Sometimes buying the right olive oil can seem like reading a chemistry manual. Cold pressed, DOP, extra virgin and other terms can make it hard to know what you’re buying or even understand what you need. Luckily, with a little help you can easily read even the trickiest of labels and ensure the perfect oil for your needs, in or out of the kitchen!

Extra Virgin: Starting with two of the most common words printed on an oil label, have you ever stopped to wonder what it actually means? Extra virgin olive oil is the very first cold press of the olives, so it’s more pure (and generally better) than “virgin oil”. It has the lowest acidity (less than .8%) and at the same time, the highest polyphenols, which are the antioxidants in oil that make it so darn good for you. This is the highest grade of oil you can buy, and Dievole makes only this kind (in 6 different varieties).

Virgin Oil: This is a step below “extra virgin,” being the second pressing of the olives. The acidity of this oil has to be lower than 2%. It is also produced without heat or chemicals, like extra virgin oil.

Pure (Olive) Oil: Pure oil indicates an oil that is oftentimes a mix of refined and unrefined oils. It can therefore be partially or totally produced using heat and other chemicals to extract the oil, instead of pressing.

Acidity: So, what exactly is the acidity of oil? Acidity is also known as free oleic acid, and the amount of this acid in the finished product indicates how much the good fats in oil (the healthy ones) have been broken down. The less acid, the less breakdown.

Polyphenols: These are essentially antioxidants that protect the cells in our bodies from damage. The polyphenols are also what make up the flavors and aromas of olive oil. More complex the flavors are more antioxidants it has and more healthy it is. Olive oil is a great source of this antioxidant, hence is healthy in so many ways.

Cold Pressed: If an oil is cold pressed, that means that it has been extracted from the olives using only pressure. No chemicals or heat are used. With less external impact, the oil is higher quality – this works in the same way as wine, where it’s best to intervene as little as possible. Cold pressing is a low yield method of production, but the quality is outstanding.

DOP: If you go to an Italian market you are sure to see these three letters on many delicious products. The abbreviation stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta. You will see this written on various things from wine to meat, cheese, preserved foods, olive oil, apples and more.

In our olive oil terminology, the DOP designation refers both to the location of production and type of olive used, and these elements are strictly controlled by legislation. Buying something like our DOC Chianti Classico Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a real guarantee of quality that certifies that it was grown in the Chianti Classico region and made following strict guidelines requiring annual re-certification.

Olio Nuovo: To fully understand the very nature of extra virgin olive oil, one has to go to its origins. When the olive is plump and ready for the picking, there is a special phase that stands between the olive mill and the finished product. Olio Nuovo is the first pressing of olive oil of the season, bottled unfiltered and usually in very limited quantities. Renowned for its full, green color and the tickle of spicy goodness at the back of your throat, Olio Nuovo (or “novello”) is the purest expression of the olive and its story and is at the center of many seasonal celebrations meant to treasure and share the first outcome of the harvest. In 2016 Dievole launched the “Olio Nuovo Primo Raccolto” project to give Evoo aficionados the chance to not only receive their very batch of ultra-fresh extra virgin olive oil, but also to choose the harvest date.

Refined or filtered: Olive oil can be finely refined or filtered to remove flaws such as cloudiness or dark green coloring while leaving the punchy taste. New developments in filtering technology, such as those used by Dievole, ensure that none of the flavour or health value of the precious liquid is lost in the process. Filtering creates a pure and beautiful olive oil with a longer shelf life than unfiltered oil.

Unrefined or unfiltered: This is an oil that hasn’t been treated to remove any of its flaws. It may appear cloudy and is likely to have sediment at the bottom of the bottle. The disadvantage of sediment is that it contains water, and thus will soon ferment, destroying the quality of the evoo a few months after pressing.

With these ten words, you can easily choose the right oil for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in flavor, production methods, clarity or even the antioxidant content; much can be discovered by simply reading the label. Now that you know the differences, why not see if you can taste them? Olive oils come in so many varieties; the options are almost as endless as the ways to enjoy it.

 

From shady olive groves to its signature rolling hills, Tuscany is a treasure trove of glorious panoramic viewpoints, leisurely settings and, naturally, great picnic spots. Early fall is a great time for al fresco eating and Chianti is brimming with breathtaking outdoor settings (and grapes!) ripe for the picking!

 

A hunger for altitude

A promenade on Monte San Michele Ph. Costanza Giovannini (Flickr CC)

A promenade on Monte San Michele | Ph. Costanza Giovannini (Flickr CC)

If peaks pique your appetite, set out to conquer Chianti’s highest summit: Monte San Michele. Located in the municipality of Greve in Chianti, this 892 meter-high natural reserve is one of the territory’s most appreciated and sought-after picnic spots. From here, you can take in the balmy mountain air and admire the valleys of the Arno, Greve and Pesa rivers while sinking your teeth into a well-deserved panino.

Feasting on Art

Sculpture park

A work in the Chianti Sculpture Park

One of our most creative neighbours, the Parco Sculture del Chianti of Pievasciata is a one-of-a-kind attraction in the heart of Chianti Classico. Just 10 km north of Siena and a few minutes away from Dievole, this art-lovers’ haven extends over 7 hectares (18 acres) of woodland, scattered with a collection of site-specific masterpieces by 26 artists from all over the world. Here you will find your share of picnic spots: the wonderful amphitheatre – where you can dine in the company of the delicate silhouettes of famous “spectators” such as Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin and Federico Fellini – Federica Marangoni’s colourful rainbow in murano tinted glass (this is actually the designated picnic area, usefully equipped with a water fountain) and Jeff Saward’s ice-blue labyrinth are bound to stir up your appetite for creativity and the great outdoors.

Picnic Spots on the lakefront

The Pozze di Lecchi are a natural groundwater basin near Lecchi, in the municipality of Gaiole in Chianti. Surrounded by oaks and renowned for its crystal clear emerald water, coincidentally the Lecchi valley is also home to the Mulinaccio stream, water course that joins with a tributary of the Arbia river, life source of the lands where Dievole’s Le Due Arbie wines are born. During the summer bring a swimsuit along – the water is cold but it will help keep the Tuscan heat at bay and make your al fresco picnic even more refreshing!

 

Bon Vivants among the Vines

Guests enjoying one of Dievole's picnic spots

Guests enjoying one of Dievole’s picnic spots

Is there such a thing as a gourmet picnic? Dievole has introduced this concept in its recently launched Wine Tasting Tours, four itineraries meant to explore the many nuanced world of extra virgin olive oil and wine production. Dievole’s Gourmet Picnic Tour offers you the unique opportunity to savour the products of nature in nature, a farm-to-table (or vine-to-glass) approach that stands at the very core of Dievole’s production philosophy. After a walking tour of the estate’s main vineyards, you will be able to choose among the property’s many picnic spots among Sangiovese vines and olive groves. The picnic basket is chock-full with delicacies: Tuscan bread, water, a bottle of Dievole’s latest Chianti Classico vintage, a bottle of Dievole’s prize-winning extra virgin olive oil and a full-fledged gourmet menu prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Perfect for romantic getaways or family get-togethers, this gastronomical tour is nothing short of magical.

So whether you decide to pack your checkered blanket and DIY goodie basket or pamper yourself and your loved ones by booking a special Dievole picnic among the Sangiovese vines, don’t miss out on this unique experience of fine dining in Chianti’s nature.

So you know you like wine, and you’d like to get to know more. The first big step is making the choice to refine your palate, training it to learn how to taste wine like a pro. The following are some steps to get you started.

Friends with bottles

Tasting Dievole wine with friends makes it even more enjoyable

Tasting Dievole wine with friends makes it even more enjoyable

Learning to taste wine is a commendable experience, but it ought to also be a social one. Besides not drinking alone, choosing to go down this path with friends will make it both more enjoyable and easier. First, for a practical reason: having more bottles open will allow you to make comparisons between wines (be they between regions, grapes, producers or whatever you choose). Second, because talking through the experience with people at the same level as you will make learning more fun – just like a study group for exams used to make school more bearable. Try to set up a wine study group, or ask about tastings and opportunities at your local vintages shop. Or plan on an intensive self-guided course “in residence” by spending your vacation right in a winery, like at Dievole, which offers both hospitality and of course wine tasting!

The right environment

If you want to truly learn how to taste wine like a pro, you’ll need to dedicate a bit of special time and place to it. Tasting at a late night party, especially if you are eating or smoking, probably isn’t ideal – but neither is a hospital-like setting. You will want to create a pleasant environment with natural light, and possibly approach your tasting mid-morning or mid-afternoon, away from meals. There may also be better days for tasting – some people swear by drinking wine by the lunar calendar, avoiding “root days” (when the moon is in the earth signs). No matter what day it is, ask your guests to avoid perfume and smoke, as both will intrude upon your all-important sense of smell.

 

Look first, then…

Just like when you were learning to cross the road safely at elementary school and they said “look first, then…”, the same applies to tasting wine. Using a good quality, egg shaped glass with a wide top, pour in the wine, and take the time to consider how it looks. You should observe the wine from the side, held up to natural light, hoping to find a wine that is clear, with a naturally brilliant sparkle.

Tilting the glass will help you better understand its colour – is that white wine hay coloured or more amber? Is the red closer to rust, wood or ruby? Is there a secondary colour you can spot at the edges that might indicate greater age and complexity?

Finally, a swirl will allow you to evaluate the wine’s “legs” – if they hold together well, the wine is generally more corpulent, if they are light and abundant, the wine has a lower alcohol and glycerin content.

Follow your nose

"nose" the wine

“nose” the wine

Some people are more sensitive to smell than others, which may be due to natural proclivity or to different habits – for example, an allergic-type non-smoker will be able to sniff out a smoker’s sweater from across the room. You should be able to start understanding the wine by starting to smell from further away, hovering your nose first above the glass. In this phase you can look for any “off” smells that might indicate a fundamental problem with the wine.

Then you can go deeper, sticking your nose well into the glass – though not for too long, otherwise you’ll lose sensitivity! Certain fruits, flowers, herbs and minerals tend to be discoverable in wines – depending on the grape. With experience, you will get to know what to expect, as well as to better identify what you smell. For example, an annata Chianti Classico like Dievole’s 2014, made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, smells like fresh red fruits, denoting a young, fresh wine.

Train your tongue

Last but not least, we go to the mouth. Experts recommend using the spittoon if you’re tasting wines – you can always go back and drink the one you like best, when you’re finished with the process. Take in a mouthful and swash the wine around, aerating it by slurping in from the sides of your mouth so that the liquid hits all the right spots.

At this point you’re evaluating a few things (beyond “I like it” or “I don’t like it” – which may also be useful!). Dryness vs. sweetness will be one of the first things that hits you, and one that you cannot determine from smell (ever tried to smell a bowl of sugar?). The other important thing to determine is acidity, which balances sweetness and may be defined by when the back edges of the tongue curl up in response. This is awfully close to the response our mouth has to tannins, which make our mouth pucker up – though the issue is rather more complex and would merit an article of its own.

Then, you can see if you can pick out the fruits, spices and herbs you identified through smell, or determine any more fine elements now that you’re combining all your senses.

In the end, with enough practice, you will be able to determine things like country – down to the region – and grape variety in a blind tasting.

 

Visit Wineries

Guided wine Tasting in Dievole's Enoteca

Guided wine Tasting in Dievole’s Enoteca

The best way to learn how to taste wine is to actually step into its birthplace – visiting wineries is an evergreen trend among grape mavens and aficionados for it is here that the magic happens and that you can delve head (and glass)-first into its complex production processes under the guide of savants and sommeliers.

Dievole has recently introduced four Wine Tasting Tours designed to usher guests into the magical world of wine production. Touring the vineyards, savouring the latest vintages in the cool depths of Dievole’s renovated cellar, travelling virtually across Tuscany to discover the territory’s many grape varieties and enjoying a full-fledged gourmet picnic outdoors – these are all perfect ways to further understand wine.

 

Reading material

Although tasting is the most important step in learning to taste wine like a pro, reading a few books in the matter can only increase your knowledge. To write The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil went to the trouble of tasting over 10,000 wines (!), which she describes with always fresh adjectives. Her unique voice makes learning the fundamentals enjoyable too. Another perennial favourite is How to Taste – which is a complete wine course – or really anything by Jancis Robinson, who is perhaps one of the world’s most renowned wine experts.

This infographic made by Remedy Liquors about the main differences between white and red wines can also be useful in your training to taste wine like a pro.

 

White Wine Vs Red Wine

 

The harvest, the moment in which all our hard work throughout the year comes, quite literally, to fruition… or to fruit! With harvest season upon us in Italy, many people are asking when the harvest starts for red wine types. 2017 has been an unusual year, with drought and extreme heat, so harvest has started earlier than usual. But in any year, there are various factors that influence when the harvest starts.

Different grape types (or “wine types”) mature at different rates, so in the northern hemisphere, which includes Europe, the harvest starts in late August and finishes in October.

sangiovese grapes harvest

PIcking Sangiovese grapes

Each year the harvest starts on a different date and a lot of work goes into choosing the right moment to start. The enologist and the agronomist discuss, along with the winery owner, the progress of the grapes over the summer. As the grapes get closer to complete maturity, all eyes (and mouths) are on the grapes, which need to be picked at just the right moment to maximize the balance between sweetness (sugar content) and acidity. This technical ripeness needs to coincide with physiological ripeness to ensure the all-important tannins, in order to have a balanced and age-worthy vintage in the end. This ripeness, which takes place first in the pulp, then in the skin and pips, is essential since it determines so many of the flavours of the final wine.

harvest

Harvest at Dievole

In choosing the right time to start, a lot of attention is also paid to weather predictions, for a freak hail storm or strong rains can be disastrous in this delicate moment: with the threat of a big storm, the harvest might be done before the storm if possible to limit damage. Picking is paused during rain, since the additional water would dilute the must.

In Tuscany, most often we start harvesting the grapes in mid September, while in 2017, after a very hot summer, some wineries along the coast had already started in mid August! On average this year, wineries in the Chianti Classico area are starting 2 weeks early, in the last days of August or first days of September. Of the many factors that influence harvest start date are latitude, altitude, climate, terrain and grape type.

Most wineries in Tuscany pick different vineyards on the property in a specific order based on their ripeness and on their final destination, that is on what type of wine is to be made. We pick the grapes for white and rosé wines first, so here at Dievole this is Trebbiano and Malvasia. Merlot matures earlier than many other red grapes, so in Bolgheri and along the coast of Tuscany this is harvested early on in the period. Sangiovese makes up the majority of our vineyards here at Dievole and in many years is picked between September and October. Around the same time we pick Cannaiolo and Colorino.

Tuscany might be overlooked at first as a spa destination, both because of the mild climate and the vast amount other attractions you find there. Nevertheless, Tuscany has more thermal centers than any other region in Italy, spas that range from natural pools to 5-star spa resorts. You can pick any spa in Tuscany, and you are guaranteed a romantic and unforgettable experience, while you can reconnect with your body and the beautiful natural surroundings. From the many options, we propose you our four favorite spas in Tuscany.

Terme di Saturnia

Amongst the many beautiful thermal baths you found in Tuscany, Terme di Saturnia is probably the most famous one. Saturnia is located in the Southern corner of Tuscany in the Maremma Region, and the sulphurous springs found here were already loved by the Etruscan and later the Roman people. Nowadays it’s a place where you can enjoy romantic moments in a gorgeous natural environment. If you seek real luxury, the 5-star resort offers you outdoor pools, massage treatments and even a golf course. At the same time, if you don’t want to spend the night, you can enjoy a lovely natural experience at Cascate del Mulino, a wonderful open-air hot springs waterfall that comes down the hill.

Bagno Vignoni

Bagno Vignoni spa

Bagno Vignoni. Photo credit: Paolo Fefe in Flickr

There’s a hard to find a more eye-catching sight than the pool in the main square of Bagno Vignoni. Pilgrims on their way between Canterbury and Rome used this pool once. Nowadays, instead of the dipping your feet in the public pool, you can enjoy glamour at one of the most luxurious spas in Tuscany, the Adler Thermae Spa and Resort. Located just outside of Bagno Vignoni, this hotel resort owned by a family from South Tyrol offers you a real treat. There’s a giant pool at the center of the resort that offers fascinating views of the surrounding nature, and the restaurant with its glass roof offers the intimacy you expect from a romantic dinner. A glass of great Chianti wine from Dievole will surely make the moment just perfect.

Fonteverde

Another quite glamorous option to choose is Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort located in the majestic scenery of the hills of Val d’Orcia in Siena. It was built originally by the Grand Duke Ferdinando in the 17th century around thermal hot springs whose properties has been known since the Etruscan period. The original Medici portico of the building still stands nowadays, and the outdoor pools offer breathtaking panorama, while you can enjoy the healing force of the thermal waters. According to rumors, even celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Penelope Cruz spent some time in these facilities.

Petriolo

Finally, one of the most ancient spas in Tuscany is the one located in Petriolo. Already known by the Romans and even cited by Cicero, the first thermal complex was built here in the Renaissance period. Several famous characters, such as cardinals frequented these sulphurous baths then. Nowadays Terme di Petriolo is a modern thermal center where you can soak in the healing thermal water rich in sulphur or enjoy a great variety of wellness treatments, perfect for a relaxing and romantic day.

Any of these wonderful spas in Tuscany is a perfect plan for a romantic day, and don’t forget after spending a day in one of these thermal centers, you can make your day even more memorable staying with us in Dievole Wine Resort.

* ALERT: Rest assured that this article does not contain serious spoilers – just a few useful nods to which wine might pair with your hero of choice and soften the tingling anxiety that we are all experiencing as we await to unveil the destiny of Westeros. Let us embark on a tasting journey of Game of Thrones Wine (yes, we know that it’s probably grape-flavoured koolaid or food-coloured water but fiction overthrows reality in this case) imagining which bottle they would guzzle down if they where into Italian wine.

Many GOT characters have clearly expressed their love for wine, especially certain houses who use it to soothe their fiery tempers while planning the next strategic battle move or celebrating the umpteenth merciless murder spree. Some characters brood over their glasses in contemplation while others are borderline alcoholics, but hey, who can blame them? A nice sip of nectar of the gods helps quench, or at least curb, their almost painful thirst for power.

Sure, wine has sometimes been used for less-noble purposes, such as the murder of young tyrant Joffrey Baratheon and Olenna Tyrell (ok, these are mini-spoilers but c’mon, we couldn’t not mention them!) and the attempted poisoning of Daenerys Targaryen. We must also point out that being set in ancient times when drinking water was but a precious commodity, ale and wine were the beverages of choice (good times indeed).

 

You heard the lady - she wants her daily dose of Game of Thrones Wine!

You heard the lady – she wants her daily dose of Game of Thrones Wine!

 

So let’s begin with the true winos of the HBO series, the ones who deal with death, drama and despair on a daily basis: Cersei and Tyrion Lannister wouldn’t be the same without their brimming chalices in hand. They seem to have a penchant for full-bodied red wine of the inebriating kind, where alcohol content and flavour mitigate palate and bad thoughts. Lusting over the Iron Throne has instilled in Cersei a love for dry, bold, earthy wines with a deeply mineral aftertaste, which makes us think of the Nero di Troia, a grape variety that grows in the Southern region of Puglia. It tends towards astringency – leaving a dry taste in your mouth as well as those of your enemies.

Tyrion, on the other hand, fuels his poetic meandering and military cunning with more lush tannins and hints of dark red fruits that remind him that there is still some good in the world, like our Dievole Novecento Chianti Classico Riserva. The spicy notes work perfectly also to stir conversation – a sip of his favourite wine even made the usually stoic Unsullied warrior Torgo Nudho aka Grey Worm crack a joke and smile.

The Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains, Daenerys Targaryen knows how to keep it cool. To maintain this enviable aplomb, her routine includes a fresh nightcap of rosé or light red, like Ciliegiolo or Lambrusco Secco, although we would suggest the heady, tangy caress of a perfectly aged Dievole Vin Santo to whisk her away from her troubles.

 

Winter is coming so the north is also warming up. Libations aplenty are in store for warriors and lords alike, although he might know nothing (about wine) even Jon Snow deserves a sip of earthly goodness now and then. If he were in Italy, he’d be looking for a good punch in the mouth – a tart red, with high acidity levels that speaks of enduring grapes grown into perfection through the hardest of times. Jon would appreciate the challenge of growing wines in the Aosta Valley, Italy’s northernmost wine region, that produces very little wine indeed. Its Alpine peaks generate a wine with icy crispness and minerality.

Speaking of Northeners, Sansa Stark’s once naive outlook on life has received many a blow. She has overcome her frailties and become a very strong presence in Winterfell, but there was a moment when only wine could console her. Fancy Franciacorta bubbles would fit perfectly with her new elegant and austere persona. Just like her, this territory manages to make the best out of what it is given, sparkling with caramel and the wistful energy of a young girl who is ready to embrace womanhood.

We have surely left out some essential pawns and pieces of this amazing saga but Winter is coming and we don’t have much time… so prep your glasses and send us a raven to tell us who you think is the Game of Thrones wine drinking champion.

The western coast of Tuscany together with the Tuscan Archipelago is a fabulous sailing destination. Therefore, the coast is equipped with some excellent marinas, small docks that supply for small boats and yachts. One would not think at first, but marinas represent a fantastic option to spend a day on the seaside, since most of them don’t only have refueling or cleaning facilities for the boats, but they are also equipped with shops and great restaurants. In addition, spending a day in these marinas between luxury yachts and sailing boats can let you take a glance at this glamorous world. From the several marinas, herein we show you our Top 3, which are found in Punta Ala, San Vincenzo, and Puntone. All three marinas found quite close to Dievole Wine Resort and spending a day in some of them is a really great option we can recommend to our guests.

Marina di Punta Ala. Localita’ Porto, Punta Ala

One of the main marinas in the area is the Marina of Punta Ala located near the small settlement bearing the same name, at the tip of a small peninsula. It is quite a large marina with three port basins and 13 quays altogether with a breakwater in the North, and it has always been a reference point for those who set sail around this part of Tuscany. Despite of the large size, the marina has a cozy and elegant atmosphere, and it’s also perfect for spending a day there. There’s a quite large shopping area both for sailors and visitors. Free Wi-Fi is also offered in the whole area. If you are lucky, you will have the chance to see a regatta going on, and hence you will be able to observe how the elegant boats with their crews wearing their sailing gear glide into the port area after the race.

Marina di San Vincenzo. Molo Fratelli Magnani, San Vincenzo

Another great option if you look for a great marina to spend the day at is Marina di San Vincenzo located in the small village with the same name in Livorno Province. It’s a relatively new marina that was opened in 2010, and it contains 283 berths for yachts up to 18 meters. It’s a really well maintained marina with a large shopping mall that contains both shops and restaurants. You can have a stroll on the long walkway that leads to a majestic statue of a sailor that represents a “man that sails the sea in a dream paper boat with his feet immersed in salty water and with a heart in love”. During this pleasant walk you can admire the boats on one side and the sea on the other side.

Marina San Vicenzo

San Vicenzo. Wikipedia Creative Commons by Saiko

Marina di Scarlino. Località Puntone, Scarlino Grosseto

Another great place in the Tuscan Maremma region, where you can enjoy a day at the sea amongst beautiful boats and great restaurants is the Marina di Scarlino. This fairly big marina is found in one of the most sheltered bays in the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea, and it offers almost 600 berths for yachts up to 36 meters. Apart from the usual daily activities, this marina offers special evening events, such as Marina Wine nights with live concerts and wine tastings.

Thus, are you looking for a day filled with fun and glamour? We are sure that while staying at Dievole, a day-trip to one of these marinas will be a great to fulfill your expectations.

The flow of passengers to Tuscany through Pisa has increased considerably in the last few years thanks to its international airport that receives flights from many places around Europe. Pisa, therefore, is a perfect stopover on your way towards Dievole Wine Resort, since you can explore the city in a day before continuing your journey. Many people think that the leaning tower is the only important sight in Pisa, but they couldn’t be more wrong. This city houses many hidden gems, and here come our suggestions of what to do in Pisa in 1 day.

The leaning tower and the Piazza dei Miracoli

Naturally, you can’t leave Pisa without visiting its symbol, the leaning tower and the main square, the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) where many of the most emblematic buildings found. The whole square is declared UNESCO World Heritage site. We recommend you to get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds, and to have fewer tourists doing the same “pushing against the tower” pose in your photos. The leaning tower is one of the most peculiar buildings of the world that has tilted 1 mm ever since it was completed in the 14th century. You can climb the tower to have the best views, but you have to book in advance here.

Don’t appreciate only the tower, but contemplate all the other landmarks found at Piazza dei Miracoli including the Duomo (Cathedral), the Baptistery and the Monumental Cemetery.

Get lost visiting the other squares of Pisa

Piazza dei Cavalieri

Piazza dei Cavalieri / Gábor Kovács

Many tourists limit their visit to the main square, but there are so many other things to do around. Pisa, for instance, hides several charming squares that you should discover during your stay. The Piazza dei Cavalieri is a beautiful square from the Renaissance era that hosts the only church in town from that period, the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri. In the same square you can also find the impressive buildings of Palazzo della Carovana and Torre dell’Orologio, which both belong to the Scuola Normale Superiore, one of the most famous universities in the country. Continue your visit on Piazza delle Vettovaglie, a beautiful square with porticoes, which was once called Pigs’ Square. You can enjoy the daily market here or try a tasty aperitif in one of the cheap restaurants. Don’t miss out on Piazza La Pera either, a popular square amongst locals, and the connecting Via San Martino, a lovely street with a series of wonderful Renaissance buildings. You will simply be amazed by the beautiful façades of the buildings here and the ambience will transport you to a real medieval town.

Take a stroll along the Arno River

Riverside in Pisa - Arno River

Arno River / Gábor Kovács

Amongst the pleasant things to do in Pisa, we can also recommend you a stroll along the Arno River. The same river that flows through Florence, cuts Pisa in two parts: the touristic area on the North, and the more local side of Pisa on the South. You can enjoy a beautiful view of the colourful buildings on the riverside and the mountains in the background. In order to have better views, we advise you to walk on Lungarno Pacinotti, the North bank of the river.

Visit San Francesco Church

Finally, if you are looking for a really hidden gem in Pisa, look for this church usually overlooked by visitors. The building has a marble facade from the 17th-century, but it features elements from both the Romanesque and the Gothic period. We especially recommend you to check out Taddeo Gaddi’s frescoes in the choir and the cloister that dates back to the 14th century.

Just as you can see, Pisa is much more than its world famous leaning tower. We hope that our guide let you enjoy a perfect stopover in Pisa on your way to Dievole.

Over the past few years, Dievole Wine Resort has been undergoing a gradual, careful but deep renovation of all its facilities. Although we’ve still got a lot more surprises in store, this past winter and spring we completed a number of important spaces for our guests. In particular, almost two years of work has finally revealed the new rooms in the property’s villa, which also features spaces for hospitality downstairs such as a lounge and restaurant. Are you ready for a first look at the restyling of Dievole?

Dievole’s hospitality extends across five structures in a medieval borgo or clustering of buildings that have been fully renovated to become: Colombaia (apartments), Ulivo (rooms near the reception), Dievolino, Limonaia (suites) and the main villa.

Stairway of the main villa

The most significant progress this year has been made on the main villa, which has always been referred to as “Villa Dievole”. This elegant structure was designed at the end of the eighteenth century by Ettore Romagnoli and is the pulsing heart of the historic property. From a distance it is the most notable building here, and now its exterior as well as its interior have been fully renewed.

Guests enter into the villa through a doorway that gives on to the Giardino del Tasso. This first vestibule has been decorated with antique furniture and features a reading nook. A grand staircase leads up two flights, while a new elevator has also been installed. The top floor is dedicated to relaxing classic and deluxe rooms.

Burgundy and green are the theme for the new villa bedrooms

Each of Dievole’s main hospitality areas are characterized by a colour scheme. Limonaia, for example, plays with the lemon theme. The Colombaio uses cheery florals and checks, and Olivo’s greens recall our olive groves. In the villa, a cedar green contrasts with a deep Chianti Classico red, a clear reference to our property’s (and many of our guests’) main interest: wine! But these splashes of colour are sober details in a mainly light-filled room that plays with white and cream textures in fabrics, furniture, flooring and other details.

Fabric details

The overall style you’ll find all our accommodations can be defined as “elegant country chic”. Conscious of our guests’ desire to find a room that is immediately relaxing on the eyes and thus on the mind, every detail has been carefully chosen to blend harmoniously into the environment. But if you want to look deeper you’ll find pleasure in them.

Custom made lamps

For example, in line with the villa’s historic structure, special brass light switches have been chosen that have a vintage look and fascinating tactility. The brass lamps on the ceilings and walls were custom designed and crafted by a Tuscan artisan. The wooden beams of the ceilings have been hand painted by local experts following traditional methods handed down through generations. There’s plenty to please every sense in these rooms.

Special light switches

While at home, the bathroom may be a practical space, but on holiday you want to be able to dedicate more time to yourself, and that may mean relaxing in a deep bubble bath; for this, some of our rooms feature a freestanding tub with picture-perfect views of the vines that surround us. We’re also happy to now provide Hermes toiletries, whose sophisticated citrus fragrances will surely entrance you.

Hermes toiletries

Throughout the villa we have chosen special off-white terracotta flooring made by hand by an artisan furnace in Umbria, in a unique area where the local earth makes this possible. Its antique finish feels fantastic on bare feet, cool in the summer and holding in the warmth of winter heat.

Downstairs in the villa you’ll find a new lounge and dining areas, as well as a fabulous new professional kitchen – but that’s something we’ll share with you soon enough! Stay tuned on our Instagram @dievole for some sneak peeks over the next few months.

In the 15th century Renaissance was flourishing in Tuscany. Many artists worked in the area creating magnificent masterpieces for the future, and there was one thing in common with them, they were all tied somehow to the Medici Family. There are not many families in the history of mankind that had such a huge influence on their era. The Medici are not only known as the most important art patrons of the Renaissance era, but they also contributed to the creation of the modern economy.

One of the greatest testimonies of their influence on the European culture are the magnificent Medici villas and gardens that are spread across Tuscany. From these Renaissance masterpieces 12 villas and 2 gardens were declared UNESCO World Heritages sites. These villas, which were built between the 15th and 17th century created a totally new type of noble residence, and for the first time integrated their beautiful gardens into the natural environment. We will take you here on a trip around 5 of the most beautiful Medici Villas in Tuscany, which are all easily accessible from Dievole Wine Resort on a day trip.

Villa del Poggio Imperiale. Piazzale del Poggio Imperiale, Florence

The Villa del Poggio Imperiale (Villa of the Imperial Hill) located just to the south of Florence was built in neoclassical style, and it’s known as the Medici villa in Tuscany with the most turbulent history. It was seized from the Baroncelli family by the Medici, and later for some time it also belonged to Napoleon’s sister. The building was expanded with extra rooms and neoclassical elements, and finally in the 18th century it was almost completely renovated. For almost two centuries now the building has been occupied by an exclusive girls’ boarding school, and only a few rooms in the villa can be visited upon request.

Villa di Castello. Via di Castello 47, Florence

Villa di Castello, also very close to Florence, is a 15th century Medici villa mostly famous for being the place where Cosimo I de ‘Medici spent his childhood ages. Cosimo, who was called later as the Father of the Nation, was the first member of the Medici political dynasty. Not surprisingly Villa di Castello was his favourite villa and as an adult he expanded it with an extensive garden that included trails, fountains and the world famous Animal Grotto. This villa is also known for housing Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ for some time in the past. Nowadays, visitors are allowed only to enter the park.

Villa di Fiesole. Via Frà Giovanni da Fiesole Detto l’Angelico 35, Fiesole

Villa Fiesole

Villa Fiesole – Picture of Sailko en Wikicommons

There’s no doubt that Villa di Fiesole designed by Michelozzo is one of the most beautiful, best preserved and most antique Medici Villas in Tuscany. Situated in the Fiesole hills, this villa was built in the 14th century as one of the first countryside villas designed in true Renaissance style. This building had a major influence as inspirational source for many villas built later in the area. The villa has a very elegant style with beautiful terraces and gardens, and it can be visited, but it has to be arranged in advance.

Villa la Petraia. Via della Petraia, 40, 50141 Firenze FI, Italy

Villa La Petraia is also considered amongst the most fascinating Medici Villas in Tuscany. This fortified mansion is located on a hill just a few kilometers from Florence, and from the hilltop you can enjoy an amazing view of the city. The villa is richly decorated in the interior and has a beautiful Italian garden that attracts visitors from all around the world. The courtyard that is decorated with frescoes is probably the most impressive part of the villa. Both the park and the villa are open to visitors and the admission is free.

Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano Piazza dei Medici 14, Poggio a Caiano

One of the most important properties of the Medici was the Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano, also known as the ‘Amber’. Built under the financial support of Lorenzo Il Magnifico, it represents a great example of Renaissance architecture, in which elements inspired by classic temples and Tuscan countryside buildings were also incorporated. From the villa you can enjoy a spectacular view of the surrounding natural landscape. Nowadays the villa houses the Museum of Still Life (Natura Morta) that exhibits a huge collection of paintings collected by the Medici. You can visit both the villa and the park.

These are only our five favorite Medici Villas in Tuscany, but you can certainly visit many more of these buildings that tell so much about the greatness of the Medici family.