The Switch (12A), Certified Copy (12A) (2/5, 2/5)

Well conceived, but it doesn't deliver

Travel challenge: A late summer break in Tuscany

Every week we invite competing companies to give us their best deal for a specific holiday. Today: a seven-night holiday in Tuscany in mid-September. Prices are for two people travelling together.

Trail of the unexpected: The contrade of Siena

Siena's Palio horse races celebrate centuries of civic rivalry, as Harriet O'Brien discovers

24-hour room service: Il Salviatino, Fiesole, Italy

Florentine luxury with a view to thrill

Anthony Rose: 'To compete with the Wine Societies of this world, you have to deliver good quality at a reasonable price

Are you in the club? The wine club, that is? Until recently, there was only one major home-delivery service in it– and that was The Wine Society, the venerable Victorian, non-profit-making organisation, whose Postman Pat-like vans deliver high-quality wines to grateful households the length and breadth of the country. You have to have a share to be a member, but a £40 share is a small price to pay for handsome dividends over a lifetime. I say until recently, because for my money, the other hugely successful wine home-delivery specialist, Laithwaites, never really looked like offering the same degree of consistent value.

Why the sun always shines on lucky Lucca

An autumn holiday in Tuscany, catching the last rays of sun – what a lovely idea. But, beware, the weather can be so fickle at this time of year

Katy Holland: Don't let the sun go down on you. Book a half-term bargain break

Are we there yet? The October half-term brings the opportunity to have a final fling with some UV rays

Anthony Rose: Sane people think biodynamics is loony – but the techniques employed cancreate intense, delicious wines

"The grapes arrive at the winery facing the rising sun, the natural slope is exploited to allow the wine to move by gravity, and the light, in line with the concepts of feng shui, compensates for the negativity of dark, enclosed spaces." I haven't mentioned the cow horn filled with dung, the deer bladder stuffed with yarrow or the lunar calendar. For lunar, read loony. For certified, certifiable. That's no doubt how many sane people regard biodynamics. Yet when the techniques are successfully employed to create delicious wines such as Tuscany's intense mulberry-fruity 2004 Caiarossa (£34, Berry Bros & Rudd), it's enough to give the agnostic in us all pause for thought.

Wine and chocolate on the ultimate health retreat

Adrian Mourby enjoys an epicurean break at an exclusive spa in Tuscany.

Diamanti 'on verge' of West Ham move

Livorno president Aldo Spinelli claims striker Alessandro Diamanti is on the verge of a move to West Ham.

24-Hour Room Service: Borgo Santo Pietro

British tourists may have given Tuscany its "Chiantishire" epithet, but the appeal of converting rustic, historic properties into chic tourist accommodation is apparently universal. The Danish-owned newcomer Borgo Santo Pietro enters a market already groaning with luxury hotels; that it stands out from the crowd is because it perfectly strikes that tricky balance between luxury and informality.

'Apocalypse' on railway in Tuscany

A freight train carrying liquid gas came off the tracks and exploded in the heart of an Italian seaside resort

Florence and the Machine: Meet the sound of the summer

Florence and the Machine's dark, dramatic and downright sexy music has already made her pop's hottest property

Five Stylish Italian hotels

Historic architecture meets modern design in in these tasteful retreats. By Rhiannon Batten
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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick