Welcome to the "Tuscany Blog"

On this blog you will find timely information about one of the most compelling regions of the world - Tuscany - brought to you by Tuscany Rent Direct and Casa In Toscana.


CASA IN TOSCANA® is a licensed Real Estate Agency in Castellina in Chianti that features only the best properties in Chianti and Tuscany. Nikolaus F. Barnewitz can help you find your perfect Tuscan home, for relocation or investment.


Tuscany Rent Direct allows you to find the vacation home of your dreams in Tuscany and rent directly from the owner, without any commissions or fees. Now with over 300 villas and apartments to choose from!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Special offer for a beautiful COTTAGE (sleeping 4) during the period December 21st, 2013 - January 6th, 2014.

One week all included: linen, gas, hot water, electricity, heating and wood for the chimney and barbecue, heated jacuzzi in the open air and a guided tour of our cellar with vinsanto tasting and olive oil tasting.

Special price: €  1.619!!!
Please click here for further details.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Photography moves to Cortona

Sharing ideas, experiences and emotions through images: this is the focus of Cortona On the Move – Fotografia in Viaggio, the international festival of photography held in Cortona, in the province of Arezzo, from July 18th to September 29th. If the main theme of the festival, now at its third edition, is the journey declined in all its forms, the theme of the Onthemove prize is "Happiness on the move", a competition attended by professional and amateur photographers from all over the world.

The purpose of the award is to tell all the possible expressions of joy and celebration of life through images, to tell happiness departing from its literal meaning in order to develop it in its multiple facets.
Therefore, the award aims at stimulating creativity, vision, smartness and poetry. Its prize-giving ceremony is scheduled on the first days of the festival along with other events from July 18th to July 21th including openings, debates, projections, workshops and readings by the best photographers. The three winners will thus be able to take part in the debates and the projections, and to meet some of the major national and international photo editors, engaged in workshops and portfolio reviews, in the charming medieval streets of Cortona.
Moreover, for the new talents, the festival will also be a chance to share their stories and display their works next to those of the great photography names: thanks to the "Circuito Off" competition, in fact, five exhibition spaces will be available to the winners, selected by a jury formed by artistic director Arianna Rinaldo and the members of the Onthemove association.
Participation and sharing will therefore be at the center of the festival, through ideas, proposals and continuous interaction between travelers and spectators. In collaboration with the Region of Tuscany and Instagram Italia, the festival also launches "ShareYourTuscany", an innovative project to share images and promote the territory through the more immediate and widespread tool: the smartphone.
Tourists traveling Tuscany will be asked to photograph their experiences in the region using Instagram, and the images will be projected in Cortona 24/24h throughout the festival. Furthermore, for the nostalgics of the past century, the festival offers the exhibition " Viaggio del XX secolo" with a selection of photos sent by aspiring photographers or amateurs, all taken before 31st December 1999.
An alternative way of looking at the journey, not only through space but also through time. The programme is ready, it only remains to start the journey towards the medieval town of Cortona and get immersed in thousand different worlds and suggestions offered by photography.
If you are looking for a place to stay near Cortone, why don't you rent apartment Salarco? You can find the link to the apartment here.
(Portions of this article first appeared on Toscana & Chianti News)


Monday, July 29, 2013

A world just below sea surface

From the coral reef to the rocks of the Mediterranean Sea. Snorkeling in the Tuscan archipelago? Yes, you can. From the island of Elba to that of Pianosa, there are many areas to witness a unique spectacle, wearing only a mask and a snorkel.

Let's start from Elba, the largest island in the Park of the Archipelago. The best area to browse around starfish, sea bream, damsels pavonie, sea bass and octopuses is the scoglietto of Portoferraio. This is an area of fish restocking and, with a little luck, you can even spot some groupers. You can get there by boat, just like in Capo Enfola, where there is a small cave, named "shark cave" by foreigners.
Do not worry: the name is pure fantasy, as there are no sharks around, but only so many fish and a beautiful light that filters through the wall of rock. Another point of interest is Sant'Andrea. In some periods of the year, you can see some seahorses, one of the most timid among the inhabitants of the sea. On the south side of the island, the wreck of Pomonte is a real must-see. The Elviscot ship can be reached with a short swim from the shore and still today represents a site of great charm. Punta Lacona, finally, is the ideal place for those who want to have a first approach with mask and snorkel.
Just a dip at the Cala Rossa, on the island of Capraia, to understand that the Elba's richness characterizes all the islands of the archipelago. You can easily happen to see a school of saddled seabreams suspended above the water, while the light reflected from the red rocks of the cave filters through your mask and the gaping mouths of the fish.
For those who have the opportunity to take a trip on the island of Pianosa, a point of interest is Cala Giovanna, near the harbor, where you can swim accompanied by guides. Snorkeling, by itself, is a safe activity and, compared to immersion, does not require advanced skills.
The diving center of the Island of Elba and Capraia are grouped in a consortium, the CED, working with local authorities and the Park of the Archipelago. Contacting one of the members of the association is the best way to swim in tranquillity, accompanied by a guide and with all the necessary equipment. In many cases, the associated diving centers also offer snorkeling courses for children.

(Portions of this article first appeared in "Toscana & Chianti News")


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Charming villa for your 2013 summer holiday!

Podere Caggiolo is located in the heart of the Val di Chiana and in the center of a 50 hectares farm. The building is a typical late eighteenth century farmhouse completely renovated in original style and furnished with ancient family furniture. The company produces oil, wine, wheat, corn and sunflowers, in accompliance with the EU security standards. For those who are interested, we can arrange guided tours to some of the farms of famous "Chianina" white meat, already used by ancient Romans for sacrifices to the gods. Surrounding areas of great artistic interest are Monte S. Savino (7 km), Marciano della Chiana with the famous castle of "Fanfulla da Lodi" which, according to tradition, seems to be buried here, Cortona (27 km), Arezzo (22 km), Siena (50 km), Perugia (50 km), Florence (70 km), Orvieto (80 km).
The ground floor comprises a spacious living room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
The first floor has a spacious living room, kitchen, 3 double bedrooms, one bright double bedroom in the attic, extremely panoramic, and a bathroom.

Please visit our website for details and bookings: http://www.tuscanyrentdirect.com/villa-486-podere-caggiolo.html


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The history of Chianti within its walls

In the heart of evocative Chiantishire, as you cross its hills and untouched nature, which make the landscape a spectacle in its own right before the eyes of its audience, Castello di Brolio stands out among all this beauty. It is a fascinating building that embodies local history in all its complexity.
The first tones of Brolio Castle date back to the Early Middle Ages. Its historical role began to become significant in the twelfth century when the Ricasoli da Cacchiano family settled here (the castle still belongs to this family today). Located on the boundary between the lands of Siena and Florence, Brolio quickly became the scene of all the battles at that time, representing the Florentine bulwark against formidable Siena from the fourteenth to the middle of the sixteenth century. The castle was almost always in the hands of Florence, apart from one fleeting Sienese occupation, following the second Aragon invasion of Chianti in 1472. In the wake of this event, from 1784 onwards, when the castle was back under Florentine control, extensive restructuring and strengthening works of the stronghold began to the extent that Brolio can be regarded as one of the leading Italian fortifications.
Its stone bastions, which are still in perfect condition today, have an irregularly pentagon-shaped plan, albeit with a primitive structure compared to the development that this new type of fortification would soon go on to have. These walls contain the remains of the original medieval castle, the keep and the Romanesque church in particular, as well as an imposing red-brick Neo-Gothic villa, which was erected in place of the pre-existing buildings of the famous Baron Bettino Ricasoli (1809-80) known as the Iron Baron. Today, the castle, rebuilt and altered many times, bears the marks of a wide range of ages, from the fortified medieval bastions to the Romanesque and Neo-Gothic integrations.
It is a symbol of the area and its hallmark product, Chianti Classico wine, made from the 240 hectares surrounding the castle, which now belongs to the Barone Ricasoli firm. It is one of the largest Chianti Classico wine-making areas: 1,200 hectares scattered among the municipalities of Gaiole and Castelnuovo Berardenga, valleys, hills, chestnut and oak forests, with 26 hectares of olive groves, which enjoy the beauty and wide variety of the land and climate of this central part of the Chianti area.
In the vicinity of the castle, in the cutting-edge cellars, the same mission of excellence is pursued that led Bettino Ricasoli to invent the Chianti formula in 1872.

If you wish to visit the Castello di Brolio, you can rent one of the following nice apartments in the area, which can accommodate up to 8 people:
Brolio (8 people)
Villa Girasole (6 people)
Villa Violetto (4 people)
You can directly contact the owner of the villa by clicking the button CONTACT THE OWNER or send an email to info@tuscanyrentdirect.com with your inquiry.

(Portions of this article first appeared in "Toscana & Chianti News")


Monday, June 18, 2012

Etruscan settlements and medieval sites

After the seven-kilometre climb to reach Castellina in Chianti, the landscape that opens before your eyes embodies all the gratitude you need for the effort you put in to get there. The small Chianti town in fact conceals treasures big and small, which from the top of the hill overlook the metal-bearing hills immediately opposite. Halfway between Val d’Elsa, Val di Pesa and the Arbia valley, Castellina now presents itself as a famous holiday destination for lovers of Tuscany and its most distinctive scenery. Numerous old monuments and historical finds now remain as evidence of Castellina’s important past. A former military outpost, what distinguishes the town are the settlements left behind by the Etruscan civilisation, of notable importance, and the medieval sites in the town, including the stronghold and the ancient walls, now almost completely demolished apart from a short section underground to the north. A mount with its fourteenth-century crenellated keep, the stronghold dominates the Chianti countryside below and bears witness to the passage of the Guidicounts from the nearby astellodelTrebbio, in present-day Trebbia, a hamlet of Radda in Chianti. As a matter of fact, at that time the site was called “Castellina de’ Trebbiesi”. Nowadays the fortification is home to the Chianti Senese Archaeological Museum where you can observe ancient medieval and Etruscan exhibits. Leaving the stronghold and walking along today’s Via delle Volte, you can note the town’s old medieval plan. The street was in fact once covered and right against the ancient walls, inside which two gates opened out, PortaSenese and PortaFiorentina, the latter was demolished following the Second World War because it was unsafe. Leaving Castellina and heading towards Greve in Chianti, you can begin the more purely Etruscan itinerary, passing burial mounds and ancient cemeteries. First of all is Tumulo di Montecalvario, an Etruscan tomb dating back to the seventh-sixth BC, thus named because it is next to a chapel, the last station of the Way of the Cross. The tomb, whose diameter is more than 50 metres, is formed by four main central chambers and some small side cells facing the four cardinal points. At the time when it was unearthed it had already been plundered several times and this means that the entire grave goods could not be recovered. Last but by no means least, stop by Necropoli del Poggino near Fonterutoli. In the archaeological zone, situated in a wood, five tombs were recovered, four of which have chambers and one has a large chest, evidence not only of the Etruscan settlements in the area, but also of having belonged to wealthy families of that age given that they are particularly elaborate. Materials and grave goods were recovered inside them, parts of which are on show in the atrium of the medieval stronghold.

(Portions of this article first appeared in "Toscana & Chianti News")


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Medieval restaurant in Siena - Grotta del Gallo Nero

How do you imagine medieval cuisine? It would be a mistake to think of it as without fantasy or variety. Surviving documents tell us, for example, that when the Sienese nobleman Francesco di Messer Sozzo di Bandinello Bandinelli was named "knight" in 1326, a magnificent banquet was prepared in the Campo Square, on Christmas Eve. A variety of dishes, including "confetti" (a special kind of cake), "giengevo" (probably a ginger dish) and "bromangieri" (soup, pasta or a rice dish) were served as starters. Many types of bread and wine in great quantity accompanied the main courses: roasted beef, wild boar, deer, hares, capons, partridges, peacocks and pheasants. The banquet ended with marzipan cakes and sweets.

The Gallo Nero Restaurant offers a wide selection of dishes which are a faithful reconstruction of the recipes found in medieval cookbooks. Moreover, we of the Gallo Nero, along with scholars of the University of Siena, have rediscovered habits and traditions from Medieval times. The tablecloth is white because the colour was considered a symbol of purity which was thought suitable for preparing the body for the meal. White was also the predominant colour of the food. The sign of the Gallo Nero Restaurant is inspired by one designed by a Sienese carpenter and commissioned by the owner of a local tavern, in the fifteenth century. The stained-glass window of the main dining room recalls, in technique and colour, the great stained-glass window of the choir of the Cathedral of Siena, which was made by Duccio di Boninsegna in 1288. However, the most significant connection of the Gallo Nero with the Middle Ages is its location, an ancient fourteenth century building, just a few steps from the Campo, along the original layout of the Via Francigena.

Grotta del Gallo Nero
Via del Porrione, 65/67
53100 - Siena (SI)
Tel.: +39 0577 284356
Fax: +39 0577 284346

(Portions of this article first appeared in "Toscana & Chianti News")

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Historic villa from the 18th century available for rent

The current version of the Villa Citerna dates from the 18th century, although based on a much older farmhouse. Formerly the summer estate of a Florentine family, it is surrounded by three terraces with panoramic views facing East, South, overlooking San Gimignano in the distance, and West towards the Apuan Alps which are snowcapped in winter.
The house is ideally located for visiting nearby Florence, Sienna, San Gimignano and Certaldo, as well as Volterra, Lucca and Pisa to the West, Arezzo and the Chianti Wine Trail to the East, and Montalcino, Sant'Antimo, and Montepulciano South of Sienna.
The Villa has six bedrooms, five with air conditioning. There are two full bathrooms with separate showers (one with a Jacuzzi), and three showers with toilets.
The Villa has a large entrance hall, used for entertaining, a living room with dining extension table, a room with satellite TV and DVD player, and a library on the first floor with wide ranging views to the South.
The kitchen is next to the dining room and is fully equipped with cooking utensils as well as fridges, freezer and dishwasher. There is an internet point and a small toilet on the ground floor. The laundry equipment is in an outhouse with machine and dryer.

Also outside is a large pergola facing West to the sunset for al fresco dining. There are two barbecues. The 15 metre pool has sunbeds, an abundance of chairs and a fridge.

Click here for more information and bookings.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An abbey on the mountain peak

On the border between the municipalities of Greve and Figline, along a steep and winding track mid some lovely wooded areas, you reach the top of Monte Scalari. This is where the ageold monastery stands named after Saint Cassian, the patron saint of teachers and writers, whose feast day falls in 13th August. Built around 1040 by the Buondelmonti monks, the building belongs to the seven abbeys of the Vallombrosan Order founded by Saint John Gualbert. The small, stone oratory originally acted as a place for refreshment to the pilgrims travelling along the nearby Via Cassia. The considerable donations made by noble families later turned it into a veritable monastery and permitted the monks to establish hospices, living their help to the poor. Having become famous for the bell made by Andrea del Verrocchio, which is regarded as being the most valuable object in the monastery, in later centuries, the abbey underwent numerous extension and renovation works until Peter Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany, ordered its demolition in 1775. The years spent restoring the church proved to be fruitless, as too was the hard work of the friars in looking after the surrounding lands, which have been completely destroyed. The assets – including the valuable bell - were sold, as well as the monastery, and there was soon nothing left.
Today, we can admire it once more in all its beauty, with a few remains of its artistic heritage, including Saint John Gualbert's incense burner, a part of the crucifix attributed to Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli, and other paintings like the Samaritan at the Well and an Ecce Homo by Nicodemo Ferrucci. Its renaissance dates back to 1787, when Montescalari was promoted to a parish and subjected once more to renovation work – albeit keeping the title of San Cassiano – and for many years remaining the property of the Rosselli del Turco family. Showing off the loveliness of the place, the abbey and surrounding forests acted as the fascinating backdrop of the investigations of Commissioner Bordelli, the protagonist of the novel, Morte a Firenze, by Marco Vichi.

(Portions of this article first appeared in "Toscana & Chianti News")


Friday, August 26, 2011

Special offer Villa Minghetti - September 2011

Villa Minghetti at only € 1.500 per week (instead of € 2.000) from 3rd to 17th September!
In the heart of Tuscany, on the Montalbano's hills, Villa Minghetti makes you experience the atmosphere of old times. Splendid 17th century country house dominating the village of Lamporecchio, Villa Minghetti is surrounded by centuries-old olive groves. Thanks to the recent and careful restoration, personally carried out by the owner, the villa is free on three sides and is composed of spacious living room, kitchen with fireplace, bathroom and laundry room on the ground floor. The living room has direct access to the garden where the swimming pool is located. The first floor consists of six bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. From the bedrooms, well furnished with antiques, you can enjoy a stunning view over the valley.

Villa Minghetti is an ideal starting point for horse riding, hiking and biking excursions. For those who love art and culture, it is easy to explore the delightful countryside of Tuscany, rich in ancient towns like Vinci, Cerreto Guidi, San Miniato, or the most famous cities such as Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca.