2017: vintage carriages in the Sienese countryside

Weekends on NATURE TRAIN are coming back! An exciting experience for children but also for adults who can admire quietly the landscapes of the Crete Senesi and the Valdichiana. The trains run through the old railway tracks and stop in the characteristic of the Sienese villages to taste the local products: wine, oil, truffles, mushrooms…
The two trains, one with the steam engine and the other with vintage carriages, alternating during the Sundays in the spring and fall. Every Sunday it proposes a different route departing from Siena, to discover the beauty of the territory.

April 17 – Buonconvento
Antiques Fair

April 23 – San Quirico d’Orcia
Orcia Wine Festival

April 25 – Castiglione d’Orcia
Spring in Val d’Orcia

May 01 – Montalcino
The Maggiolata

May 14 – Asciano
Market Ghiotti: cheese and pods

May 25 – Torrenieri and Montalcino
Train Festival

May 28 – Chiusi
Discovering the city of the Etruscans

October 1 – Murlo
Festival at the Castle of Murlo

October 8 – Vivo d’Orcia and Castiglione d’Orcia
Porcini Mushroom Festival

October 15 – Abbadia San Salvatore
Autumn Festival

October 23 – Trequanda
New Olive Oil Festival

October 29 – Montalcino
Festival of the Thrush

November 12 – San Giovanni d’Asso and Montalcino
White Truffle Market

December 8 – Asciano
Truffle Market of Asciano White

December 10 – San Quirico d’Orcia
Olive Oil Festival

For information and reservations and

Shopping at Valdichiana Outlet Village

Only 5 minutes driving from La Lisa and here we are:

Welcome to Valdichiana Outlet Village, a suggestive and amazing outlet village located in the heart ofValdichiana, one of the loveliest spots in Tuscany.
TheValdichiana Outlet Village houses over 140 famous designer and brand shops thatoffer 30 – 70% discounts all year round and during sales periods furtherdiscounts and offers are made.
TheVillage offers a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere; it has several facilitiesand services such as the beauty centre, the playground, the library and severalfood courts where the best local food and wines are offered.
Thevisitors choose Valdichiana Outlet Village situated in Foiano for an unique“shopping experience” characterized by quality and convenience.

Where you can find us?
Via Enzo Ferrari, 5
Località le Farniole
Foiano della Chiana 52045
Contacts: Ph. +39 0575 649926 / Fax. +39 0575 642549
OPENING HOURS: Monday to Sunday 10.00 – 20.00

Summer 2017 Country Fest in Tuscany

Saint Agnes feast with the traditional country fair

Traditional MAGGIOLATA (flower-car parade)

Feast of Macaroni

Feast with GOOSE specialities

Saint John the Baptist’s feast with horses and traditional oxen chariot parade

Feast of the CONTRADAS (quartiers)

Feast of the FROG

Joust of Simone, a village tournament

Feast of the STEAK

Feast of PORCINI Mushrooms

Feast of PORCHETTA (Roasted Pork)

10 things to do for foodies in Tuscany

1. Eat the Tuscan meat (probably the best in Italy)

Primarily the Chianina breed, the meat choosed for the famous Florentine steak, is born and grows mainly in Valdichiana. These cattle are completely white, large and are specially bred for breeding and meat production. Here in Val di Chiana there are many butchers offering prime cuts and restaurants that know how to cook Florentine steak to perfection.
Another typical feature is the Cinta Senese meat, a kind of wild pig that lives primarily outdoors. Its meat is quite fatty and very tasty, it can be appreciated in the form of the various cured meats that are produced.

2. Tasting Pienza pecorino with pears or with honey

The production area of the famous cheese is the Val d’Orcia, here you can spot groups of sheep that graze in the hills, kissed by the sun. This traditional cheese has centuries of history: it seems that the Etruscans had the pecorino. Today, who is engaged in production are mainly Sardinian families, who have intervened with their experience, a few years ago, when the Tuscan peasants were leaving the land.
There are several ways to taste the cheese, many simply offer with honey, others add a fig jam, nuts etc. The classic combination is the one with pears or pear jam.

3. Visit a winery

And here, with our DOCG and DOC we are spoiled for choice.
Montalcino is the area that produce Brunello, many are the vineyards and wineries around the village. Some look out towards Siena (eg. Caparzo), while others view the sea and the Grosseto (eg. Poggio Antico). The Banfi estates are the largest ones, you can learn about their production by visiting the Castle of Poggio alle Mura.
Montepulciano is a must for wine lovers: the cellars are not only in the surrounding countryside but they are also hidden in the noble palaces of the city. You can visit the old cellars of Redi (today belongs to the family Ricci), that are placed on the different floors of a charming building, or you can enjoy a classic glass of Nobile admiring the vineyards such the ones of Palazzo Vecchio in Valiano.
Instead Cortona, in recent years is specializing in the production of Syrah, a wine from the south who seem to enjoy much the new Tuscan location.

4. Learn to make pasta or gnocchi, attending a cooking class

Some years ago my grandmother used to prepare the dough in the “madia” (like a cupboard): Flour and eggs for the dough; potatoes, flour and eggs for the gnocchi. Then, to make the dumplings she used to roll the dough and cut small squared pieces. To roll the dough for Tagliatelle or Lasagna se used the rolling pin. Today the “madia” is no longer used but the process is the same and you can learn by attending one of the many cooking classes we have in the area.

5. Tasting the new oil

In late October – early November we do the olive harvest and bring olives to the mill (usually there is an olive press in each country). Each family takes its olive oil, enough for the whole year, and they also use to share it with family and friends.
If you happen to endorse a mill, during the fall, perhaps you can attend to the pressing, taste the new oil on bruschetta, and maybe buy a few bottles.
The best quality of olives in our area is in the hills of Montisi and Petroio (in Siena), Cortona and Castiglione Fiorentino (in Valdichiana) and in those of Pergine (in Valdarno).

6. Nibble the thin pizza or schiacciata

The Tuscan pizza is not like the classic Neapolitan pizza, it is very thin and less salty. You can also eat it after an appetizer or a main course. The schiacciata or schiaccia is the simple pizza base without tomato, only with olive oil and rosemary, you can eat it instead of bread. The schiacciata could be more or less high: a olive oil schiaccia, high and soft crushing is ideal to be stuffed.

7. Try the tuscan street food

If you pass around Monte San Savino you should try the famous “porchetta“, roast pork flavored with spices, with which usually, are stuffed the bread rosettes.
In Valdarno and Chianti you found instead the “finocchiona“: a pork sausage flavored with fennel, perfect if you take it with pecorino and a olive oil schiaccia.
Trippa and Lampredotto are the Florentine specialties: they consist of the entrails of slaughtered animals, clean and well-cooked stew. Many people, knowing what it is, turn up their noses, however, is a street food of which the Florentines are greedy, since always.

8. Eating Sienese sweets

Walking through the streets of Siena you can spot all the differents cafés and bakeries offering the Panforte, Panpepato and Ricciarelli.
The Panforte is prepared with honey (or sugar), dried and candied fruit. It’s called pan-forte (strong bread) for the strong taste that is given by the spices. A milder version is that of Panforte margherita, while something even more special is the Panpepato, with pepper.
Ricciarelli are made with almond paste and are almond shaped. Are typical Christmas sweets but today in Siena are eaten throughout the year.

9. Go hunting for mushrooms and truffles

At the end of the summer begins the fun season for fungaroli and truffle hunters. In the highest hills (Casentino, Valtiberina, Mugello) and in Monte Amiata, you can find different varieties of mushrooms (from “porcini” to “chiodini”), already in September. The same works for the black truffle, but to sample the white truffles we have to wait until the autumn. In late November – early weeks of December it is very easy to find the white truffle, both in the Tiber Valley and in the area of Asciano, where every year takes place an important festival of the white truffle. However, not only in the fall, but throughout the year you can see demonstrations in private truffle grounds, where truffle dogs go hunting for these fragrant tubers.

10. Gather vegetables

Worldwide, fortunately, everyone cultivates his small vegetable garden, but here in Tuscany climate encourages the growth of vegetables and fruits throughout the year. Often we have organic products, which comply with the due course of nature and ensure authentic tastes.
In our vegetable garden in La Lisa we grow zucchini, eggplant, artichokes, pumpkins, peas, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes. We also have some fruit trees: pears, apples, apricots, plums and figs “settembrini”.

Wellness at Terme Antica Querciolaia Rapolano

Our guests can take advantage of a 10% discount on Wellness Center Ancient Querciolaia
(excluding thermal pools, the turkish bath and the packages already discounted)

At Terme Antica Querciolaia in Rapolano you can enjoy:

  • Therapeutic thermal pools (hot baths 39 ° -40 ° C, tempered baths 30 ° -34 ° C and cold baths 22 ° -25 ° C);
  • Treatments, and daily programs;
  • Spa aesthetics;
  • Medical spas

Spa is open daily from 09:00 to 19:00.
Opening time is extended until 01:00 on Saturdays and until 20:00 on Sundays

Yoga retreats in Tuscany

La Lisa is suitable for organizing Yoga Retreats, as you can find:

LOCATION – The house is surrounded by the countryside. There are many pahts to walk by or to go by bycicle and it’s plenty of possibilities to do fitness activities.

SILENCE – The place is quiet, you can really hear the nature.

SPACES – We have room to host your Yoga session both outside and inside.

ORGANIC LIFESTYLE – We have our vegetable garden and our chicken’s eggs.

SELF CATERING OR CHEF AT HOME – Each apartment has his own kitchen, so you can cook by yourself. Or you can decide to cook and eat together in TAVERN.
If you like a more relaxing holiday you can ask for a personal chef that will cook for you and your group.

ASSISTANCE – We can help organizing your retreat and assist you during your stay. We are always here for you.

Famous battlefields in Tuscany (and Umbria)

Tuscany is famous for the clashes that took place between the towns during the Middle Ages. A hatred that has lasted for centuries between Siena and Florence, between Florence and Arezzo, between Arezzo and Siena, not to mention the blood that runs between Pisa and Livorno …

But our areas have been the scene of legendary battles since the times of the ancient Romans…

1. The Battle of Hannibal

In the third century BC, the Roman Empire is continually threatened by a force that pushes from the south: the Punic Carthage (in modern Tunisia). This time at the head of their army there is Hannibal, a leader without equal, who decides to penetrate the Italian peninsula through the territory of the Alps with his elephants. In the Italian territory there are several clashes, one of these, perhaps the most memorable, it is held on the shores of Lake Trasimeno. The tactics of Hannibal has the better on the Romans: it is a massacre, 15,000 men die and the waters of the river that runs next are tinged with red.

Those who want to relive the battle sites can visit the coast that goes from Tuoro sul Trasimeno in Passignano.
Each year, June 21, for the anniversary of the battle, there is a reenactment.
For information:

2. The Battle of Scannagallo

Almost two thousand years later, not far from the places of Hannibal, the Florentines still face once with the Sienese. We are in the Renaissance and this time it is not simple skirmishes: behind the Florentines there are the Spaniards while the Sienese are together with the French. The name scanna-gallo “slaughtering rooster” can only result from the outcome of the battle: the Florentines win over Siena, which from now on will no longer be able to get up again.

To celebrate this victory the Florentines commissioned Giorgio Vasari to build a temple to Victory, which still dominate the hills of Pozzo della Chiana.
Anyone wishing to be in the middle of this battle can do it over a weekend in July, when the Scannagallo Association organizes the historical pageant (along with a Renaissance market).
For information:

3. The Battle of Montaperti

A few steps from Siena, in a small town in the municipality of Castelnuovo Berardenga, took place what we might call the typical medieval clash: on one side the Sienese Ghibelline troops (favorable to the empire), on the other the Florentines army Guelph (favorable to the papacy). This time is Siena to win. Florentines like Dante, can only cry the defeat and observe the stream Arbia “painted red”.

In the small town of Montaperti is a pyramid commemorating the battle. Every year on September 4 a torchlight starts from Acqua Borra and reach the top of the hill where the pyramid is. Today you can stroll along the river Arbia, or if you want to have an idea of the weapons and techniques used in battle, you can visit “Monteriggioni in Arme”, about a half hour drive.
For informations:

4. The Battle of Campaldino

This time is the Aretines that clash with the Florentines. The battle has an exceptional cast: Arezzo gather all the Ghibellines of Italy and takes the field also the Bishop; the Florentine army is backed by the Guelph and the French.
Among the Florentines knights there is also Dante Alighieri. When he wrote the Divine Comedy, in Canto V of Purgatory, he described the last moments of Buonconte da Montefeltro’s live, a knight who lost his life in this battle.

Today the plain of Poppi houses a stele commemorating the site of the battle, but to know more, you can visit the cellars of the Conti Guidi castle in Poppi. In these rooms is just the Count Guido Novello, who also died in this battle, to tell how the events took place.
For information:

5. The Battle of Anghiari

The years pass and clashes are amplified, the rivalry between the Papacy and the Empire involves Florence (along with Venice and the Papal States) against the Milanese troops of the Visconti. According to Machiavelli stories, it did not stretch to a bloody clash, however, it lasted longer and ended with the victory of the Florentines and their coalition.

Today in Anghiari, from the top of Corso Giacomo Matteotti, you can admire the splendid panorama of the plain where the clash took place.
The Marzocco Palace host the museum of the battle. Inside you can also find a study on the lost Leonardo da Vinci painting, realized in the Hall of 500 in Florence, and that showed in fact a clash at the Battle of Anghiari.
For information:

Christmas Markets in Tuscany Italy

Tuscany offers many opportunities to experience the magic atmosphere of Advent and Christmas.
The medieval and Renaissance towns are invaded by the enchantment of the parties with craft stalls, food stands and entertainment for the whole family!

Santa Claus Town is waiting for you in Chianciano from November 5th to January 8th with the market and the Luna Park.

In Montepulciano from November 19th  to January 8th there is the Christmas village, with traditional markets and Santa’s Castle.

Children come quickly on November 20th in Pozzo della Chiana there are Santa’s Elves that collect your letters!

From December 3rd to 26th Arezzo become the Christmas city: in addition to the Tyrolean markets in Piazza Grande there will be many events for young and old.

On 3rd and 4th December it returns the old medieval market in Piazza del Campo in Siena.

4 – 8 to 11 December in Laterina there is the exhibition of nativity scenes, with the Living Nativity and Santa’s chariot racing around the streets of the charming medieval village.

To Monterchi’s Ville do not miss the historic Living Nativity on 25th and 26th December and 1st and 6th January.

Tuscany is able to maintain a climate ever disk: in the coldest days the minimum can get around zero degrees, but during the day you can be outdoors enjoying a temperature around 10 degrees. For this reason the Christmas markets in Tuscany are ideal for families, even with small children. You can also treat yourself to a relaxing bit with the heat of the thermal baths of Rapolano, Chianciano and Bagno Vignoni.

Foiano della Chiana’s Carnival 2017

This year 2017 there will be 5 Sunday parades to attend: 5 – 12 – 19 – 26 February and 5 March.

In the 4 sites, where the carts are made papier-mâché, there is already abuzz for months: there are those who studied sculpture, those colors, those movements of the figures, who choreographed the masked accompanying the wagon. Every construction site is committed to achieving the most beautiful fashion show, but all in the utmost secrecy, no information has to get to the other sites! The veil will only discover the first Sunday of Carnival, when, almost like giants who sgranchiscono after a long sleep, out of the shadows of the yards the colorful figures in papier mache.
The parade winds its way through the narrow streets of the town: in fact, need a lot of attention when the wagons are through the gaps. But it is precisely the special features of the Foiano Carnival: colorful papier-mâché giants in the background of a small, quaint Tuscan village.

The last Sunday the festival is extended until the evening: when the sun is set and the carts are back to the sites, we all go back to the streets to listen to the “Re Giocondo” will, a straw puppet that dies each year between the crackling flames. The King is well informed about the nasty business that happen in the country during the year and knows how to make it a fun satire. At the end of the will, before the fire, it is declared the winner of the carnival site.

Games, entertainment for children and food stands are the framework for the whole event, an event not to be missed for all those who want to have fun during the carnival Sundays!

Ask for ONE NIGHT stay special prices!

The 10 best spots in Tuscany for a photographer

1. The cities from above

The view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo takes your breath away. You can reach by car and you can park (for a fee).

To grasp the particular shape of Piazza del Campo in Siena you have to climb the steps (for a fee) of the Mangia Tower, adjacent to the town hall. From there you can take a look at the whole city and the surrounding countryside.

You can also admire Arezzo from the Municipal Tower (only with guided tour on Saturday). On one side it overlooks the impressive Cathedral, while on the other you have a view over the red rooftops of the city, interrupted every so often by the domes and bell towers of the churches.

The cities of Pisa and Lucca have a different conformation of the territory, mostly flat. The best way to see them is from above thanks to the walkways on the walls (for a fee)

2. Postcards from Val D’Orcia: the grove of cypresses and the Chapel of Vitaleta

Perhaps one of the most photographed icons of Tuscany. The grove is visible from SR2, between San Quirico d’Orcia and Torrenieri. A comfortable pitch allows you to stop in the vicinity, and a path allows you to walk on the road that surrounds the hill and then to photograph the grove from different angles. To reach the chapel of Vitaleta you must take a little detour on the road from Pienza to San Quirico D’Orcia.

3. The Tuscan countryside

From spring to autumn our countryside always has something to show:
– In May green wheat
– In June, the golden wheat
– In July / August sunflowers
– The round bales in August
– The grape ripens in September
– The foliage and autumn colors in October

4. The Crete Senesi

The best way to visit the Crete Senesi is to get lost in the myriad of dirt roads that wind through Taverne d’Arbia and Rapolano.
On found several indications on the way ahead.

5. The view of Lake Trasimeno seen from the hill of Cortona

Cortona is surrounded by olive groves that slowly descend to the lake. It is an idyllic landscape that should not be very different from what they saw the Etruscans more than two thousand years ago.
In winter, when there is fog it seems to observe a cotton sea.
The vantage point is to Piazza Garibaldi, before entering the pedestrian area. Who wants to can climb higher, to the Sanctuary of Santa Margherita.

6. Hot air ballooning over the Val d’Orcia

It starts very early in the morning, when the wind is calmer, and then climb slowly up to 1000 mt. The very slow time of this ascent and descent, allow to portray the landscape from different points of view.
For information

7. The carpet of cultivated fields

The Tuscan countryside is very tidy, despite the difficulties that sometimes meet with the hilly terrain. It is so organized that it looks like a carpet sewed with pieces of different colors and patterns. This type of landscape can be admired all year long from the top of the hills of Montalcino, Montepulciano and Pienza.

8. San Galgano

The church without roof, beautiful during the day (especially in spring, when the games of the clouds offer special lighting effects), but even at night, thanks to a wise lighting. There’s an entrance fee to visit the interior, otherwise you can walk in the surrounding countryside.

9. The pool of Bagno Vignoni

At the center of the small village of Bagno Vignoni is this old tank that collects the source of the thermal waters. It is said that where the gushing water can support a pan and cook an egg.
Are very beautiful colors of the stone during the several hours a day, but also night lighting gives the evocative images.

10. San Gimignano and its towers

One of the points from which to have a broad view of the towers and the countryside, is the Cortenanno road, which runs parallel to the hill where lies the city. You can stop at several points and take pictures from different distances and angles.

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