Tuscan Travel Guide
In your own words explain why you’re in Tuscany/Florence:
LF: I live for travel. Tam and I like to plan an annual trip, usually to Italy. Tuscany was about spending quality time with dear friends, eating our way through the day, chatting, reading books, magazines, talking about work, life and being transfixed on our surroundings.
TJ: Patrick and I were heading over for a month of work, which included visiting antique fairs, premier vision fabric fairs, and working from the London PJT showroom and checking in on my clients over there. Our first stop was Paris where we spent a week at Luce’s apartment settling in. Luce was in Morocco designing her new apparel collection but we made plans with about 10 friends to meet in Tuscany for a holiday week. We found an incredible 16th century villa that had been perfectly decorated and restored and we spent the week cooking, eating, drinking, swimming and exploring the local villages, farms and sites. Our friends had come from LA, London, Paris and Sydney so it was heaven to just catch up with everyone.
What exactly do you love about the area, the overall atmosphere, the people, climate, food, wine, design, interiors etc.
LF: The rolling green hills, the ancient towns cascading down the cliffs. Afternoons spent poolside, freshly picked figs, hot springs, long lunches, long dinners, cooking, indulging. What more could one want from a holiday. It’s about the company and slowing down. Naps, reading, talking, walking.
TJ: It was basically one meal rolling into the next- this is what holidays are about for me. We found off the beaten track antique shops filled with beautiful finds, stunning hole in the wall restaurants and nonna’s making gelato!
Where to Stay
We were lucky enough to stay at a restored convent that a friend of ours put us onto. It has been transformed by mother daughter design team Holly Lauders and Venetia Sacret Young just outside the town of Pitigliano.
It was one of the most beautiful villa’s I have seen. It dates back to the 16th century and was a monastery for Monks from 1522 -1910. It was designed by renaissance architect Antonio San Gallo the Younger. The owners came across it in 2005, it was rich in history and they introduced special touches that are quite organic, it hasn’t been played with too much which brought a charm to it. There was a sense of tranquillity and enchantment about the house and the property. We spent many hours by the pool and the outside dining area. Every wall has been painted by hand and the furniture carefully curated or created especially. You can feel how much love has been injected into it and it is beyond charming.
The Saturnia Hot Mineral Springs were definitely worth a visit. They are natural springs, fed by 38-degree water, a very pale blue and waterfalls cascade down the hills. Its straight out of a Massimo Vitali photograph and a very entertaining and local scene. It’s pretty off the beaten track for foreigners too. In Maremma region of Tuscany.
Where to Shop
Sorano is a very beautiful picturesque little town, perched on dramatic cliffs, dominated by an Ordini Fortress. It’s an ancient medieval hill village and filled with only 50 full time inhabitants. We walked through the town and mixed with the locals, and wandered around the pastel houses with impressive stone work and views over the mountains. On the outskirts, there are a couple of little antique shops with some beautiful ceramics, art and furniture.
Perched on a plateau filled with ancient limestone as if it were carved from that same rock outcrop with cascading green hills and hidden caves surrounding the town. Local providores sell meats, cheese and wines. Craftspeople from the area peddle hand woven wares. Pitigliano was our local town. We got to know the wine and fresh pasta store well!
Where to Eat
In Sorano was a fantastic little restaurant with a cave like feel called L’Ottica Rima. All the restaurants focus on both seasonal and regional produce with farm to table principles. The menu is small but the flavours were powerful. The staff are very friendly and happy to recommend nice local wines and explain where all of the produce is sourced.
Gardens of Bomarzo - also known as The Sacro Bosco, colloquially called Park of the Monsters! The gardens were created during the 16th Century and sits in a valley beneath the castle of Orsini. It was commissioned by Prince Pier Francesco Orsini who designed the park to help cope with the grief surrounding his wife’s death.
Throughout the park you will find huge, monster like sculptures made out of stone sitting among the natural vegetation. It is beautiful and the detailing and scale in each sculpture creates drama. It’s places I (LF) visit like this that lends inspiration to many things- whether it be my jewellery collection, shapes, lines, anything!