Category Archives: Le Baccanti Events

What we’re doing, where we’re going, who we’re meeting

Tuscan Towns

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Most tourists heading for Tuscany visit Florence, Siena, or Pisa. But Tuscany has more to offer than the great cities; smaller and less well known towns show a different side of Tuscan life and have their own, individual characters.

Lucca, a tiny cathedral city in the plains of the Arno valley, is still surrounded by its high defensive walls. It is a treasurehouse of Romanesque art; the cathedral contains the Volto Santo, an ancient crucifix that drew pilgrims from all over Italy, while San Frediano has a massive carved font showing the story of Moses. Winding streets of old houses in pale orange and pink end in towering white marble church facades, and the massive brick Tower of the Guinigi family dominates the east of the city.

Barga is a short bus ride away from Lucca, but a more different town can’t be imagined; it’s high up in the foothills of the Apuan Alps, which in the middle ages were full of wolves and bandits. Steep streets and narrow alleys run upwards to the gleaming white church. Barga’s food comes from the mountains ñ chestnuts, wild boar, and forest mushrooms ñ and even when the sun shines, it’s cooler than the cities of the plain below.

Another city with rough edges is Volterra, sited dramatically on a rocky ridge, overlooking untamed, arid country; it feels a little like Tuscany’s Wild West. Here the Etruscans operated mines, and the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum contains many examples of their metalwork, as well as a large collection of funerary urns, many with uncannily vivid portraits of the deceased.

In keeping with Volterra’s rough exterior, its fine Renaissance fortress has become a state prison, but it springs one surprise on the visitor. It now contains a highly rated restaurant where the cooks and waiters are all prisoners. Bookings need to be made well in advance ñ and there are strict security checks on the way to the table.

Chiusi is another hill town with Etruscan roots, and is surrounded by Etruscan tombs, many exhibits from which are now in the town’s museum. Its most interesting exhibit, though, is a set of tunnels under the city, known as the ‘labyrinth’, but in fact dug by the Etruscans for drainage.

Some of Tuscany’s towns take you back to the Middle Ages. Monteriggioni, not far from Siena, is perhaps the most perfect example of the Tuscan walled hill town, its majestic walls and towers dominating the valley below. Inside, though, it’s nowadays little more than a village, with attractive gardens and elegant Renaissance houses.

But if it’s towers you want, visit San Gimignano. Its medieval noble families feuded perpetually, and each family built its own fortress; fourteen of the towers still survive. The town’s main church has Renaissance frescoes, and there’s a good gallery of Renaissance paintings. Wine lovers will want to track down the local vernaccia wine, crisp and dry.

Further south, in an area little known by tourists, Pitigliano and Sovana are two ancient towns linked by an Etruscan chariot route which can still be followed across the plateau. Pitigliano, a town built in creamy stone on a ridge above the valley of the Fiora, is known as Tuscany’s Jerusalem, since it provided a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution in the Papal States; the synagogue is open to visitors, though few Jews now live in the town. Many houses in Pitigliano have wine cellars that were dug by the Etruscans, while Sovana has well preserved Etruscan tombs.

An unusually complete Renaissance town is Pienza, named after its founder, Pope Pius II. It is a logical planned town, centred on its main square with the cathedral, the palace of the pope’s family, town hall and bishop’s palace, each taking one side of the square. The architecture is pure and delicate in style, and the whole town seems to be a perfect miniature ñ it was hardly more than a village when Pius decided to rebuild it.

Cortona shows a different side of the Renaissance with paintings by Fra Angelico, and two elegant small Renaissance churches. The town, though, is medieval with its steep narrow streets and tall houses perched on a steep hillside, and medieval customs still survive ñ there’s an annual archery contest in June, and processions in medieval costume in May.

Florence may be a honey pot for culture vultures, but Tuscany’s smaller towns can offer just as many interesting cultural experiences, in a more relaxed and less crowded atmosphere.

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3 great reasons to visit The Langhe region of Piedmont.

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The Langhe Hills are only a short drive south-east from Turin, and are easy to reach for a long weekend break or indulgent weeks vacation.  The area is surrounded by the Alps mountain range and the Po valley which is renowned for it’s rice growing plains.

The rolling hills are dotted with villages, hamlets and castles that date back to medieval times and conjure up images of nobility and splendour.

1. The Wine

The hills of the Langhe are the lands of noble vineyards producing wines of great quality and diversity.  The Nebbiolo grape being the protagonist in Barolo and Barberesco wines.  Alongside Barbera and Dolcetto d’Alba, Le Langhe boasts a vast number of wineries which are for the most part vineyards that have been family run for many generations.  The winemakers of this region take great pride in their land and the yields that are harvested each year.

2. Truffles

As the summer temperatures start to cool and the leaves start turning all shades of yellow, burnt orange and brown you can be sure that autumn is here and the highly awaited Alba International White Truffle fair is drawing near.  October through mid – November is white truffle season. When truffle hunters gather with their dogs on the hunt for the costly tuber that will be sold at a price that is determined daily at the International Truffle Fair.  Taste this lavish delight at a local trattoria or restaurant where it is served in thin shavings over pasta, eggs or risotto.

3. Food

Truffles aside, Le Langhe is foodie heaven, with a culture of cuisine this region boasts a number of luxury Michelin rated restaurants as well as family run trattorias that pride themselves in traditional seasonal recipes using local produce such as cow and goats cheese, beef braised in wine and a variety desserts made with it’s prestigious hazelnuts.

There is no better place to go for a bit of relaxation accompanied by excellent food and wine than Le Langhe.

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Meeting Events in Northern Italy’s Franciacorta for Top Management

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Here’s an idea for your next Top Management meeting in Northern Italy proposed by Le Baccanti Tours and Events!

Where: Franciacorta Wine Region (about an hour from Milan, Italy). This area is famous for its beautiful sparkling wine producing region.
Lodging: Relais & Chateaux L’Albereta, 5-Star Resort that offers  maximum comfort in a picturesque setting.
Venue: All teambuilding activities are held within the highly rated restaurant of chef Gualtiero Marchesi.

Day 1: Arrival and check-in at L’Albereta
13.00 Welcome lunch
14.00 Meeting in a private room, including coffee breaks
18.00 Conclusion
Relax
20.00 Dinner in a private room at the restaurant of Chef Gualtiero Marchesi with a Wine Challenge Dinner, led by Filippo Bartolotta.

Day 2:
9.00 Meeting with morning coffee break
13.00 Buffet-style lunch
14.00 Early afternoon meeting
16.00 Conclusion and departure

To customize and book your corporate event in Italy please CONTACT US.

Le Baccanti Tours is a luxury travel and event company located in Tuscany, Italy. We have been specializing in gourmet food, wine and cultural activities in Italy for over 10 years. We pride ourselves on showing our discerning group of clients the authentic and beautiful Italy of their dreams.

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Teambuilding in Chianti Classico: Wine and Pasta

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If your guests don’t want miss out on the opportunity on a spellbinding wine tour in Chianti Classico but would also like to experience the excitement in learning how to make fresh pasta by hand, you can have the best of both worlds with Le Baccanti luxury food and wine corporate events.

From Siena or from Florence, the wine and pasta teambuilding event will be like entering into a scene from Under the Tuscan Sun and your guests will become the protagonists. The day will involve first visiting a prestigious winery in Chianti Classico, where after a stroll through the vineyards and learning about all the phases of wine production, the participants will be have the opportunity to enjoy a Sangiovese wine tasting– the king of grapes in the Chianti Classico region!

The ride from the winery to the next venue is short, but nevertheless your guests will be mesmerized by the panoramic Tuscan hills and will be greeted with a smile by the chef who guides them through the secrets of pasta making!

Le Baccanti has been designing corporate events, travel incentive programs and culinary team building in Tuscany and throughout Italy for over a decade. Contact us or visit our corporate events section to learn more.

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