Music in Tuscany

Friday, April 17, 2015

Music in Tuscany

Posted by Dympna (17/04/2015)

Tuscany is a region that is full of music and art and simply strolling around its cities on an evening is likely to find you an array of musical treats. If you’re an avid music fan and can think of nothing better than listening to some live music while away on holiday, here are some musical excursions that you can plan into your trip.

Lucca’s Summer Festival
This annual musical celebration attracts some big international names, with special guests this year including Elton John, John Legend, and Bob Dylan. Concert dates are spread throughout July, and prices vary depending on who you choose to see and whether you choose seating or a VIP package. For more information and to book tickets, visit their website.

The Puccini Festival
Celebrate one of Tuscany’s most famous sons by watching a Puccini opera during the months of July and August. Widely regarded as the second greatest opera composer the world has seen, this year’s festival gives people the chance to watch Tosca, Turandot (famous for Nessun Dorma), and Madame Butterfly at Torre del Lago just outside of Lucca. The location is close to a villa where Puccini lived and worked, and hosts an outside venue so you can watch opera under the stars.
You can book and pay for your tickets to the festival by email.

La Cité, Florence
La Cité focuses on the arts, with its cafe/bookshop relaxed atmosphere, visitors can expect to see book readings, live jazz, swing, and music from around the world performed weekly in this small venue. Close to the Arno, La Cité is a wonderful place to visit after a day’s sightseeing in Florence.
Visit their website closer to your stay to find details about live performances.

Live Music at your Villa
If you want a more intimate musical experience, then why not speak to one of our advisors about having musicians play at your villa? We can arrange for a private musical experience for guests at our Tuscany villas that can help make your beautiful holiday surroundings even more enchanting. Contact us to find out more.
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Giuseppe Poggi – the Man Who Remade Florence

Friday, April 10, 2015

Giuseppe Poggi – the Man Who Remade Florence

Posted by Mikolaj (10/04/2015)

2015 marks 150 years since King Vittorio Emanuele II declared Florence the capital of the newly unified Italy. Although only serving at Italy’s principle city for six years (when it was superseded by Rome), Florence underwent a number of changes during that period. Some of the most lasting effects were on the city’s architecture which was radically altered thanks to the designs of one man – Giuseppe Poggi.

Who was Giuseppe Poggi?
Poggi was a native of Florence, born in 1811 who had already been working as an architect for a number of years when Florence became the new Italian capital. At that time, Florence was still very much a medieval city in its design and Poggi quickly found himself in much demand to help renovate and modernise the new capital.
Poggi took charge of demolishing the city walls and replacing them with alleyways and a number of open squares, including the Piazza Beccaria and the Piazza della Libertà. He designed the panoramic Viale dei Colli boulevard that winds from Porta Romana to Piazzale Michelangelo which tourists can still explore to this day. The city’s upper classes also frequently used Poggi for the creating and renovation of various palaces and gardens around the city, increases his influence on the city’s design.
Poggi died in 1901 but his legacy lives on in the design of modern Florence.

Find out more
Running until 6th June 2015, the state archive near Piazza Cesare Beccaria is holding an exhibition – A Capital and its Architect – focusing on Poggi’s work and his influence on the city. Included will be documents, preliminary sketches and more giving an insight into the processes behind the great renovation project. Piazza Cesare Beccaria is one of Poggi’s designs, making this the ideal spot to learn more about the great Florentine architect. For anyone interested in the history of this great city, this really is a wonderful opportunity not to be missed.

We have a number of villas in Florence and the surrounding area, so if you are planning to visit this historic city we can offer you the perfect place to stay, whatever your needs. And if you have any questions, or need tips on things to do in the area, please feel free to get in touch.
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Take the Dante Tour of Florence

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Take the Dante Tour of Florence

Posted by Virginie (03/04/2015)
Durante degli Alighieri, more commonly known as Dante, was one of the middle ages most renowned and influential poets whose legacy in literature is still felt today around the world. Often referred to as “the father of the Italian language”, Dante’s success helped to establish the Tuscan dialect he spoke as the dominant form of written and spoken Italian from which the modern language is descended.

Although he spent much of his later life in exile from his beloved Florence due to his political activities, the city left its mark on Dante’s most famous works, including Divina Commedia (the Divine Comedy). Many people and places he knew from Florence are referred to in Dante’s writing, making the city the perfect destination for lovers of “il Poeta”. Here are some of the top places to visit:   

Casa di Dante (Dante’s House)
Dante’s family owned a number of houses in Florence, the Case di Dante being one of them. Although there is no firm evidence than Dante ever lived in the house that bears his name, it now serves as a museum dedicated to the poet. From copies of The Divine Comedy to portraits of the great man and all sorts of information about his life in Florence and beyond, the Casa di Dante is so packed with Dante memorabilia that true fans really can’t afford to give it a miss.

Sasso di Dante (Dante’s Stone)
Located in the Piazza Duomo, right in the heart of Florence, Dante’s stone was one of the poet’s favourite spots in the city. The story goes that Dante used to sit on the stone and write, taking inspiration from the beautiful architecture surrounding the piazza. Although the stone itself is no longer in place, there is a plaque marking the spot, so you can stand there and soak up some inspiration yourself. The piazza is also home to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the fourth largest church in Europe.

Chiesa di Santa Margherita de' Cerchi
This small church in the centre of Florence is often referred to as “Dante’s Church” thanks to its close association with the poet. Legend goes that this is where he saw his first great love and muse, Beatrice Portinari, for the first time, when he was just nine years old. It is also thought that this is where he married his wife, Gemma Donati, sometime around 1285 or 1290. Thanks to Dante’s legacy, the church is now a favourite spot for lovers to visit, where many choose to write letters to Beatrice, which they leave beside the tomb where her body is believed to rest.

If you’re looking for villas in Florence from which to conduct your tour of the city, we have plenty to choose from. Take a look at the selection we have on offer, or send us an email to find out more.
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Inspirational Italy: Films set in Tuscany

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Inspirational Italy: Films set in Tuscany

Posted by Sonia (27/03/2015)

With so many films taking snapshots of Tuscan culture and countryside, those about to embark on their own Tuscan adventure may want to get inspired about where to go and what to do by watching some cinematic treats. We’ve compiled a selection of three of the best and most popular movies that were filmed in Tuscany.

La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful) directed by Roberto Benigni
Benigni’s modern classic takes a look at the beauty of life despite the terrors that surround us. Despite addressing the persecution of Jewish people during the Second World War, the film manages to focus on life’s sweetest moments, like childhood and falling in love. Follow Guido Orefice strive to hide the true horrors of life in a concentration camp from his son Giosué and hope to be reunited with his wife Dora.

The first half of the film is set in beautiful Arezzo, which is where Guido and Dora live, and the film offers some brilliant shots of everyday life that include the piazzas and architecture of the city. Whilst it is not advised that you attempt to re-enact the bicycle rides, you may want to ask Maria to throw down the keys just off the Piazza Grande, or simply take some brilliant photos.

Quantum of Solace directed by Marc Forster
The opening scene of this James Bond film shows 007 driving across Italy on his way to Siena. After a dramatic car chase through an Italian quarry, Bond arrives in Siena, and instantly begins a high-speed chase through the city most popular event, the Palio, and then ascends to the city’s rooftops. Whilst the scene is fast paced, it captures some stunning shots of the city making it a great opening to an entertaining action film.

If you’re heading to Siena, scrambling amongst the city’s rooftops isn’t advised, but we do recommend getting an excellent view of the city by heading up the Torre del Mangia.

New Moon directed by Chris Weitz
Fans of Stephanie Meyer’s teen fantasy series will know the importance of Italy to the plot of the vampire romance saga. Although set in Volterra, which is an actual Tuscan town that you can visit during your stay, Montepulciano was used during filming. The Italian scenes saw Bella race to save Edward from exposing himself as a vampire and thus ending his life at the hands of the Volturi (a vampire coven). In the dramatic scene, viewers get to see some great views of the hilled town.

Even if you’re not a fan of vampires, Montepulciano is really worth visiting for its beautiful architecture. Take a walking tour around the town, and pop into a local café or restaurant to taste the city’s world-renowned local wine.

If you’ve yet to book your accommodation for your Italian silver-screen adventure, then why not take a look at the great selection of Tuscany villas we offer.
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7 Wonders of Tuscany: World Heritage Sites

Thursday, March 19, 2015

7 Wonders of Tuscany: World Heritage Sites

Posted by Virginie (20/03/2015)
Tuscany is home to seven unmissable Unesco World Heritage Sites that represent the region’s rich art, culture and history. Anyone visiting Tuscany should visit at least one of these sites – or why not try to see all seven?

The Historical Centre of Siena
Siena has preserved its medieval character wonderfully, making the whole city a great place to visit. Its historic centre was chosen as a World Heritage Site in 1995 as it is an exceptional surviving example of the gothic buildings and design that characterised the development of Italy’s, and Europe’s, art and architecture.

The centre encompasses several famous buildings, notably the Piazza Del Campo. This square is home to the twice yearly Palio horse race, a dangerous and fast-paced medieval tradition that draws crowds from all over Europe and beyond. The race is only part of the occasion, however – the lead up is always full of the food, wine and pageantry that makes the day so popular.

Piazza Del Duomo, Pisa (The Square of the Cathedral of Pisa)
This grassy, walled square has four 11th-14th century monuments to see – the cathedral, baptistery, cemetery, and the main attraction which is, of course, the ‘Leaning Tower’. The foundations began to sink into the unstable subsoil soon after construction began. The tower took almost 200 years and three phases to build as it kept being interrupted by wars and political unrest.

The square is owned by the Catholic Church, and is considered a sacred place, as well as being a draw for all appreciators of medieval art and architecture. Its historical importance to Italy’s monumental art heritage lead to it becoming a UNESCO site in 1987.

Florence was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1982 due to its rich artistic and cultural history. Its beautiful buildings are home to literally thousands of priceless Renaissance treasures, including works by Michelangelo, Botticelli and Da Vinci. Cathedrals, palaces and museums can all be found within walking distance of each other, making Florence the ideal place to visit for anyone looking to learn some history and soak up the culture. It’s impossible to see the whole of Florence in one day, so many people choose to rent villas in Florence or nearby so they can take their time looking around each treasure.

Two gardens and twelve villas spread across Tuscany make up this ‘site’, which was only recognised very recently in 2013. They are not only a tribute to the Medici family in recognition of their patronage and contribution to artistic and cultural progress in Italy, but a fine example of their innovation when it came to building luxury homes. They weren’t like the farmhouses of the rich Florentines, nor were they militarily strong – these luxury Tuscan villas were built in harmony with the natural landscape and designed for comfort and beauty.

The Historical Centre of Pienza 
In 1459, Pope Pius II decided to encourage and finance the re-design of Pienza, the place of his birth. The result is essentially the first complete example of a planned ‘ideal town’, and this place of honour in the history of town planning earned the centre of Pienza its UNESCO title in 1996. Surrounding the central square – the ‘Piazzo Pio II’ – are a range of gorgeous historical buildings, including a Borgia palace and a cathedral. The beauty and luxury of the Renaissance is recognisable in every structure, and there are plenty of fine examples of art and architecture to see and explore.

This region of Tuscany is a wonderful example of a historically agricultural landscape that has been carefully cultivated to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing in accordance with Renaissance ideals. Located to the south-east of Siena, it was repeatedly painted and celebrated by Renaissance artists of the ‘Siennese School’ making it an artistically important landscape too. The gently rolling hills are largely undeveloped and still dotted with large farmhouses and small villages, giving modern day artists and photographers the chance to capture the same scenes as the great Renaissance artists before them.

The Historical Centre of San Gimignano 
San Gimignano has great historical importance because it has surviving examples of Middle Ages urban structures of all kinds – public squares, small houses, palaces and fountains are all represented within a small area. Over 70 imposing ‘tower houses’ were built by the ruling families to symbolise their dominance and power. Although only 14 are still standing today, it’s easy when you see them to get a feel for the feudal politics of the Middle Ages, which is why this site was deemed important enough in 1990 to be designated as a world heritage site.

San Gimignano is also home to unmissable examples of fine art, such as the frescoes of St Sebastian and St Augustine painted by Benozzo Gozzoli in the 15th century.

Few places can boast as many World Heritage sites as Tuscany can. So if you’re looking for a holiday that will give you plenty to see and explore, have a look at our Tuscan villa rentals and choose the perfect base for your cultural explorations.
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