Montaione, a natural terrace over Tuscany

The village of Montaione is a natural terrace over Tuscany, in particular the breathtaking Elsa Valley. The poetry of this spectacular scenery always manages to infuse a deep sense of peace with its undeniable beauty.

Walking around Montaione

Immersed in the heart of Tuscany, Montaione originally was protected by a strong town wall reinforced with eleven towers and was accessible only through two main doors which were destroyed during WWII. Despite these changes, the medieval layout of the oval-shaped castle with three parallel rows of streets, connected by narrow alleys all converging into the central square, can still be admired today.  A walk along the village’s streets disclose picturesque nooks and old stone houses, all infused with the atmosphere of bygone days.

The Church of San Regolo @sailko

In the main square you can admire the Church of San Regolo and its adjoining bell tower. Nearby the Palazzo Pretorio shows off its façade still bearing the old stone and glazed terracotta coat of arms dating back to the period of the podestà, medieval mayors. Today this building houses the Archaeological Museum.

Detail of Palazzo Pretorio’s façade @sailko

Surrounding the village are hectares of vineyards, olive groves and woodland with natural springs. Here they produce an excellent Chianti wine, a strong-flavoured extra virgin olive oil, fragrant white truffles and pick chestnuts.

Undoubtedly what makes your visit here memorable is the beautiful landscape of the Elsa Valley which you can admire since Montaione sits at a height of 342 metres. Its green rolling hills, its endless rows of vines and cypress trees neatly lined up, its olive groves and woods, confer together the undeniable triumph of nature in this little corner of paradise.

The view from Montaione @GeertSteyaert

Pubblicato in Chianti, Discovery, Tuscan towns and cities, Tuscany, Valdelsa, World Tourism | Contrassegnato | Lascia un commento

San Godenzo between the Mugello and Casentino valleys

If you’re looking for a location far from the unbearable heat of Florence in the summer months then San Godenzo is exactly what you are looking for. At 404 metres above sea level, this little town nestles on the side of the mountains between the Mugello and Casentino valleys surrounded by acres of woodland.

The Benedictine Abbey of San Gaudenzio @sailko

Here the Florentines choose to spend their summers and weekends in the same peace and tranquillity which attracted the hermit Godenzo in the 7th century. A beautiful Benedictine abbey was built in 1028 over the grave of the holy Godenzo. Inside you can admire the 1090-1100 capitals within the crypt and many works of arts of great interest such as the extraordinary mosaic of Giuseppe Cassioli. When the Germans razed the village in 1944, because it was on the Gothic Line, they spared the abbey in consideration of the Bavarian origins of Bishop Jacob who had it built.

National Park of the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, Campigna @flaviobianche

In the territory of San Godenzo, Castagno d’Andrea sits at the foot of Mount Falterona and is one of the gateways to the magnificent National Park of the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, Campigna. This park covers an area of about 368 square kilometres on the two sides of the Apennines between Romagna and Tuscany. Well worth a visit this park has a wide selection of flora and fauna, amongst these the Apennine wolves, various species of deer and the common buzzard, just to mention a few.

The National Park of the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, Campigna
Pubblicato in Mugello, Tuscan churches and cathedrals, Tuscan gardens and parks, Tuscan towns and cities, Tuscany, World Tourism | Contrassegnato , | Lascia un commento

The hillside villages of Versilia

Versilia is mainly renowned as a fashionable sea resort with long sandy beaches, glitzy cafés, designer-boutiques and a month-long Carnival, and yet dotting the hills at the foot of the Apuan Alps crowning the area there’s a variety of medieval villages.

Pieve di Santo Stefano, Camaiore, @Daniele Baroni

Boasting a rare combination of sceneries and landscapes – hills, valley, plain, mountains and coastline – Camaiore has an old town centre considered amongst one of the oldest of the province of Lucca. Set along the Via Francigena, the town has an incredibly beautiful Romanesque abbey, Badia di San Pietro, mentioned in documents dating back to 761. Nearby, in the hamlet of Pieve is another Romanesque gem, the 10th-century Pieve di Santo Stefano which houses an extraordinary baptismal font obtained from a sarcophagus of the 2nd-3rd century.

Casoli di Camaiore and its graffiti

Amongst the hamlets belonging to the municipality of Camaiore (a total of 24), Casoli is renowned for its graffiti. A walk along the steep, narrow streets is a journey back 50 years when the first drawings started to appear on the houses. Today the hamlet is an open-air museum with representations of both mythological and every-day scenes.

Monteggiori @petrevoinea

Also a hamlet of Camaiore, Monteggiori is the one that boasts a superb position with breathtaking views over Camaiore, Pietrasanta, the whole Versilian plain and its coastline. Outstanding!

Massaciuccoli Lake and its Roman remains

Further down the coast, the town of Massarosa is famous for its magnificent lake, Massaciuccoli, and surroundings. The territory of the lake is part of the protected natural area known as the Natural Park of Migliarino, San Rossore, Massaciuccoli, which extends along the coastal strip of Lucca and Pisa. Alongside the lake you can admire the remains of a Roman villa and a monumental thermal complex with beautiful mosaic floor, and many elegant villas, built between the 16th and 19th century, witnesses of the pomp and display of the area. Amongst these villas is the former-house, now museum, of the great Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini, who here spent most of his life from 1891 onwards.

Bargecchia @alexmartini

Up on the hills Bargecchia, a picturesque hamlet in the territory of Massarosa, is renowned for its bell-tower and its four bells because celebrated by Puccini at the end of the first act of his Tosca. The composer, in fact, admired their sound so much he decided to insert it during the duet between Tosca and Scarpia.

Inside the Chiesa di San Michele, Corsanico

Another nearby hamlet worthy of mention is that of Corsanico. This small village houses another jewel of the Versilian hills, the 12th-century Church of San Michele. The church preserves a monumental organ, built between 1602 and 1606  by the Venetian Vincenzo Colonna, initially intended for the Church of San Francesco in Lucca.

This mild corner of Tuscany certainly has much to offer the casual tourist.

Pubblicato in Apuan Alps, Discovery, Tuscan churches and cathedrals, Tuscan towns and cities, Tuscany, Versilia, Viareggio, World Tourism | Contrassegnato , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

Lucignano, one of Tuscany’s medieval pearls

The medieval village of Lucignano is set in the heart of the beautiful Valdichiana, strategically located between Arezzo and Siena. For over four centuries it was disputed both by the two cities as well as by Florence and Perugia, proving to be very precious.

Today it sits atop a hill, cosily hidden within its remarkably well-preserved walls which hide a series of concentric narrow streets fanning out to create a unique elliptical shape.

Church of St. Francis, Lucignano @GenniGianfranceschi

Within the walls of Lucignano you can admire beautifully conserved buildings, such as the 12th-century Palazzo Pretorio, the Gothic church of St. Francis and the 14th-century Sienese fortress, while outside the walls lies the sanctuary of the Madonna della Querce, attributed to Giorgio Vasari.

The Tree of Life, Museo Civico, Lucignano

Most noteworthy is the extraordinary Tree of Life preserved within the Town Museum. This exquisite masterpiece, also known as the Golden Tree, is a gilded and bejewelled tree surmounted by a crucified figure. Standing 2,60 m tall, this elaborate reliquary made for the Franciscan church was created by jewellers between 1350 and 1471.

Maggiolata, Lucignano @RosarioCalcagno

From April to December Lucignano hosts a vast array of events, such as the renowned Maggiolata held in May, when the town is flooded with scents and colours and floats entirely covered with flowers parade through the streets.

Maggiolata, Lucignano @MaggiolataLucignanese

Lucignano, certainly worth a visit.

Pubblicato in Arezzo, Festivals and feasts in Tuscany, Tuscan architecture, Tuscan churches and cathedrals, Tuscan towns and cities, Tuscany, Valdichiana, World Tourism | Contrassegnato | Lascia un commento

The Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Florence has an immense wealth of masterpieces and most of it is preserved within the Uffizi Gallery.

Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, 1485 ca. @Uffizi

The Uffizi Gallery has 90 rooms, situated on the first and second floors, housing some of the most relevant and famous sculptures and paintings in the world going from the Middle Ages to the Modern period. These include masterpieces by Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Beato Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, just to name a few.

Corridoio Laocoonte @Uffizi

The building was designed by Giorgio Vasari in the mid-16th century for Cosimo I de’ Medici to house the offices – uffizi – of the Florentine magistrates and built adjacent to the Piazza delle Signoria in the historic centre of Florence. The Uffizi was also intended to display the main art works of the family including jewels. When the Medici family died out, the last heiress, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, bequeathed their whole art collection to the city of Florence and the Uffizi became one of the first modern museums. The gallery, in fact, has been open to visitors by request since the 16th century and officially to the public since 1765.

Tondo Doni, Michelangelo, 1505-1506 @Uffizi

Today, the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence. With 4,391,895 visitors in 2019, it is also one of the most visited art museums in the world. We highly recommend you plan your visit in advance checking opening hours and days here and booking your visit, so as to skip the usually long lines, here. Take advantage of the combined tickets to visit other tourist attractions in Florence such as the Boboli Gardens, exhibitions at the Pitti Palace and much more.

Outside the Uffizi Gallery @FlawlessLife

Be forewarned, the collection is huge and the masterpieces on display are worth more than just a quick glance so calculate it can take from half a day to even a full day to visit the Uffizi depending on your love for art and its detail. Remember that no oversized bags are allowed in and must be left in the cloakroom, together with your photographic equipment since it is forbidden to take photos.

Pubblicato in Art in Florence, Culture in Tuscany, Florence, Masterpiece's of Tuscany, Museums in Tuscany, Tuscany | Contrassegnato | Lascia un commento