- Orcia Wine Festival in san Quirico (April)
Tourists can sample and buy wines directly from producers and learn about the features and quality.
- Infiorata of Pienza (June)
Locals create grand flower tapestries on the town roads. There is also a religious procession and live music.
- Medieval Feast at Bagno Vignoni (June)
Locals dress in mediaeval clothes and there are ancient games and shows.
- Festa della Musica in Montalcino (June)
- Jazz & Wine Festival in Montalcino (July)
- San Galgano Festival (July)
International music festival held in the abbey of San Galgano
- “Sagra della Val d’Arbia” in Buonconvento (September)
A special event of music, sport, art and food.
- Sagra del Tordo in Montalcino (October)
A procession and traditional archery competition.
- Olive Oil Feast at San Quirico d’Orcia (December)
Local restaurants prepare traditional food and visitors get the chance to sample “olio novo” bruschette from local olive oil producers.
Val d’Orcia boasts a majestic landscape of medieval castles, olive groves, vineyards, hilltop towns and stunning rolling hills, so it’s no wonder this wonderful region has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The beautiful landscape characterizes this region, however the many little villages that are dotted around hide fascinating ancient histories that must be explored. A must-see is Pienza, a village known as the "Ideal City of the Renaissance" which was created by the great humanist Pope Pius II. Make sure you visit the beautiful Palazzo Piccolomini. Other intriguing villages to explore include Castiglion d'Orcia, Abbadia San Salvatore, Radicofani and the striking medieval city of Montalcino, which has a truly spectacular landscape. This town is home to one of the world's best Italian wines, the Brunello di Montalcino – where you can sample a few glasses of wine.
After a long day of sightseeing, unwind in one of the region’s many thermal baths. Bagno Vignoni is a favourite and it is utterly stunning with its central Renaissance swimming pool surrounded by ancient buildings.
A visit to Val d’Orcia would not be complete without trying the high quality local specialities such as the "pecorino" cheese, olive oil, superb wines, truffles, mushrooms, saffron and many, many more – the region is truly a foodie paradise!
One of Tuscany’s most charming abbeys, the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, should not be missed by anyone visiting the Val d'Orcia. Not only is the surrounding area breathtakingly beautiful with rolling hills and olive groves, but the abbey itself is equally as stunning and is one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture. Make sure you catch the monks singing the wonderful Gregorian chant at mass and in July and August, there are also organ concerts.
To really experience the true beauty of this area, take an excursion on an old steam train. The opportunity to lose yourself amongst the open vistas of sown land, sloping hills, vineyards, cypresses and umbrella pines, castle towers and isolated farmhouses is an opportunity not to be missed! You can stop off at different stations and explore the unique villages of the region, and the train journey can also be combined with activities such as hiking and cycling for those craving a faster pace.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR YOUR TUSCAN VILLA HOLIDAY
GMT +1 hour
The Euro (€) is the official currency of Italy. Coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50, cent , €1 & €2 denominations. Notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500 denominations.
Travellers cheques are widely accepted for exchange or purchase in major cities, but in more rural areas, visit a bank to exchange them for Euros. Major credit cards are widely accepted here (though a limited number of merchants have American Express accounts) and ATM access is widespread. Exchange currency only at authorized outlets such as banks and hotels, and exchange only what you think you will spend in-country. Coins cannot be reconverted on departure. Save all receipts from any currency exchange transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.
Tipping IN TUSCANY
You are not expected to tip on top of restaurant service charges, though leaving a small amount is common practice. If there is no service charge, you might consider leaving 10%/15%, but it is not obligatory. In bars any small change is left as a tip. Tipping taxi drivers is also not mandatory but suggested.
Arrival & Departure Formalities
Travel documents are your responsibility. In general you should have:
- A signed, valid passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. Your passport must have enough blank pages (excluding amendment pages) available for entry and exit stamps issued when entering and exiting immigration points.
- Visas are required for certain nationalities and you are strongly advised to check your status allowing plenty of time for visa application.
Weather IN TUSCANY
In general, the climate in Tuscany is very mild with little difference between the various provinces. The summers are hotter on the coast and in the valleys than in the hills. It rarely rains in the summer months. The average temperature varies between 27°C and 33°C and can even reach 40°C. Spring and autumn are rainy and milder; however, there are still plenty of dry and sunny days. By May there is less rain and the days become longer with up to 10 hours of daylight. The average temperature in spring is between 19°C and 24°C, in autumn between 21°C and 24°C. The winter months alternate between rain and sun with an average temperature of around 10°C.
It is advisable to contact your doctor before you travel if you have any specific health concerns and take out appropriate travel and medical insurance.
Electricity SUPPLY IN TUSCANY
Electrical service in Italy is supplied at 220-240 volts/50 hertz - a converter/adaptor may be required.
Driving IN ITALY
There are some important rules of the road -
- At crossroads drivers coming from the right have priority excluding crossroads with traffic signs/lights.
- Always carry your driver's license accompanied by the International Driving Permit, the car insurance papers and ownership (rental) papers.
- The minimum driving age is 18.
- Traffic drives on the right.
- Seat belts must be worn - children under 12 must travel in the back seats, unless the front seat is fitted with a child restraint system.
- Headlights must be on all the time except if driving in a city during the day with good visibility.
- In the event of a breakdown a red warning triangle must be displayed in the road.
- National speed limit is 50kmh (31mph) in towns, 90kmh (56mph) on secondary non-urban highways, 110kmh (68mph) on dual carriageways, 130kmh (80mph) on motorways.
- Speeding fines: Euros 30 - 300.
- For use of the highways it is invariably necessary to collect a ticket at toll booth marked " biglietti" before entering the highway. DO NOT pass under the lanes marked Telepass. Pay the toll at the exit. Payment can be made by coins or by credit card.
- There are strict laws concerning drinking and driving. Blood alcohol levels must not exceed 0.05%. There are random breathalyzer tests carried out regularly by the police.
Parking in Italy
- In many large towns, the historical town centre is subject to traffic restrictions (authorised vehicles only may enter) indicated by large white sign with a red circle saying " Zona a traffico limitato".
- Street parking is organized and designated with signs and by the colour of the lines for the parking spots. The colour of the lines on the parking space indicates the type of parking; white is for free parking, blue is for paid parking, yellow is reserved for special use. Signs will tell you if you are required to pay or to use a parking disc to time your parking (more details below). In most regions, blue lines mark paid street parking. There will be a payment machine nearby. Place the receipt from the machine on the dashboard. In many towns, white lines mark free parking spots on the street but they may be limited by time. The closest parking sign will tell you if you must set your parking disc to show when you arrived. Set your parking disc to the time you parked and display it in the window. You must return within the maximum allowed time.