Sorci Castle

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sorci Castle

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There is so much to see in Tuscany. Villas in the area are the perfect accommodation, giving you access to historical sites such as Sorci Castle. Sorci Castle is located near Anghiari, a medieval village northeast of Arezzo. Built in the thirteenth century, it is notorious for a strange mysterious presence that hovers within its walls. People have been experiencing ghostly hauntings and unexplained occurrences here since the Middle Ages. Many say that the most frequently seen phantom is the ghost of Baldaccio of Anghiari, who lived in the castle in the first half of the fifteenth century. He was a hugely respected and courageous leader, who achieved fame after fighting for his life for various different fronts and armies, including the Florentines, Milan and, later, the Marche and Umbria.

If the life of Baldaccio can be defined as glorious, unfortunately the same cannot be said of his tragic death. In 1441, after inviting him to the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Baldaccio Orlandini, the Gonfalonier of Justice in Florence, accused Baldaccio of treason. Baldaccio’s body was first pierced by the soldier’s sharp blades and then he was later ousted. After this ordeal he was transported to Piazza Signoria where he finally met his end at the hands of an executioner. It would seem that after the hideous torture that Baldaccio was put through, his soul is no longer able to find peace and his spirit spends its days wandering around the castle. Many people visiting from Tuscany villas testify to having seen the ghost of a decapitated warrior floating between the rooms of the castle, perhaps seeking revenge. Sometimes the presence of the restless spirit manifests itself in the sound of clanking armour or by the playing of a piano that reverberates around the castle.

Today the Castello di Sorci has been converted into farm houses and it is also home to one of the most famous restaurants in the area. To visit, it is necessary to make an appointment by calling the following number or you can visit the website: Tel 0575 789066
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The Buriano Bridge

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ponte Buriano

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The Buriano Bridge is located north of Arezzo, along the road to Castiglion Fibocchi. It is Romanesque in style, built during the second half of the thirteenth century and, miraculously, it remained standing during the Second World War, when significant damage occurred in this part of Tuscany. Villas have since sprung up across the region and it has grown into a popular holiday destination. The Buriano Bridge’s seven arches sprawl across the River Arno, the most significant waterway in the region. Those who view it are often struck by the familiarity of the place, yet unable to understand why. The reason is simple: according to some, the "Buriano Bridge" is one of the most famous and recognizable bridges in the world.

This is thanks to Leonardo Da Vinci who incorporated it in the background of his most celebrated painting, the Mona Lisa. Looking at the famous portrait you can see a bridge on the right, just above the shoulder of the Mona Lisa. The similarity with the "Buriano Bridge" is remarkable even if there is no documentary evidence linking the bridge to the great Tuscan virtuoso. However, there is a lot of evidence supporting this claim. We know, for example, that Da Vinci was familiar with this area, having studied it for many years. In addition, other morphological elements visible in the background of the painting seem to accurately represent certain areas of land related to this part of Tuscany. Villas have since sprung up in the area, but it still seems like a plausible theory. Doubts still remain, but the hypothesis that the Buriano Bridge is part of one of the most famous paintings in the entire history of art is really quite incredible.
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An old railway in the heart of Valdelsa

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Colle Val d'Elsa, 1885: The opening of the railway station
Once upon a time there was a railway... This is the beginning of a modern fairytale with a happy ending, set among the rolling hills of Valdelsa, a land offering many attractions for those have a holiday in Tuscany Villas.
There once was a railway line that connected Poggibonsi to Colle Val d'Elsa, just north of the Sienese territory. The people of the 19th Century were surprised to see a train line intersecting the valley and a train hissing and whistling, upsetting the peaceful atmosphere that had been present here for centuries.
The railway, only 7km long, opened in 1885 after nearly twenty years of planning and construction. It provided links for trade to the town of Colle Val d'Elsa as the town was previously isolated from the main railway network in Tuscany even though it was one of the most prosperous industrial centres in the region.
However, this little railway became the victim of economic and structural problems. The management company incurred financial difficulties, which were exasperated by the flooding of the River Elsa in 1928 which swept away a bridge on the line. The company was forced to admit bankruptcy in 1934 and management was passed over to “Ferrovie dello Stato” (The State Railways.) However, things didn’t improve and gradually fewer people used the railway between Poggibonsi and Colle Val d’Elsa. Many businesses moved to new industrial areas far from the station and this contributed to the decay of the line.
The final closure of the railway line was on November 2nd, 1987. Since then, everything has been abandoned and the surrounding vines and vegetation have been left to devour it.
But, we promised you a fairytale with a happy ending, so let’s continue...
Since 2009 the towns of Poggibonsi and Colle Val d'Elsa, home to some of the most beautiful Tuscany Villas, have started a reclamation project. It was completed in November 2011 with the opening of a bicycle path, which retraces the route of the old track.
This charming location, immersed in greenery, is a must-see for those staying in the Tuscany Villas with a love for cycling and nature walks.
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Curious Mazzoni Alley, Star of Twilight

Friday, March 16, 2012

Everyone’s heard of "Twilight", the successful literary saga by Stephenie Meyer? Best-selling vampire chronicle first and then a phenomenally popular blockbuster, the story tells the love story between a troubled teenage girl and Edward, a mysterious yet fascinating American vampire. So why is "Twilight" associated with Volterra you may ask? Well, there are a few reasons. In fact, some chapters of the second instalment of the series, entitled "New Moon" are set in the Tuscan town, making the trip a must for any Twilight fans staying in Tuscany. Villas with fantastic facilities are available throughout the area. A lot of the action takes place in "Vicolo Mazzoni" (Mazzoni alley), a tiny street located in the historic heart of the city. Stephenie Meyer chose her location well as this small street is indeed a little peculiar, harbouring a slightly disturbing atmosphere, and much beloved by pigeons in the city. Precisely in the way that Meyer imagined, there is a manhole that she described as being the point of entry to the lair of the vampires "Volturi", the stars of "New Moon." The place has become a site of worship for fans of The Twilight Saga books or films.
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The Charm of a Tuscan Villa Rental

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tucked into the Northern Italian countryside is a magical and timeless place known as Tuscany. For most, the mere utterance of the word "Tuscany" conjures hot summer days, sun drenched vineyards, idyllic afternoons spent on the porch, sipping wine and sampling hard meats and cheeses, and waving lazily to neighbors as they pass by the drive. While many of us will never own a Tuscan villa, there are no shortage of rentals in the Italian region, letting anyone live the Italian dream if even for a short period of time.

A Tuscan villa rental should be looked at as a "home away from home". These villas are known for their charm, comfort, amenities, and spectacular location. In addition, the villas are often located near vineyards and cheese makers, letting the renter enjoy casual strolls where sampling and tasting can be done in the neighborhood.

Villas as simple as a studio cottage to multi-bedroom homes are available, letting potential visitors find the ideal villa for their Tuscan holiday. Most of the villas are styled in traditional Tuscan architecture, with lengthy shaded porches, sitting swings, open windows, and French doors. Bedding and linen is provided, making it effortless to simply show up and begin relaxing in this fabled land.

Once you settle in to your Tuscan villa rental, you can enjoy time in the villa and exploring Tuscany, which is considered the home of the Italian Renaissance. Explore on foot, with a hired car, or on bicycle. Visitors from North America are often surprised at the reverence given to bicycles on the roads and pathways of the country. If the visit is timed properly, between May and June, chances are good that a day can be spent watching the Giro D'Italia, a multi-stage rod bicycle race considered one of the world's premier cycling events. The event is held each year, and almost always has at least one stage through Tuscany.

What are you waiting for? Book a Tuscan villa today so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the holiday of a lifetime.
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Graffiti NOF4

Graffiti NOF4

Borgo San Lazzero Graffiti

Photo by Gianmarco Fusari
For those staying in this part of Tuscany, villas in the area give you great access to a number of stunning historical sites, including the former Psychiatric Institute of Volterra, located in the "Borgo San Lazzero," near the new hospital. Following the enactment of a law of 1978, which required the closure of mental hospitals all over the Italy, the hospital has been abandoned and remains in a state of disrepair. Considered as ominous and fearful places, abandoned psychiatric hospitals seem to inspire many unsettling myths and urban legends often filled with horror. The former hospital of Volterra is no exception. Imagine the vacant rooms now devoured by vines and roots...

Picture the rusty bars of the windows lined with pieces of cracked and broken glass... How could you not be forced to envisage the miserable existence of the poor patients who once lived here? Many would argue that the place is still inhabited by dark presences and witnesses are ready to swear that they have heard unexplained voices coming from the abandoned rooms. This general picture is made even more disturbing by the incredible story of "NOF4", the artistic name taken by Oreste Fernando Nannetti, a patient in the asylum. Suffering from severe mental health problems since childhood, he came to the hospital in Volterra in 1958. He adopted the name "NOF4", which recalls the initials of his real name and his serial number.

Armed only with the belt buckle of his uniform, he began to inflict graffiti on the walls of the building for meters and meters. The incisions, difficult to interpret, are a set of scriptures and signs that are unknown or incomprehensible. Some say it describes the history of the world, an imaginary fantasy setting or told the artist's visions for the future, visitors from Tuscany villas might have to decide for themselves. Unfortunately, only part of Nannetti’s work remains, due to the derelict condition of the hospital. The work is now considered a masterpiece of "Art Brut".

The Gateway Arch

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Volterra is undoubtedly one of the most mysterious cities in all of Italy. This is thanks to the presence of the Etruscans, who first came here in the 7th century BC. The impressive "Gateway Arch" is one of the main gates of Volterra and it is always the most important monument in Etruscan cities. This particular arch was originally built around the third century BC, it was first modified by the Romans and then again during the Middle Ages. The material which it is made from is especially intriguing; large blocks of volcanic tufa, which has divided the opinions of the inhabitants of Volterra for centuries as well as historians.

Carved into the arch are three heads which date back to the Roman era. One head faces forward, looking out, and the other two are in profile and are set at a lower position. But one of the great mysteries of the city of Volterra still remains: who do these heads belong to?

As often in these cases, theories have been made, but they tend to be confusing and conflicting. As time has passed the weather has eroded much of the detail in these faces and now it is virtually impossible to make out any fine lines or specific features. According to some experts, these carvings could be representations of Jupiter and the two Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux. In Greek mythology they were the twin sons of Leda and brothers of Helen and Clytemnestra, who were transformed by Zeus into the constellation Gemini. Perhaps they were placed here to protect the city. For others, the heads may pay homage to the gods Tinia, Uni and Minerva. On a more gruesome note, others think that the presence of three heads is connected to the custom of hanging the severed heads of defeated armies at the entrance door of the city to act as a warning to future invaders. Whatever you think, this intriguing gateway is a must-see for all visitors to this part of Tuscany. Villas in the region reflect many different architectural styles, so for lovers of buildings this is a great opportunity to see one of the most significant architectural testaments to the Etruscans.
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Villas in Tuscany are the Perfect Vacation Destination

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The region of Tuscany has a diverse assortment of natural splendors, from mountain ranges, Alpine lakes and hills, to vineyards, pine forests, and cliff bordered coasts. There is so much to see and do, and staying in a villa in Tuscany is easily one of the best ways to experience the country.

Tuscan villas were first built during the Roman occupation and were used as upper-class country houses. Since then, they have undergone many changes throughout history. After the fall of the Roman empire, the houses were converted into farming estates and sometimes taken over as monasteries. During the Middle Ages, the villas were once again transformed into fashionable upper-class homes. Finally, they became country vacation homes and remain so today.

Modern day villas vary considerably, ranging from suburban semi-detached homes to properties located in semi-urban woodland. Residences can be anything from grand buildings designed to house large groups to small and cozy accommodations for couples and small families.

Renting a villa in Tuscany is ideal for those looking to take a relaxing break in Italy with stunning views of the landscape of their choice. Some villas are even built into the cliffs surrounding the coastline, providing visitors with a gorgeous outlook on the sea below.

Due to the Medieval influence on the area, there are remains of ancient ruins and castles scattered across the region. Situated in Tuscany are many of the best known Italian cities including Florence, Siena, Pisa and Lucca. Travelers staying nearby to these municipalities have easy access to tourist sites, giving them the chance to view Italian art and architecture including galleries and museums, sculptures, ancient aqueducts, cathedrals, and other historical museums. Tuscany is also famous for its excellent cuisine and wine. Travelers who choose to stay in the Tuscan villas have the chance to experience some of the best local flavors, or cater for themselves.

Any traveler is sure to feel welcome and comfortable in the beautiful villas in Tuscany, so contact us today to learn more or to get started with your villa rental.
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The Mass of Mandringa

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Mass of Mandringa

The Mass of Mandringa

Photo by Gianmarco Fusari

The city of Volterra isn’t just home to Tuscany villas, it’s also home to a sprinkling of fascinating ancient legends, handed down for many generations to the present day. The first peculiar, and perhaps, chilling story relates to the huge stone boulder magically poised at the very edge of the road that leaves north from the town. Locals call this large rock ‘The Mass of Mandringa’ and its reputation has caused a certain amount of discomfort and unease. Furthermore, just below the rock, there flows a puzzling source of water. This can be reached via the stone steps on the side of the road, making the site a must see for anyone staying in any local Tuscany villas. The local historian Franco Poretti wrote about the history of ‘The Mass of Mandringa’ and the legends associated with it in his book “Volterra magica e misteriosa.” In the following passage he wrote:

- Around the boulder, during the day, women and children came and went, there was the continuous hum of light-hearted chat ... But at night, Saturday night in particular, just beforethe clock in the main piazza signalled the end of another day - a slow, shuddering noise penetrated the air. The air was heavy, saturated with sulphur and this shuddering noise was followed by a buzz, more and more marked and intense. This macabre sound served as a prelude to the whirling dance of the witches. The terrified women and children stayed in their homes and, half asleep, listened to the shrill voices of the witches who danced and grinned. When the eerie screech of the night owl and the plaintive meowing of cats announced the arrival of other evil entities; even the men did not have the courage to leave the house.
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