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Distance from main cities of art

FLORENCE:km 183
SIENA:km 117
LUCCA:km 139
VOLTERRA: km 95
ROME: km 236
CAPALBIO: km 110

VOLTERRA
The stone village

This is a medieval style village where you can still breathe the atmosphere of an ancient hamlet, thanks to centuries of isolation that has limited industrial development. Volterra is enclosed within its thirteenth-century walls and surrounds the visitor with beautiful works of art. The ancestors of the citizens of Volterra were the Etruscans, of which evidence is still tangible in the everyday objects, jewellery and urns that tell us of their history. In the splendid Guarnacci museum, one of the oldest public museums in Europe, built in 1761 thanks to the rich donation of the noble abbot Mario Guarnacci, you can admire a remarkable archaeological collection, gathered over years of research and purchasing.

The historical tradition of Volterra combines with the beauty of nature which, thanks to its morphology made up of cliffs and gullies and the colourful vegetation and wildlife, offers a spectacularly rich natural heritage. Volterra is a village of stone: the roads, towers and walls are all built from stone, and its flagship is alabaster. The Etruscans considered it as the stone of the Gods and used it to build funeral urns and sarcophagi. More than two millennia have passed since the Etruscan age, but alabaster continues to be manufactured in Volterra and, along with the workshops of the old part of the village, it is a hallmark of village culture and history. And nor will gourmets be disappointed by the great gastronomic tradition of Volterra, which includes the Volterra soup, the pappardelle pasta with hare and wild boar and truly excellent truffles, all seasoned with a special olive oil and enriched with fine wines.

 

SAN GIMIGNANO
A towered village

Its name comes from the Holy Bishop of Modena who, as legend tells, saved the village from the barbarian hordes in the tenth century. The village underwent great development during the Middle Ages thanks to the Via Francigena road which at that time crossed the village bringing wealth and prosperity and enabling the birth of works of art that still today adorn churches and convents. San Gimignano is famous for its medieval towers, which have earned the village its nickname of "the Manhattan of the Middle Ages." Originally numbering 72, today 16 remain. These are "tower-houses", that is to say houses of the old mercantile and financial aristocracy. The oldest is the "Torre Rognosa" (51 metres high), while the highest is the "Torre Grossa", also known as "Torre del Podestà" (54 metres high).

A visitor strolling through the ancient streets of San Gimignano can discover unexpected gems of art and at the same time delight his palate with typical local products, including saffron and Vernaccia wine. The Vernaccia di San Gimignano received the designation of origin as first Italian wine in 1966. It was also mentioned by Dante in his Canto XXIV of Purgatory; today it is known and appreciated throughout the world. It has a very narrow production area that coincides with the territory of the municipality of San Gimignano. Saffron was intensively cultivated in the Middle Ages as a valuable product and made the fortune of many skilled tradesmen. Still today it is cultivated using natural methods without the use of chemicals at any stage of the production cycle, from harvesting to drying.

 

MONTALCINO
The home of Brunello wine

The village is perched on a hill of 567 metres above the sea level and from its summit the fourteenth-century fortress rules, an imposing building that dominates the surrounding countryside. In Montalcino you can breathe clean, unpolluted air, far from the crowded highways. The close tie between the people and its land is seen in the most valuable product of this area: wine.
The village centre is a maze of narrow streets where artisan shops, small cafés alternate with specialty stores, selling products such as honey, local biscuits called ossi di morto (the "bones of the dead") and, of course, the very famous Brunello wine. Art, culture and cuisine combine to offer the traveller a complete visit: the town hall, the Bishop's Palace with its diocesan, civic and archaeological heritage museums, numerous churches and the sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso are just some examples.
A short distance from town, you simply have to stop and visit the Romanesque Abbey of S. Antimo, founded by Charlemagne in 781; a temple surrounded by a mystic atmosphere and timeless legacy of an ancient age.

 

CAPALBIO AND THE TAROT GARDEN

A road which winds through the hills covered by lush Mediterranean vegetation leads to Capalbio, a municipality in the extreme south of Tuscany. It is sometimes referred to as "little Athens" for the historical and artistic importance achieved during the Renaissance. Capalbio is an ancient castle where still today you can admire the stands with openings and the small houses with mullioned stone windows which characterized the architecture of the past. The 15th century walls preserve the coats of arms and the plates of the seventeenth century Medici period. Moreover, it is surrounded by a hilly terrain with olive and mastic trees, where foxes and other predators live.

Near the hamlet of Capalbio, in Garavicchio, is the Tarot Garden by Niki de Saint Phalle, a park created by the artistic imagination of the world-renowned sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle. Among centuries-old olive trees you can discover huge sculptures, standing between 12 and 15 feet high, depicting the 22 major arcana of the tarots The park is fully inserted into the natural environment as an open-air museum. The sculptures are made of iron rods shaped by brute strength and covered with beautiful mosaics in fine glass and ceramics. Works began in 1979 under the influence of Guell park by Gaudi in Barcelona. Later, several artists contributed with their works to give us this entire Eden populated by magicians, priestesses, dragons, hermits, emperors, fools, towers and fountains.

 

LUCCA
The city of 100 churches

Lucca is one of the main Italian cities of art. Its city wall dating back to the 15th - 17th century is well-known, stretching out 4,223 metres long, and is the best preserved in Europe. In the second half of the 1800s the wall was transformed into a pleasant pedestrian promenade. It was never used for defensive purposes but as an avenue to bypass traffic around the city.
In the old town, which is perfectly preserved, you can admire fine architecture, including a great many medieval churches, consecrated and otherwise, towers, bell towers and Renaissance palaces. One particularly charming space is Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, built on the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheatre. The religious heart of the city is Piazza San Martino with the imposing cathedral by the same name.
Of the towers, Torre Guinigi is a very representative monument for Lucca and is worth a visit. Its main feature is the presence of some holm oaks on the top, a symbol of rebirth.

In Lucca, you then have to taste the typical sweet, the "Buccellato", known to the ancient Romans as a round loaf of bread or a crown (buccellatum). It is a simple sweet made from bread stuffed with raisins and aniseed.

 

SIENA
The city of the famous Palio

A visit to the beautiful city of Siena is one you will not forget: it is recognized as a World Heritage Site for its historic centre, a jewel of civil and religious architecture, and is famous worldwide for its Palio. This is an ancient tradition that recurs twice a year transforming Piazza del Campo in the kingdom of jockeys and horses ready to compete to defend the colours of their Contrada (area of the city); memories of medieval history, of marches, ladies, knights, soldiers, prelates and the proletarian who once sided for their Contrada, as people in Siena still do.
Founded as a Roman colony, it was the centre of important trade routes that led to the Eternal City and became a prosperous medieval town. Siena, Ghibelline city, fought many battles against the opposing party, the Guelphs of Florence.
The city coat of arms is a shield white at the top and black at the bottom, adorned by the image of a she-wolf suckling the legendary founders, Senio and Ascanio, sons of Remo.
The Piazza del Campo, the Torre del Mangia, the Fonte Gaia and the Cathedral are just some of the most famous wonders of this city, where in every corner, between the flags and the colours of the Contrada, you can discover historic signs while tasting typical treats such as panforte or ricciarelli.

 

FLORENCE
The cradle of the Renaissance

The city of art par excellence: Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany under the Medici and Lorena families, the capital of Italy from 1865 to 1870, the cradle of architecture, birthplace of the Renaissance. Florence, home to artists, architects, sculptors and painters: Michelangelo, Brunelleschi and Giotto honoured it with their masterpieces, earning it its international fame. Florence is also famous for its handicrafts, its leather and straw products and for its goldsmiths and silversmiths.

 

ROME
The heart of civilization

Known as the "eternal city", it has the highest concentration of historic and architectural heritage in the world. The relics of our past are immortalized in its temples, in the mausoleums, in the basilicas. The greatness of this city, that has influenced the culture, language and philosophy of the Occident, can be seen and perceived anywhere. Rome is the heart of Catholic Christianity and, as Goethe called it, is "the capital of the world."

 

THE TUSCAN ARCHIPELAGO

From Follonica you can quickly reach Elba, Giglio and Giannutri islands.
The Tuscan archipelago consists of 7 main islands, of which the largest is Elba. There are also Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri and Gorgonia. Some smaller islands also form part of the archipelago: Palmaiola, Cerboli and Formiche di Grosseto.
Elba Island can be easily reached in a one-hour ferry crossing leaving from Piombino. Giglio Island can be reached from Porto Santo Stefano (93 km from Follonica.) in a 50-minute crossing, or from Castiglione della Pescaia (23 km from Follonica.) by motorboats that during the summer organise short cruises.

 

THE ISLAND OF ELBA

The third largest island in Italy after Sicily and Sardinia, it lies in the Tyrrhenian Sea and has a surface of 223 square km. It was formerly inhabited by the Ilvati, an ancient population of Liguria. The island is very rich in iron deposits, which were exploited first by the Etruscans and then by the Romans. In the medieval period watchtowers against the pirates were built on the island.
In 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte spent 10 months in exile here. As a proof of his stay, you can visit his residences: Villa dei Mulini, overlooking Portoferraio, and Villa San Martino, his summer residence amidst the Elba countryside.
Last but not least, the island boasts a famous red liqueur wine, the Aleatico, and the typical sweet schiaccia briaca ("drunken crushes"), produced here.

 
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