General information about Tuscany
The Tuscany provinces are Pistoia, Firenze, Arezzo, Grosseto,
Livorno, Lucca, Massa, Pisa, Prato.
This beutiful region stretches over the slope of the Apennines,
in front of the Tyrrhenian Sea with a mainly mountainous and
hilly landscape. There?s a flat area close to the sea, the Maremma.
In front of the coast there are the small enchanting islands
of the Tuscan archipelago.
An almost perfectly preserved medieval center (one of the largest
in Tuscany). Visit Piazza della Sala, Piazza del Duomo with
the Cathedral of S.Zeno which host a Renaissance masterpiece
by Verrocchio, the Baptistery, the Ceppo Hospital constructed
in 1277 and the frescoed Church of S.Bartolomeo in Pantano.
Rent suite Duomo in Pistoia
Santa Maria Novella - Begun in 1246 for Dominican friars, the
church was completed in 1360. The white and green marble Gothic-Romanesque
fa?de was completed by Leon Battista Alberti who designed the
upper part. Inside the church there are splendid masterpieces
including "The Trinity" by Masaccio, frescoes by Filippino Lippi
and Ghirlandaio in the Tornabuoni chapel, a Crucifix by Giotto
and a wooden Crucifix by Brunelleschi. Next to the church is
the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, where
perfumes, soaps and fragrances are made and sold.
Palazzo Strozzi - One of the finest expressions of Renaissance
Cathedral, Baptistery, Museo dell?Opera del Duomo - Santa Maria
del Fiore, the Gothic cathedral erected over the ancient basilica
of Santa Reparata, was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio who began
its construction in 1296. Brunelleschi completed it in 1436
with the elegant dome, the inside of which was entirely frescoed
by Vasari and Zuccari. The final phase in the construction of
the cathedral, that is the completion of the fa?de, dates from
the mid-19th century.
To the right of the cathedral rises the Bell Tower, or Campanile,
designed by Giotto in 1334. The square tower is covered with
red, green and white marble inlays, decorated with panels and
carvings. Opposite the Cathedral stands the green and white
marble Baptistery of San Giovanni (1128) with splendid bronze
doors, a masterpiece of Florentine Romanesque architecture.
The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo houses artworks from Santa Maria
del Fiore, the Baptistery and the Campanile, including sculptures
that had been made for the cathedral fa?de. The most important
works in the museum are by Michelangelo ("Piet?quot;), Donatello,
Arnolfo di Cambio, Luca della Robbia.
Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria - This is the most
important civil building in the city; construction, to plans
by Arnolfo di Cambio, was begun in 1299. It was the seat of
the Priori delle Arti, of the Signoria and the ducal residence;
The 14th century courtyard, with the fountain with the "putto",
a copy of Verrocchio's original, was later modified by Michelozzo.
Inside, it is worth seeing the Salone dei Cinquecento, the study
of Francesco I, the room of the Elements and the Sala dei Gigli.
The Loggia della Signoria or "dei Lanzi" overlooks the square;
here there are several important statues including "Perseus"
by Cellini and the "Rape of the Sabine Women" by Giambologna.
Uffizi Gallery, Vasari Corridor and Ponte Vecchio - The Uffizi
Gallery is one of the greatest museums in Italy and the world.
It was founded in 1581 by Francesco I de' Medici, who collected
numerous artworks in the building designed by Vasari. Today
the Uffizi contains masterpieces by Italian and foreign artists
from 13th to 18th century such as Cimabue, Giotto, Masaccio,
Beato Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo,
Piero della Francesca, Raphael, Caravaggio, along with Rubens,
Rembrandt, D?er, Goya and many others. The Vasari Corridor
that connects the Uffizi Gallery with the Pitti Palace hosts
a rich collection of self-portraits by past and present artists.
Built by Vasari in 1565, it passes above the Ponte Vecchio,
the oldest bridge in the city, with its many jewelry shops.
Gallery of the Accademia - This is one of the best known museums
in Florence, because it houses famous sculptures by Michelangelo,
including the "David". There are also many paintings, collected
by the Grand Duke Peter Leopold to help the young artists enrolled
in the Accademia d'Arte, which is still next door to the gallery.
Opificio delle Pietre Dure - The Opificio was founded by
Ferdinando de' Medici in 1588. It is an important center for
the restoration of inlays and mosaics, and it has a fine display
of inlays, studies and drawings.
Basilica of S.Croce and Museo dell?Opera di S.Croce
This Franciscan basilica was begun in 1295 to plans by Arnolfo
di Cambio. It contains countless artworks, including Giotto's
famous frescoes in the Peruzzi and Bardi chapels, and it is
universally famous as the final resting place of several great
Italians. The most important monuments include the tomb of Alfieri
by Canova, the tomb of Leonardo Bruni by Rossellino and the
tomb of Carlotta Bonaparte by Bartolini. The Museo dell'Opera
contains renowned artworks such as the "Crucifix" by Cimabue,
frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi and Andrea Orcagna and the graceful
Pazzi Chapel designed by Brunelleschi.
Brancacci Chapel - This chapel is
famous throughout the world for its frescoes by Masaccio, a
masterpiece of Renaissance painting; it is located in the 13th
century church of Santa Maria del Carmine. Masolino was commissioned
to do the frescoes and he began work in 1424 with the help of
Masaccio. When Masaccio left Florence, the frescoes were completed
after 1480 by Filippino Lippi.
Palzzo Pitti and Giardini di Boboli - This palace was commissioned
by Luca Pitti in 1448. The original plans, attributed to Brunelleschi,
called for a much smaller building than the one we see now:
it was enlarged in 1549 when ownership passed to the Medici
family. The beautiful courtyard by Ammannati dates from that
period. The Pitti Palace was enlarged and modified many times
over the centuries: it was the seat of the Lorraine dynasty
and, when Florence was capital of Italy, of the Court of Savoia.
Today it houses several museums and galleries the most important
of which is the Palatine Gallery, with masterpieces dating from
the 15th to 17th centuries, including paintings by Titian, Giorgione,
Raphael, and Rubens. Other museums are the Gallery of Modern
Art, the Silver Museum, the Costume Gallery, the Carriage Museum,
the Porcelain Museum, the Contini Bonacossi Collection, the
Royal Apartments and the Apartment of the Duchess of Aosta.
One of the most beautiful Italian gardens, the Giardini di Boboli,
extends on the Boboli hill between the Pitti Palace and Forte
Belvedere. It was designed by Tribolo in 1549 and then enhanced
by Ammanati and Buontalenti. The 16th century fortress, Forte
Belvedere, dominates the gardens and the entire city; it was
designed by Buontalenti for the Grand Duke Ferdinando I.
Hostels in Florence
Fiesole: This small town spreads over the hills 8km northeast
of Florence. The views of Florence are unmissable, as well as
the peace and silence you?ll get here. The central square of
Fiesole, Piazza Mino, lined with shaded cafes is named after
the fifteenth-century sculptor Mino da Fiesole. You may visit
the Duomo, the Museo Archeologico and the Museo Bandini, Sant'Alessandro
church, founded in the sixth century on the site of Etruscan
and Roman temples and the Gothic church of San Francesco.
Campo dei Miracoli - Leaning Tower, Duomo and Baptistery - The
Tower of Pisa is the bell tower of the Cathedral. Its construction
began in August of 1173 and continued (with two long interruptions)
for about two hundred years, in full fidelity to the original
project, whose architect is still uncertain. In the past it
was widely believed that the inclination of the Tower was part
of the project ever since its beginning, but now we know that
it is not so.
The Tower was designed to be "vertical" (and even if it did
not lean it would still be one of the most remarkable bell towers
in Europe), and started to incline during its construction.
Both because of its inclination, and its beauty, from 1173 up
to the present the Tower has been the object of very special
attention. During its construction efforts were made to halt
the incipient inclination through the use of special construction
devices; later columns and other damaged parts were substituted
in more than one occasion; today, interventions are being carried
out within the sub-soil in order to significantly reduce the
inclination and to make sure that Tower will have a long life.
In all this story it is possible to find a meaningful constant,
the "genetic code" of the Tower: its continuing interaction
with the soil on which it was built.
The Tower is situated behind the Duomo, which is considered
to be the most important expression of Pisan Romanesque. Its
construction was begun by Buscheto in 1064 and completed by
Rainaldo in the 12th century. Inside the five naves are collected
works of immeasurable value: paintings by Beccafumi, by Ghirlandaio,
by Andrea del Sarto and by Sodoma. The mosaic in the apse is
by Cimabue, the pulpit, a masterpiece of Italian Gothic art,
is by Giovanni Pisano, and the central altar is by Giambologna.
Finally, in front of the apse hangs Galileo's lamp, which was
used by the famous scientist to determine important laws of
physics. In front of the Duomo rises the impressive circular
Baptistery, with a grandiose dome 18 meters in diameter. Diotisalvi
began the construction in 1152 but it was completed only in
the 14th century.
Hostels in Pisa
One of Italy's most enchanting medieval cities, Sienese identity
is still defined by its 17 medieval contrade (neighborhoods),
each with its own church, museum, and symbol. Look for streetlights
painted in the contrada's colors, plaques displaying its symbol,
and statues embodying the spirit of the neighborhood. The various
contrade uphold ancient rivalries during the centuries-old Palio,
a twice-yearly horse race (held in July and August) around the
Piazza del Campo - This is one of the most famous piazzas in
the world, noted for the descending half-moon form which goes
from its upper side to its lower side. Twice a year the famous
Palio of Siena takes place here. It is dominated on its lower,
or western side, by the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall), a brilliant
example of Tuscan Gothic architecture built between the end
of the 1200?s and the beginning of the 1300?s in stone and terracotta.
It was enlarged with the construction of the Salon of the Grand
Council and the prisons. On the left side of the Palace is the
Torre del Mangia, 90 meters high. Its construction was directed
by Minuccio and Francesco di Rinaldo, in 1325. At its base is
the Chapel of the Piazza, built between the 1300?s and the 1400?s.
At the upper end of the piazza is the "Campanaria" (bell tower)
Cell, built entirely out of stone. From the top of the tower
one can enjoy a matchless view of the city and its surroundings.
On the higher side of the piazza, above the Palace, one finds
the Gaia Fountain, a rectangular basin built in 1419 by Jacopo
della Quercia. It owes its name to the happiness with which
the Sienese welcomed the arrival of water in the Piazza del
Duomo - a few minutes walk west of Piazza del Campo, Siena?s
Duomo, with its multicolour marbles fa?de, is beyond question
one of the finest gothic cathedrals in Italy. The interior with
its coffered and gilded dome and the inlaid marble floors are
striking. Among the numerous works of art contained here, the
most notable is The Votive Madonna by Guido da Siena (over the
altar), the wooden choral bench by Fra Giovanni da Verona (in
the apse) and the marble bergamot by Nicola Pisano in (in the
left transept). Then there are the works of Pinturicchio, Donatello,
and Neroccio in the Chapel of San Giovanni Battista, and the
Piccolomini Library in the first span of the nave on the left,
which is a collection of the library of Pius II.
Hostels in Siena
Abbazia di San Galgano: Between Siena and Massa Marittima, lie
the remains of this abbey, once an important monastery with
Gothic architecture. The abbey was destructed in the 13th century
and eventually used for the construction of a farm in the 19th
century. Now it is a really impressive site, as you can walk
inside the ruins with high brick and travertine walls but without
roof. The view you?ll get of the sky and the grass which act
as the floor of this overwhelming building creates a stunning
atmosphere ? not to be missed.
Crete Senesi: South of Siena, the distinctive landscape of the
Crete Senesi with the medieval town of Asciano and dominated
by the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore (famous for its library
with antique books).
Pienza: Visit the main square, Piazza Pio II, the Renaissance
Palazzo Piccolomini, the Palazzo Comunale, Corso Rossellino,
the Gothic Church of S.Francesco and the Cathedral, erected
Chianciano-Val di Chiana: The area is rich with thermal mineral
springs having curative power. Nearby there are numerous important
spas which form a unique hot spring centre: San Casciano dei
Bagni and Montepulciano, with Renaissance atmosphere in its
streets and squares.
The biggest and most important world centre for the excavation
, working and commerce of marble, is situated at the foot of
the Apuan Alps, nestled in the middle of green hills. It has
a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral, the Malaspina building which
houses the town's world-famous Fine Arts Academy and several
17th century buildings looking onto the central Piazza Alberica.
To the north, amongst the Apuan hills, a 16th century dominion
of the Malaspina family and dominated by its beautiful castle.The
town is rich in valuable monuments: the Palazzo Ducale, Piazza
Aranci, the cathedral and the gateways to the old walled city.
Marina di Carrara, Marina di Massa, Ronchi and Cinquale, Montignoso
are all atractive beach resorts which are suitable for family
In the old town centre you may visit the castle of the Emperor,
the only evidence of Swabian architecture in central -northern
Italy, the Cathedral, Palazzo Pretorio, the Basilica of S. Maria
delle Carceri, the Churches of S. Francesco and S. Domenico,
which host the works of great artists as Agnolo Gaddi, Paolo
Uccello, Filippo and Filippino Lippi, Donatello and other famous
artists of the 13th century and of the Renaissance. The Museum
of Wall Painting, the Museum of Opera del Duomo and the Gallery
of the Alberti house art collections including works of art
of XIX century. In the Museum of Cloth you can see samples from
the 5th century up to the present day. The eastern part of town
with its modern buildings and the Centre of Contemporary Art
"Luigi Pecci" offer an interesting view of Avant-garde art.
The Renaissance Walls, the most significant monument of the
city, form an intact circle of about 4 km in length, with a
series of ramparts, an imposing complex of defensive works,
ditches, gun outposts, barriers and large underground chambers,
they lost their military value and were transformed into a beautiful
Duomo of San Martino: opening onto
the piazza of the same name, the Duomo is surrounded by beautiful
buildings from various periods. The fa?de, designed by the
Lombard master Guidetto da Como in 1204, is one of the most
significant examples of Pisan/Lucchesan Romanesque. It is in
white limestone and presents three levels of loggias, supported
by richly decorated columns in polychrome marble with reliefs
and intarsia (inlays). In the side chapels of the interior,
there are many works of art, including paintings by Ghirlandaio,
Tintoretto, Zuccari, and Fra?Bartolomeo, sculptures by Civitale,
and the sarcophagus of Ilaria del Carretto, a masterpiece by
Iacopo della Quercia (1408).Other attractions are the Churches
of S.Frediano, with its colourful mosaics, and S.Michele in
San Gimignano: One of the best-preserved Medieval towns in Italy,
it served as an important relay point for pilgrims on the Via
Francigena to and from Rome. The patrician families, who controlled
the city, built 72 tower-houses (up to 50m high) as symbols
of their wealth and power. Only 14 have survived but San Gimignano
has retained its feudal atmosphere and appearance. The city
also contains masterpieces of 14th and 15th-century Italian
Known throughout the world, this famous area lies between two
important cities, Florence and Siena and extends from the Arno
basin to that of the Ombrone. It has always been a wine-producing
area ? in fact there is evidence of viticultural activity from
Etruscan times on. Worth visiting both for the unmatched beauty
of its landscape and for the many villages, castles and farms
dotted around the area. Don?t miss Impruneta, where the famous
cotto comes from, Greve in Chianti, Volpaia, Gaiole in Chianti,
Castellina in Chianti, Radda in Chianti (headquarter of the
Consorzio del Chianti Gallo Nero), Castello di Brolio (one of
the largest wine estates).
An important centre for the production of gold jewellery. Within
the old town lies the Duomo, decorated with 16th-century stained
glass windows, and the Basilica di San Francesco, with a cycle
of frescoes by Piero della Francesca. The Piazza Grande is a
wonderful Medieval square, famous for its antiques market and
overlooked by several impressive historic buildings, as the
church of Santa Maria della Pieve and the Loggiato del Vasari,
the home Vasari built for himself in 1540.
Cortona: A town the colour of the sandstone from which it is
largely carved, clustered on steep slopes once enclosed by vast
Etruscan walls, at the edge of the plain of Val di Chiana. The
medieval past survives here, in the atmosphere and in the buildings.
This is the name of the area in the province of Grosseto, one
of the least populated areas in Italy which hosts the Parco
Naturale dell?Uccellina. Cities on the coast at Punta Ala, Cala
Martina and, of course, Castiglione della Pescaia, (with the
castle Rocca Aragonese) are ideal for spending your holiday.
For hiking, the Monte d?Alma or Poggio Ballone are recommended.
In small villages like Buriano, Scarlino or Gavorrano you may
still feel the atmosphere of ancient times. The medieval town
of Massa Marittima, developed as a mining settlement and hosts
the Museo della Miniera. Follonica is a lively summer tourist
resort with very active nightlife and many bathing establishments.
Close to the lagoon of Orbetello, but in the inland, lie the
small towns of Capalbio and Saturnia (famous for its hot sulphurous
thermal springs). In Gorello, nearby, you can take a bath, free
of charge, without having to enter the Terme di Saturnia establishment.
Other interesting towns are the Etruscan Vetulonia, Pitigliano
(built on a rock), Manciano and Vulci. Not to miss, a visit
to the promontory of the Argentario, with beautiful landscape,
rich vegetation and the exclusive summer resorts of Porto Ercole
and Porto Santo Stefano.
LIVORNO - PIOMBINO
The coastline between these two cities is called Costa degli
Etruschi. In fact, in ancient times the Etruscans exploited
the many resources, both mineral and agricultural of this area.
Now tourism developed mainly in towns like Castiglioncello (the
most known summer resort), Cecina, Bibbona, San Vincenzo, Vada
and Castagneto Carducci all with equipped beaches. In Populonia
you may visit the Etruscan Museum and some well-preserved Etruscan
Its sandy beaches and ragged crags make it the isle for everyone.
Portoferraio is Elba's capital and largest city: you can explore
the two Medici fortresses, the Forte Falcone and the Forte Stella,
visit the Villa dei Mulini where Napoleon lived in exile, and
the churches Santissimo Sacramento and Chiesa della Misericordia.
South of Portoferraio lies the Villa San Martino, also home