Vicarious Vacation # 1 : Casole d’Elsa

Happy Friday and welcome to our Vicarious Vacation. Today, I’m going to whisk us off to the quaint, little town of Casole d’Elsa in the hills of Tuscany. Strolling down the ancient cobblestone alleyways, decadent wine tastings, a visit to the Siena marketplace, a brush with history and of course a large helping of the local food are all on the agenda. Sound good? Okay, come on!

Image via casalecapita

Let me tell you a little bit about this beautiful town. Casole D’Elsa is located in the Tuscany region in the province of Siena. Conveniently located between Florence and Siena, it provides a peaceful respite from the bigger, touristy cities. See map here. Pedestrian friendly streets, intimate cafes and a few notable historic attractions should keep us busy but not overwhelmed. Leaving plenty of time to soak in the Italian sun, sip Chianti and gobble up the local delicacies. Now where are we staying, you ask? Well…

I hope you don’t mind but I booked us into a rather fancy hotel just outside of town. I think we deserve it, don’t you? Welcome to the Relais La Suvera. Steeped in history this medieval fort turned sumptuous Mediterranean villa is our place of relaxation and refuge after all that sightseeing. Sigh…isn’t it simply dreamy!?

Ready to see your room?
Images via Relais La Suvera

Fit for a princess right? Okay, freshen up and let’s go exploring. I know you are tired from the trip but it’s nothing a glass of Chianti can’t fix! Besides, we have massages scheduled later at the spa. Yes, even medieval fortresses in Italy have spas!

Let’s go for a walk…

Press play to listen.

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Am I Hungry? Of course I am! This place looks charming…let’s stop here – Osteria del Caffè Casolani– and have some treats.

Here’s what I’m thinking…wine, cheese & cured meats. The local cheese –Pecorino di Pienza and fresh cold cuts such as salumi di cinta senese, will make the perfect blend of tastes and textures. Creamy and nutty in flavor, the Pecorino is a perfect pairing with the saltiness of the meat and sweetness of the wine.  The celebrated local wine is aptly named Erta, meaning steep slope, indicative of the agricultural landscape of the region. A completely organic wine, it is a lovely blend of 95% Sangiovese grapes and 5% Merlot. Subtle herbal notes and deep cherry overtones will delight your palette! Want more…why don’t we try the testaroli? It’s a crepe like pasta usually combined with pesto. Yummy! This place is famous for it!

Images 1. 2.

Now to walk off all that scrumptuous food…

Ooh…before we go…is that a little bakery I see?

We had better stop in and grab some dessert! This region is known for its pastries and traditional sweets. One of the oldest treats around is the famous Panforte margherita!  This “spiced bread” is a magical combination of dough, almonds, candied fruit, cinnamon, all spice and a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar. Isn’t it beautiful?

Images 1. 2.

On to some history…

This is the Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, which dates back 1161! The original Roman bell tower still remains with the upper half of the building being constructed in the 14th century. Inside are the sacred tombs of Beltramo Aringhieri, by Marco Romano, and of bishop Tommaso Andrei, by Gano di Fazio.

Directly next to the church lies the Museum of Sacred Arts. A beautiful collection of religious art can be enjoyed here, including the works of Alessandro Casolani and sculptor, Marco Romano.

Got your culture fill? Let’s go to the Siena Markets!

Press play to listen to the bustling market square…

How gorgeous is that fruit?

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Don’t you love all the amazing colors and textures?

I don’t know about you but the hotel spa is calling my name…let’s head back and end our trip on a relaxing note.

You go on and get your massage. I’m heading down to the hot pool for a nice soak…so lovely…

Images via Relais La Suvera Spa

I hope you enjoyed your day in the Tuscan countryside. Loved vicariously traveling with you! I learned a lot and loved seeing this little corner of the world. The village of Casole d’Elsa was enchanting, the food delectable and the Siena markets were utterly inspiring.

Join me again next Friday, when we head to Spain!

Have a beautiful weekend!


audio files via

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Filed under Dreams, Food, photography, Recipes, spas, Travel

17 responses to “Vicarious Vacation # 1 : Casole d’Elsa

  1. joanna

    ivette, this was a fabulous tour … . what a great blog entry. i feel like i just took a mini vaca .. . and it totally lifted my spirits in terms of dreams and possibilities. you are so creative and talented. so glad i have you as a friend.

  2. Wow, you really went all out. What a great post. I really feel like I’ve taken a mini-trip here with so much detail and thought. I just saw “Eat, Pray, Love” and it reminded me of the Italian part. Have a great weekend.

  3. Marty

    Really Ivy, what a lovely trip I had. I loved resting in my beautiful room while listening to the bustle outside my window in the quaintly paved streets. What a colorful place. The sights, sounds and aromas were heavenly. I wasn’t ready to come home……but as I slipped some of that delicious Panforte margherita in my suitcase I was already dreaming of Spain…..mmmm I shall become a world traveler at last. See you next weekend ! :)

  4. OH man, I want to eat EVERYTHING!

  5. Anna

    Wonderful!! Candy for the eyes, body and soul. I want to go there……OK maybe someday but i do feel like i had a great mini vacation. thank you. i will be here next week!!!

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  7. barbara

    love, love, love….you’re a genius

  8. Thank you all for your kind words! I’m glad it made you feel like you took a little adventure. Love hearing your input. Thank you, thank you! We’re going to Spain on Friday! xo

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  14. Maeve

    Oh so beautiful! This is the one country I have always wanted to visit. Maybe one day? Thank you for this vicarious journey!

  15. Wow what a wonderful blog – I love to travel and this was awesome. Like a mini holiday from home until my really big holiday later this year. Thank you.

  16. Oh Ivy..this is so beautiful…is there anything you can’t do? Are we going to Italy on our next art tour?!

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