April 2018

A Tour of Pisa – More Than Just a Leaning Tower

By |2018-04-28T12:35:37-05:00April 28th, 2018|Events, Feature, Features, General, hidden gems|

A Tour of Pisa – More Than Just a Leaning Tower

Pisa is yet another beautiful city located within central Italy’s Tuscany region, and no tour of Italy would be complete without a visit there. Situated on the river Arno just before it enters the Ligurian Sea, Pisa is perhaps best known for the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the most recognizable landmarks throughout the world. Built over the course of 200 years through the 12th to 14th centuries and standing tall at 183 feet from top to bottom, the tower is a wonderful attraction. Be ready to climb up a 300 step spiraling staircase in order to take in spectacular views at the top; if you’d prefer to admire the tower from the ground, though, there’s endless opportunities to take photos giving the illusion that you’re holding the tower up with one hand, which is almost a requirement for an Italian vacation. But beyond having a bit of silly fun, there’s much more that cements Pisa as a must-see Italian holiday destination.

Pisa is home to countless churches, many of which date from the Renaissance Period or earlier. Some of them include Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, which houses a bust made by Donatello; San Fredriano, which was built in 1061 and features a basilica interior along with a crucifix dating from the 12th century, among other things; and St. Sixtus, which was built in 1133 and is regarded as one of the most well-preserved Romanesque structures in town. If you harbor a deep appreciation of architecture and history, Pisa surely will not disappoint. And even if your interests generally track elsewhere, it’s difficult to not be blown away by the living history of the place.

Pisa’s rich collection of historic buildings and artifacts extends to its museums as well. For instance, there’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, where you’ll find original sculptures crafted by the influential sculptors Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano. Another terrific museum to visit is Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti per il Calcolo, which exhibits numerous historical pieces of science equipment, including a compass that likely belonged to Galileo Galilei.

Once you’ve taken in the rich history of Pisa and the plethora of incredible historical artifacts you’ll find there, you may take advantage of Pisa’s food and shopping offerings. Dwell among the locals and take a stroll through Piazza delle Vettovaglie, a 16th century town square where you’ll find numerous cafes, butchers, wine shops, and bakeries.  When the hunger you’ll inevitably develop from all your walking and sightseeing becomes your number one priority, stop by Il Crudo Panineria for a delicious panini, then finish it off with a cup of gelato at La Botegga del Gelato, located right in the center of the city. Or, if a slightly more upscale meal is in order, stop by Da Bruno for traditional Pisan cuisine in a trattoria setting.

Not to be overlooked and worth every moment spent there, Pisa is a fantastic conglomeration of Italian culture, heritage, and history. Come for the allure of its most famous landmarks, but stay for the wonderful treasures you’ll discover within its borders. With A Toast to Travel’s Highlights of Florence and Tuscany Experience, a visit to Pisa is included for all the aforementioned reasons. You’ll be taken on a guided tour with  the locals, so no must-see attractions will be overlooked. Join us for a visit to Pisa, one of the many stops on our unforgettable, all-inclusive Italian vacation package!

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August 2017

Fall in Tuscany—the harvest of the grapes

By |2017-09-02T13:21:14-05:00August 23rd, 2017|Events, food, Wine, wine festival|

There are very few places that can compete with the beauty of Tuscany in the fall.  The leaves are turning colors, the air is crisp, the temperature mild and if you love wine, now is the time to travel.  La Vendemmia is the harvest of the grapes and each year, many take advantage of this time of the year to travel to Tuscany.

Italy is dependent on wine production for its economy and it’s an important time of the year.  Unique grape harvesting activities abound in Tuscany while grape stomping like you may have seen in I Love Lucy is considered unhygienic.  Fun, but unhygienic.  Fret not, there are many activities you can take part in or if you are like us, you can just enjoy drinking it.

For those of us who enjoying drinking it, grape selection is an important part where the ripeness of the grape matters.  There are many different tasks that must be completed during the grape harvest, and although no one can exactly predict the week the grape harvest will happen, it’s still a beautiful time of the year in Tuscany.

During The Ultimate Tuscan Wine Experience, we host you on visits to 4 different and stunning wineries in Chianti where you can live like a local and take part in the revelry—even if we don’t stomp grapes, we still enjoy all the abundant wine Tuscany has to offer with Chianti being the most well-known.

The harvest is not only for wine lovers.  Many fall foods are abundant in Tuscany and ready for you to enjoy from fall root vegetables to chestnuts to mushrooms.  During our Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun Experience, we take advantage of the fall abundance during our hands-on cooking classes.  Simone, our resident chef, will show us how to make an authentic and mouth-watering mushroom risotto using farm to table mushrooms and herbs.   It’s also time to hunt truffles for the other delicious dishes we will learn to make all as part of living like a local.

If you’ve always wanted to visit Italy or if you’ve already been and have always wanted to go back, now’s the time to pack your bags.  All you need to do is get there and we’ll handle the rest!

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A Toast to Travel and Ivy Social

By |2017-09-02T13:21:56-05:00August 4th, 2017|Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun, Events, Feature|

We had a great time with Ivy Social.  Enjoyed great wine, learned how to make amazing pasta and incredible bolognese and made a lot of fantastic new friends.  Be sure to follow us to learn about local events, tips on how to Live Like a Local  as well as specials and new Experiences!




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June 2017

Great Night at St. John Boutique in Chicago

By |2018-07-21T18:15:05-05:00June 14th, 2017|Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun, Events, Wine|

Thanks to everyone who joined us for an evening on Tuscany, Wine and Travel at St. John Boutique in Chicago.



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May 2017

Happy National Wine Day

By |2017-05-27T07:15:04-05:00May 27th, 2017|Events, Feature, Wine|

Happy National Wine Day!!!  Check out this article in Forbes to learn more about National Wine Day and other fun Wine facts!

National Wine Day Article on Forbes



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March 2017

Check us out on ABC 7 EYEWITNESS NEWS

By |2017-03-28T07:01:11-05:00March 22nd, 2017|Events|

A Toast to Travel Guets
Tuscan Cooking Experiences

Check out our segment on ABC News Chicago

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A Toast to Travel introduces new Corporate Experiences

By |2017-04-09T09:10:03-05:00March 13th, 2017|Events, Features, Uncategorized|

A Toast to Travel introduces Corporate Team Building and Corporate Retreat Experiences.  Check out our version of these Experiences.  We tweak our Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun Cooking Experience to re-invent these Corporate Experiences.


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December 2016

A Toast to Travel and St. John

By |2016-12-16T16:35:08-06:00December 16th, 2016|Events|

We had a great event last night with St. John’s Boutique in Chicago’s Gold Coast.  Thanks to everyone who came out to learn more about our Experiences and to Toast to Travel!

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