TUSCANY IN SPRING: A PHOTOGUIDE



Ochre, terracotta and any existing shade of burnt sienna are the colours that come to mind when thinking of the famous rolling hills. However, for a few months each year, the Tuscan landscape doesn't look like something coming out of a pottery workshop, but like Ireland in summer. Minus the rain. And the Guinness. 









TUSCANY IN SPRING
It won't last though. Unless Tuscany's warm season is unusally wet like the incredibly rainy summer 2014, the landscape will look like this by the end of spring.

A glass of Vermentino wine in front of the the ocre colored Tuscan hills in July

WINTER NIGHT IN CINIGIANO: LOCAL FOOD AND A WARMING FIRE

Old lady holding a plate with polenta next to an open fire



All of Tuscany seems off-the-beaten path in winter and not even the Uffizi will boast the usual crowds and queues. So imagine how quiet things get in my Tuscan village, where American and Japanese tourists don't even come through in high season.

But one night every February, a barbecue is installed on Cinigiano's town square and the line in front of it will be longer than the one at the Vatican. Winter being cold in southern Tuscany too, lots of red wine will have to be drunk to warm up whilst watching the locals prepare the rivolti, an incredibly basic flour and water only pancake totally appropriate for the start of lent. But Cinigiano being Tuscan - and hence communist at heart - lent isn't taken too seriously, so expect plenty of wine, polenta and fried sausages.

CINIGIANO - NOTTE DEI RIVOLTI, WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 17, 2015 

Dress warm and arrive early (before 7.30 pm) to avoid the polenta queue. Not here in winter? Visit Cinigiano and its Montecucco wines during the rest of the year. 

The foodie queue during the 'notte dei rivolti'

Rivolti in a frying pan on an outdoor winter night

Rivolti and polenta in the making

TUSCAN TRIP PLANNING




Looking for Tuscany related travel advice? Wondering when to visit, which city to spend an extra day in and what restaurant to avoid at all cost? Map It Out provides trip planning help for individual travelers and small groups, who plan to taste the best wine and dodge the worst meal. 

Some Siena or Florence tips are relevant for most visitors and can be easily found on the internet or right here on my blogs (how to skip the Uffizi queue again and which organic Brunello winery to visit) - other recommendations for your stay in Tuscany will depend on taste, age and interests of the traveler exploring our hills.

TRIP PLANNING HELP IN TUSCANY

For more local insight and 
info about Map It Out's expert advice for your Tuscan itinerary send Katja an email (more about me here). My tailor-made tips for recommended sights, winery visits and booking service of hands-on activities or guided tours during your holiday normally cost between 90€ and 150€ (depending on the size of group and type / amount of customized travel advice needed). Travel consulting is normally via email; as an alternative a skype call can be organized on request. 

Or just visit the Map It Out Instagram or Facebook stream, to consult my very own Best of Tuscany itinerary. My favorite days start in a Tuscan museum or with an off-the-beaten-path hike, lead to a good local meal accompanied by a fine glass of wine and end on a lonely beach.  

a DIY beach hut on the Alberese National park beach



SPECIAL EVENTS AND GUIDED TOURS FOR CHILDREN IN FLORENCE

Queues, overpriced gelato and queues again. Florence can be tiring. Let alone with kids. But exploring the Florentine Renaissance dream can also be lots of fun thanks to the many educative and inspiring guided tours - especially with kids. With a playful and less intellectualizing introduction to Italy's art, history and cultural heritage everybody has a better time, the adults too. 


The most knowledgeable person I turn to when planning a day in Florence with children is Molly McIlwrath. As a licensed tour guide with a five year old daughter she knows from first hand experience what will work for families traveling with kids, and - maybe even more importantly - what definitely won't. 

Florence artisan tour with Molly McIlwrath
Molly explaining the techniques in Luigi Mecocci's wood carving studio in Florence

Avid reader and creative mind at large, Molly is also involved in the planning of hands-on activities in some of Florence best museums and art schools (many of them are available in English thanks to the big expat community in town). 

One of my favorite upcoming treats is the children's art and food workshop during which kids produce a vegetable based self-portrait inspired by Arcimboldo's artwork and hopefully end up eating some if too. 

Most of Molly's private tours end in one of Florence artisan shops in the Oltrarno quarters. I'm planning to sign our family up for one this winter. Not as a threat to our children (three hours of Renaissance studies since you didn't tidy up your bedroom), but as a premium for good behavior - together with an ice cream at the great gelateria in piazza della Passera. Molly obviously knows about that one too and is more than happy to supply countless tips and addresses of Florence' best shops, restaurants, bars, museums and ice cream parlors to keep your family busy for days after the tour. 

CUSTOMIZED PRIVATE TOURS FOR FAMILIES IN FLORENCE
  • To book a tailor-made tour in Forence for families with kids send me an email
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