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8 must-see places in Tuscany

Gourmet cuisine, world-class art, and scenic vistas — la dolce vita is calling, and it’s calling from Tuscany. Known for fine wines and medieval architecture, the region is the perfect place for rest and relaxation. Travel back in time to a world of traditional art, culture, and cuisine as you enjoy a backdrop of romantic, rolling vineyards and sunsets sure to stun.

1- Siena

Stretching across a Tuscan hilltop, Siena is Italy’s most picturesque medieval city. Leave the chaos of cars behind — these streets were made for strolling. Get lost in tumbling brick lanes and wind up at the cathedral: an over-the-top marvel of Gothic architecture lavished with mosaics and busts of 172 popes. A place frozen in time, Siena is the perfect refuge for travelers looking to escape the modern world for a day. Explore the city by foot on a walking tour or sample fine local wines. Between its looks and its famous grapes, Siena is an experience to savour.

2- Porto Ercole

Resting beyond ancient city gates, Porto Ercole is a place where pedestrians can stretch their legs and slather on some sunscreen. Head here to trade in the clamor of city life for the soothing serenade of seaside waves. Perfect for sunset strolls, this charming stone village fuses luxury with the old way of life. You’ll find artisans crafting traditional goods in converted fisherman’s huts while extravagant yachts line the harbor and boat rentals give visitors the opportunity to explore the scenic coastline. Spend the day exploring one of the many “forte” or soaking up the sun at Feniglia beach, while paying tribute to the passing of Baroque painter Caravaggio who died here in 1610 — a piece of history woven into the idyllic beach life.

3- Volterra

Famous for its peculiar urban layout, Volterra is a Tuscan town with deep roots, dating all the way to the 5th century BC. Take a step back in time as soon as you stroll through the city gates, Porta dell’Arco and Porta Diana, and experience the ancient acropolis which houses the foundations of two ancient temples. If its Roman ruins you’re after, look no further: Volterra is home to an amphitheatre from the first century AD and features many workshops which maintain the tradition of alabaster handicrafts. Watch as this ancient town comes alive during a medieval reenactment in the summer months — the perfect occasion to enjoy Italian food and wine while the present transforms into the past.

4- Florence

The home of the Renaissance, Florence is the birthplace of the modern world and houses some of Europe’s finest pieces of art including masterful oil paintings, stunning marble statues, and meticulous mosaics. In a single afternoon, you could experience the pensive stare of Michelangelo’s David, get a feel for the first day of spring with Botticelli’s Primavera, and refresh yourself next to the fountain of Neptune. Of course, there’s a world to experience off the beaten path, so let your eyes wander to the food, fashion, and street markets that are renowned the world over — and don’t forget the gelato!

5- Talamone

Looking for an authentic Italian holiday? Talamone trades the hustle and bustle of city streets, crowded museums, and overbooked restaurants for an experience rich with scenic views and genuine Tuscan tradition. Once a fortified fishing village, the town retains its historic charm with winding, narrow streets, 13th-century architecture, and terracotta rooftops reaching the active harbor of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Only a three hour train-ride from Rome, this charming seaside town offers the finer things of the mediterranean alongside the calm and serenity of small-town living — an appetite for seafood comes highly recommended.

6- Colle di Val d’Elsa

A town nestled between scenic hilltops and the rolling river Elsa, Colle di Val d’Elsa takes a few steps back in history with a rich tradition of art and culture at its core. Also known as “Città di Cristallo” or “City of Crystal,” the quaint village is famous for its production of crystal artifacts, dedicating an entire museum to the sought-after local crafts and featuring open-air glass blowing demonstrations to captive audiences in the city centre. Wowing onlookers with it’s precious beauty, Colle di Val d’Elsa is the perfect destination for a truly Tuscan experience.

7- Monteriggioni

The most notable walled medieval location in Tuscany, Monteriggioni is a fortified village that began as a castle in the Chianti region, sitting atop a rounded hill for the past 800 years. Since the 1200s, onlookers have marvelled at the mighty towers that surround the location from miles away, the same lofty towers which Dante compared to horrific giants in his Divine Comedy. Enjoy the fruits of the region with a wine tasting and explore the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside. Oh, and have a camera handy: there are vineyards and cypress trees as far as the eye can see.

8- San Gimignano

A picturesque medieval town, San Gimignano is considered a UNESCO world heritage site famous for the Hundred Towers built in the middle ages by Italy’s most influential families. Rife with splendid squares, palaces, churches, and the magnificent towers, San Gimignano calls Chianti its home. This breathtaking landscape is rich with green rolling hills, wide vineyards, and olive groves. But don’t take it from us — discover and savor the region on a Tuscan wine tour.

11 places you can’t miss during a Californian road trip

Most journeys are about getting from A to B as quickly as possible, but most journeys don’t take you through the iconic cities, wild national parks and dreamy coastline of California.

Enjoy the drive as much as your final destination with these 11 stunning pit stops throughout the Golden State.

El Matador Beach

1- El Matador Beach
In Los Angeles, there are so many beaches it feels like you could walk to Mexico and never even leave the shoreline. Sure, all of them are pretty, but one sandy stretch of coastline in Malibu steals the show. Upon arriving at El Matador State Beach, you’ll soon realize why it’s considered one of the best beaches on the west coast of the USA. With caves and striking rock formations, you’ll never want to stop exploring. You’ll also find a few picnic tables overlooking the ocean, so pull the car over and enjoy the view.

Sturtevant Falls

2- Sturtevant Falls
If you’re looking to escape the buzzing city life of Los Angeles, then we know the trail for you. Not far from the city, in Big Santa Anita Canyon, you’ll come across the Sturtevant Falls Trail, which takes you on a little adventure in a fairytale-like place. The three-mile trail follows a stream through an enchanting forest that’s packed with cute creeks. Hike along it until you reach a beautiful pond, which provides an amazing view of the falls. It’s perfect for a day trip getaway.

Marshall’s Beach

3- Marshall’s Beach
Have you ever wanted to see the Golden Gate up close and away from the crowds? Good news! We know just the place. Marshall’s Beach is a tiny, hidden stretch of sand at the foot of the most famous bridge in the world. Drive down Lincoln Blvd until you see a little sign that says ‘Batteries to Bluffs.’ Follow the trail to the beach and strike a pose in front of the icon without the crowds photobombing your snaps.

Bixby Creek Bridge

4- Bixby Creek Bridge
After the excitement of driving across the Golden Gate, another Cali icon awaits you in the Bixby Creek Canyon, just a few hours south of San Francisco. The 79 meter high Bixby Creek Bridge has been wowing road trippers since 1932 – and it’s easy to see why. Head to Castle Rock Viewpoint for stunning views of the bridge and the surrounding landscape. Be sure to squeeze watching the sunset from the south end of the bridge into your schedule. You’ll need to take a memory card just for that moment.

Joshua Tree National Park

5- Joshua Tree National Park
If you like sunny weather, climbing, stargazing and taking amazing pictures then Joshua Tree National Park is your personal paradise. Pack a tent and your camera and go on an adventure of epic proportions. First, check out Elephant Rock, a rock that (you guessed it) looks exactly like an elephant. Unfortunately, there are no real elephants in the park, but you might see desert tortoises, which are pretty damn cool. The Walking Trail Indian Cove is the best place to see the park’s Joshua trees. This path is surrounded by boulder formations that you’ll have lots of fun climbing. End your day at Keys View, a fantastic spot to watch the sunset. Set up your tent somewhere close and enjoy the stars.

The McWay Falls

6- The McWay Falls
You’ll find this picturesque 24-meter waterfall in McWay Creek, in the middle of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Follow the dreamy Waterfall Overlook Trail for picture-perfect views of rocky cliffs and the falls. At the end of the trail, you’ll discover the once inhabited Waterfall House that now contains a little exhibition about the falls. If you’re patient (and lucky!), you might spot seals, pelicans or even a gray whale in the secluded bay.

Lake Tahoe

7- Lake Tahoe
It doesn’t matter if you want to go skiing, hiking, swimming or fishing – Lake Tahoe has it all. If you happen to find yourself there in summer, the Rubicon Trail on the south-west shore of the lake is a must. The four-hour hike goes all the way along the coast, from Rubicon Point to the famous Emerald Bay. You don’t have to do the whole trail, just hike far enough to see Emerald Bay, with its tiny island in the lake, which is two to three hours from Rubicon Point.

Glacier Point

8- Glacier Point
You can’t have a road trip through California without visiting Yosemite National Park. If you look at the towering Glacier Point, you’d expect a climb of several hours before being able to enjoy the view. Thankfully, however, you can easily get there by driving along a windy road that takes you through thick forests and meadows of Yosemite. If you’re more on the adventurous side, you won’t be disappointed as you can hike up to Glacier Point from the valley. An eight-hour journey takes you from the valley via the Four-Mile Trail to the top.

Morro Rock and Morro Bay

9- Morro Rock and Morro Bay
It’s easy to see why people call Morro Bay the Gibraltar of the Pacific. The striking rock formations of Morro Rock bare a great resemblance with Europe’s gateway to Africa. Make the most of your time there by renting a kayak and meeting a few sea lions or otters who call the bay home. Morro Bay is a great place to fish, so try your luck at catching your own dinner. Make sure you don’t miss out on the Black Hill Trail. The trail is covered in flowers, and when you reach the top, you’ll have the best views of Morro Rock and Morro Bay.

Pfeiffer Beach

10- Pfeiffer Beach
A secret beach that all the locals love awaits you in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. With its dramatic rock formations and purple sand (imagine that!), Pfeiffer Beach is a truly unmissable spot. The further north you go, the more purple the sand gets due to a mineral being washed down the hillside of the beach. As well as its quirky color, it’s also one of California’s premier sunset spots.

Badwater Basin

11- Badwater Basin
Being 85 meters underneath sea level without actually being underwater is not something you get to do every day. As well as lying below sea level, Badwater Basin in the south of Death Valley has the highest temperatures in the USA. With the dried salt all over the basin, it looks like it just snowed there. The brave man who discovered Badwater Basin went through it with his mule, which refused to drink the water due to its saltiness. He then simply wrote ‘bad water’ into his little notebook, went on with his travels and the name stuck.

10 cities every football fan has to visit

Bill Shankly, one of the game’s greatest managers, once said: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.” If you think that’s a far-fetched statement, then you’ve never visited these football-mad cities.

From the wild derbies of Istanbul and Buenos Aires to the iconic clubs of London and Madrid, here’s where every football fan needs to visit.

Milan, Italy
Football rivalries don’t get much bigger (or intense) than the Derby della Madonnina, Milan’s bi-annual battle between the red and black of AC and the blue and black of Inter. Over 80,000 Milanese watch these icons lock horns in their shared gladiatorial stadium, the San Siro. While it might be tricky to secure tickets to the big match, tours of the ground and trophy-laden museum are available throughout the year.

Istanbul, Turkey
Now, if the Milan derby is intense, any meeting of Istanbul’s Big Three (Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray) is a mind-blowing assault of the senses that any true football fan needs to experience. The stands are packed with unbridled passion as fans shatter noise records. A 2011 meeting between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe clocked an ear-ringing 131 decibels, which was then a world record for the loudest roar in a sports stadium. Best bring your earplugs.

Barcelona, Spain
Nobody needs an excuse to visit the sun-soaked city of Barcelona–especially fans of the Beautiful Game. The Catalonian city has long been established as a footballing wonderland thanks to the tika-taka on display at Camp Nou. Once you’ve had your fill of tapas, head straight to the stadium and learn about the likes of Messi, Ronaldinho and Cruyff as you tour the largest stadium in Europe and the club’s interactive museum.

Manchester, UK
Two great teams, one truly great city. Life in England’s northern powerhouse revolves around a couple of footballing giants, Manchester United and Manchester City. Head to the Etihad or Old Trafford to watch the world’s best in action or indulge in England’s rich footballing history at the National Football Museum. You can even enjoy a football-themed meal at Cafe Football, which is located just a stone’s throw from United’s famed stadium.

Dortmund, Germany
While most destinations on this list house some of football’s fiercest inner-city derbies, Dortmund is a one-team city of epic proportions. No city in the world gets behind their team like the locals of Dortmund, so it’s easy to see why a trip to the Westfalenstadion (especially the Yellow Wall) is near the top of every football fan’s bucket list. Like Manchester, Dortmund is home to a national football museum, which is a great place to get your football geekery on.

Buenos Aires, Argentina
If the city of Dortmund has one of football’s most united fan bases, Buenos Aires can claim to have one of the most divided. Home to the Superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate,  Buenos Aires eats, sleeps and breathes football (with a side of tango, of course). The derby pits two of South America’s most successful clubs against each other in a true feast for football fans.  

London, UK
London is arguably the sporting capital of the world. From the traditional tennis tournament in Wimbledon to all-action rugby matches in Twickenham, the city has something to satisfy every sporting fanatic. But it’s football where London truly excels. Six of England’s 20 Premier League clubs are located in the city, and you can tour their stadiums, including the homes of Arsenal and Chelsea. You can also take a wander around the architectural gem of Wembley, the home of the English national team.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio lives for football. Every street corner, patch of grass and sun-soaked beach is treated as mini Maracana by locals of all ages. The real Maracana, perhaps football’s holiest cathedral, is more than just home to the Brazilian national team. It’s a stadium steeped in history, and you can experience the captivating stories of this iconic stadium with a behind the scenes tour.

Lisbon, Portugal
The people of Lisbon agree on plenty: Pastel de Natas are the best pastries around, their native city is the prettiest of them all and their seafood is to die for. However, one thing that divides them like no other is the small matter of football. Benfica vs. Sporting. Red vs. Green. Eagles vs. Lions. It’s a rivalry that defines life in the Portuguese capital, and one that you can get to know better with a stadium of the tour Estádio da Luz or the Estadio José Alvalade.

Madrid, Spain
You can’t have a rundown of the world’s greatest footballing cities without mentioning Spain’s capital city. Home to both Real and Atlético, Madrid is a city that has defined the game for over 100 years. Head to the Bernabeu to see Real’s ridiculous amount of trophies, including 13 Champions League titles. Or if you fancy something a little more modern, check out the Wanda Metropolitano, Atlético’s state-of-the-art stadium.  

5 beautifully remote destinations

“I need a holiday! I want to switch off and get away from the daily grind.” – All of us.

You book your days off, promise yourself a lovely relaxing holiday, finally arrive at your dreamy destination, and within hours find yourself lying on the beach, sipping a refreshment… browsing through your work emails or your arch-enemy’s Instagram feed. We’ve all been there. So what does it take to disconnect completely? Where do you have to go to leave the hustle and bustle of daily life behind, to resist the pressure of being constantly connected, to be so taken aback and engrossed by your environment that you forget to pick up your phone?

Here are 5 beautifully remote yet accessible places that are ready-made for a digital detox…

Uyuni

Explore Bolivia’s famed salt flats

1- Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Bolivia is to South America what Tanzania is to Africa: a country of superlatives filled with jaw-dropping natural wonders. One such place is Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. Not only is it extremely remote (a bumpy, overnight bus ride away from La Paz), very high (perched at 3,600m), but it’s also as bare as a landscape can get, only interrupted by the occasional baby llama running by or giant cacti colony. It’s hands down one of the most unforgettable and overpowering landscapes you’ll ever visit. So put your phone away and get your shades out as you experience a sea of bright white or, if you visit during rainy season, a huge reflective canvas where the sky melts into the ground.

Kilimanjarao

Go really wild in Kilimanjaro National Park

2- Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
You’ll struggle to find a better place to unplug than Kilimanjaro National Park. Not only is there no phone network, but there are no roads, no stores, and little to no electricity or running water in the higher camps. When was the last time you didn’t handle money for an entire week? Or didn’t have to worry about food shopping or any kind of shopping for the matter? Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, whether you make it to the Uhuru Peak or not, is a truly elevating, mind-clearing experience. After your second day trekking, you’ll be completely cut from any noise or light pollution, meaning you can practically touch the stars at night. You’ll adopt a true pole pole (slowly, slowly) lifestyle as you melt into the environment with all your electronic devices safely tucked away in your backpack.

maranhenses

Discover Brazil’s secret natural wonder

3- Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil
Picture pristine sand dunes, turquoise water, and clear blue skies as far as the eye can see. The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in northern Brazil, or mega-amazing-desert-beach as it should really be called, is without a doubt one of the most well-preserved natural wonders that you can easily access and enjoy. After a short jeep ride through a jungle-desert-like landscape, your guide will help you haul yourself up a sand dune – and from then on it’s all fun and games as you sprint down sand dunes before diving into sweet-water pools. This unique desert, 10 times the size of London, is so beautiful that you’ll forget to blink and remote enough for your cell reception to be patchy at best.

Erg Chebbi

Meet Morocco’s sandy heartland

4- Erg Chebbi, Morocco
Some landscapes seem to be the stuff of fairy tales or movies. Erg Chebbi is both. Close your eyes and be transported to Aladdin or Lawrence of Arabia, open them and be blown away by a perpetual sunset-like landscape consisting of massive wind-blown dunes. Hike up to the top of the dunes, which can tower 150m, venture on a camel ride, or spend the night glamping in the desert. After visiting Erg Chebbi, you’ll have nothing more to wish for.

grand-cayan

Tick the Grand Canyon off your bucket list

5- Grand Canyon, USA
Who doesn’t have the Grand Canyon on their bucket list? It’s one of those natural wonders that we’re familiar with from Westerns, postcards, and National Geography cover pages. While it may attract 5 million visitors per year, the sheer size of the Grand Canyon ensures you can let go of all your city troubles away from the crowds, no matter if you’re hiking, rappelling, rafting or even taking a helicopter tour.