Localities in Tuscany

FLORENCE: (Italian: Firenze) is the capital city of the region of Tuscany, Italy and also capital of the province of Florence. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. Florence lies on the Arno River and has a population of around 400,000 people, plus a suburban population in excess of 200,000 persons. A centre of medieval European trade and finance, the city is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and was long ruled by the Medici family. Florence is also famous for its fine art and architecture. It is said that, of the 1,000 most important European artists of the second millennium, 350 lived or worked in Florence.

AREZZO: Arezzo is an art city situated on the top of a hill housing several gold and silver handcrafts.The city centre is represented by buildings dating back to different historical periods. Among them Palazzo della Fratenita dei Laici, Palazzo delle Logge, Saint Francis’s Church and Saint Mary’s Parish. A visit to the Duomo, Petrarch’s and Vasari’s house is also worthwhile.

GROSSETO: Grosseto (It. Provincia di Grosseto) is a province in the Tuscany region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Grosseto. In the grid of the modern town you can find the old town centre surrounded by the green "Hexagon" of the ramparts which Francesco I renewed (1574). After the ravage of the Saracen in 935 the survivors from Roselle, an etruscan town, took shelter here, on the plain of Ombrone river a dozen of kilometres away from the sea. The fortune of the place followed the frequent alternation between land drainage and malaria which has been defeated in our century. Since 1336 Siena owned the town which surrendered to the Medicis only in 1559, after Montalcino. Grosseto is the chief town and market of "Tuscan Maremma", it is essentially based on agricolture. You can visit The Cathedral built at the end of 1200, the "Art and Archeological Museum", the Walls and the church of St.Francis, in the surroundings there is the Natural Park of Maremma and the Etruscan ruins of Roselle. Other comunes of the province include Follonica, Orbetello and Massa Marittima. The Natural Park of Maremma lies in the province.

CASENTINO: Casentino is where the Arno river is born (then goes on to Florence and Pisa): the valley is shaped like a basket, with mountains all around. Here the peak of Monte Falco reaches 1658 m (5440 ft). Casentino is a deep-green land of Castles, romanesque Churches, Sanctuaries. ..such as Poppi Castle, a Manor of Conti Guidi Family, that is actually well conserved; Romena Castle, Porciano Castle, Chitignano Castle etc... Large stretches of woods, dominated by silver firs and beeches are found inside the 'Foreste Casentinesi' National Park. The National Park "Foreste Casentinesi" lies on the northern Appennine crest between Tuscany and Romagna, where deer, wild boar, eagle and even the wolf use to live. The Park covers an area of 36.000 hectars, mainly covered with woods of firs, oaks, beechs and chestnunts. Istoric roads, climbing Appennines recall closeknit ties between the valley and Florence, Romagna, Arezzo.

SIENA: Siena is situated 322 mt above the sea level, in the heart of Tuscany. It has kept its typical medieval appearance untouched, with narrow alleys and noble palaces, surrounded by a beautiful hill landscape. Siena is an ancient medieval town, that was born on three hills and was enclosed by walls. Siena is a touristic destination of great historical and cultural value. It is a town that does not like the half-measures, since it is passionate and, at the same time, contemplative. Its roads go uphill and downhill, some of them are steep and some are narrow, but they all lead you to the magnificent Piazza del Campo. If You want to take part in the Palio, obviously as audience, you will surely attend a charming show. It is a historical and cultural revival, that reaches its climax in a wild horse race, in which the proud and the passionate competitiveness of the Contrade (town districts) achieve their realization and exaltation.

CHIANTI: The Chianti area is located in the heart of Tuscany, between the provinces of Siena and Florence. The landscape is prevalently hilly and woody and is characterized by the cultivation of grapes and olives. Vineyards, olive groves, oak, chestnut and pine woods. Ancient castles, parish churches and isolated abbeys in most of the area. If you travel along the country roads, especially at night, it's easy to see deer and roebucks, wild boar and pheasants. The Chianti area is famous for its wine, "Chianti", produced in a geographical area larger than the historical one, with corresponding names. Vin Santo, a wine for contemplative moments, is also produced, and a high-quality, low acidity extra-virgin olive oil. The cuisine is based prevalently on agricultural products (grain, meat, vegetables). Bread is fundamental: it is used to prepare hors- d'oeuvres, first courses and soups. Among the typical dishes: broad noodles with hare sauce, ribollita (a soup of bread, beans and cabbage), Florentine T-bone steak and various grilled meats.
Activities and Excursions: visiting castles, with wine-tasting and lunch prepared using typical products. Hiking in the Chianti hills, among woods and vineyards. Courses: cooking, wine-tasting, horseback riding, Italian language and culture. Thermal baths at Rapolano Terme. Tours in hot-air balloons, canoeing, photo safaris, golf courses. Weekly outdoor markets and antique shows, festivals featuring typical products, medieval historical processions. Train and bus links to Florence and Siena. Chianti roads are very beautiful, winding through vineyards and woods, but are also narrow and crooked.

CORTONA: Cortona, the main town of the municipality is perched up on a hill at a towering height of 600 metres a.s.l. and offers a stunning view of the Valdichiana valley stretching at its feet, the mountains surrounding it and lake Trasimeno. The eye of the tourist coming to Cortona will be immediately caught by the commending Etruscan City walls dating back to the late 5th century b.C. and surrounding the town in a rectangular shape for almost 2 miles. Cortona offers plenty of attractions: Etruscans, in particular, who made the town rich and important for centuries, have left behind significant historical evidence preserved in the local Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca.

VOLTERRA: The city of Volterra has its roots in three thousand years of history. It is possible to find evidence and traces from every historical period which gives the artistic city a unique aspect. The ancient city walls, the imposing Porta all’Arco, the Necropolis of Marmini and the numerous archeological finds conserved in the Museo Etrusco Guarnacci like the Ombra della Sera with its unique profile, the funeral urns and the finely crafted jewellery, bear testimony of the Etruscan period. The Renaissance had an important influence on Volterra but without changing the city’s Medieval character.

VAL D'ORCIA: Today Val d'Orcia is peripheral, a land fresh and unspoilt where the character of its agricultural economy and the persistence of the inhabitants to work the earth and the natural materials found in the area, have safeguarded the relationship between man and the environment. This valley is not only a place full of poetry and naturally happy people. All the events which developed along this highway and the adjacent hills, created a landscape which fascinated the great Sienese painters of the Renaissance, the European travellers of the "grand tour", the romantic writers of England, Germany and France, and which still charm us to this day. The scenery of the Val d'Orcia, which begins with a symmetry of natural harmony with its soft rolling hills, changes into the majestic grandeur of the Amiata, a mountain abounding with springs of crystal clear water and luxuriant vegetation. The Val d'Orcia is a landscape of never-ending hills, interspersed with torrents, ravines, rugged outcrops, river banks which intertwine until they are lost in the ash colour of the distant Crete. The farming community of the Val d'Orcia has never surrendered to progress, it has always welcomed travellers and pilgrims and always made them welcome.
The official site of the val d'Orcia natural park http://www.parcodellavaldorcia.com/indexb.asp

CHIANTI CLASSICO and the GALLO NERO LABEL A consortium for the protection and regulation of the Chianti Classico wine was founded in 1924, adopting the noble black rooster (gallo nero) as its symbol. This symbol was used by the centuries-old league (Lega del Chianti) and the town council of Castellina. The Chianti region was granted D.O.C. status in 1967, meaning that its product was of a Controlled Origin, and in 1974 it was further awarded D.O.C.G. controlled and guaranteed quality. The precise areas of Chianti Classico production are Radda, Castellina, Gaiole and several neighboring towns. Chianti Classico wine is made up of a very specific quantity and quality of Sangiovese, white Trebbiano, Malvasia and Canaiolo grapes.

MONTALCINO: The street that leads to Montalcino will allow for an appreciation of the true beauty of the place. Having arrived at the summit the eyes can behold the splendour of an ample and varied panorama from the Senese hills to the mountains of Amiata. The fortress (constructed to defend the territory in 1361 by the Senese Mino Foresi and Domenico di Feo utilizing the already pre-existing thirteenth-century wall) rises to the highest point of the city and dominates the surrounding valleys. On the wall of one of the center rooms hangs a Standard attributed to the Sodoma school. The center of this small town is exemplary of the architecture of the late Middle Ages. Following the road across from the fortress you will find on via Ricasoli a gothic marble portal and a rose window that beautify the simple basic Romanesque facade of the Church of Sant'Agostino (thirteenth-century). Nearby, although it will soon be moved to the convent of the church of Sant' Agostino, you will find the Musei Riuniti (civico and Diocesano). The museums contain pieces of outstanding art work such as a Wooden Cross painted in the twelfth of thirteenth-centuries by an unknown artist. It is one of the oldest Senese works. There are also an Angelo annunciate and a Madonna annunciata, two beautiful wooden sculptures from the early fifteenth- century, as well as a Saint Sebastian and a Madonna with Saints done in Robbian terracotta. The Duomo (San Salvatore) can be reached by going to the right after leaving the museum. The Senese architect Agostino Fantastici Planned a project (1812-32) to restructure to pre-existing church into the neo-classical norm which dominated the time. Proceed downhill to arrive at the Piazza del Popolo where the Palazzo Comunale (or dei Priori) stands. In the square is La Loggia which was constructed in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In The contrada of Castelvecchio, is the Church of San Francesco (XIII century) wich as been redone over the course of time. Inside are the frescoes by Vincenzo Tamagni painted in the early sixteenth-century. Just a few kilometers from Montalcino rises the Abbazia di Sant'Antimo (1118). This is one of the most beautiful Romanseque monastic churches in existence. Its Romanesque-Lombard style gives its structure both a physical force and delicacy at the same time.

LUCCA: There are many richly built medieval basilica-form churches in Lucca with rich arcaded facades and campaniles, a few as old as the 8th century. Piazza Napoleone, Piazza San Michele, Duomo di San Martino, Anfiteatro - ancient Roman amphitheatre, Chiesa di San Michele in Foro, Basilica di San Frediano, Torre delle ore (Clock Tower) , Casa e Torre Guinigi, Museo nazionale Guinigi, Museo e pinacoteca nazionale.

VIAREGGIO: Viareggio is a town in the province of Lucca situated on the coast of the Ligurian Sea in the north of Tuscany, Italy. The town has a population of around 60,000. Viareggio is a popular tourist resort with a historic fishing harbour. Other industries include the manufacture of luxury motor yachts. A Puccini opera festival is held at nearby Torre del Lago.

PISA: By far the best known sight in Pisa is the famous leaning tower which is but one of many architecturally and artistically important structures in the city's Campo dei Miracoli or "Field of Miracles", to the north of the old town center. The Campo dei Miracoli is also the site of the beautiful Duomo (the Cathedral), the Baptistry and the Camposanto (the monumental cemetery).

LIVORNO: Livorno was defined as an "ideal town" at the Renaissance time. Nowadays it reveals its history through its neighbourhoods, crossed by canals and surrounded by fortified town-walls, through the tangle of its streets, which embroider the town's Venice district, and through the Medici Port characteristically overlooked by towers and fortresses leading to the town centre. Designed by the architect Bernardo Buontalenti at the end of the 16th century, Livorno underwent a period of great town planning expansion at the end of the 17th century. Near the defensive pile of the Old Fortress, a new fortress, together with the town-walls and the system of navigable canals, was then built. Nowadays the Venice district preserves most of its original town planning and architectural features such as the bridges, the narrow lanes, the noblemen's houses and a dense network of canals which once linked the port to its storehouses. In the 18th and 19th centuries Livorno, by then grown up and open to the world, had a lively appearance marked by neo-classical buildings, town parks housing important museums and cultural institutions, Liberty villas with sea views, the market.

MAREMMA: The Maremma is an area in Italy, consisting of part of southern Tuscany (and partly coincident with province of Grosseto area) and some part of northern Latium (a bordering region of the province of Viterbo). The poet Dante Alighieri in his Divina Commedia, identifies Maremma between Cecina and Corneto, the former name of Tarquinia. It was traditionally populated by the Butteri, cattle-breeders who used horses until recently, with a distinctive style of saddle. Once unhealthy because of the many marshes, Maremma was drained during the fascist regime and re-populated with people coming from other Italian regions, notably from Veneto. Provided with significant natural and environmental resources, Maremma is today one of the best tourist destinations in Italy, where ancient traditions have survived and Tuscan culture is preserved. It is being promoted as a destination for agritourism. The village Scansano lies within Maremma and is noted for Morellino di Scansano wine, which is vinted from Morellino grapes grown locally.

MUGELLO: The mugello is a landscape north of Florence. Ferrari own a circuit here, which they use for testing their Formula One cars. There is a Moto GP race at the circuit.

GARFAGNANA: Garfagnana is an historical region of Italy, today part of the province of Lucca in the Appennines, in Tuscany, but before the unification of Italy it belonged to the Duchy of Modena and Reggio, ruled by the Este family. For a short time, in the 16th century, it was governed by the poet Ludovico Ariosto. It is one of the most rainy regions of Italy, so is in a large part covered by forest vegetation (mainly Chestnut, Oak and Pine). Garfagnana's porcini are also some of the most famous mushrooms in Italy. There is an extensive system of hiking trails, relatively well mapped and signed, offering magnificent scenery and many small hilltop and mountainside villages to visit and explore. Regional food and wine is rustic and very good.

Map of Tuscany : www.viamichelin.com/


Author: Massimiliano Marzi

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