Discovering Tuscany: Our quirky B&B in Pietrasanta

IMG_4706

Mini-moon part 2

Are you looking to book a holiday that is a little less touristy for 2017? Perhaps a last minute October break is on the cards. Whatever your plans, I hope to inspire you to make a decision that is a little less ordinary for your next break away.

Last year we stayed in an Air BnB, by Lake Garda. Off the beaten track, up a mountain and in the middle of nowhere; it was a real hidden gem. Its tranquility provided such relaxation, and our hosts home and cuisine made our stay truly authentic. In fact we loved it so much we decide to look for somewhere similar for our mini-moon.

IMG_4482

cucina2

Le Stipe di Sopora, our Tuscan sanctuary

We discovered Le Stipe di Sopora, whilst browsing online and instantly fell in love with her stunning photos- this was the place for us. (Silvia told us at the time of writing, that she could be booked via Air B n B, booking.com and others).

Sylvia, our host was warm and friendly and quick to respond, which made us feel instantly at ease. She even cooked us a delicious Tuscan meal of home-made pasta, basil and tomato bruschetta and local home-made lager (hic!) on our arrival evening.

Le Stipe is only 4 km from Pietrasanta, a pretty market town in northern Italy in the Province of Tuscany. What made Sylvia’s cosy home stand out against all the other hotels and B&Bs we could have stayed in, was its quirky, personal touches and rustic charm.

Sylvia’s home is a classically furnished 19th-century Tuscan building. The beautiful farmhouse-style kitchen had a large fireplace and original marble skink which was decorated with beautiful coloured mis-matched tiles. You can see Sylvia has restored her home with love, she has kept the original features including the timber ceiling and terracotta brickwork. Colourful artworks line the stairwell providing moments of wonder as you make your way up the stairs. *Starts making plans to transform the flat into a Tusacan farmhouse.*

As you enter the bedroom you are instantly hit with how bright, clean and airy it is. Broderie Analgise cushions, gilded antiques, Moroccan inspired flooring and hanging wall art come together to make a dreamy sanctuary for some much-needed rest. When you open the chestnut brown shuttered windows, you get incredible view over the village, the hills and beyond. You don’t get these views in Leeds that’s for sure.

One of our favourite things to do was relax and waste some serious time in the ancient courtyard, in the hammock reading a book.  There are few things more perfect in life than lounging in a hammock with a book don’t you think?

IMG_4380

IMG_4381

 

Here’s a few of the town’s highlights

Pietrasanta Marina: One of the best beaches in Italy

IMG_4565

The golden sands against a mountain back drop was insanely beautiful and so were the people. Quite possibly the most stunning beach we have been to in Italy.

Pietrasanta vintage market: On first Sunday of the month

As any vintage mama knows there’s always time for a spot of bargain hunting. I got my haggle game on and snapped up this gorgeous blue vintage dress for 5 Euros! I seriously considered leaving all my luggage and bringing a Moroccan rug home instead. And If I have had space I would have tried to smuggle Sylvia in there too!

Le Stipe di Sopora was the perfect Tuscan hideaway. I would highly recommend this or any other similar BnB, if you want to get a true taste of your Italy.

IMG_4610

IMG_4719

Groovy Threads and Style Inspiration

IMG_4684

IMG_5146

5 Awesome Things To Do In Florence

Mini moon part 1

The day following our wedding on the 27th August, happy but hungover, we went on the Ryanair website in the hope of a last minute deal and ended up booking a mini moon to Tuscany. Booked at 8pm that night to leave Monday morning at 8am- talk about flying by the seat of our pants!

Our trek across Tuscany started in Pisa. Pisa was a cheap destination but actually other than see the leaning tower, we found there wasn’t actually that much to do! So after travelling to Lucca for a day we spent the following two nights in Florence. There are many things to do, including the Uffizi Gallery to see Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (you know the one, the gorgeous redhead standing in the buff riding the waves in a giant clamshell) but in a bid to keep it simple, here are 5 things to do if you have 24 hours in Florence.

IMG_4891
Ready to explore! This was at a garden in Lucca before we got to Florence
IMG_4892
But relaxing was the first thing…

Morning

  1. Get Cultural: The Accademia Gallery & Michelangelo’s David

The Accademia reveals the genius of great Florentine artists and sculptures, the most renowned being the marble marvel that is Michelangelo’s David. Michelangelo carved his masterpiece from an abandoned block of marble, to create this vision of Florentine liberty. It is long debated whether our strapping chap is depicted before or after his battle with Goliath. I’d say after- he looks pretty pleased with himself doesn’t he?

As the museum is home to some of the finest works of Renaissance artwork in the world, lines to enter are long. You can however reserve a ticket down the street and bypass the entrance lines easily.

 

IMG_3987

  1. Marble marvel: Duomo Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

10 minutes from the Gallery you will find Florence’s main cathedral with its magnificent Renaissance dome. The exterior is covered in a decorative sweetshop mix of candy pink, white and green marble which looks stunning when lit against the night sky. Entrance into the cathedral is free, which is one of the reasons why you’ll usually find a long queue (Eugh). And like the length of time you appear to be in the queue- apparently it took two centuries for the cathedral to be finished.  We say only visit the inside if you really want to see it, your time here is probably best spent going to the top for the view or sat in the square listening to the talented buskers and taking it all in…

IMG_4353

 

  1. Find a Thrift Store in Florence: Melrose Vintage

Any vintage shopper worth their flares needs to seek out new groovy threads in a new city. Make a retro pit stop at Melrose Vintage. This quality thrift store is well worth a visit if you have time and is close to the Duomo peut on acheter du viagra en pharmacie. Find it here: argo 50123, Largo Fratelli Alinari, 8, 50123

IMG_4868

 

 

IMG_4667
In my new vintage purchase from Melrose Vintage! Who knew a tablecloth would work so well as a skirt…

 

 

Afternoon

  1. Escape the crowds: Garden di Boloboli

Located just 10 minutes from Ponte Vecchio, this sculpture park offers a welcome break from the bustling crowds. You could probably spend all day wandering aimlessly around this park and exploring everything it has to offer. Statues and fountains are scattered around the park, and there is a breathtaking view from the top. Being Italy it was blazing hot, so pack lots of water oh and factor 50 if you’re a lily white Brit like me.

IMG_4161

IMG_4147

IMG_4133

 

 

Evening

  1. Watch the Sunset: Piazzale Michelangelo

Finish the day with this beauty. A short (ish) walk from the gardens, this 19th century piazza has undoubtedly the best panoramic view of Florence. Watch the sunset with a bottle of wine, and dream of a city apartment, before you hit one of the restaurants back in the centre. Just be warned – this is a tourist hot spot, at peak season prepare to push your way through a hundred students with selfie sticks just to get a spot.

IMG_4261

IMG_4322

 

Top 4 Bordeaux Flea markets & thrift stores

What is Bordeaux known for? Wine? Culture? I recently came back from a 3 day break in Bordeaux, and was pleasantly surprised to discover it’s fast becoming a paradise for vintage lovers of a different kind.

Here’s a short guide to the best spots for vintage lovers and bargain hunters as well as some of the treasures I found along the way

  1. Flea Market St-Michael

One of the better flea markets, is in the St-Michel district; a cool, bohemian area with a lively student vibe.

The flea market was one of my highlights, but there is an element of car boot sale to it. Yet, instead of your local playing field, it’s situated around a gothic church in a picturesque market square, surrounded by brasseries, where chic French women sit, cig in hand and sunglasses poised.

Search and you will find those gems.  I managed to bag Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours for 8 Euros and four fringed vintage lace curtains for 6 Euros. They will make THE perfect finishing touch to the long window in our flat once washed, covering the modern metal blind a treat!

Where: Place Duburg
When: Every day, from 7 am to 4 pm, except Saturdays and Mondays

Bordeaux flea market

 

Processed with VSCO with m1 preset

Processed with VSCO with m1 preset

IMG_3139

 

  1. Le passage St-Michael

Next up is real Aladdin’s cave of treasures and bri- a – brac, housed in an old banana warehouse. Here, you can find anything from mirrors, dresses and old record players to 6ft framed music posters. Many vendors do shipping now so you don’t have to worry if you find something you like. I was rather taken by this fur stole… but could never bring myself to wear real fur, so the little fella stayed put and we settled for a rather more ethical 20s, painted mirror.

Where: 14 place Canteloup
When: Open daily, noon-6pm or later

Processed with VSCO with m1 preset

  1. Steack and Fripes 

Tucked  away down one of the side streets is this little gem. And just like the vintage shops in the UK, retro lovers can discover rows  upon rows of genuine 60s, 70s and 80s clothing, all at affordable prices. I found a floral shirt. It’s long enough to wear as a jacket and I think it clashed with my psychedelic print scarf fabulously.

Where: 62 Rue du Mirail, 33800 Bordeaux

 

IMG_3158

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

  1. Le Centre Ville 

Don’t be fooled by this shop front masquerading as a small newsagent -inside it’s something else. Upon setting inside you will feel like you are in vintage Narnia; turquoise and silver antique jewellery, coats, hats bags and scarves are stacked high and hanging low.  I found this amazing scarf. But be warned, unlike the markets this is not the place for bartering, the owner, was having none of my advances. But this peach was too good to pass so I parted with cash happily. Sometimes you just have to give in!

Where 26 rue du Parlement Sainte Catherine, Bordeaux

IMG_3125

 

The best of the rest

France is of course not short of good cafes. With its bamboo bar, and the most delicious chai lattes, Le Tchai Bar is ideal for when you want to escape for 20 minutes. As well as chai they serve a selection of hot drinks from around the world including Mexican hot milk and Lassi and yummy healthy snacks. Stick around long enough and you may be lucky to see some live music.

Where: 49 Rue du Mirail, 33000 Bordeaux

Photo courtesy of Tchai Bar Facebook, Jérôme Victoire

One of the best things about Bordeaux is still very heavily influenced by Moroccan and African culture. You can find bright colours and ethnic threads down many a street. We popped into Cabane Indigo  where they sold imported ethnic home-wears, I bought a couple of bracelets including some Mali bracelet  from made from recycled flip flops!

For more questions answered as you travel, get in touch with @visitbordeaux on twitter.

Processed with VSCO with m2 preset
Cabane Indigo