Tuscany region

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 of Tuscany. 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 many lesser-known art and historical 'jewels' in Tuscany. Tuscany is equally captivating for its well-preserved landscapes, gently rolling hills, woodlands, vineyards, olive and cypress trees, composing an harmonious and inspirational natural environment.

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To see

CORTONA AREA - 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 center 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.

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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.

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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 exhibits. Radda in Chianti, situated in the heart of the Chianti region, 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.

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