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Bringing Landscapes to Life

bike tour holiday cardThe summer season marks one of the most beautiful times to visit Italy and we at VBT thought it a great time to celebrate the work of artist and friend, George Rentz.

For over 20 years George has been drawing inspiration from still-life photographs and recreating them with water color and oil-based paints, infusing the landscapes with an affecting warmth and richness.  A long time VBT traveler, George was kind enough to lend VBT his talents, reinventing the premiere edition of our 2010 catalogue into his own, “Tuscan Poppies.”  We liked it so much that we put “Tuscan Poppies” on last year’s VBT Holiday card.  Take a moment to enjoy George’s unique perspective.  Perhaps he could render a still-life for you!


Il Palio

Siena travel, siena vacation, il palio, tuscany vacationThe Anticipation is mounting in Siena as Il Palio kicks off on July 2nd with Palio di Provenzano, the first of two historic, and fervidly celebrated horse races.

A time honored tradition, Il Palio dates back to the 17th Century, when each of the 17 Contrade, or districts of Siena, were in fierce economic and social competition with one another.  Today, though the official function of the Contrada has diminished, each neighborhood remains a closely-knit community, and naturally they are proudly represented and devotedly supported in the historic race around Siena’s main square, Piazza del Campo.  Adorned in the customary colors of their respective Contrade, the riders frantically circle the Piazza three times before a winner is ultimately declared.  The victor’s Contrada is awarded Il Palio, a banner that serves as a trophy, and a jubilant celebration ensues.

Tuscany vacation, Tuscany Travel, Il Palio

The next leg of Il Palio, Palio dell’Assunta will take place on August 16.  Though each actual race lasts less than two minutes, the ceremony, and the spectacle that accompanies Il Palio makes the entire summer a wonderful time to take in the old-world splendor of one of Italy’s most impressive medieval cities.  Visit in July to cheer on Il Bruco (Caterpillar), La Lupa (She-Wolf), or Il Montone (Ram) and experience the wonder of Siena for yourself as part of Tuscan Hill Towns by Bike vacation.






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