lunedì 31 dicembre 2012

Power walking, Running, Biking in Tuscany

 La Selva to Montebenichi, one of Arezzo's prized “Strada del Vino” 

One of the wonderful things to do during your holiday at La Selva Vacation Villa Rentals is to take a walk up to Montebenichi. It overlooks the breathtaking Val'd'Ambra or valley of the Ambra River. It is considered one of the most scenic roads in the Province of Arezzo and is part of “Le Strade del Vino” or “Wine roads”. It's a great way to start your day or to get moving after a day of relax reading or lounging around the pool.  If you think La Selva Villas already has an extraordinary panorama just you wait!  

At the top is Montebenichi, a charming ancient medieval village and aside from the church and private homes of local and international dwellers, it has a small 4 star hotel in a castle and one quaint restaurant, both fantastic. There is no bar or grocery store, but thankfully there is a public drinking water fountain next to the church to fill up your water bottles.

Montebenichi is 3.5-4.2 kilometres (2.2-2.6 miles) up depending if you are starting out from the main grounds of La Selva villa where Libreria and Terrazza apartments are located or one of our large Villas, Felciai and Fabbri. It climbs 200 metres (656 feet) up in altitude, just right. A completely paved road it meanders among olive groves, vineyards, cypress trees, oak woods with a few lovely farmhouses and villas on the way. Wide enough that any passing cars can get by you easily, it's bordered with and array of wild flowers, some very fragrant. 

 The climb starts out slowly and increases, a sort of natural warm-up.  Softer slopes dot the route from time to time to give you a bit of a break. It's nice to stop and turn around to admire the remarkable view. Often wild animals can surprise you when they cross your path; wild boar, pheasants, porcupines, fox, deer and badgers. No worries, they are afraid and take off fast! You won't be alone on this trail as quite a few of us have discovered this wonderous walk.

About 2/3rds to the top is an interesting 8th Century Romanic Church where the local Priest Don Alessandro stays.  The church is a wonderful setting for weddings overlooking terraced hills you can see in the photo above. 


The back faces the road and you can just walk around the side to get to the front.

The 360° panorama is stunning from the top. Siena can be easily seen to the SW and the Chianti Mountain range to the north.

 Of course the main view is Val'd'Ambra spread out marveously below.  On clear days you can see as far as Rapolano, the Crete di Siena, Val'd'Orcia and Tucany's volcano, Monte Amiato where the famous Brunello wine comes from. Closer below you can see La Selva and a little beyond Castello di Montalto (historical enemies of La Selva Castle-now-Villa during the medieval, but this is another story for another blog!).

If you are super energetic you can continue on a gravel road along the crest of the Hills of Val'd'Ambra towards Solata and further, Cennina; a great trail for mountain bikers. After a wonder around Montebenichi and a rest the way down is much easier - it is hard to not run!  You can admire the sights all the way down.

When weather permits I go almost every day as one of my primary work outs. Just being outdoors, getting the heart pumping, breathing in the clean air along with with stupendous views and fragrances extends the mind and brings a real sense of well being. I feel so fortunate to have this at my doorstep.

What you will need:
comfortable running shoes, a water bottle, adequate clothes, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses depending on the weather.

I hope you enjoy it when you are here with us.

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mercoledì 26 dicembre 2012

Italy's largest Antiques Fair in the fine city of Arezzo

Only about 35 minutes beautiful drive away from La Selva Agriturismo Vacation Villas   Arezzo is the home of the famous Academy Award Winning movie “Life is Beautiful” by Roberto Benigni.  

One of the special events in Arezzo is the outdoor “Arezzo Antiques Fair” and Flea Market. It is held in the ancient heart of the Medieval city center with over 500 stands and is the largest in Italy. Taking place on the first weekend, Saturday and Sunday, of each month.  The fair has a long history - the first one dating back to 1968. Each edition sees around 20,000 visitors with their biggest one of the year held in September. There is something for everyone whether you are collectors, tourists, renovators, art dealers, antique dealers or just  the curious. There are many different items offered and of different periods. It is a lot of fun to stroll along the ancient cobblestone streets looking at all the different stands taking in some Italian history and snooping through:
Antique lace,
old record albums,
furniture restored and non in all age, types and manner,
heirloom and costume jewelry,
fans, magnifying glasses, pill boxes, pens, watches, lighters, eyeglasses, binoculars,
war paraphernalia
coins and stamps and collectibles,
Liberty glass,
ceramics and china,
old books and posters,
antique lights and fixtures,
objects of Art Decò,
silverware and silver items,
hammered iron items and brass objects,
old doors and door handles,
tiles and textiles,

and just about anything you can think of! There is also a large (but molto minor) selection of modern day offerings.  Exploring the fair can tell you a lot about the Italians since it isn't about tourists but rather all about Italians, their history or way of living past and present.  When you get tired or hungry you can easily get a snack or have lunch in one of Arezzo's fine restaurants.  Then you can enjoy a delightful Italian soft icecream, espresso or capuccino to set you on your way to more treasure hunting.

Whoever has gone to the Arezzo Antique Fair, Italian or visitor, has come home with a keepsake or two. It's a special way to explore Italy and make your stay in Tuscany more unforgettable than ever. An appointment not to be missed!
Sherry Mason
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The next Fair will be on January 4-5th, 2012.  For a similar Italian version click here:  Fiera Antiquaria di Arezzo

mercoledì 19 dicembre 2012

Just getting started on this La Selva Agriturismo Vacation Villas in Tuscany.  Will be back soon!