Florence Tourist Attractions For Exciting Holiday Vacation

Florence is located in Italy, also known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Many visitors from around the globe come to visit and experience Florence tourist attractions.

To enjoy the best cities in Europe, Florence tourist attractions are a must see for the vacationers. Moreover, this city is located in Italy, and it surely is most beautiful city in the entire world. And, the major Florence tourist attractions are great historical monuments and magnificent structures that are true masterpieces. In addition, this beautiful city has a rich history, and United Nations have stated this city as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Also, this city is famously known as City of Lilies, and Jewel of Tuscan region.

The very famous Florence tourist attractions Piazza della Signoria is situated right in the heart of the historic centre of the city. Moreover, it is the main square of the town surrounded by forbidding Palazzo Vecchio. In addition, the sculptures of this square stood with fiercely contradictory political connotations of the city’s history. Furthermore, some most beautiful statues are placed at the entrance of Piazza dell Signoria which fascinates the visitors.

The statue of David by Michelangelo is a must see and is considered one of the major Florence tourist attractions. Moreover, this incomparable work of art stands right in the front entrance of Palazzo Vecchio. In addition, on the other side of entrance there is a statue of powerful Hercules by Baccio Bandinelli. Furthermore, these adorable statues have always been beloved by tourists.

The Europe’s first art school Galleria dell’Academia consists of many marvelous religious paintings of Florentine artist. In addition, this gallery is home to a magnificent collection of outstanding art and sculptures, decidedly, the masterpieces which every visitor expects to see in the Florence tourist attractions.

The Duomo stands tall over the town dominating the skyline of this adorable city. Moreover, the enormous dome of this gothic style cathedral dominates its exterior. And, the dome of this cathedral was made without scaffolding which is a magnificent example of architecture. In addition, visitors climb the 463 steps to see the breathtaking view of this enchanting dome. Furthermore, the interior of this cathedral is a house to Giorgio Vasari’s the Last judgment which is a feast for eyes to the art loving visitors. The incomparable exterior and magnificent interior is the combination that makes this place one of the most visited Florence tourist attractions.

The Ponte Vecchio is an artistically build old bridge. And, it is city’s first bridge which is one of the most adored Florence tourist attractions. Moreover, this famous bridge is constructed over beautiful Arno River. And, the gold and silver jewelry sold on the shops lined on this bridge are perfect souvenirs that remind the visitors about their savoring journey of Florence.

Boboli garden is a huge park on a hillside in the middle of this city. And, this beautiful park is one of the most visited Florence tourist attractions; in addition, it is the most visited park of the Europe. Moreover, the breathtaking view of garden and fountains in it is very famous amongst vacationers seeking for peaceful environment.

In conclusion, the Florence tourist attractions make Florence the most memorable place to visit because of its beautiful sculptures and artistic buildings. Moreover, visiting to this beautiful town is the perfect destination for vacationers. FinallyPsychology Articles, the image of Florence tourist attractions lingers in the minds of visitors long after they have returned home from the vacation.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

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The San Gimignano Saffron DOP

Saffron

Saffron cultivation has been documented since the 13th century in the area of San Gimignano. As early as 1200 the quality of this Tuscan town’s saffron earned it such renown that it was exported to other Italian cities, like Pisa and Genoa, but also to Oriental and African markets, like Alexandria, Tunis, Damietta, Acre, Tripoli and Aleppo.

The wealth that this trade created allowed San Gimignano’s most powerful families to build the city’s tall stone towers, which are the unique architectural feature of its skyline.

Saffron was used as a tool of diplomacy by city authorities, In 1241, for instance, San Gimignano sent 25 pounds of saffron as a gift to Frederick II, then head of the Holy Roman Empire, who had set up an encampment near the city.

Map of saffron of san Gimignano

Facts show that from the beginning of its cultivation, saffron was used in cooking and also for dyeing cloth, as a medicine and as a pigment in paint. The spice is mentioned in numerous contracts, financial documents, and in the body of municipal laws exisiting from the period of the Middle Ages.

Saffron had so many uses and applications that it was also a form of currency, and it was subject to strict regulation of weight and quality. Physicians and chemists were responsible for the maintenance, calibration and correct operation of the scales used to weigh this precious spice. Descendents of those experts still live in San Gimignano and, because the word “weight” translated to Italian is peso, they bear family names like Pesalgruoghi or Pesalgruoci.

A vacation, the Italian way:

You know it’s time to take a vacation when relaxing is all that’s on your mind. You imagine yourself in a hammock somewhere, swaying in the breeze with the latest book from your favourite author resting in your palms. Oh yes, it’s definitely time for a holiday. As I let my mind wonder I can already feel the stress leaving my body.

Do you have a certain holiday routine; the sort of things you look forward to doing that there simply isn’t time for during the usual rush of life? For me it’s all about the way I start the day. Alarm clocks and early morning darkness is exchanged for yawns and stretches in the morning sun, and coffee enjoyed without any plans to glug and run.

It’s good Italian coffee, percolated to dark brown perfection, enjoyed at my own leisurely pace, preferably with a great view. Tuscany; now there’s a great idea! Rolling hills streaked with vineyards and rows of Cypress trees. Yes, I think I’ll take that. Oh yes, and some almond biscotti. Now that we’ve got Tuscany on our minds, I’m thinking of the sunset too, holding a glass of Chianti up to the fading light and giving the glass a twirl and taking a deep breath. A holiday in Italy is exactly what I need. I don’t want to be stuck in a hotel somewhere. I want the view that I’m imagining. I want to experience the tranquillity of the countryside and also be close enough to a macellerie to get some peppered salami to go with my potato bread.

My best bet is going to be Housetrip, since I want to get a place in the country, a home with a view and the luxury of a garden, several rooms for the family and definitely more than 1 bathroom. Now all that’s left for me to do is convince the family, and find our passports, because this man is buying his ticket to Pisa International airport. I can taste that Caffé Macchiato already. Froth up the cremina!

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I Love Italian Wine and Food – The Tuscany Region

Tuscan cellar - Photo © skelter
Tuscan cellar – Photo © skelter

An article by: Levi Reiss

If you are looking for fine Italian wine and food, consider the Tuscany region of central Italy. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour.

Tuscany is located in the central western part of Italy on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It gets its name from an Etruscan tribe that settled the area about three thousand years ago. It has belonged to the Romans, the Lombards, and the Franks.

More than four hundred years ago under the Medicis, Tuscany became a major European center. It is undoubtedly one of Italy’s top tourist destinations as well as an ideal place for your villa when you hit it big, really big.

According to one Seinfeld episode there are no villas to rent in Tuscany, but that was several years ago. On the other hand, time in Tuscany as elsewhere in Italy is measured in centuries. Tuscany’s total population is about 3.5 million.

Florence is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and the administrative center of Tuscany. It is one of Italy’s top tourist destinations, whose sites of interest are too numerous to list here. Siena and Pisa are two other major tourist destinations.

Tuscany is a center of industrial production, in particular metallurgy, chemicals, and textiles. Given the region’s importance as an international art center for centuries, don’t be surprised that it is an excellent place to appreciate and purchase fashion, jewelry, leather goods, marble, and other items of beauty. Florence is the home of the house of Gucci.

Tuscany produces a wide variety of cereal, olives, vegetables, and fruit. But not only vegetarians eat well. It is home to cattle, horses, pigs, and poultry. One local specialty is wild boar. On the coast, seafood is abundant.

Tuscany devotes over one hundred fifty thousand acres to grapevines, it ranks 4th among the 20 Italian regions. Its total annual wine production is about 58 million gallons, giving it an 8th place. About 70% of the wine production is red or rose’, leaving 30% for white. The region produces 44 DOC wines. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine and 7 DOCG white wine. The G in DOCG stands for Garantita, but there is in fact no guarantee that such wines are truly superior. The region produces 9 DOCG wines. Tuscany also produces Super Tuscan wines, wines that may not have a prestigious classification but that are known to be outstanding. These wines are arguably the main reason that Italy was forced to revise its wine classification system. Fully 55% of Tuscan wine carries the DOC or DOCG designation. And remember, many of Tuscany’s best wines carry neither designation. Tuscany is home to more than three dozen major and secondary grape varieties, about half white and half red.

Widely grown international white grape varieties include Trebbiano, Malvasia, and Sauvignon Blanc. The best-known strictly Italian white varieties are Vermentino and Vernaccia.

Widely grown international red grape varieties include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The best-known Italian red variety is Sangiovese, which is grown elsewhere, including California. A strictly Italian variety is Canaiolo.

Before reviewing the Tuscan wine and cheese that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region. Start with Panzanella, Bread and Tomato Salad. For a second course, eat or share a Bistecca alla Fiorentina, (Texas-sized) Beef Steak. If you have room, indulge in a Torta Rustica, Cornmeal Cake with Cream.

Wine Reviewed Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 2004 12.8% alcohol about $21

I’ll start by quoting the marketing materials. “…A wine that would complement a veal chop or game birds, expect aromas of cranberry and cherry. On the palate, it should be round and ripe with enough tannin for balance.” As a point of interest, the label included the warning “contains sulphites” in ten languages.

I first tasted this wine with slow-cooked boneless beef ribs and potatoes accompanied by a spicy commercial Turkish salad. The wine was thick, loaded with plum and cherry flavors, and some tobacco. The tannins were moderate. Dessert was a cocoa cake whose label said strudel. The wine went well, its fruit really came out.

I next tasted the Chianti Classico with slow-cooked meat balls, cauliflower and chickpeas in a tomato sauce, and potato wedges. The wine was plumy and powerful, with very pleasant tannins, a little tobacco and a little earth. Just so you know, I’m not usually partial to tannins. The wine was so round that I enjoyed finishing the glass when the food was gone. No dessert this time.

I decided to follow the distributor’s suggestion and grilled a veal chop with a mixture of spices (minced onion, cayenne, and a bit of curry powder), accompanied by grilled eggplant slices with the same spices, and a commercially prepared Turkish salad, based on red pepper and tomato. The wine bounced nicely off the delicious somewhat fat, somewhat rare meat. It didn’t add flavors of its own, but accompanied the food’s flavors excellently. It was powerful, but not overpowering.

As its name indicates, Pecorino Toscano cheese comes from Tuscany, where it has been made from sheep’s milk for thousands of years. The cheese is moderately strong smelling and has a complex nutty flavor. The wine was smooth and round and had a pleasant tinge of tobacco. Just for the record I am not a smoker. In the presence of Asiago cheese from the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northern Italy, the wine became more robust.

I remember when Chianti came in straw-covered bottles. In fact, I remember the bottles more than the wine itself. But times have changed. This Chianti Classico was excellent, quite deserving of its top-of-the-line DOCG classification and well worth the price.

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His wine website is www.theworldwidewine.com. You can reach him at ital@mail.theworldwidewine.com.

Maremma: Castiglione della Pescaia

Castiglione della Pescaia – Photo © jack80
Castiglione della Pescaia – Photo © jack80

Castiglione della Pescaia lies between blue sea and green hills. This well known seaside resort is deservedly popular. It can claim beautiful beaches will all the comforts and thick pine forests that reach Marina di Grosseto with the magnificent Pineta del Tombolo.

For years it has held the record of the greatest number of visitors in all of the Maremma. This is thanks to the large number and high quality of the accommodation facilities and port infrastructures as well as to its beauty.

The walled Medieval town, complete with towers, gates and a 15th castle, is perched on an outcropping of Monte Petriccio.

Originally, to the east of the town, was the antique Lake Prile, an Etruscan possession before it became the Roman Portus Traianus.

With the passage of time, the lake began to dry up and was replaced by a vast marsh land which was reclaimed as part of the work promoted by the Grand duke Leopold.

The nature reserve of the Diaccia Botrona is what remains of that area today. It is considered one of the most significant wet lands in Italy with a rare ecosystem of international importance.

The town is an ancient fishing village, as its name, Pescaia would indicate. Pleasure boats of all types dock in the picturesque port canal and every evening the fishing boats return with their wriggling catch.

The vast expanse of surrounding vegetation offers refuge to a large and spectacular bird community living in harmony amid a diversified flora.

Within the area it is possible to walk, bike or ride along paved roads or pathways that penetrate the scrub amid pine-needles and moss. The sea is uncontaminated and the long beaches of fine, white sand, stretch to the edge of the pine forest.

A tourist can easily find everything he wants for sailing, windsurfing and other seaside amusements and just as easily find secluded beaches for contemplating nature, far from the lively and popular bathing establishments.

There are many fascinating spots around Castiglione della Pescaia that deserve a visit.

Vetulonia is one of the most important Etruscan cities where it is possible to visit the necropolis and the archeological museum.

The town of Tirli makes it easy to see what life was like in the Maremma of old. It is famous for its simple and genuine cooking.

The ancient town of Buriano offers a Medieval castle and a spectacular view over the Maremma.

And finally, about 15 km from Castiglione della Pescaia is Punta Ala. This tourist resort is famous for well appointed bathing establishments, excellent hotels and especially for its modern and fully equipped port, considered one of the best in the Mediterranean.
Text courtesy of APT Maremma

The “Palio di Siena” – Palio of Siena

This is an excerpt of the book “Siena, Volterra, San Gimignano

toscana_regione_palio

Siena’s “Piazza del Campo” is still used today for the well known Palio di Siena horse race which is one of the most famous popular Italian manifestations. It takes place every year on July 2 and August 16. The “Palio di Siena” is run to celebrate the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary near the old houses that belonged to Provenzano Salvani. The holy apparition was therefore called “Madonna di Provenzano” in whose honor the very first “Palio di Siena” was run on August 16, 1656. The Palio di Siena was run for the first time in 1701 in honor of the “Madonna dell’Assunta” the patroness and Advocate of Siena through all the tragic events since she protected the Siena militia at the famous battle of Monteaperti on September 4, 1260, against the Florentines.

The “Palio di Siena” is a historical secular tradition strictly connected with the origin of the Contradas of Siena (districts into which the town is divided). The Contradas are spectacular agonistic institutions each having their own government, oratory, coat of arms, appellations, sometimes titles of nobility, emblems and colors, official representatives, festivities, patron Saints, with protectors, delimited territories and population which consist of all those people who were born or live within the topographic limits of the district, according to the proclamation issued by Violante Beatrice of Bavaria on January 7, 1730, at that time, Governess of the town.

Originally, there were in Siena about fifty-nine “Contrade”; now only seventeen remain, ten of which take part in the historical pageant and in the race at each Palio di Siena (seven by right and three drawn by lots).

Here is a list of their names, emblems and colors grouped into “Terzi” or “Terzieri” (third part – in older times the town was divided into three sections called: “Terziere di Citta’”, “Terziere di San Martino” and “Terziere di Camollia”.

Siena: Terziere di Citta’

siena_palio_5

AQUILA (Eagle) a double-headed eagle with imperial symbols. Yellow with black and blue bands.
CHIOCCIOLA (Snail) a snail. Yellow and red with blue bands.
ONDA (Wave) a swimming dolphin wearing a crown. White and blue.
PANTERA (Panther) a rampant panther. Red and blue with white bands.
SELVA (Forest) a rhinoceros bearing a huge tree hung with hunting implements. Green and orange-yellow with white bands.
TARTUCA (Tortoise) a tortoise. Yellow and blue.

Siena: Terziere di San Martino

CIVETTA (Owl) an owl. Black and red with white bands.
LEOCORN0 (Unicorn) a unicorn. White and orange-yellow with blue bands.
NICCHIO (Shell) a seashell. Blue with yellow and red bands.
TORRE (Tower) an elephant with a tower on its back. Dark bordeaux red with white and blue bands.
VALDIMONTONE or simply MONTONE (Ram) a rampant ram. White and yellow with red bands.

Siena: Terziere di Camollia

BRUCO (Caterpillar) a caterpillar. Yellow and green with blue bands.
DRAGO (Dragon) a flying dragon. Red and green with yellow bands.
GIRAFFA (Giraffe) a giraffe. White and red.
ISTRICE (Porcupine) a porcupine. White, red, black and blue bands.
LUPA (She-Wolf) the Roman She-Wolf suckling the twins. Black and white with orange-yellow bands.
OCA (Goose) a crowned goose with the cross of Savoia round its neck. White and green with red bands.

siena_palio

Siena’s “Contrade” first appeared in the middle of the 15th century to celebrate certain solemn events. They were represented by special wooden devices shaped like animals, such as, for instance, a giraffe, a dragon, a porcupine, a she-wolf, a caterpillar, a goose etc. – worked from inside by the youngsters of the districts they represented.

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Where to stay in Siena

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Siena, check them out and make a reservation here.

Voyage into the intimacy of the land of Siena From Poggibonsi to San Galgano: 92 KM.

Here is the real voyage to discover a land less known in the province of Siena. This route is mainly of a north/south orientation which takes you into a world of greenery, where a thick woods alternate with the fascination of the Metallifere hills and the vistas of the western part of the province of Siena and the wild Maremma. Pristine nature and medieval “Borgos” follow one another in this part of Tuscany which is untamed and conserves its secrets of an authentic land.

The trip begins in Poggibonsi, an antique borgo, which despite its modern aspects, offers the visitor an historic center of great valore. It lies where the rivers Staggia and Elsa join together. There are several reasons to visit this borgo, the “Collegiata, the 13th century church of San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Pretorio, the church of San Lucchese. From Poggibonsi it is easy to reach San Gimignano, the city of the towers. Here you’ll find yourself in one of the most visited towns in Italy which naturally needs no particular introduction. Our suggestion is to enjoy this town when its streets and alleys aren’t being invaded by tourists, in other words, the early morning or just before sundown. From an urbanistic and architectural point of view this town is a doorway into the atmosphere of the Florentine Republic of the 13th century. Of the 72 original towers only 15 are still standing, they look out over the maze of tiny streets that criss-cross San Gimignano from the Piazza of the Duomo and the Piazza of the Cisterna. Our trip continues along the route of the Vernaccia, a special wine typical of the zone, proud of its heritage (first D.O.C. wine in Italy and now a D.O.C.G.) which proposes itself in contrast with the other, great, famous and rich reds of Tuscany.

gallotti_colline_toscane

At Castel San Gimignano you will turn right for just a bit on S.S. 68 (direction Volterra) and then, left towards Casole d’Elsa. From here the voyage into the most intimate and secret part of Tuscany begins, entering fully into the Val d’Elsa. Soon you’ll come to Casole d’Elsa, a fortified outpost of the Republic of Siena. The outer walls of the city conserve on the eastern side two circular towers, the Collegiata of Santa Maria Assunta (1161 AD) and the Palazzo Pretorio. Together with the castle (Rocca) from the 13th century, these structures constitute the stone axis upon which the historical memory of this ancient borgo stands, giving peace and tranquillity today, especially to the surrounding countryside. Decidedly up and down, one of the most beautiful roads in the area will bring you an antique borgo-castle called Mensano, from where the rest of Tuscany seems far away. Here it’s easy to perceive the human dimensions of the zone. From Mensano you’ll continue on, following directions for Radicondoli. After 7 KM. you will come to Localita’ Casone where you’ll bare right, arriving at Radicondoli.

Welcome to an unforgettable look out. Proceeding through the village on the main street you will come to a small piazza with a bench on your right, towards the end of the village. This is the ideal spot from where you can let your gaze wonder over the undulating hills of the land of Siena. A spectacle you won’t want to miss.

Retracing out steps to Loc. Casone, you’ll go right and at the next intersection, right again, passing for Belforte and Montingegnoli. These are two castles far from the main roads and despite their small size they are of rich architectural and urbanistic heritage. From Montingegnoli you will take the road for Montalcinello and then, after, for Chiusdino, entering into the land of the Val di Merse. Now we are in a boundary area, it’s here that the land of Siena looks out at the Maremma. In the borgo of Chiusdino you will find the church of San Martino, referred to as (outside the walls), the Parrocchia (parish) next to the birthplace of San Galgano and the church of the Compagnia Cistercnese di San Galgano with an interesting bas-relief (1466 AD) which shows San Galgano thrusting his sword into the stone. It’s here in the commune of Chisudino that the Abbacy Cistercian of San Galgano is to be found as well as the chapel of Monte Siepi, the final objective of our voyage. The breath taking view of the roof-less cathedral and its sky ceiling is your reward.

Where to stay in Poggibonsi

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Flight over the Crete From Siena to Sant’Angelo in Colle (Montalcino): 67 KM

This itinerary flies, literally, over the undulating formations of the famous Crete, one of the zones that best highlights the sensuous nature of the Sienese territory. Big sky country, land, flocks of sheep and farms, chapels and “borgos” of stone that emerge as though islands in the great sea of land. You’ll navigate on roads that follow unpredictable trajectories, designing a path in a landscape in continuous change: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The same road traveled in different seasons will have very different aspects, changing colors, light and atmosphere.

From Siena you will leave straight away in the direction of Sinalunga-Bettolle. Shortly there after, at the intersection for Taverne d’Arbia, you’ll bare right, once over the bridge of the Arbia you will be in the town of Taverne. Welcome to the Laurentana, one of the most spectacular roads in the province of Siena. This ribbon of road travels almost constantly on the crest of the hills, caressing the landscape of the Crete where it’s possible to smell the perfume of the land the wheat. You will be up high, flying, before coming down to earth in Asciano, a small “capital”. Within the heart of this borgo the grand space of the Land of Siena becomes all of a sudden smaller and delimited by the opera of mankind.

gallotti_crete_senesi

The small village of Asciano begins with the basilica of Sant’Agata (XI AD with modifications in the 15th, 16th and 18th centuries) and proceeds with the museum of scared art which conserves a collection of art work from the 13th and 14th century, Taking the main street of Corso Matteotti, the heart of this small town you will come to the gothic church of San Bernadino(the site of the Etruscan museum) and the church of Sant’Agostino of the late gothic period. Beautiful for the essential style of its architecture is the church of San Francesco (XIII AD).

From Asciano you will climb back towards the profile of the hills that herald the upper village of Chiusure from where, with a slight detour, you may reach the Abbacy of Monteoliveto Maggiore, one of the more important stops along this trip. The Abbacy is the spiritual center of this territory whose expression is found in the supreme and refined art in the frescoed cloister with works by Sodoma and Signorelli. Don’t miss the magnificent inlaid wooden choir by Giovanni da Verona.

Back in Chiusure, you’ll continue on until reaching San Giovanni d’Asso, the reign of the white truffle which is celebrated in the traditional Market Fair, held every month of November in theCastle that rises from the “Borghetto”, the highest part of the town.

The church of San Giovanni Battista is worth a visit and in the lower part of town, the church of San Pietro Villore (XI-XII AD). The road will now relax and without curves and twists will continue on in the valley of the Val d’Asso until reaching the foot of the perfumed hills of theBrunello, where the town of Montalcino rises from the plains. After a short stretch on the Cassia you’ll turn right and start climbing in amongst the vineyards until reaching the top, Montalcino.

So, just as one savors a fine wine, so does this borgo offer itself to meditative visits. There are many enoteche (wine emporiums) cafès and artisan’s shops to explore, the time will slip quietly away. The nobility of Montalcino is there to see, the Palazzo Vescovile, the churches of Sant’AgostinoSant’Egidio and San Francesco (all from XIII and XIV AD) as well as the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso.

From Montalcino you will proceed towards the Passo del Lume Spento where you’ll cross over the shoulder of the hill and begin to descend through vineyards until reaching Sant’Angelo in Colle. From here you will be looking out over both the Val d’Orcia as well as the dormant volcano of Monte Amiata. Our itinerary finishes here but we highly recommend that you continue on to visit the extraordinary Abbacy of Sant’Antimo and the nearby borgo of Castelnuovo dell’Abate.

Where to stay in Siena

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Siena, check them out and make a reservation here.

Siena’s Val d’Orcia In voyage, where landscape transforms itself into art. From San Quirico d’Orcia to Chiusi: 44 KM.

The Val d’Orcia is a strong symbol of the Land of Siena.

Cypresses, the so called “blue trees”, are the arrows of a virtual compass. They are the sentinels of the landscape that accompanies the traveler. The road that ties the Land of Siena from west to east, uniting the Val d’Orcia with the Val di Chiana is a natural lookout point and, justly, famous.

The itinerary leaves from San Quirico d’Orcia. The borgo merits absolutely a visit; the Collegiata dei Santi Quirico and Giiulitta, the church of the Misericordia, the Palazzo Pretorio,Palazzo Chigi and the churches of Santa Maria di Vitaleta and Santa Maria Assunta. Also must-sees are the Horti Leonini, the gardens of the 15th century designed by Diomede Leoniwhich host expositions of contemporary sculpture.

tuscany_pienza

From here we will go in the direction of Pienza on the beautiful ridge road that has grand vistas of the hills that run into the distance. Soon you will come to Pienza, an obligatory stop on this route. Pienza is noted as an ideal town, creation and expression of a humanist renaissance, founded on a new world inspired by a cosmopolitan philosophy, tolerant and open. In order to translate architecturally the values of this culture, Enea Silvio Piccolominientrusted the project to Bernardo Gambaretti who was called “Il Rossellino”. He was an architect of the school of Leon Battista Alberti, capable of inventing a city that would materialize the humanistic and renaissance ideals. Work began in 1459 and after only three years PopePius the Second deliberated the birth of the city.

The view of the street that wedges itself between the Cathedral and Palazzo Piccolomini is superb; the big sky panorama of the Val d’Orcia is unmistakable, in the distance you can see the castle of Radicofani and the large shoulders of Monte Amiata.

The trip continues onward towards Montepulciano. The road seems to have been designed by a landscape architect. The perfume of pecorino cheese will tempt you to stop in one of the many farms that produce this wonderful food, but then you’ll remember that you’ve already stocked up on pecorino in the shops in Pienza.

Montepulciano is the other intermediate stage of our voyage. It’s time to shut off the engines and trust your own legs, Montepulciano is a city of great interest. We highly recommend a walk into the underground cantinas where it’s possible to taste one of Tuscany’s prestigious wines, the Nobile of Montepulciano. You will continue on towards Chianciano and Chianciano Terme where the waters are virtually as special as the wine. Here you can let yourself go, taking care of your health and wellbeing.

In the final part of the trip you will leave the poetic Val d’Orcia for the mysterious and fascinating culture of the Etruscans which, in the city of Chiusi, you will find an important reference point for. Here history has ancient roots which can be found in the signs left by the Etruscans. There’s a world to discover in the underground catacombs and tunnels such as the labyrinth of Porsenna. Fans of the Etruscan culture will be sure to visit the National Archeological Museum in Chiusi as well as those in Chianciano Terme and Sarteano.
Courtesy of APT Siena Tourist Office

Siena’s Via Cassia The classic crossing of the historic Via Cassia From Siena to Radicofani: 72 KM.

This is an historic road by definition which ties the city of the Palio (Siena) with grande Rome. The great sculptor, time, has left its mark along this ancient consular road. Across the centuries this Roman road has assisted all the changes that have touched Tuscany and its people.

This road can be traveled quickly but it invites you to drive in with a relaxed frame of mind, fully enjoying the ever changing landscape.

tuscany_hills

From Siena you will leave, heading south following directions for S.S. 2 “Cassia”. Almost immediately the road will be out in the country, into the sunny, open Val d’Arbia, traversing places of historic importance.

For much of the route you will be re-tracing the historic “Via Francigena”, the path that religious pilgrims took from Canterbury to Rome, step after step.

The first stops along the way are the towns of Monteroni and Lucignano. Afterwards you’ll come to the walled town of Buonconvento, you’re entering one of the historically great grain growing centers of Italy.

The landscape and architecture as well as the inhabitants tell a tale of rural culture still more or less intact. One of the more important relics of this peasant past are to be found in the form of “grance”, large warehouses of grain and food stuff, which, among other uses, were historically intended for the poor, pilgrims and the needy and sick. In medieval times the “grance” were buildings which were part of church complexes and abbacies with the function of storing agricultural products. One of the characteristic elements of the Sienese grance is that of their large, defensive nature. Along the route, just before entering the town of Monteroni d’Arbia, you’ll see one of the more important grance, one which is called “Cuna”.

Crossing mainly flat lands, the Cassia arrives in Buonconvento after 27 KM. This is historically a place of encounters and also of battles and trade. The city is laid out in a rectangular fashion and in its original state was surrounded by a defensive wall. It conserves monumental buildings that bear testament to the importance of Buonconvento. The Palazzo Comunale (town hall) has 25 coats of arms which testify to the same number of governing podesta’, from 1270 AD onward. The Museum of Sacred Art deserves a visit, in a wonderful Liberty setting art works from churches and pieve from all around the Crete are gathered for viewing.

Once past Buonconvento the Cassia takes on a more curvy nature. Shortly after the town ofTorrenieri the unmistakable landscape of the Val d’Orcia begins, near the town of San Quirico. You eyes won’t be able to miss the characteristic sign of groups of Cypress tress emerging from the undulating hills.

Here is where the more spectacular stretch of the Cassia begins, passing between the centers of Montalcino on one side and Pienza on the other, it takes you to the magical “borgo” of Bagno Vignoni. Here you will see the magnificent main piazza of thermal water. In fact, there is a common thread that connects this part of the route and it is water. From the park of the Mulini of San Quirico and the thermal waters of Bagno Vignoni, you proceed to the slopes ofMonte Amiata (an extinct volcano) until reaching Bagni San Filippo, another thermal borgo where the water bubbles forth from the ground at 50 degrees centigrade. It’s here that you’ll leave the Cassia, turning left towards the spectacular castle of Radicofani. From the heights of the castle tower you will be able to enjoy an unequaled panorama of the entire Val d’Orcia. The castle of Radicofani played an important strategic role along the Francigena route. It’s notorious history is tied to that of the Ghibellin rebel Ghino di Tacco (mentioned by Dante in the VI stanza of the Purgatorio and by Boccaccio in the Decamerone) who, expelled from Siena, took up residence here in Radicofani and used the castle as a base for his raiding parties.

One final deviation worthy of a visit is that which will take you to the thermal waters of San Casciano dei Bagni. A place for relaxing in the hot vapors of the waters from the slopes ofMonte Cetona, immersed in an environment rich in history and nature.

Where to stay in Siena

There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Siena, check them out and make a reservation here.