As the end of the summer holidays appear to be coming closer, the burning desire for another break can take over. With the long summer season often leaving you more exhausted than you were prior to the vacation, why not book another family trip in the October half term, to truly relax?

The autumn season in Tuscany offers average high temperatures of 22 degrees, with an abundance of activities to partake in, for you and your family. Enjoy Italy without the crowds, extreme heat or expensive pricing!

October in Italy is widely known for the beautiful array of colours during the harvest – attend food festivals to taste the authentic cuisine, pick grapes at a local winery or wild mushrooms in hidden woodlands. Italian delicacies are recognized globally and tasting a traditional pasta dish is on everyone’s bucket list, so why not visit when Italian produce is at its finest?

Exploration and discovery are always an activity that should be at the forefront of any holiday itinerary – why not visit Mugello & Monte Amiata and take a ride on a real-life steam engine. Not only will you be taken back in time, it’s also a great way to discover the landscape of Trequanda.

But perhaps you want to enjoy nature and the great outdoors during your stay in Tuscany?

Pistoia Zoo presents a great day out for the family, situated on the hill of Pistoia, with a large complex of natural environments for animals from around the world! Experience all corners of the globe from Italy!

If exercise and releasing endorphins is top on your list of activities for your half term holiday, why not enjoy a cycle with the family through the rolling hills of Tuscany.  But don’t worry if exercise doesn’t completely entice you, I Bike Tuscany offer electric bikes too. Explore your surroundings and view the true beauty of Italy.

At Cignella, we believe that every family should enjoy a holiday together! But unfortunately, with strict school terms and increasingly expensive pricing, many families miss out on that oh so special quality time. We think half term holidays should be #FairerForFamilies! Cignella will not raise our prices during off-peak school holidays and our prices throughout October will be the same. Cignella does not want you to feel the pressure to take your child out of school and risk receiving a fine or miss out on a family trip because of extortionate and unreasonable prices.

Visit Cignella this half term and we promise you’ll have the trip of a lifetime, that won’t break the bank. 

See you soon

Cignella 

Your villa is booked, now all you need is a car! The first thing to know is that your UK licence is valid in Italy. The older, all-green UK paper licence and older Northern Ireland paper licence with photographic counterpart are also valid but to make the hire smoother we suggest you update to a photocard licence before travelling.

When it comes to car-hire, always book well in advance to get the cheapest deal.  There are a number of comparison websites which will speedily give you the best price, try: skyscannerTravel SupermarketCarrentals and Kayak. Make sure you check all the inclusions, exclusions and fuel/driver surcharges so you aren’t caught out.

Always work out exactly what you need as you will be faced with a number of options: air con, sat nav, extra drivers, fuel policy etc. Don’t forget your smart phone could be turned into a sat nav so check this out too.  Also, look carefully for the cheapest excess insurance before you leave, try a comparison site for this too such as MoneyMaxim.

For those who getting to Cignella as part of a big car adventure across Europe, don’t assume that your current insurance will automatically cover you. Most comprehensive policies become third party outside the UK but within the EU. You may also need to advise your insurer before you go. Also check your breakdown cover and upgrade to a European one or buy special temporary cover.

If you have small children, it may be free to take car seats on the plane to avoid local hire costs which can start from £5 per day. Check your airlines policy before you go.

Speed limits are signposted but if not, the standard speeds are: built-up areas 50km/h, outside built-up areas 90km/h, dual carriageways 110km/h in dry weather and motorways 130km/h in dry weather. If you passed your test less than 3 years ago you must not exceed 90 km/h on dual carriageways and 100 km/h on motorways.

Lastly when it comes to filling up, credit cards are accepted at most filling stations but you should check with your card issuer before travel.

So there you go, a few handy tips to help you on your way! The country roads will be a breeze to drive around and stunning countryside will be your friend at every turn.

Enjoy your travels and we look forward to welcoming you soon.

Cignella

If you want to escape the sun and explore a lesser known wonder, then it may be time to venture underground. Siena is known for its beautifully historic centre but as you wander around the magnificent Duomo and famous Piazza del Campo, there is a mass of intricate waterways trickling under your feet!

Just over a 1 hour drive from Cignella, the wonderful town of Siena is home to the “Bottini” – a maze of tunnels stretching over 25kms whose function is to take water to wells all over the city. Located away from a water flow meant that long ago, the Sienese people had to carve long waterways by hand, through the sandstone. These galleries still take water from the surrounding hills to fill the fountains you see in every square in town. This engineering wonder, created many hundreds of years ago, has evolved over time and still provides water free from impurities.

The construction work was tough and life was poor which has given birth to some memorable legends of monsters inhabiting the underground and causing illness and trouble for the workers.

Only groups of 8-10 people can explore this hidden wonder at any time, so you need to book in advance (ticket@comune.siena.it). The tour is subject to weather conditions and water flow, and you must wear suitable footwear, a cardigan and take a bottle of water.

Other spectacular caves around 3 hours from Cignella are at Antro del Corchia (in the Regional Park of Apuane Alps) which is made up of 60kms of tunnels and shafts, and the Grotta del Vento near Lucca with its shining stalactites and stalagmites.

There are many other surprising wonders close to Cignella and our team are always happy to help with your queries, before you arrive and once you are here. Whether you have a question about booking a balloon ride, hiring a motorbike, the best place for a romantic picnic, watch a spectacular sunset or simply where to buy the best olive oil, we will always get the answer for you.

We want you to have the best time with us in Tuscany and look forward to welcoming you soon!

Cignella

September is packed with great things to do in Tuscany. Whether travelling as a couple, family or individual traveller there is something for everyone in the region.

Events and festivals mean you can catch a glimpse of the life of locals and experience traditions harping back centuries. With mild temperatures and long days of sunshine it is one of the best times to visit.

Traditionally a time of harvest there are many celebrations dedicated to harvesting grapes. One great event is the “Vino al Vino” on the 3rd weekend of September (14-17th) in Panzano, Chianti. Local vintners meet in the town square to show their wines and you can sample them while listening to great jazz! http://bit.ly/2ruqbjW

On the last Saturday in September, Florence holds the “Carro Matto” procession. This free spectacular celebrates the tradition of wine-making with the arrival of the Carro Matto or Crazy Cart pulled by oxon through the streets and accompanied by a parade of drums, flag throwers and even a cannon!

In Arezzo for the week running up to the first Sunday of September, the clock is turned back and a medieval town is recreated for the “Giostra del Saracino” celebration. Events conclude with a joust in the beautiful Piazza Grande with jousters fighting to be the proud owner of a golden lance.

In Lucignano on the last weekend of September, costume crafts and trades from yesteryear are brought back to life with re-enactments. Old recipes fill the streets and visitors are reminded of times gone by in the festival “Memorie Dal Passato”.

In San Gimignano, between 10-24 September, the “Baroque festival” is celebrated. Concerts are held playing famous pieces from opera and music. All performers are highly esteemed and the charming setting is perfect. http://bit.ly/1s0P3No

For honey lovers an event not to miss is the Honey festival or “Settimana Del Miele” in Montalcino (8-9th September). Enjoy the sweet flavours and taste some delicious varieties. Talks and demonstrations complete this celebration.

The list really does go on just search online to see the events taking place. Cignella is the perfect base from which you can explore all the festivities in spectacular September and our lovely staff are always available to help you plan your trips. We still have some stunning villas and apartments available so don’t delay and make it a September to remember this year!

 

See you soon

Cignella 

When it comes to honeymoons or mini-moons, the list of destinations is endless. Safari in Africa, an idyllic retreat in the Indian Ocean or perhaps a remote Pacific Island spring to mind? But all these mean expensive airfares, long flights and of course jet-lag when you feel tired for days!

The perfect destination is much closer and a lot less expensive. Tuscany is only a short flight away and with low-cost carriers flying to regional airports including Pisa, Perugia and Siena, you won’t have to pay extortionate airfares. Plus with barely 1 hour time difference, you will arrive feeling fresh, and raring to go!

And don’t forget how romantic the region is…..breathtaking scenery at every turn, beautiful sunsets, exemplary restaurants and delicious cuisine, everything you can wish for on a honeymoon.

Here are a few must-see things to do for honeymooners:

Florence – full of art, beauty and love. Wander the quaint streets, shop for a honeymoon gift in the numerous antique shops and reserve a table at a top restaurant for a romantic meal.

Pienza – get lost in the tiny streets and look for the Via dell’Amore and the Via del Bacio – meaning Street of Love and Street of Kiss!

Cortona – get caught up in Etruscan history in this lovely hilltop town. Explore the streets and venture outside to the countryside for a romantic walk.

Montalcino – less visited than the Chianti region and just as rich in world famous wine, a visit here and to neighbouring Montepulciano will leave you content, happy and possibly a little fuzzy!

And when it comes to choosing a romantic place to stay Cignella won’t disappoint. A modern and welcoming villa, surrounded by stunning scenery and a spacious terrace for romantic sunsets is the perfect place to rest your head.  We can arrange a couples massage in the luxury of your room and as romance is on the menu, we can arrange a private dining experience to create more lasting memories.

As we love to welcome honeymooners at Cignella we are offering those who stay 7 nights with us a glass of champagne not just on arrival but EVERY DAY of your stay! PLUS, we will give you a huge €100 to enjoy a meal on us at a restaurant of your choice, see details here.

So don’t wait a moment longer and book your stay with us. Our staff are waiting to greet you and make your honeymoon, or mini-moon, just perfect.

See you soon

Cignella 

As the Tour de France draws to a close, keen cyclists will be heading to Italy for a well-planned tour of Tuscany, while for those less used to travelling on 2 wheels, it may be a surprise that the area around Cignella, boasts some lovely easy routes which are well worth exploring!

Travelling by bike means that you enjoy the scenery at a slow pace, can stop whenever you like to rest and take photos, and it is great exercise too. And, as you pass through the countryside, you will catch sight of delights that you would certainly miss by car. If you are visiting in summer, plan to cycle early morning or late afternoon, while from March until June, and September to October any time of day is perfect!

Known for its hills, cycling in Tuscany can be daunting for those who like to stay on flat ground. Luckily there is the perfect solution – e-bikes! These wonderful machines allow you to enjoy the scenery without breaking into a sweat. On downhill slopes, the bicycle will store up power so that when you are on long, flat stretches, or faced with a hill, the electric motor kicks in and you reach the summit with a smile on your face! Easy to hire, click here for more details on these dream machines.

If you are travelling as a family, biking can still be enjoyed. An adult can carry a child up to 8 years old on a suitably designed bike. Cycling in a single file is law unless one of the riders is less than 10 years. Lucca is a great place for families to explore on 2 wheels, most locals travel this way and being flat ground, little ones have a great day too!

Hopefully, we have tempted you to make it a Tour de Tuscany this year! If you have any bike hire queries, just let us know and we can get the answers for you. After a day out on a bike, the best place to be is with your feet up in the luxury of a Cignella villa. Sit back, relax and enjoy a well-earned glass of wine on the terrace. As you watch another beautiful sunset your thoughts may turn to activities for the next day….perhaps it will simply be a day by the pool!

5 reasons to holiday in Tuscany

When you think of Tuscany you may think of wine, history and beautiful countryside but it is also a shoppers’ paradise. A stone’s throw from Cignella there are some great places to find wonderful Italian goodies!

One such venue is Valdichiana Outlet village, 30 mins from Cignella. With brands including Adidas and Nike, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, plus Gant, Guess and Gap you can kit yourself out with a whole new look. To add vibe to your shopping experience, from 17th June – 6 August 2017 they are holding “Summerfest” – 50 days of live music, food tastings, dancing and exhibitions. Each week a different music style is celebrated: classical, jazz/blues, rockabilly, hip hop and seventies tunes. The outlet will be decked out in matching style – think a gleaming Chevrolet and live dance performances to a 1950’s vibe during rockabilly week AND an urban street setting with dance crews battling it out during hip-hop week. It certainly won’t be your typical shopping experience!

If you prefer a more authentic atmosphere there are lots of markets every day, check our schedule for details. Chiusi Scalo’s Monday market is worth a visit, selling everything from bags, shoes and hats to items for the house and garden. So, scoop yourself a bargain and show it off at home!

If antiques are your thing then Arezzo, 55kms from Cignella, holds the largest antique market in Italy on the first weekend of each month. With treasures including furniture, paintings, silverware, clocks, china, coins and so much more you can while away the day rummaging around 500 stalls! And don’t forget that Florence has some expensive antique shops on Via Maggio as well as some less pricey outlets on Piazza dei Ciompi.

We have not even touched on food markets! Displays of fresh fruit and vegetables plus stalls selling cheeses, olive oils and cured meats make any food market a feast for the senses in the towns and villages around Cignella.

And it’s not too late to book a villa at Cignella for the Summerfest at ValdiChiana. We still have Quercia, Cipresso, Rosmarino. Falco and Aquila available in July. So whether it is a girls week away or some retail therapy on a family holiday, come and see us this summer. Just remember to pack lightly and leave space for all those wonderful delights you will be bringing home!

 

We all love to treat ourselves on holiday and our great flash sale means that if you book by 19th July, for a stay in September or October you receive €100 discount meaning you will have more cash to spend when you are away.

 

We thought it would be fun to put together some great ideas for what you can spend those extra euros on!

  1. Holidays are for relaxing and a visit to a thermal spa is a “must”. Enjoy a rejuvenating beauty treatment or push the boat out and book a couples massage – you deserve it!
  2. When it comes to fine dining, there are amazing Michelin star restaurants close to Cignella. Blow the budget at 3* Michelin Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, or 1 * Michelin Il Pievano in Chianti just over an hour away. Savour dishes by the best chefs accompanied by world class wine with your E100 gift from us.
  3. How about a Segway ride through the streets of Florence? Easier than walking and far more unique, you will also learn about this amazing city by the audio guide. First timers don’t need to worry as they give you a lesson on how to balance on this fun 2 wheeler! http://bit.ly/2rU4bzx
  4. If you love vintage vehicles then maybe a tour around the Tuscan countryside in a classic car or old fashioned Vespa is the perfect treat. For a real “back in time” experience you can also hire a classic wicker basket and even an original Vespa helmet! http://bit.ly/2sUTZeH
  5. For romantic souls who enjoy an evening of delicious cuisine in the comfort of their own villa, Cignella can arrange a personal dining experience. Discuss your preferences with our chef and at a time to suit you, an exquisite meal will be served using only the best and freshest local produce.

Other tempting treats to spend your extra euros on include horse riding and cooking classes or maybe designer leather goods and antiques from the shops on Via Maggio in Florence.

We hope you like our suggestions! This amazing offer is valid for bookings made until 19th July so don’t miss you the chance to make great savings on your trip to Tuscany. If you would like to make any tour bookings before you go, just let us know as we are always here to help and make sure your holiday is as perfect as can be!

See you soon

Cignella

Everyday life can be so mundane, can’t it? Many of us follow the same routine, day-in, day-out and our responsibilities at home and work can be stressful and tiring. And so with everything going on, do we really make enough time for ourselves?

So many of us don’t use all our holiday entitlement and with so many health benefits to be gained, we should make time to get away. A holiday will increase your energy levels, improve your mood and often make you clearer on life goals. Research has also shown that blood pressure can drop, sleep patterns improve and our ability to cope with stress is better. And the good news continues as these benefits often last many months after we return, so those days away will make your year a healthier one.

At Cignella we provide a getaway that encourages the rest and relaxation that we so desperately need, as well as creating lasting memories that we can reflect on when we are back to everyday life.

Here in Trequanda we are surrounded by beautiful scenery that simply radiates relaxation! But not only do evenings looking over the gorgeous valleys with a glass of local wine send you into a euphoric state, a leisurely walk or hike through the surrounding area is also great for the mind and body. While exercise may not be top of our to-do list on holiday, exercise can greatly reduce stress by releasing endorphins to create feelings of happiness.

At Cignella, you can get the best of both worlds. Start the day with a cycle through the rolling hills, spend the afternoon relaxing in the sun beside the pool and end the day with a traditional Italian meal at one of our local favourites!

The staff at Cignella are always on hand to make sure your holiday is as wonderful as can be. If you would like an in-room spa treatment or help booking a wine tour or hiring a Vespa, you only need to ask as our aim is to create a holiday perfectly tailored for you.

So check the work diary and book time off. At Cignella we promise to push the stresses and strains of everyday life aside so you return home energised and recharged – ready for the months ahead.

See you soon,

Cignella 

Ever thought how wonderful Tuscany could be in October? Italy enjoys warm temperatures in autumn, attractions are less crowded and you can get great airfares, even in the half term holidays if you book early. Plus when it comes to choosing accommodation, throughout October we offer our villas and apartments at low season prices so your entire holiday won’t break the bank!

The first half of October is warm with temperatures between 20-25°C, so lunch can be enjoyed outside and evenings are perfect out on the terrace. Towards the end of the month, temperatures drop but it is warm enough to eat outdoors at lunchtime, just pack an extra jumper for cooler evenings.

With harvest underway, olives turn purple and pomegranates follow suit while broccoli, leeks, pumpkin and porcini mushrooms are in abundance. To celebrate harvest time local towns hold festivals, below are just a few within a 1 hr drive of Cignella:

Pisa

Sagra del Galletto (dedicated to rooster meat) in Montalcino, first weekend in October

Sagra della Castagna (dedicated to chestnuts) in Cortona, beginning of October

Sagra del Primo Olio (dedicated to olive oil) in San Giovanni d’Asso, early October

La Festa d’Autunno (dedicated to chestnuts and mushrooms) in Abbadia San Salvatore, mid-October

The world-famous cities of FlorenceSiena and Pisa, lose their summer crowds and you can wander the streets more easily, dine in exquisite restaurants without long waits and benefit from short queues for attractions. Pisa has a great events calendar running through until November so you can check the opening times of every attraction!

The wine producing areas of MontepulcianoMontalcinoSan Gimignano and Chiantican be visited throughout the year. Wonderful restaurants and bars remain open. Here you can learn the secrets of world-class wine production and sample the delicious local produce.

If you are looking for some pampering and rejuvenation, then you can enjoy a visit to one of the many spas dotted throughout the region including Rapolano TermeChianciano Terme and San Casciano. Here you can relax in luxurious waters and try beauty and health treatments.

Book early and get the best airfare and take advantage of our great October prices – spacious 2 bedroom apartments start at just €114 per night and stunning 2 bedroom villas from €128 per night!

Florence

October is just perfect for a trip to Tuscany and ideal for families to bag a bargain and a holiday to remember. So why not enjoy summer at home and then make it an autumn to remember in Tuscany?

See you soon

 

Cignella

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