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Tuscany (Toscana) - ItalyInformation on Tuscany (Toscana) - Italy
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Arezzo Arezzo Florence Florence Livorno Livorno 4 Lucca 5 Grosseto Massa Cararra Massa Cararra Pisa Pisa Pistoia Pistoia Prato Prato Siena Siena

Toscana, region (approximately 3,712,677), 8,876 sq mi (22,989 sq km), N central Italy, bordering on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west and including the Tuscan Archipelago.

Toscana, famous for its art, architecture, rolling hills, and smooth beaches, is the cradle of the Renaissance. It is this popular destination that gave us da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Puccini. It's no surprise then that Toscana is the birthplace of Italy's most creative and elegant cuisine.

Tuscan cooking is often described as una cucina povera, "a poor kitchen." Characteristic of all Tuscan food is the high quality of the ingredients and the wide use of herbs, including thyme, sage, rosemary, tarragon, fennel and chile pepper. Oil and bread dominate this simple cuisine. Vegetables, whether they're grilled, roasted, or raw, are always dressed in olive oil. And no Tuscan meal would be complete without the traditional unsalted bread.

Tuscans keep fat at a distance and the spit or the grill close by. Meats, beef, chicken, and rabbit are usually roasted with rosemary or fennel or grilled. Most are accompanied by a lemon wedge, the Tuscan idea of a sauce. Along the coast, dishes are based on fish, with baby eel, caught at the mouth of the Arno, a specialty found only in Tuscany.

The simplicity that is so typical of the Tuscan countryside was certainly not observed by the Medicis, who designed elaborate banquets and opulent menus. But these excesses were the domain of the court and nobility; locals ignored the excesses and continued eating local vegetables and beans, incorporating those into Tuscany's famous thick soups.

Olive oil is so pervasive in Tuscan cooking that it's even used in sweets, such as the local favorite, castagnaccio, a cake made with chestnut flour, fennel, raisins, and pine nuts. Generally, desserts are as simple as Tuscans' other foods. A common after-dinner treat is biscotti dipped into a glass of amber-colored Vin Santo. Siena is home to panforte ("strong bread"), a rich, flat cake invented during the Crusades to sustain the troops.

Tuscan wines are dominated by the local sangiovese grape, the backbone of the classic Chianti and full, deep Brunello.  

Inquiries accommodations We welcome inquiries for available accommodations for the region of Tuscany and surrounding areas. Contact us for listing requirements. (Hotels - Motels - Villas - Bed & Breakfast - Condo Rentals, Agriturismo & all related accommodations)

Information:
Abruzzo official site Regione Tuscany official site

Arezzo

 

Arezzo

Arezzo Tuscany ItalyArezzo - pop. 323,288 - Arezzo is set on a steep hill rising from the floodplain of the Arno River.

In the upper part of the town are the cathedral, the town hall and the Medici Fortress (Fortezza Medicea), from which the main streets branch off towards the lower part as far as the gates.

The upper part of the town maintains its medieval appearance despite the addition of later structures. Arezzo is an important market for agricultural and animal products from the fertile surrounding districts, and trades in textiles and clothing, shoes, olive oil, antiques, and gold and jewellery crafts. There is a fresco series by the Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca.

Arezzo was renowned for the strength of its brick walls, and also for its red pottery. It was an important Roman base during the Second Punic War (218-201 BC). In a civil war of the 1st century BC, Arezzo sided with the Roman general Marius against Sulla, who probably destroyed the town's fortifications in 81 BC. During the Middle Ages the people of Arezzo fought with the Ghibellines (supporters of the Holy Roman Empire), but were defeated by Florence in 1289, and in 1384 came completely under Florentine domination. During World War II the town suffered considerable damage.

The ancient district of the town stands on a hill, with the modern part at its foot. There is a 13th-century Gothic cathedral, with a 20th-century facade, which contains notable paintings. The 14th-century church of S Francesco contains Piero della Francesca's fresco Legend of the Holy Cross. Other buildings include several old churches, as well as palaces, several museums, and an art gallery. In late August and early September a competition takes place in the Piazza Grande, in which horsemen joust with a clockwork ‘Saracen king’, a pivoting target.

The Roman arts patron Maecenas, the architect and painter Giorgio Vasari, and the botanist and physiologist Andrea Cesalpino were natives of Arezzo, and the writers Petrarch and Pietro Aretino were born here.

Provincia Arezzo Official website Arezzo

What to taste What to taste:

• Traditional items used for cooking include mushrooms and cheeses from the Casentino area, ham from Pratomagno, truffles from the Tiber Valley, and other cheeses, especially "abbucciato".
• The speciality of Casentino is "tortello alla lastra", stuffed with cabbage, potato, ricotta and "Acquacotta alla Stiana", prepared with stale bread, broth, sausage and tomatoes.
• Another typical dish is stewed "grifi", the lean and callous part of a calf's muzzle, cooked with tomato and herbs.
• The local wines include Colli dell'Etruria Centrale, Chianti dei Colli Aretini and Bianco della Val di Chiana.

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What to do What to do:

• The Foreste Casentinesi Monte Falterona e Campigna National Park is the ideal place for excursions on foot, by bicycle or on horseback, while in winter you can follow the tracks with skis and snowshoes.
• Cycling enthusiasts can follow the Canale Maestro della Chiana cycling trail from Arezzo to Cortona, through areas perfectly suited for a sporty holiday amidst unspoiled scenery.

Places to visit Places to visit: Churches, Museums, Ruins, Piazzas, Fountains,

• The ancient town is home to valuable monuments including the imposing Medici Fortress, the Cathedral and the Diocesan museum. The Archeological museum, showcases many valuable finds, recalling the city's importance in the Etruscan period, while the State Museum of Medieval and Modern Art provides an overview of the artistic production in this area from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
• The heart of the city is Piazza Grande, surrounded by buildings of various periods and styles, among them the medieval towers and the Renaissance style "Loggiato Vasariano".
• San Giovanni Valdarno, the birthplace of Masaccio, has an old town with many fine buildings, including the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Palazzo Pretorio.

Events Events:

• In this land rich in traditions, there are numerous folk festivals, including the famous Giostra del Saracino in Arezzo, the Giostra dell'Archidado in Cortona, the Palio dei Rioni in Castiglion Fiorentino and the Palio della Balestra in Sansepolcro
• Among the special events, the international Merletto Biennale at Sansepolcro stands out and, among festivals dedicated to typical produce, the "Sagra della porchetta" (festival of the suckling pig) at Monte San Savino.  

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• Gourmands may follow the vine and tasting routes that wind through the main valleys of the Arezzo province, through vineyards, olive and chestnut groves, stopping off at wineries and local firms for the tasting of wine and typical produce.
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Florence

 

Florence

Florence Tuscany ItalyFlorence - pop. 375,000 - Florence is the capital of the region. Ponte Vecchio is world famous for its jewellery shops. It was built to replace a 14th century wooden bridge that was destroyed by flooding, and was the only bridge that was not mined when the Nazis retreated in 1944. Florence's museums, palaces, and churches house some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world.

The most popular and important sites in Florence include the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Uffizi, the Bargello, and the Accademia. The churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce are veritable art galleries, and the library of San Lorenzo is a magnificent exhibition of Michelangelo's architectural genius. Wander some of the oldest streets in the city until you reach the Arno River, cross the Ponte Vecchio, and experience the "newest" area of Florence, the Oltrarno. Be sure to set aside time to see the vast and varied art collection housed in the Pitti Palace. When you grow weary of museums and monuments, head outdoors. Spend a day at the Boboli Gardens or climb the hill to the church of San Miniato al Monte to experience an enchanting view of Florence.

Provincia Florence Official website Florence

What to taste What to taste:

• Bread, olive oil and local vegetables have always been a tradition in Florence.
• Cured meats such as finocchiona and sanguinacci, crotisin with chicken liver and veal.
• Among the pasta dishes, ample space is given to pappardelle in hare meat sauce, panzanella (a type of bread salad), various types of soups, in particular pappa al pomodoro (bread and tomato soup) and ribollita (re-boiled soup).
• The most characteristic meat dish is the famous Florentine steak: good quality beef grilled and then served with olive oil, salt and pepper. Other common dishes are boiled meat, game and pork, especially pork saddle and liver, wrapped in lace fat and cooked on the spit.
• Other local specialities include tripe in sauce and bread rolls with "lampredotto", a particular type of tripe, which can be bought from street-side kiosks.
• Desserts that stand out are the traditional castagnaccio, made of chestnut flour; the schiacciata alla fiorentina (flat orange-laced cake) and the famous cantucci (almond biscuits).
• The excellent wines include Chianti Classico DOCG, Pomino DOC, Bianco dell'Empolese DOC, Colli dell'Etruria Centrale DOC, Toscana IGT, Vin Santo DOC.  

Following Towns Cities & Towns:

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What to do What to do:

• There are a number of parks, , in particular the Parco delle Cascine, the Parco dell'Albereta and Villa Favard , which offer the visitor the chance to take a stroll at one with nature, or perhaps make use of the equipped sports trails.
• The wood-covered hills and dense vegetation that characterise the territory provide an ideal setting for outings in unspoiled environments, with opportunities for hiking at all levels, and bike riding or horse riding routes

Places to visit Places to visit: Churches, Museums, Ruins, Piazzas, Fountains,

• The enchanting historical centre never ceases to arouse your interest with its countless masterpieces, and the colourful marble of the churches, and the architecture, which remind us of Florence's previous splendour and the part it played inthe development of Renaissance culture and art.
• The heart of the city and the religious and historical centre is the Piazza del Duomo , the site of a monumental complex of extreme value : the Duomo or Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, rich in works of art and topped by Brunelleschi's majestic dome, the Battistero di San Giovanni (St John's Baptistry), a magnificent example of Florentine Romanesque architecture, and Giotto's Bell tower, a masterpiece of Florentine Gothic architecture. The magnificent Loggia del Bigallo completes the Piazza's splendour.
• Alongside the Piazza runs the majestic Uffizi Gallery, home to one of the most important and famous museums in the world, which includes artworks by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and many other great artists, providing a journey through artistic masterpieces that must not be missed.

Events Events:

• The territory's calendar is full of interesting and exciting events , starting with the traditional Florentine "Rificolona" festival, a street procession and boat parade along the Arno (September).
• On Easter Sunday, another characteristic event in Florence is the explosion of the cart that takes place in the square in front of the Duomo.
• Another event that deserves a visit is the Cavalcata dei Magi (the cavalcade of the wise men) a solemn procession in costume that moves through the town centre on 6th January. There are numerous folkloristic events, such as the horse racing event, the Palio delle Contrade in Fucecchio (June).
• Also in June, Monteluco Fiorentino, which is specialised in terracotta production, hosts the International terracotta festival, which sees the historic centre turn into an open air workshop. One of the cultural events that really stands out is the famous Estate Fiesolana (Fiesole summer), with performances staged in the splendid Roman theatre there, while Florence is where various initiatives take place, such as the Mostra mercato internazionale dell'artigianato (International craft fair) in April-May.
• There are also numerous food and wine events, amongst which is the Finocchiona festival in Vaglia Bivigliano where you can taste the famous cured meat, and enjoy the dancing and music.

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• Throughout the whole territory, and especially in Chianti, there are an infinite number of food and wine itineraries that take you on an exploration of vineyards, wineries and establishments where you can taste local delicacies and excellent local wines.
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Livorno

 

Livorno

Livorno Tuscany ItalyLivorno - pop. 326,444 - Livorno, the Tuscan gateway to the Mediterranean Sea, is crossed by canals and situated by the seaside.

Planned as an ideal town in the 16th century, Livorno reveals its history through its districts characterised by the Medicean canals, which are still navigable, and through its port, overlooked by towers and fortresses, leading to the town centre.

Around the middle of the 19th century, the first bathing establishments of Italy appeared in Livorno. This tradition still continues thanks to the town's bathing establishments, hospitable and welcoming, situated along the shoreline promenade that stretches for many kilometres among impressive 19th-century buildings, villas in the Liberty style and the green vegetation: pine trees, tamarisks and oleanders.

There are many places of interest by the sea, such as: the Naval Academy, a prestigious training school for officers of the Italian Navy founded in 1881, the city Aquarium, the Natural History museum of the Mediterranean, the Caprilli racecourse, a hundred-year-old setting for important horse racing seasons, and the Terrazza Mascagni, which offers a wonderful view over some of the islands of the Tuscan archipelago: Elba, Capraia and Gorgona, as far as Corsica.

Livorno is a town steeped in history with a Naval Academy, a wealth of museums and structures from the past. The Giovanni Fattori Civic Museum is an important landmark. It is housed in a magnificent structure and surrounded by a most verdant and beautiful garden. The museum has an exquisite collection of the Macchiaioli School of painting, especially that of the artist after whom it is named and who lived in Livorno until the turn of the 20th century. This is a distinct variant of French impressionism and cannot be found so extensively less than one roof elsewhere. The Meloria is another important attraction of historical importance, because this tall tower on a bed of reef is the site of a 13th century defeat of Pisa's maritime power by sailors from Genoa. The old quarter is a splendid tribute to 16th century architecture and town planning, with a 5 sided canal system.

The people are sporting and continue with a tradition of fiercely competitive rowing races against each other. Leghorn or Livorno is also a convenient base for the other and popular attractions of Tuscany. There is a choice of comfortable accommodation with splendid views of the sea and the surrounding countryside. Meat lovers and vegetarians may have to console themselves with many glasses of Chianti and huge fruit desserts as Livorno celebrates sea harvests from the antipasto onwards. The cuisine is really special and visitors could easily become shellfish and clam lovers after sampling the excellent seafood.

Provincia Livorno

What to taste What to taste:

• Fish is predominant in Livorno incuding "cacciucco" (fish soup and toasted bread), along with mullet "alla livornese" in tomato sauce with garlic and parsley, salted codfish and stockfish with onion, tomato and potatoes.
• Their are such dishes as "torta di ceci", a chickpea pie often accompanied by "schiacciata", a kind of flat bread, or by salted bread; "roschette" made of salted bread dough in the form of little doughnuts, and the Easter "schiacciata" a kind sweet breadlike cake.
• Local wines include Aleatico di Portoferraio, Bianco d'Elba, Moscato d'Elba, Passito d'Elba, and Rosso di Colle Salvetti.

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What to do What to do:

• The coast and islands offer plenty of opportunities for spending pleasant days by the sea on sandy or rocky beaches, and even the possibility to indulge a passion for water sports and sailing. Diving enthusiasts can dive down to the enthralling sea beds to admire the flora and many different species of fish.
• For a relaxing, therapeutic stay, the baths and spa treatments at the famous Terme di Caldana or Terme di San Giovanni on the island of Elba are highly recommended.

Places to visit Places to visit: Churches, Museums, Ruins, Piazzas, Fountains,

• The first stop of any tour of the area would have to be Livorno, one of the most important ports in Italy and home to the Naval Academy.
• The city still preserves the charm and structure conferred upon it by the Medici in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: the pentagonal defensive wall surrounded by navigable moats, the distinctively red coloured fortifications such as the Old Fortress, work of Antonio da Sangallo; the Cathedral and the Via Grande portico.
• The Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori (civic museum), located in the beautiful Villa Mimbelli, which houses a magnificent collection of Tuscan paintings realised between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and another of works by Fattori.

Events Events:

• The area has a full calendar of events, the most exciting is the Accademia navale e Città di Livorno trophy, a sailing competition of international fame (end of April); other events in Livorno include rowing races between the city's neighbourhoods which take place in June and July.
• Effetto Venezia particulalry stands out, and takes place in the first days of August in the Venezia Nuova district of Livorno. Among the folk festivals, the historical procession of Maggio Campigliese which takes place during the second weekend of May is of particular importance.
• On the first Sunday of December in Suvereto, the feast of the Boar takes place, along with the Palio delle Botti (a barrel rolling tournament) and the Giostra degli Arcieri (archery tournament).

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Lucca

 

Lucca

Lucca Tuscany ItalyLucca - pop. 86,000 - A charming Tuscan town enclosed by massive red brick walls. Duomo di San Martino - Lucca's finest Romanesque building, the impressive facade is a triumph of sculpture, carving and inlay work. Church of San Michele in Foro - To be found in Piazza San Michele. Torre Guinigi - The tower with the tree on top, a fifteenth century 130 foot high tower. Church of San Frediano - The facade of the church is decorated with a lavish thirteenth century mosaic. Palazzo Pfanner - A fine garden with the statues, loggia and fountains.

Lucca has one particularly stunning feature - ancient ramparts that ring the old city. The inhabitants built these brick walls in the 16th century for defense. Today, walk (or bike) around the city on the wide shaded walkways atop the walls. If that doesn't tire you out, climb up the Torre Guinigi - the 130 ft. tower has an ancient oak tree on top!

Worth seeing are the churches San Michele in Foro and San Frediano, the cathedral San Martino, the shopping street via Fillungo, Palazzo and Torre Guinigi (14th c.), the latter is one of the few still existing, plant with stone oaks, clan towers (at the heyday of Lucca in the city there were, inclusive church towers, about 170 towers) and the Piazza Anfiteatro. On the ruins of the Roman amphitheater, churches and houses were built, which now form a beautiful oval square. The best ice, by the way, you can buy at the Gelateria Pinguino in Piazza Napoleone.

What to taste What to taste:

• Soups is of importance in Lucca, especially the "garmucia" (a soup with artichokes, peas, broad beans and asparagus).
• Local specialities include roasted pork, pork with chestnut polenta, lamb with olive, spit-roasted thrush, and spit-roasted Serchio trout.
• Dessets include "buccellato", a typical donut-shaped desert; "castagnaccio", a tart made with chestnut flour; and "necci" also made with chestnut flour.
• The local wines are Montecarlo white or red; Biadina is a typical liquor from Lucca.

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What to do What to do:

• The coast provides great opportunities to spend whole days relaxing by the sea, or engaged in water sports and bike riding.
• The Apuane Alps are the ideal setting for strolling, trekking and trips on bike or horseback. Not to be missed is an excursion to the Grotta del Vento, an amazing cave system with spectacular stalactites.

Places to visit Places to visit: Churches, Museums, Ruins, Piazzas, Fountains,

• Lucca is a city of ancient origins, surrounded by its boundary wall dating back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This great work of military engineering, with its ramparts and bastions, is today a unique and scenic public area. Particularly evocative is the old town, which has kept intact its medieval appearance with typical narrow streets and squares overlooked by stone towers and tower-houses as well as brick houses with arcades. Among the most typical streets, Via Fillungo stands out, main axis of the medieval village, surrounded by noble buildings and ancient towers including the famous Torre delle Ore; Via Guinigi is worth a note too, where the complex of medieval buildings built by rich families is concentrated.
• From the slopes of the Apuane Alps to the Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli National Park, the splendid Versilian coastline is a very attractive tourist destination, thanks to its enchanting scenery, rich vegetation and fascinating places, such as the romantic Torre del Lago Puccini with the villa-museum of Giacomo Puccini who here found inspiration for his Madame Butterfly.

Events Events:

• The local calendar is full of events such as the Carnevale di Viareggio, the national literary prize "Viareggo Rèpaci" (in June) and the Festival Puccini, in the months of July and August at Torre del Lago. Among the historic re-enactments it is worth pointing out the Calderon d'Altopascio in July.
• Some important religious festivals are the Luminara procession from Santa Croce to Lucca (September) and the Procioni Procession from Garfagnana to Castiglione on Maundy Thursday.  

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Grosseto

 

Grosseto

Grosseto Tuscany ItalyGrosseto - pop. 71,263(M 34,155; F 37,108) Density (per square km): 150.2

Walking among the military, civil and religious monuments, you are able to cover twelve centuries of history and envision each of the periods and rulers as they are unveiled, layer by layer, before you.

Imaginary time travel takes place as you see the Etruscan ships sail Lake Prile, teeming with fish and stretching from the coast to the city of Rosella and submerging the whole Grosseto area.

Originally, in fact, there was a large sea gulf surrounded Grosseto and that was gradually transformed over the centuries into a lagoon with marshes and cane thickets. The city began to expand about 935 after the devastation of Roselle by the Saracens and became civitas in 1138 when Innocent II transferred the Episcopal seat there. In the 11 th century it became the feud of the Aldobrandeschi family, then later fell under Sienese dominion and finally under the rule of Cosimo de1 Medici in 1559. Grosseto City Hall - Address: Piazza Duomo, 1 - 58100 Grosseto - ITALY Phone Number: (+39) 0564-488111; Fax: (+39) 0564-488286 Grosseto Localities - Alberese, Batignano, Braccagni, Istia d'Ombrone, Marina di Grosseto, Montepescali, Roselle, Santa Maria di Rispescia

What to taste What to taste:

• Traditional dishes are fettuccine with different accompaniments, mushroom soup, pheasant broth and above all, "Acquacotta", a soup with lightly fried onion, celery, tomato and chilli.
• The meats that figure predominantly are "scottiglia di cinghiale", a wild boar stew, while the speciality of the Island of Giglio is wild rabbit chasseur, cooked with tomato, spices and a little chilli.
• On the coast and in seaside localities popular dishes include fish soup, "mare e monti" preparations which mix products from the land and from the sea, "caldano", a soup of mixed fish, octopus, cuttlefish, tomato and bread.
• Bruschetta is also very common, giving you a chance to taste the excellent olive oil, cheese and cold cuts.
• Type of desserts are "cavallucci", a kind of biscuit from Massa Marittima, "castagnaccio", a tart made with chestnut flour, "pagnottella di Natale" typical of Porto Santi Stefano, "scarsella orbetellana", an Easter cake in the shape of a ring with a whole egg is wrapped up where the ends meet.  
• The wines are Vino Colli di Maremma, Binaco di Pitigliano, Morellino di Scansano, Ansonica Costa dell'Argentario, Ansonaco di Isola del Giglio and Bianco di Pitigliano.

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What to do What to do:

• Coastal lovers can choose between rocks, small bays or long beaches and dedicate themselves to water sports and sailing. The wonderful, colourful sea beds of the Monte Argentario Peninsula and the islands are ideal for scuba diving.
• Parco Naturalistico delle Biancane is particularly interesting as it gives one the chance to admire the extraordinary phenomenon of hot steam from close up that emerges from the ground and an environment of particular natural value. Observation towers and positions dedicated to birdwatching can be found in the Riserva Naturale Laguna di Orbetello and near Lake Burano, both environments populated by numerous bird species including cormorants, herons and flamingos.
• Golf fanatics can devote themselves to their favourite pastime in various settings surrounded by a beautiful natural scenery, from Punta Ala to Grosseto, from Saturnia to the Argentario Peninsula.

Places to visit Places to visit: Churches, Museums, Ruins, Piazzas, Fountains,

• The golden beaches of Giannella and Feniglia, the thick Mediterranean vegetation, the stunning sixteenth century fortifications and unique panoramas define the Argentario peninsula, making this an alluring tourist destination for a seaside holiday among cliffs, coves and scuba diving. In two little natural inlets located on opposite sides of the peninsula, lie Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole, two sophisticated and mundane villages that are also enchanting and rich in history.
• Traditional villages are still abundant in the area, like Scansano, homeland of the Morellino wine; Civitella Marittima with its narrow streets and small Renaissance buildings; Capalbio, the romantic Medieval village; Castiglione della Pescaia, fascinating tourist resort on the sea and Manciano with the neighbouring thermal spa complex of Saturnia.

Events Events:

• Traditional and folk events are frequent and include the Balestro del Girifalco with a costume parade in Massa Marittima (on the fourth Sunday of May and the second of August), the Palio Marinaro dell'Argentario with a historic parade on Ferragosto (the 15th of August, Italian bank holiday) in Porto Santo Stefano, the traditional Festa della Pina in Arcidosso on the first Sunday after Easter and the Palio Marinaro in Castiglione della Pescaia.
• Patronal feasts are of great importance, especially the feast of San Lorenzo in Grosseto, the feast of Sant'Erasmo in Porto Ercole, and the feast of San Cerbone in Massa Marittima which includes the participation of group in medieval costumes. Festivals and feasts devoted to typical produce are also common, the Gustatus food and wine review in Orbetello (the last weekend of October), the feast of the wild rabbit on the Island of Giglio (September), and the feast of the wild boar in Capalbio (September) for example.

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Massa Cararra

 

Massa Cararra

Massa Cararra Tuscany ItalyMassa Carrara - pop. 68,000 - The Province of Massa Carrara is situated in the northernmost part of Tuscany, in the centre of wonderful places such as the Golfo dei Poeti, the “Cinque Terre” and tuscan art cities. Here, the nature has created a perfect harmony between the land and the sea. The Apuan Alps, famous for its marble mountains, overlook the sea breaking on the sandy beach, which extends for kilometres.

The excellent geographical position and the exceptional variety of the territory make this part of Tuscany as a paradise, the right destination for any type of tourism.

The Lunigiana is the northernmost part of the province and it stretches beyond the Apuan Alps. This small plot of land – one among the richest of history and tradition – takes its name from Luni, an important centre during the Roman Age. Following the river Magra, crossing the medieval itineraries of the Via Francigena, it is possible to find the well-preserved signs of an ancient and evolved civilization.

The Province of Massa Carrara takes also is tourist importance from the Apuan Alps, a magnificent mountain chain which reminds, with its peaks and slopes, the morphology of the Alps in northern Italy. Fantastic mountains, which always, after long walks trough the paths and the fields, offers you a fantastic view of the sea. But the province is not only mountains and sea, here the tourist will find a variety of landscapes, different in each season. Carrara is at the heart of the worlds marble industry. The mines have supplied marble since Roman times.The scupltue Michelangelo used Carrara marble.

The many castles, that you will find during your trips, recall to the memory the battles made for the occupation of this small part of Tuscany, which was an independent Principality under the Cybo Malaspina family for many centuries, a noble dynasty which gave to Massa and Carrara an unique mark of renaissance and Baroque Art style.

The quiet Romanesque parishes in the plains and on the hills attract you with their medieval mysticism. You admire their ancient stone structures, which saw many believers stopping there during their walk to the north, to France, to England, to Spain and to all the Faith places along the well known Via Francigena (called also Francesca o Romea), which, today, represent a Pilgrimage Road to destinations as Santiago de Compostela or Reims or Canterbury. On this road, crossed by pilgrims, crowd and merchants in the past, were raised many villages, that today offer the opportunity to see many artworks, created by great masters from Lucca, Genua, Milan, Florence and from France.

Furthermore, our Province offers an uncontaminated nature to be experienced at first hand. The mild and sunny climate allows the tourists to enjoy the beaches in summer and also in winter. From the Roman age, the sea of our Province represented a landing place for travellers and traders, who, from Lunigiana, exported the fine hill wine, one among the valuable product which is possible to taste in our territory.

Among the typical products, you will find the popular Lardo di Colonnata, but, during your stay, you can also taste many other delicacies such as: Testaroli with pesto sauce, Chestnut honey, Panigacci, Mushrooms, Focaccette of Aulla, Torte d’erbi (Herb Quiche), Olive bread, Chestnut bread and so on. The ancient art of stone working, which has been active in the Ligurian-Apuan civilizations since the Roman age, when they were defeated by the Roman Army, at the beginning, was focused on the sandstone , the typical stone of the mysterious stele statues (stone idols dating back to 2000 years BC – t.n.).

But the real thing that attracted Romans and that attracts tourist nowadays, is a white and precious stone: the marble (The fascinating quarries, the art works bearing from marble, and the most suggesting and unique landscape of Europe).

What to taste What to taste:

• The food that figures predominantly are taglierini with beans, meat tordelli and lasagne intordellate are all typical of Massese cooking.
• Lard from Colonnata is an exceptional local product, matured for at least six months in Carrara-marble basins with many spices.
• Other specialities are the rice cake and the herb cake, with egg, cheese and wild vegetable stuffing.
• The Lunigiani "testaroli" are also famous, made with a sheet of thin pastry, cooked in a cast iron "test", then topped with pesto and pecorino. The most typical desert is "spongata", a puff pastry tart stuffed with jam and dried fruit.
• Wine production includes a wine named Candia.  

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What to do What to do:

• This mountainous terrain provides a great opportunity to go on nature trails and strolls as well as practising sport activities such as horse trekking (especially along streams and the Magra), excursions by mountain bike amongst the beautiful scenery and fishing in the numerous waterways.
• Not far from the marble basins, Marina di Carrara and other seaside destinations are perfect for a relaxing holiday on the beach, where it is also possible to practice water sports and sailing.

Places to visit Places to visit: Churches, Museums, Ruins, Piazzas, Fountains,

• Within the old town one finds the medieval part, made up of little, narrow, winding streets and the sixteenth century part, built by Cybo Malaspina, a lord of the city at that time. The Cathedral and the Palazzo Ducale of Cybo Malaspina (sixteenth - seventeenth century) are of particular interest.
• Carrara, known internationally as the city of marble, surrounded by the white frontline of the Apuane Alps where intense mining and stonework is carried out. As well as valuable monuments such as the Cathedral with its Romanesque-Gothic façade, the sixteenth century residence of Cybo Malaspina and the majestic Palazzo delle Logge, Carrara also offers the possibility of taking an interesting trip to learn more about marble by means of a visit to the Museo Civico del Marmo (marble museum) and artist's workshops in the city.
• Pontremoli is found in high Lunigiana and has a notable artistic heritage, from the magnificent Castello del Piagnaro, which is home to the Museo delle Statue Stele (Statue Menhir museum), the Cathedral and the village's characteristic alleys.

Events Events:

• The area proposes a varied calendar of events such as the Premio Bancarella in Pontremoli (July), the Premio Nazionale di Pittura on the theme of "Mare-Monti-Marmo" (sea-mountains-marble) and the "Mostra dell'artigianato del marmo e simposio internazionale di scultura", an artisan show of marble and sculpture in Carrara.
• In August, in the spectacular setting of the marble quarries, there is a historic reenactment of the "lizzatura", the ancient method by which miners transported the blocks of marble downhill into the valley. Among the festivals, the "Disfida tra gli arcieri di terra e di corte" in Fivizzano and the patronal feast of San Francesco a Massa are the most important.
• There are numerous other festivals devoted to typical products, including the lard fair in Colonnata, that of blueberries in Massa and the festivities of San Domenichino in Marina di Massa.

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Pisa

 

Pisa

Pisa Tuscany ItalyPisa - pop. 92,000 - Pisa sits on the banks of the Arno river approximately 10 km. from the Tyrrhenian Sea. The city is known for its famous monuments in Piazza del Duomo, with its Leaning Tower, Duomo, Baptistery and Camposanto.

There is a lot more to the Tuscan city of Pisa than its famous Leaning Tower, especially for art and architecture buffs. But the Tower itself – which is the campanile of Pisa Cathedral – is a magnificent example of Romanesque architecture, composed of band after band of harmonious blind arcading. And it is part of a beautiful architectural ensemble that spreads across the flat and green Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles).

Pisa has a population of about 90,000 and is located about 50 miles west of Florence on Italy's west coast. First settled before 1000 BC, it was a trading port under the Romans. By the 11th century, it had become one of Italy's most powerful maritime republics and in 1135 it defeated rival Amalfi to secure its weath and power for the next century. It was during this period that the monumental buildings were added to the landscape. But in 1284 its fleet was defeated by Genoa, initiating the city's decline. Florence took control of Pisa in 1406 and kept it until Italian unification in the 1860s.

Since the demise of its naval power, Pisa's main claim to fame has been its university, founded in 1343. Pisa is also the birthplace of the great astronomer Galileo (1564-1642), who dropped uneven weights off the Leaning Tower to learn about gravity. Follow a link below to learn more about the rich spiritual and architectural heritage of Pisa.

Provincia Pisa Official website Pisa

What to taste What to taste:

• Main foods include mushrooms, corn, truffles and chetnuts.
• Favourites are haricont bean soup, fish and clam soups.
• Meat favourites are pork liver and cold cuts such as sausages.
• Desserts include the "torta coi bischeri", made with pine nuts, chocolate, raisins and candied lemon.
• Local wines include Vin Santo del Chianti. Chianti Colli Pisani, Rosso di San Miniato and Trebbiano.

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What to do What to do:

• The thermal baths of San Giuliano Terme, Uliveto Terme and Casciana Terme, famous for the therapeutic qualities of their water.
• The countryside and green areas offer endless possibilities for excursions, trekking, trips on mountain bike or horseback. Routes in the Volterrano area are particularly interesting, amidst the magnificent scenery of the badlands.  

Places to visit Places to visit: Churches, Museums, Ruins, Piazzas, Fountains,

The Leaning Tower of Pisa found on the banks of the Arno with its precious architecture and the memories of its glorious past as a Maritime Republic.
• The white structures of the Cathedral and the Baptistery, both in Romanesque-Pisan style, the Camposanto Monumentale and the Bell Tower, known as the Leaning Tower, are defined against a green lawn.  

Events Events:

• The "luminaria" of San Ranieri, which takes place in Pisa in June
• Regata delle Repubbliche Marinare, held every four years.
• There are numerous festivals dedicated to local produce and feasts, including the feast of cherries in Lari (May-June) and the feast of pappardelle with truffles in San Miniato (October).  

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Pistoia

 

Pistoia

Pistoia Tuscany ItalyPistoia - pop. 268,503 - Pistoia can be a real adventure. Its past is reflected in the ancient stones on the roads and in the squares of the centre, in the colour of its architecture, in the wise words of its people and in the strong taste of its food, and visitors can explore a city away from the more crowded itineraries.

It is still possible to find Pistoia’s trade and craft shops or you can sample traditional food in cosy, characteristic surroundings. The city has various cultural events involving visitors with theatre shows, musicals, guided tours, art exhibitions and literary meetings, and there are plenty of events related to the local folklore.

You know for sure Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Volterra, San Gimignano, Pienza (all these places are from 30 minutes to 2 hours far from Pistoia), but other minor places like Monsummano Terme, with its spectacular natural caves and chocolate's festival, Pescia with its renowned flower market and the 18th century Villa Garzoni surrounded by a marvellous garden in Italian style, merit a visit.

Provincia Pistoia Official website Pistoia

What to taste What to taste:

• Common foods of the area are chestnuts, bread, coldcuts, olive oil and chocolate.
• The dishes readily eaten in the region are cabbage soup or Ribollita, pappa al pomodoro (tomato soup), black crostini, the panzanella (a bread soup); the vegetables (that give origin to delicious soups and delicious fried food); the legumes (the ones all'uccelletto and al fiasco are also an excellent basis for soups and minestroni).
• Desserts on chestnut flour (castagnaccio, necci, fritters) up to other delicacies (brigidini, cantucci, berlingozzi ecc.).
• Local area wine is Vin Santo.

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What to do What to do:

• The area of Pistoia can be summed up in the following categories, outdoor activities, the art scene, the food and music. Lay back a few days and discover serenity and peace with the wonders of art and music.
• The mountain of Pistoia offers winter sports. In this area their are the most beautiful and equipped ski resorts of the Tuscan Apennines, like Abetone and Doganaccia, renowned and frequented by ski enthusiasts. The entire area provides equipped shelters, located at the departure points of the lift installations and even at the mountain top, offering refreshment with relaxing and breathtaking views.

Places to visit Places to visit: Churches, Museums, Ruins, Piazzas, Fountains,

• Pistoia has medieval origins and was born on both banks of the river from which it has taken its name: on the right of Pescia the centre develops with the characteristic great, elongated Piazza and on the left the religious centre.
• Among the hills and mountains, as much as ten small medieval villages arise, built in pietra serena, which is still extracted and processed here. These villages called "castella" are: Pietrabuona, Medicina, Fibbialla, Aramo, Sorana, San Quirico, Castelvecchio, Stiappa, Pontito and Vellano. All the castles are connected by a smooth tarmac road and the Valleriana Trekking hiking tracks that allows one to visit the Svizzera Pesciatina in five stretches of 4 to 6-walking-hours per day each, offering the possibility of staying in the shelter "Uso di Sotto".

Events Events:

• Pistoia Festival (in Pistoia in July) offers many interesting events of music, cinema, literature and traditions during the entire month of July.
• Pistoia Blues Festival, one of the most important and well-known blues music events in the world. In July and August the "music itineraries - Festival of Acoustic Paths", an initiative promoted by the Department of Culture of the area since twenty-years ago, offers free concerts held in squares and in evocative ancient villages on the territory of Pistoia, involving both emerging as well as well-known artists.
• The Season of Chamber Music takes place (from January to June) and a Symphonic Orchestra Season (between October and March); in Quarrata the Border Land Music event takes place (in March), in Serravalle Pistioese, instead, the Serravalle Jazz festival takes place in last week of August.
• At Epiphany in Pistoia a representation of the old Befana flying from the Tower of Catilina to reach the children awaiting their sweets, has to stop due to a breakdown of her broom and finds shelter in the Cathedral’s bell tower. Then, she is saved by the firefighters who repair the broom allowing her to reach the piazza. The traditional Feast of S. Bartolomeo takes place in Pistoia on the 24th of August. It dates back to the 15th century when the custom to anoint the children on their forehead to protect them from the threats of spirits was introduced.

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Prato

 

Prato

Prato Tuscany ItalyPrato - pop. 174,000 - Prato has been one of Italy's most important textile manufacturing cities since the 13th century.

Prato is a small but thriving Tuscan city, with a beautiful historic centre and a vibrant cultural and economic life. Famous for its textile industry, the city has a population of 180,000 inhabitants, a growing percentage of whom are immigrants from mainland China, the Indian sub-continent, north and west Africa and elsewhere.

Prato has a rich historical and artistic patrimony, including a mid-13th century castle built by the Hohenstaufen Emperors, almost perfectly preserved medieval walls which enclose the ancient city centre, a Romanesque cum Gothic cathedral dedicated to Santo Stefano with an external pulpit by Donatello and Michelozzo, the church of Santa Maria delle Carceri by Giuliano da Sangallo, and the well preserved Palazzo Datini, the late 14th century home of the famous 'Merchant of Prato', Francesco Datini.

The city is also home to the prestigious Contemporary Art Centre 'Luigi Pecci' and to many theatres, including the highly acclaimed avant-garde Metastasio Theatre.Prato is well connected by train to Florence (30 mins), Bologna (1 hour), Pisa (1 ½ hours), Lucca (1 hour), Rome (2 hours), Venice and Milan (3 hours). 

What to taste What to taste:

• The speciality of Prato is sedano alla pratese (celery), mortadella (baloney) and the figs from Carmignano.
• Among the desserts, most recommendable are the biscuits of Prato, the mantovana, peaches, the amaretti from Carmignano, the Carmignanini, the Vernio zuccherini biscuits, and the sassi from Calvana.
• The wines in the rgion is Pinot Nero from Bagnolo.  

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What to do What to do:

• Prato is the ideal setting for an infinite number of eco tours enabling you to discover uncontaminated landscapes: walks, hiking trails, mountain bike or even horse-riding trails. Rivers and waterways give you the opportunity to canoe and fish in the area.

Places to visit Places to visit: Churches, Museums, Ruins, Piazzas, Fountains,

• The Emperor's castle makes a great impact. It is a massive white stone construction, with angular towers, built for Frederic II of Swabia in the 13th century.
• First-hand accounts and documentation on traditional textile production, especially of woollens, are gathered in the Textile museum, hosted in the former Via Santa Chiara factory. It takes visitors through the history of textile in Prato up to the city's important present-day international role.
• Artimino, which is a small village in Carmignano, is a fortified borough that guards the Romanesque pieve (medieval rural church) of St Leonard and the majestic Medicean Villa La Ferdinanda, designed by Buontalenti for the Medici. The magnificent structure, also known as "the villa with a hundred chimneys", is home to the Etruscan archaeological museum, which gathers together important remains found in the surroundings and in the nearby Etruscan necropolis in Prato Rosello.

Events Events:

• The International congress of comics and fantasy in Prato (January)
• There are also many religious festivals. The Ostensione della Sacra Cintola della Madonna e Corteggio Storico (a display of the precious relic and a historical parade) takes place in Prato, every 8th September, with flag and antique archery performances.
• Other important events are the Festival of St Steven in Prato (August), the Festival of St Michael in Carmignano with the Palio dei Ciuchi (a donkey race) in September. The so-called Corteggio Storico is held in Montemurlo on 2 August, while in Vernio, you can watch the historical recreation of the Polenta festival on the first Sunday of Lent.  

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Siena

 

Siena

Siena Tuscany ItalySiena - pop. 54,000 - Surrounded by olive groves and the vineyards of Chianti, Siena is one of the most beautiful cities of Tuscany. Set on three hills, the city is drawn together by winding alleyways and steep steps, while the Piazza del Campo stands at its heart, and the Duomo and St Maria della Scala serve as additional cultural landmarks. Famed for the "Palio", the annual historic horse-races that take place on 2 July and 16 August, it is also home to one of the oldest Universities in Europe, which ensures a vibrant Italian student atmosphere throughout the academic year. In addition to the bustling daily life of the streets and squares of the city, Siena offers many cultural events, concerts, cinema, theatre and a wide range of sporting activities.

Few geographical areas in the world can boast of the variety of environment that surrounds Siena. To the north, we have the richness of the Chianti landscape, woven with vines and olive-trees throughout the hills. Here also are beautiful towns like San Gimignano and Monteriggioni with old walls, winding streets and incredible views. South of Siena, the Arbia valley leads to the hill-top town of Montalcino, home to the famous Brunello wine. And the area La Crete stretches out, amazing visitors with its harsh rock formations and unique landscape. Westwards we head towards the coast, to captivitating coastline towns like Castiglione della Pescaia, and nature reserves like the area called Maremma. With such natural beauty within easy reach by car or public transport, Siena is a good place to base yourself for a Tuscan experience. The Chianti area, between Florence and Siena, is one of the most beautiful countrysides in Italy and a famous wine production area.

Siena is also the Cathedral and the extraordinary panorama from the Facciatone; the Sala del Pellegrinaio in Santa Maria della Scala, the Libreria Piccolomini and the prestigious Accademia Chigiana; the enormous Medicean fortress that on the inside, at the Enoteca Italiana, harbors the most precious wines of Siena, Tuscany and the peninsula; sweet-smelling Trattorias, sweet spices, the sounds of the artisans and spouting fountains; Fontebrande and the mystery of the Diana, a famous river underneath Siena; the alchemy geometry of the Piazza, suggestively neo-Gothic and cathartic.

Provincia Siena Official website Siena

What to taste What to taste:

• The Sienese cuisine is based on natural flavours and aromas, making abundant use of garlic and aromatic herbs like wild fennel and tarragon including the local oilve oil production in the area.
• Typical delicacies are "pici" (thick, handmade spaghetti), "ribollita" (a vegetable and bean soup) served with bruschetta bread, mixed roasts, stewed or grilled game, cacio pecorino, Val di Merse minestraccia (a bean and vegetable dish), mushrooms, Val d'Elsa tripe and Monticiano wild boar, cold cuts made with the Cinta Senese, the famed black pig with a white stripe, depicted in some famous paintings of the 15th century and of coarse the Chianina cow that is the biggest bovine in the world for dimensions.
• The local wine production includes 5 DOCGs: Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Classico, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the first wine to be assigned the DOCG certification. Moreover, the province of Siena produces three types of high quality extra-virgin oil: Chianti Classico DOP, Terre di Siena DOP and Toscano IGP. 

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What to do What to do:

• Siena offers infinite areas for outings on foot, mountain biking, horseriding and hiking in diverse settings: the clayey lands of the Crete, the numerous woods or the cultivated countryside.
• Ski enthusiasts will be able to try out the winter sport station at Mount Amiata, the most important one in the territory.
• You can find many thermal spa centres where you can spend relaxing, health-focused stays, in Bagni di San Filippo, Bagno Vignoni, Chianciano Terme, Rapolano Terme and San Casciano dei Bagni.  

Places to visit Places to visit: Churches, Museums, Ruins, Piazzas, Fountains,

• Piazza del Campo, one of the biggest medieval squares. It is shell-shaped and is the stage for the famous Corsa del Palio (Silk banner horserace). Here stand monuments of great value, such as the 13th-14th century Palazzo Pubblico (the town hall), a true jewel of Gothic art and home to the Civic Museum; the Piazza Chapel, upon which stands the bell tower, Torre del Mangia, and Jacopo della Quercia's marvellous Gaia Fountain (in actual fact, the Piazza holds a copy, while the remains of the original are preserved in the Museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala).
• One of the city's numerous art treasures is the Duomo (12th-14th century), one of the highest expressions of Romanesque-Gothic art, abounding in sculptures, paintings and works of architecture, also home to the Opera Metropolitana Museum, which showcases masterpieces by famous artists such as Duccio di Buoninsegna, Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Taddeo di Bartolo.

Events Events:

• Palio di Siena, one of the most popular and dearly awaited traditions of the Italian folklore. The various contrade (neighbourhood zones) of the city challenge each other in a joust of medieval origin, twice a year in Piazza del Campo, on 2 July and 16 August. The palio is preceded by an historical procession revoking the wealth and independence of the Republic of Siena. Originated from medieval jousts and games it has been taking place since the 16th century. In Piazza Grande, in Montepulciano, the Bruscello takes place: in this festival, a stage is decorated with a symbolic tree and period plays are performed telling love stories in traditional Tuscan style.
• In March, the San Giuseppe festival is held, where eight contrade compete for the Palio dei Somari (a donkey race) dressed in 17th century costumes.
• More folklore in perfect medieval style, still in Montepulciano and in the month of august, with the renowned combat of the Bravio delle Botti, during which the athletes representing the contrade compete by pushing heavy barrels weighing 80 kg.
• In Monticchiello, during the ten days on horseback between July and August the entire community participates in writing and producing a drama on old and new issues attached to the rural world. The sagra di San Giuseppe is held In Torrita di Siena, in March, during which representatives of the eight contrade compete for the Palio dei Somari. In Asciano, in the month of September, there is the Palio dei Ciuchi (a donkey race), again in medieval attire and representing each of the town's contrade.
• Worth a visit are also the medieval Barbarossa festival in San Quirico d'Orcia in June and the Sagra del Tordo (fair of the thrush) in Montalcino in October. The spectacular Giostra del Saracino (Saracino joust) is held in Sarteano on the feast of the assumption (15 August).

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• Food enthusiasts can follow food-tasting paths through vineyards, olive groves and small boroughs stopping off at farms and wine bars to taste typical products and excellent local wines.
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