Few other regions of Italy can boast an artistic history which is so
profound and deep-rooted in both the land and popular culture as that
. This is a land of astonishing artistic,
historical, cultural, monumental and urban variety. Besides the obvious
and indisputable beauty of spectacular cities like Florence,
Siena and Lucca
, there are as many lesser-known art and historical
'jewels' in Tuscany which you can read about further in the following
alternative travel itineraries.
is equally captivating for its well-preserved
landscapes, gently rolling hills, woodlands, vineyards, olive and cypress
trees, composing a harmonious and inspirational natural environment.
If you get the urge to explore Tuscany’s gorgeous light and beautiful
panoramas, take a drive or a bike ride down the road from Florence to
Fiesole, where age-old farms with fine architecture keep watch over
this land where the living is easy. And there’s surely a wine
cellar waiting there for you to sample one of the famous Tuscan wines
while munching on a bruschetta drizzled with olive oil.
Florence is the regional capital. Other important cities are Siena,
Pisa, Lucca, Grosseto, Arezzo.
exploring Tuscany villas
the Chiana valley
Of the localities which constellate La Val di Chiana
there are many which are worthy of note. Castiglion Fiorentino, with
roman origins, has conserved intact its medieval city walls, which are
dominated by the fortress of Cassero. The historical city centre is
entirely made up of impressive civil and holy buildings. In the 1500AD
town hall there is a splendid library and a museum with paintings and
tableau dating from 1200AD to 1500AD and valuable pieces of antique
jewellery. The imposing outline of Cortona’s Cyclopean masonry,
albeit with slight medieval modifications, can still be seen today.
However, the prevalent character of Cortona's buildings is medieval.
Due to Cortona's elevated position (approx 600m), every point in the
city offers magnificent views of all of La Val di Chiana. In the locality
of Calcinaio there is the delightful 1500AD temple of Santa Maria delle
Grazie. Lucignano. The town of Lucignano retains the original circular
town plan, which originated from the castle's foundations and developed
with streets inside the walls built in concentric circles. The buildings,
built between the 13th and 18th centuries, are nearly all perfectly
conserved and give the town a dignified look, further accentuated by
the solid form of the fortress, dating back to the 15th century. Monte
San Savino, despite probably being of roman origins, in the Middle Ages
town walls were built and a well-populated town grew within, turning
Monte San Savino into a type of fortress. This was the home land of
the great renaissance sculptor Andrea Contucci, known as Sansovino,
and of Pope Julius III.
the sienese Chianti region
Castellina in Chianti
, situated on a panoramic hill,
covered in vines, dominates the three valleys of Arbia, Pesa and Elsa.
The fortress, which dominates the town, hosts a museum with Etruscan
Radda in Chianti
, situated in the heart of the Chianti
, is surrounded by woods, vineyards, castles and ancient
churches. It still retains the original medieval city walls encircling
the town which grew around the 14th century church of San Niccolò
(Nicholas) and the older Palazzo Pretorio.
Hills cloaked in olive groves and vines border the ancient market town
of Gaiole in Chianti
. On the outskirts of Gaiole,
(about 2kms away), there is Vertine, a fortified village which dates
back to the 12th century and which has remained unchanged.
Driving for about 1km along a picturesque road which winds through vineyards,
you reach the Castello di Meleto
, a wonderful example
of a fortified estate. Dating back to the 12th century, the castle has
two circular towers, frescoed reception rooms, loggias, courtyards and
a small 1700AD theatre.
San Giusmè is a splendid fortified village, which dates back
to at least the 9th century and has kept, almost completely unblemished,
its medieval structure, walls and two ancient doors.
In the 14th century the Sienese
constructed a castle which was positioned on a hill dominating the Ombrone
and Malena valleys. At the end of the 18th century, Villa Chigi was
built on the ruins of this castle and was framed by a large park.
the parishes and castles of Lunigiana
is a privately owned castle is a
solid and majestic construction. It is situated at the edge of a medieval
village which is stretched along a ridge of hills and distinguishes
the surrounding landscape.
The Fortezza della Brunella
and the Natural History
museum of Lucignano stand in the locality of Aulla. The fortress (possibly
called Brunella because of the colour of the rock from which it was
constructed) is a commanding, square-shaped building.
Castello della Verrucola
(locality Fivizzano) with
its immense size, is a valuable example of medieval architecture. The
castle, constructed in 1300AD by Spinetta Malaspina il Grande, is divided
into different sections which are overlooked by a quadrangular keep.
Castello di Bastia
(locality Bastia) was built in a
strategic position in order to control the road leading to the Lagastrello
pass. The imposing structure takes a square form, with circular towers
along the sides and a centrally positioned keep.
Il Castello di Bagnone
which is characterized by its
solid square towers, was the main seat of the Florentine sovereignty
in the Val di Magra from the 15th century onwards.
Pieve di Sorano
(Locality Filattiera). This parish
church offers visitors the chance to catch sight of elements of 'romantic
Tuscany' and 'romantic Lombardy' fused together and exhibited in the
monumental and evocative apse.
Castello di Piagnaro
and the Stele Statue Museum of
Lunigiana (Locality Pontremoli) is situated at the summit of a small
village, is part of an intricate system of walls and towers originally
erected to defend the city.