A trip to Pistoia

Friday, August 25, 2017

A trip to Pistoia
Posted by Sonia (25/08/17)
Just 19 miles from Florence is the beautiful city of Pistoia. Much like other Tuscan comunes, the city is filled with breathtaking medieval architecture and rich culture. If you like the idea of a more relaxing break, then a villa near Pistoia is the perfect destination. But, what to do while there?
Aside from relaxing by your villa’s pool, here are some of the best things to do and see while visiting Pistoia.

Battistero di San Giovanni
While the baptistery in Pistoia has the same striped green and white marble façade as many other religious buildings in Tuscany, its shape is what makes it truly stand out. Built during the fourteenth century and designed by Andrea Pisano, the baptistery is octagonal and can be seen in the Piazza del Duomo.

La Fondazione Marino Marini
If you like modern art, head to Pistoia’s La Fondazione Marino Marini. The museum is dedicated to the works of Marino Marini. There, you can see sculptures and paintings by the artist who was born in Pistoia. During his lifetime, Marini’s work was displaying in New York’s MOMA and he was awarded the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale.

Pistoia Sotterranea and Ospedale del Ceppo
For an amazing historical experience, head to Ospedale del Ceppo. This medieval hospital has a stunning exterior and plenty of history inside. Those visiting can go underground to see all of the 13th century hospital. In the Pistoia Sotteranea (the underground section of the hospital), you can see old surgical equipment, learn about the history of the building, and even see underground rivers.

Pistoia Blues
If you’re planning your next summer holiday, and are a music lover, then you may want to stay in Tuscany during Pistoia Blues festival. 

We have a beautiful range of Tuscan villas in the Pistoia region that make the perfect accommodation for your Italy trip. Take a look at our website to browse our hand-picked luxury villas.
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Then and Now, A Brief History of Florence

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Then and Now, A Brief History of Florence

Posted by Dympna (10/08/2017)

Birthplace to the Italian Renaissance, Florence is an amazing city. Situated on the Arno River, it is the capital city of Tuscany and famous as a modern city with plenty to do, whilst also having a rich history.

If you are fascinated by history and like to visit cities with a colourful past, then Florence should most definitely be on your bucket list. Its streets are filled with secrets from earlier times, and there’s artwork and history woven into each of the city’s mesmerising buildings. Here is a brief insight into the history of this intriguing city.

Birth of a city
During the period around 700 B.C. the Etruscans settled in Tuscany, giving the region its name. The Romans were the first to populate the actual city of Florence, around 59 B.C. It was during this early period of Florentine history that work began on famous landmarks such as the church of San Lorenzo.

Rise of the Medici
In 1458, Cosimo de' Medici became the ruler of Florence. The powerful Medici family had a massive influence on Florence during their three years in power, including the creation of the now world-famous Uffizi Gallery.

‘The Uffizi Gallery is a creation of the Medici family: we owe the construction of the building to Cosimo I in 1560, the creation of the museum to his son Francesco I in 1581 and to the last of the Medici, Anna Maria Luisa, the eternal inheritance of its contents to the Florentine state in 1737.’ Uffizi.org

A story from this time involves Michelangelo who had sided against the Medici in a coup against them in 1530. The Medici eventually won meaning Michelangelo had to hide in a small room in the Cappelle Medicee until being pardoned.

The Renaissance
Many members of the Medici family dedicated much of their lives to collecting art from around the world. They turned Florence into the home of the Italian Renaissance. Known as an open air museum, the city contains many wonderful statues such as the reproduction of Michelangelo’s David.

Florence is also famous for its world-class architecture such as the stunning Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (or Duomo). Engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi, the dome of the church is a joy to behold.

Florence – 17th Century to modern day
At the beginning of the 17th Century, Florence was given to the Lorraine family. They eventually left and King Vittorio Emanuele rose to power as ruler of Florence. Echoes of the Renaissance period can still be found throughout Florence. It is also a renowned centre for education, housing the University of Florence and the Polimoda fashion school.

Tips for Visiting Florence
It’s worth keeping a few things in mind to make your visit to Florence as enjoyable as possible:
1. Pick up a Firenze card – this is a great card to pick up when in Florence. It is valid for 72 hours, gets you free entrance to the important museums and free bus rides.
2. Dine at Il Latini – this is one of the most popular restaurants in Florence. Here you can enjoy a delicious, authentic Tuscan menu.
3. Make a plan – it is worth making an organised plan of what you want to see and where things are before you set out to explore the city. During peak season, the city can get very busy with large queues for the main galleries, so be sure to arrive early and allow yourself plenty of time.

Rest assured, a visit to Tuscany and Florence is one you will treasure. As the author Jennifer Coburn noted, ‘Visiting Florence is like attending a surprise party everyday’. Click here to take a look at our excellent collection of ideally located villas in and around Florence.
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When & Where To See Tuscany’s Most Famous & Colourful Flowers

Thursday, August 3, 2017

When & Where To See Tuscany’s Most Famous & Colourful Flowers

Posted by Mikolaj (03/08/2017)

The brightly coloured blooms that cover Tuscany’s countryside are synonymous with the region’s world-famous landscapes. Not only do they attract huge amounts of visitors every year, but they have also inspired scores of Italian artists from across history.

We are often asked when the best time is to see this natural spectacle. However, since many of Tuscany’s flower species bloom at different times and depend on different environments, this is a complex question to answer. It’s certainly worth getting your timing right, because witnessing these flowers in their full glory is nothing short of breath-taking, not to mention ideal for unique photo opportunities. With pink cherry blossom trees lining the vineyards, rich green olive groves and lush fields of yellow rapeseed flowers by the country roads, it’s hard not to be blown away by these extraordinary scenes.

To help you discover these scenes for yourself, we’ve provided a guide to some of the most beloved and popular flowers of the region, as well as where and when you can see them.

If it’s striking red hues you want to capture on camera then you won’t want to miss Tuscany’s poppies in bloom. As with most of these flowers, the best time to witness them can vary, but generally speaking, they start raising their heads towards the end of April and into the first few weeks of May.

Some of the best places to see poppies include the fields of Maremma and the Crete Senesi in the Val d’Orcia. The poppy fields initially begin with a few flowers rising up here and there, but by the end of May, these fields are in full bloom, every square inch of them bathed in a rich red.

Next up we have a common sight in Tuscan art and paintings. Many people travel from all over the world just to experience standing in a Tuscan field surrounded by enormous yellow sunflowers.

The sunflower season in Tuscany begins in early June and runs through July and August. However, catching them looking their best is not quite as predictable, since they are easily affected by the weather. They may be in spectacular bloom on a certain date, but may fail to show up on the same day a year later. It’s a good idea to ask the locals if you aren’t having much success.

It’s certainly worth driving around a little to find the best sunflower fields, because when you do stumble upon one, the dazzling sight is not easily forgotten.

Cherry blossom trees
It’s hard to imagine a more romantic scene than a gorgeous cherry blossom tree. If you want to get married in Tuscany, you may want to coincide your wedding with the bloom of the cherry blossom. These trees line fields with pretty pink and white flowers. The best time to see them bloom is in the spring, and the first local cherries can be eaten in mid may.

A lesser known flower by tourists, Orchids are also a spectacle to behold in Tuscany. In fact, there are over 40 different species of orchid that are native to Tuscany. Orchids can be found in and around the vineyards and beautiful fields in the Chianti region, but there are also some growing high in the Apuan Alps.

One of the species found here is famous for looking like an insect, so much so that male insects like bees try to mate with them. This isn’t too much of an inconvenience for the orchids though. In fact it’s beneficial for the species because it helps them pollinate.

Rapeseed flowers
Though they may trigger hay fever symptoms for some people, rapeseed fields are beautiful to look at from any distance. These little yellow flowers light up the landscape.

They are often described as fields of gold, and it’s easy to see why. The rapeseed flowers are one of Tuscany’s most striking sights, and they can be seen spreading across the horizons in early spring. They contrast wonderfully with the lush green grass of the surrounding trees and meadows.

As well as all of the above, other attractive flowers to look out for in Tuscany include lupinella selvatica (French honeysuckle, which grows wild from April to June), daisies, hyacinths, cyclamens and primrose flowers.
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