This summer when you rent a villa in Tuscany choose UNUSUAL presents to take home after your stay at villas for rent in Tuscany like wild boar sausages ? Truffle Salt ? a chocolate horseshoe? a chunk of Marble as a paperweight? All found a stone’s throw from La Collina del Sole There are Marble caves, excellent delicatessens, super Tuscan wine tastings [and buying] in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana so your “coming home” presents from Lucca Villa Rental need never be boring Make the most of your catching up with friends after staying at your holiday villas in Lucca with the items listed in the shops we love the experiences we love the food shops we adore the bars we love as they too sell nice unusual presents. If you prefer to go further afield from your villa rentals in Tuscany say to Siena here are a few special and very unusual presents that we recently found.Following the excitements of the 16th of August with the last Palio of 2013 Siena –will go into a somnolent state, perfect to admire the dramatic inclined fan shaped central square preferably sitting at a table with a Bellini cocktail while enjoying the sunset on the Tower and entire Piazza, the whole scene will seem dipped in liquid amber, in the evening the evening streets of Siena are empty and will still be decorated with the Contrada lights, colours and flags, it is easy to imagine you are walking in the past as the buildings seem unchanged in centuries and the stillness of the night is almost complete. Now for the unusual shops my favourite is La fabbrica delle candele aka the handmade candle and wax dipped flower shop where a young woman dips silk flowers in wax and then gives them a smooth glistening finish, they are in Via dei Pellegrini, 11, Siena, Province of Siena, Italy. They also hand carve and create intricate designs within the candles in front of you, explaining the process as they go and even personalising your candle for you if you wish
My next favourite is a artisans ceramic shop where you can buy plates decorated with the shields of each contrada in Siena It is The Studio Artistico in Via San Pietro 22 - 53100 Siena, Tel+39 0577 288188 with an elderly couple that actually paint the plates in front of you and can even personalize it, we bought a magnificent HUGE plate with a dragon rampant.
Should you need a breather Siena has a fondness for “Osterias” and they ALL look really good, one we loved is, Osteria le Logge Due, Via Porrione 33, Siena, tel +39 0577 48013 They have tables both outside and in, used by locals and visitors. Should you need a “gelato break” go to GROM in Via Banchi di Sopra #11/13 their telephone # 0577 289 303 where they make the most wonderful ice cream “as it used to be made” using only ethically produced ingredients, like coffee from Guatemala, fresh milk and fresh spring water for sorbets, fruit only when it is in season like strawberries in summer and tangerines in winter my favourite is liquorice gelato. Nearby there is a beautiful paper shop with hand decorated paper cards with open windows showing drawings of the Siena Duomo and the Siena tower in the Piazza, or on Florence and Pisa, it also sells persoanlized seals and fun seals with sealing wax and ingenious bookmarks, it is called Il Papiro in Via Di Citta' #37, Siena 53100, Tel: 0577284241, they also have shops in Florence, Venice, Pisa, Cortona, Orvieto and New York, Palm Beach and Melbourne! So you can re-stock when you get home. Other fun spots in Siena are highlighted in the CollinadelSolewordpress blog Following your successful personalized shopping you might want to relax at the botanical gardens which are only open in the morning they are fresh, inviting, cool and calm, or if you prefer views and are in need of a breather nearby there is a lovely garden on a wall at the edge of Siena that overlooks the surrounding fields with a Phenomenal view, night and day. Or on the other side of town in Costa di Sant Antonio, another beautiful place to relax away from the hordes of tourists at midday in the centre of town you can head for St Catherine’s home which has been turned into a shrine go through a lovely Cortille of arches and turn left into what was her home and is now fully painted in wall to wall murals depicting different stages of St Catherine’s life, then follow the pathway going downstairs to find the bedroom of St Catherine which depicts murals of St Catherine’s life as a child and adult. Opposite what was the old kitchen is a church, with many murals depicting the life of St Catherine. It is a lovely haven of peace and tranquillity. Upon leaving you can reflect that you have discovered many parts of Sienna that few visitors knew existed with famous and exquisite works of Renaissance and Pre Renaissance art just there to be admired, and passages, palazzos, courtyards and churches full of calm and beauty.