Tuscany for kids!

Castellare di Tonda is a popular destination for families with small children. The estate is perfect for families of all ages, whether you are looking for an active holiday with sport, hiking, riding and cycling – or a more relaxing pool estate style holiday, Castellare di Tonda is the perfect choice.

Art lovers can bring their children to the many historic cities of the area. Pisa, Florence, Siena , Volterra and San Gimignano.
There is a Childrens Museum at the Palazzo Vecchio Florence.
The museum us located In Piazza della Signoria next to the Uffizi and brings the Renaissance city to life for kids with demonstrations of how the Medici lived and ruled.
Vinci, the hometown of the famous artist also has an interesting interactive museum which is great for kids.
Near Castellare, at Peccioli is the dinosaur ‘Prehistoric park’, with huge life sized dinosaur models set within a beautiful park area.

Tuscany is also very child friendly, with kids welcomed in almost all restaurants.

Montaione post Carnevale

Montaione has had a fantastic weekend of sunshine, and the carnevale was a big success yesterday. The photo above is the Piazza this morning, still full of confetti after yesterdays festivities.

A marching band complete with drummers kept the packed square busy, kids dressed in fantastic costumes threw confetti at each other, sprayed each other down with shaving cream and filled the village with noise and a festive atmosphere.

It was a much smaller affair than the big Viareggio Carnevale, but great fun all the same.

Discover the Etruscans : Guided walks San Giuliano Terme PI

Program: This guided walk takes place in an interesting part of Tuscany from a historic and naturalists point of view.
Climbing initially to the Passo di Dante, we will cross into an interesting section of Mediterranean woods, where bushes of Myrtle surround us until we arrive at the peak of Monte Castellare. Here archeologists have confirmed by their findings that the era was frequented between the X and VII centurys AD by the Etruscans. This little known populations considered the mountain sacred and the “Buche delle fate” (Fairt’s holes) were considered natural springs that put living humans in communication with the dead.
In medieval times there also was a fort here, of which there are still visible ruins today.
Heading down towards the Villa Bosniaski we will see the openings of some large caves that go down 182 m.

Sadly today little remains of the original villa, however the area is still a fascinating and strangely haunting place to visit.
Meeting point: At 9am meet at the train station San Giuliano Terme (PI). Return planned for around 13.00.
Upon booking this walk can happen daily.
Price: 8.5 €

Link http://www.vadoevedo.it/calendario/
Modalità di prenotazione e pagamento: Booking online, email, telefono
Info programmazione:
from01-03-2014 00:01 al 30-06-2014 23:59

San Miniato: Castles Theatre and Truffles in Tuscany

San Miniato is an interesting and very old town located high on a hill located above the Arno river.

The origins of San Minato, a town internationally famous for its local delicacy: white truffles, dates back to the Etruscan period.

The town has its own castle which was built in 962 by Otto I.

Federico II built a tower here from 1217 to 1221, and it has been the symbol of San Miniato ever since. The tower stands proud above the Tuscan hills, and is still complete.This castle was also the residence of various marquis such as Boniface, marquis and vicar of the Emperor and father of the Countess Matilde of canossa who was actually born in San Miniato.

Many German Emperors visited the town and remained there in the Imperial Palace (today the Bishop’s Palace): Frederic “Barbarossa” in 1167 and in 1178; Henry IV in 1184, 1186 and in 1194; Ottone IV in 1209.

Worth visiting is the cathedral which overlooks the Piazza del Duomo and dates back to the 1200s. Its facade is decorated with tiles arranged to represent the constellations of the Big Bear and the Little Bear.According to local traditions, nobles from San Miniato donated the Convent of San Francesco to St. Frances, who stayed in the nearby Abbey of Santa Gonda.

Worthy of a mention, is the fact that San Miniato is the main theater town of Tuscany, and during June/July there is a fantastic theater festival called La Luna è Azzura. Around thirty theatre companies entertain circa 12,000 spectators annually. Mimes, puppeteers, live theatre and other fantastic acts fill the ancient town streets.

See more at: http://www.sanminiatopromozione.it/en/la-luna-e-azzurra#sthash.ltgFb0Tj.dpuf

Carneval Viareggio

The Carnival of Viareggio is one of the most famous events in Italy, and is not far from Castellare di Tonda!

The Carnival of Viareggio was started in 1873 when there was a parade of decorated carriages in the heart of the old town. It was transferred to the beach promenade at the beginning of the twentieth century and it has grown in size and popularity year after year.

Nowadays it is the largest Italian folk event with a budget of € 5 million per year. More than 1000 people work annually to build the wonderful floats that make the festival so famous.
These papier mache floats stream along the beach towns boulevard during the festivities. Hundreds of costumed and masked people dance on and around the floats, creating what can only be described as a moving theatre. This year the festivities begin on February 16 and finish on March the 9th.

For more details check out the official website http://viareggio.ilcarnevale.com/

Photo credits Sergio Bovi Campeggi

Montecatini Terme: Thermal Springs in Tuscany

The most famous thermal village in Italy is Montecatini Terme, located in the Pistoia region near Florence. Not far from Castellare di Tonda, and well worth the trip due to the areas unique landscape (think castles, hilltop villages, caves and wild forest) as well as the thermal waters that once drew visitors from all over Europe here.

History has it that way back in 1530, the Medici’s decided to build baths аt the foot оf Montecatini tо contain the already known Spa waters (mentioned as far back as Roman times).
The town was sadly sacked in a war soon after, and sadly the now stagnant waters became a local health hazard.

The visionary Granduca Leopoldo 1 came in soon after and decided to request the help of both local and international entrepreneurs, who built channels fоr the disposal оf the stagnant swamp water: finally new baths were constructed tо facilitate the use оf the popular hot springs: Tettuccio (still the most symbolic of the baths) was built in 1779, Bagno Regio in 1773 аnd the Terme Leopoldine in 1775.

The area quickly became very famous for its hot springs, and during the 1800′s and early 1900′s Montecatini Terme was ‘the’ place to be seen. Artists, actors and celebrities once were spotted all through the tree lined streets, or relaxing in the villages spa baths.
Even today the Montecatini spa waters are famous worldwide for their beneficial effects on the human body, though sadly the village is no longer a great hub of art and beauty, one can still imagine how the town looked due to its stunning art nouveau architecture.

So next time you find yourself under the Tuscan rain, consider a day of relaxation at Montecatini Terme.

Scoppio del Carro Florence Easter Festival

Are you considering Tuscany for your Easter holiday 2014.

Castellare di Tonda is only a short train ride from Florence, where the annual Easter Sunday tradition of the Scoppio del Carro (the explosion of the cart) is played out. This festival dates right back to the time of the Crusades. The Florentine man Pazzino di Ranieri de Pazzi raised a banner above the city of Florence when the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099. His reward for doing this, was three small pieces of stone that came from the holy speulchre of Jerusalem. These stone chips were used to light the Easter fire that celebrated new life; a fire that was then distributed around the whole city of Florence on a cart.

This celebration began around 1102, and from 1478 (when the Pazzi family were exiled from Florence for their part in the Medici murder plot) the Signoria took over the ritual.

Basically even today, an articulately decorated cart from the 18th century is towed around the city by white oxen. At midday a dove shaped rocket is released from the cathedral. This rocket tracels down a wire to the cart where fireworks are let off,including a spinning Catherine wheel, the emblem of Florence, The Pazzi family, the Wool Merhants guild, and also the sign of the UN (a sign of world peace). The procession starts at 10am and the explosion occurs at 11am.

The best place to park your car is either Empoli or Castelfiorentino, and then you can catch the train directly to Florence to watch the celebrations.

Summer Medieval Festivals in Tuscany 2014

Now that we are heading towards January, and the Christmas period is becoming a distant memory,we can start to plan our summer holidays – if nothing else, it gives is something to look forward to.

If you love medieval history, have a look at the following dates and plan your trip accordingly during June, July and August.
If you need any help, please do not hesitate to contact us at reception

Medieval Festivals in Tuscany:

We are located very close to Siena, a city that is worth visiting any time of the year, but that is especially exciting during the summer Palio’s. Not reccommended for children, but a load of fun for adult couples or groups of friends – this is one of the worlds most famous horse races, and is written about in travel blogs and magazines the world over.
The dates are always July 2 and August 16. Most of the thousands of people who attend the race stand in the center of the crowded piazza vying for a place along the track and a glimpse of the horses as they speed by. A privileged few are able to reserve seating from an air conditioned private palazzo, but these tickets need to be booked in advance – and are fairly costly.
Also, it really is part of the whole experience to be jostled in the center of the piazza, and feel the excitement in the air as the horses come in to race. The July Palio date is also still technically ‘mid season’ at Castellare di Tonda, so apartments are economical, and the weather is 99% guaranteed to be great.

Volterra Medieval Festival AD 1398 August 16/17 and 23/24th
One of the best medieval festivals in Italy, and sadly not publicized half as much as it should ve. Volterra, an Etruscan fortressed city located on a high tufo cliff already has a timeless feel about it, but when the inhabitants of the city dress in medieval costume, and the cobbled streets ring with folk music – something about this town changes. The park is full of ale and wine drinking locals, with falconry demonstrations, archery, and medieval games. The main piazza is used for drumming demonstrations, flag throwing and medieval dance, and also hosts a medieval market and various interesting stalls with old books, weapons and more. Highly recommended.

Monteriggioni Medieval Festival. 18,19, 20, 25.26,27 July
The Castle of Monteriggioni has remained largely intact and thus provides the natural backdrop for any event with a historical setting.
Inside the small old town, still enclosed by the ancient walls mentioned by Dante, the living memory of the Middle Ages reaches an amazing intensity during the days of the festival, when figures dressed in costume, torchbearers, fire dancers and wandering poets transport anyone strolling its streets far into the past.Magicians, jugglers, acrobats, improvisational theatre and rhyme groups, noble maidens and comely wenches, an apothecary and a medieval hospital to restore your health, sword swallowers, snake charmers and the most representative artists of Tuscan popular traditions all await you at the Castle of Monteriggioni, decked out for the festivals of lords and commoners. There is also a children’s medieval space and other countless fantastic surprises.

San Gimignano “Ferie delle Messe” Third week of June
The Ferie delle Messi orMedieval Harvest Festival returns every year to San Gimignano and represents a celebration from medieval times that is organized throughout the entire historical centre of this beautiful medieval village in Tuscany. The “Knights of St. Fina” is an association which has organized the event since 1993 with the scope of celebrating the “cavalier” tradition in honor of the knights of San Gimignano that took part in the famous regional Battle of Montaperti (1260) and Campaldino (1289), as described in ancient documents.
The event takes place on the third weekend of June starting on Friday night, and continuing through Saturday evening and all day Sunday. During these hours, the town takes a step back in time offering a typical medieval and fun atmosphere, recalling the ancient scents and traditions of the time. This festival has costumed horsemen, and is of particular interest to our horse loving guests!!

Castellare di Tonda is located 20-40 minutes from all of the above medieval festivals, and so is the perfect location for you to base yourself. After a day enjoying medieval festivities, you can enjoy a glass of our Chianti wine and a swim in the Tuscan countryside.

Chianti Wine Tasting Holiday

Between Florence and Siena, the Chianti region is Tuscany’s most famous wine making area.

Visitors to Castellare di Tonda can enjoy a day trip to the many excellent wine-makers for guided tastings.
This area is full of spectacular medieval towns, churches and castles as well as a plethora of authentic trattoria’s where you can sit down and enjoy fabulous local food.

If you don’t feel like driving or just don’t have enough time to plan a wine tasting tour on your own, you can choose among the many organized wine tasting tours that drive you to the main farms and wineries in Chianti from Castellare di Tonda. We can organize this service for you, with a friendly English speaking driver who knows the region well.

Of course you shouldn’t forget that we also make our own excellent red and white wine at Castellare di Tonda, which can be purchased at reception for direct sale prices.

New Horses at Castellare di Tonda for 2014

This year we have a bunch of exciting new horses joing the Castellare di Tonda stables for trail riding.

Four of our homebred Quarter Horses are finally mature enough to start trail riding with everyone else. These are some classy fillies, by famous stallions like Spooks Gotta Gun and Wimpys Little Step. Our handsome gelding by Wimpys Little Step, is also joing the team and will also be used for Franco’s fantastic private Reining lessons. This is a great horse, who knows all the fancy moves in the arena. 

For Arabian lovers, our little grey gelding Shakir provides a safe and surefooted ride, whereas Antonio and Hidalgo (Quarter and Paint) provide experienced riders a fast but comfortable mount. We also have two new Argentinian horses that Franco has already tested outside. Both are big, beautiful and will make excellent trekking horses for our guests. 

Of course we still have all our trusty favorites like Diego, Grosso, and Banderas, as well as last years new additions Bumba and Mascherone. 

If you have always wanted to try a Quarter Horse or even just western saddle, dont hesitate to book a riding holiday at Castellare with us today. We also offer reining lessons, and beginners lessons for all ages (7 up).