Tag Archives: Tuscany

Florence International Airport

Firenze Amerigo Vespucci international Airport

View on runway at Florence International Airport Amerigo VespucciKnown to locals as “Peretola”, Amerigo Vespucci International Airport (IATA: FLR)  is close to Florence with good connections to the city center by taxi or bus. In 2001 Amerigo Vespucci International Airport was among the first European airports to obtain UNI EN ISO 9001/2000 certification for the quality of its services.
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Outlet Shopping in Tuscany

Outlet shopping Tuscany around Florence

Designer bag Chanel purse. Outlet shopping in TuscanyTuscany is host to a  couple of very nice, high-end, fashion outlets. Most of the factory fashion outlets are within easy reach of Florence and offer long opening hours. Outlet shopping is for many tourists in Tuscany something they do while on holiday.

Famous brands like Prada, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Miu Miu, Tods and many others offer their products with 30 – 70% discount. The huge discounts are mostly offered on last seasons collections but also current collections can be bought with a bit of a discount at these outlet shopping centers in Tuscany.
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Montepulciano in Tuscany

Location of Montepulciano

One of the most beautiful hilltowns in Tuscany, MontepulcianoMontepulciano, known as one of the most attractive hilltowns in Tuscany, is located in the Val di Chiana and within easy reach of the Val d’Orcia.

Montepulciano is built on a limestone ridge of Monte Poliziano in the province of Siena in southern Tuscany with an elevation of 605 m.
The nearest bigger town is Pienza, located at about 13 km distance, Siena is 70 km away and Florence even 134 km.
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Pisa International Airport

Pisa International Airport Train stationGalileo Galilei Airport (IATA: PSA, ICAO: LIRP) is an airport located in Pisa, Italy. It is one of the two main airports in Tuscany, together with Peretola Airport in Florence. It is named after Galileo Galilei, the famous scientist and native of Pisa. It is located in the San Giusto neighbourhood, less than 2 km from the central train station, relatively close to the city centre.
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Chianti and Tuscan Wine Tasting

Experience Chianti and Super Tuscans at a wine tasting

Grapes ready to become Chianti wineTuscany is famous for its wines and not without reason. The earliest documentation of a “Chianti wine” dates back to the 13th century when viticulture was known to flourish in the “Chianti Mountains” around Florence. Not only the high quality wine and the fame of the Chianti make Tuscany so attractive to wine lovers from all over the world. The hospitaly of the wine makers and their great knowledge of their vino, have an enormous added value.

Many of the wine estates in Tuscany offer (free)tours around their vineyards and are happy to tell you about the process of wine making and let you taste the various wines. We are happy to offer you a list of small, often family-run, estates that offer these tours and tastings. The list is courtesy of La Vera Toscana

The following estates offer a wine tasting on site:

  • Agriturismo Le Fonti a San Giorgio [with online booking form]
  • Agriturismo Le Gret
  • Borgo Stomennano
  • Castello del Trebbio [with online booking form]
  • Castello di Vicarello [with online booking form]
  • Castello Sonnino [with online booking form]
  • Fattoria Casa Sola [with online booking form]
  • Fattoria di Corsignano [with online booking form]
  • Fattoria la Loggia
  • Fattoria Torre del Castellano [with online booking form]
  • Fattoria Tregole [with online booking form]
  • Villa Cicolina [with online booking form]
  • Chianti grapes wine chianti

    Pisa in Tuscany

    Pisa: So much more than the leaning tower

    The leaning tower of Pisa TuscanyPisa first belonged to the Longobard kingdom and later to the Carolingian empire. Already an important naval base in the Roman era, from the 11th century Pisa intensified its Mediterranean trade, with numerous victories of its fleet over Muslim cities and ships.

    The Mediaeval Era coincided with the height of its economic, political and artistic growth, to which the urban planning of the old centre bears witness by its many religious and civic buildings, its squares, its typical narrow alleys that run perpendicular to the River Arno, the great trade route that for centuries represented the economic heart of the city.

    The city walls, whose construction began around 1154-1155, were completed in the mid-14th century and today represent an important part of the architectural heritage.

    In 1406 Pisa was conquered for the first time by Florence, thus beginning a long period of profound crisis that ended only with the political ascent of the Medici nobles. From the second half of the 16th century there was a recovery characterized by the development of the University, founded on the orders of Lorenzo II Magnifico at the end of the 15th century.
    Cosimo I de’ Medici and his successors renovated the aspect of the squares and churches, rendering Pisa the second capital of Tuscany, until its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
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    San Gimignano in Tuscany

    The long history of San Gimignano

    San Gimignano Tuscany Piazza CisternaSan Gimignano was founded as a small village in the 3rd century BC by the Etruscans. Historical records begin in the 10th century, when it adopted the name of the bishop Saint Geminianus, who had defended it from Attila’s Huns.

    In the Middle Ages and Renaissance era, it was a stopping point for Catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome and the Vatican, as it sits on the medieval Via Francigena. The city’s development also was improved by the trade of agricultural products from the fertile neighbouring hills.

    In 1199, during the period of its highest splendour, the city made itself independent from the bishops of Volterra. Divisions between Guelphs and Ghibellines troubled the inner life of the commune, which nonetheless, still managed to embellish itself with artworks and architectures.

    Saint Fina, known also as Seraphina and Serafina, was a thirteenth century Italian saint born in San Gimignano during 1238. Since Saint Fina died on March 12, 1253 her feast day became March 12. Her major shrine is in San Gimignano and the house said to be her home still stands in the town.

    On May 8, 1300, San Gimignano hosted Dante Alighieri in his role of ambassador of the Guelph League in Tuscany.

    The city flourished until 1348, when the plague that affected all of Europe, compelled it to submit to Florence. San Gimignano became a secondary centre until the nineteenth century, when its status as a touristic and artistic resort began to be recognized.

    Main sights

    View of 2 medieval towers in San Gimignano TuscanyWhile in other cities, such as Bologna or Florence, most or all of their towers have been brought down due to wars, catastrophes, or urban renewal, San Gimignano has managed to conserve fourteen towers of varying height which have become its international symbol.
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    Hotel Agriturismo Borgo Scopeto Relais near Siena

    Borgo Scopeto Relais Siena – 4-star hotel

    Borgo Scopeto Relais  4-star hotel in Siena TuscanyThe Borgo Scopeto Relais is surrounded by olive groves and vineyards with a spectacular view over Siena and is located in Castelnuovo Berardenga. This elegant hotel, close to the ancient walls, is the ideal getaway.

    This charming hotel is housed in a recently restored 13th century hamlet. Its guest rooms maintain the ancient charm of the building and combine this with all modern conveniences.

    It is located in the heart of the Chianti area and from here you can visit some typical vineyards for wine tastings, go horse riding, or visit Siena and the smaller, picturesque Chianti villages.

    The hotel features a restaurant specialising in high quality typical Tuscan food. You can admire the marvellous view over the city of Siena as you dine on the restaurant terrace. During the day, enjoy the hotel’s 2 outdoor swimming pools and the surrounding greenery.

    Great rooms at Borgo Scopeto RelaisHotel Rooms: 58.

    Customer review score of 9.6 for this hotel.

    Prices for a deluxe double room for around €250 per night.

    Book a room at Borgo Scopeto Relais in Siena Tuscany

    Florence in Tuscany

    Florence: Renaissance capital of the world

    The Duomo in Florence by Brunelleschi in Florence TuscanyBuild along the Arno River in a natural basin surrounded by stunning hills. Florence, or Firenze as it’s called in Italian, is THE city of the Renaissance, of Italian culture and art. The most famous places in Florence… The Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Piazzale Michelangelo, but also many other gems, attract millions of visitors from all over the world every year.

    As mentioned earlier, Florence truly is the Renaissance capital of the world, with his famous sons like Leonardo, Dante, Machiavelli and Michelangelo. The world-famous Duomo with Brunelleschi’s cupola and the marble clad baptistery are simply breath-taking, but not all the monuments are like this. A lot of streets of the historic town centre are often narrow and dark and still breathing that medieval feeling. The palaces are often robust and intimidating, but then you find yourself wander onto one the amazing squares in Florence: wonderful Mediterranean places where you will like spending hours sitting down, having a few beers and just watching people passing by.

    A view at the bridges crossing the Arno in Florence from one of the viewpoints surrounding the cityTo get a great overview of Florence, you have plenty of choices: climb the “Cupolone” of the Duomo or the Giotto Tower, head for Piazzale Michelangelo in Oltrarno (South or literally “other” side of river Arno) or go a bit further, up to the church of San Miniato.

    Recommended things to do in Florence

    If you really want to get a taste of the town, it’s best to travel on foot with a city map in your hand and just take your time. For a more in depth look at the city and background information on the historic wealth of Florence we can only advise you to book a guided tour or even take an entry class in art history for 3 days including visits to the Uffizi, important churches and some Medici-villas. The best place to do this is at arthistoryflorence.com. A professor in art history will tell you all about the famous Medici-family, important paintings and buildings in Florence. Also highly recommended is the guided tour of the Medici gardens

    Recommended Hotels in Florence

    Hotel Price Range User Score
    *** Hotel Rosso 23 € 117 per night per room 9,3
    **** Grand Hotel Baglioni € 261 per night per room 8,1
    **** Kraft Hotel Florence € 130 per room per night 8,8
    Search all 375 hotels in Florence

    Getting to Florence

    Florence has it’s own airport, Amerigo Vespucci International Airport (IATA: FLR). The airport is pretty close to the town centre so you won’t loose much time there. With a bus or taxi it takes about 15 minutes to get to the centre of Florence.

    Modern high-speed Eurostar Italia trains from Milano to Rome or Napels stop right in the town centre at Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station. There are also overnight trains from Paris and some German cities like Munich. These will get you in Florence in the morning and you’ll have the whole day ahead of you exploring this wonderfull city.

    Driving your car to Florence is not really recommended. It can be quite expensive to park your car for the whole day and on some days it’s not even allowed to drive in to the city centre due to possible smog in the summer. Best place to park is under the central train station Santa Maria Novella or at the other side of the Arno in Oltrarno.

    Getting around in Florence

    By Bus
    Visit Google Transit for the updated timetable of Florence town

    You can also take a look at the following bus companies that operate in and around Florence

    ATAF for Florence town
    FLORENTIA BUS for Mugello, Valdisieve and Valdarno
    LAZZI for Lucca, Pistoia, Empoli
    SITA For the Chianti area or Val di Pesa
    Florence to Siena by bus or Siena to Florence by bus every hour, departure near the Santa Maria Novella train station.

    Pictures of Florence

    A small collection of images of the beauty of Florence can be found on the page Pictures of Florence

    Cortona in Tuscany

    La Vita é Bella in Cortona

    City of Cortona, Tuscany by nightFrom a high Tuscan hill, fifty miles from Florence between Arezzo and Perugia, rises the equally ancient and nobile city of Cortona. The history of Cortono, the city that has became famous among millions due to “La Vita e Bella” (Life is Beautiful) by Roberto Benigni, dates back to Etruscan times.

    Once you’re inside this beautiful town you get some magnificent panoramas to every point of the compass including views of Lake Trasimeno.

    Aerial view of city of Cortona in TuscanyThe best way to discover Cortona is on foot as the town is pretty small and parking or driving is close to impossible. The narrow lanes and alleys winding up and down the slopes within Cortona can be confusing; it’s a good idea to get a street plan before you start exploring this inviting town.The town is small enough to make it your destination for a day-trip including a nice glass of wine and fine meal in one of the small bars or restaurants on the charming squares.

    Outside the city walls parking areas, some even free, are available.

    Under the Tuscan Sun

    Under the Tuscan Sun in Cortona Umbria ItalyOne of the best-selling books about Italy in recent years, Under the Tuscan Sun is set in Cortona, and is a new tourist attraction for the town. There is also a film with the same title that is loosely based on the book by Frances Mayes.

    To give you an idea about the book, we’ll provide you with the details as printed on the jacket of the book:

    UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN is one woman’s enchanting account of her love affair with Italy and the home that changes her life.

    Frances Mayes – widely published poet, gourmet cook and travel writer – opens the door on a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. She finds faded frescoes beneath the whitewash in the dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles – and even a wayward scorpion under her pillow. And from her traditional kitchen and simple garden she creates dozens of delicious seasonal recipes, all included n this book.

    In the vibrant local markets and neighboring hill towns, the author explores the nuances of the Italian landscape, history and cuisine. Each adventure yields delightful surprises – the perfect panettone, an unforgettable wine, or painted Etruscan tombs.

    Frances Mayes’s sensuous memoir takes you into the heart of Italy and tells of a renewal, not only of a house, but also of the spirit.
    (© Chronicle Books)