More about ‘Photo Newslets – Sights of Tuscany’

Activities for kids in Tuscany

things to do with children in Tuscany

Some parents are a bit apprehensive about coming on vacation with their children here in Tuscany, thinking perhaps that all we have to offer are art galleries, museums and architecture. In fact, there are endless activities for kids in Tuscany, one of the best of which is to take a tour through the Chianti countryside

The Vasari Corridor in Florence, then and now

The Vasari Corridor in the late 20th century

The two pictures below of the exterior of the Vasari Corridor in Florence encapsulate some of this city’s recent history. In the 19 C photo, we see the supporting arches of the then-closed corridor packed with workshops that hang out over the River Arno. This was the traditional location of the gun makers’ workshops, the

See the Ligurian villages known as the Cinque Terre from your vacation base in Tuscany

Manarola, one of the Ligurian villages known as the Cinque Terre

Manarola, pictured here, is one of the Cinque Terre which are actually in Liguria but are frequently visited from a vacation base in Tuscany. Cinque Terre means the “five lands” and refers to five fishing villages perched on the high and steep coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Although at least one or two nights are

Tuscan terracotta olive oil jars – orci

Tuscan terracotta oil jars - orcie

If you’re interested in terracotta, a visit to Impruneta, the home of terracotta in Tuscany, is well worth it. The artisans of Impruneta are producing more and more hand-painted terracotta in addition to their traditional raw clay ceramics. However, in addition to floor and roof tiles, the terracotta manufacturers of Impruneta and nearby Ferrone have

The Chianti hamlet of San Leolino in Tuscany, Italy

San Leolino in Chianti

The hamlet of San Leolino very near Panzano in Chianti is home to the parish church of the same name. The Pieve di San Leolino is first recorded in the year 982, under the name of San Leolino in Flacciano in a parchment held in the Abbey of Passignano, but two sculptural fragments housed in

Tuscan castles – fortresses, walled hamlets, fortified abbeys and towers in Tuscany

Castles of tuscany

Tuscany is undoubtedly the land of castles. The combination of a turbulent history of contending city states and marauding foreign armies with a ready supply of stone and stone masons has produced a huge number of picturesque Tuscan castles – fortresses, walled hamlets, fortified abbeys and towers in Tuscany. The amazing variety of fortified stone

Della Robbia Madonna in the Church of San Michele in Volterra

Painted terracotta Madonna in a church in Volterra

This exquisite painted and glazed terracotta Madonna with Child by Giovanni della Robbia is located in a marble tabernacle in the presbytery on the left of the entrance to the Church of San Michele in Volterra. It’s one of the most beautiful masterpieces to be seen in this fascinating Tuscan hilltop town. La Chiesa de San

Spaltenna, the castle and the parish church near Gaiole in Chianti

Pieve di Spaltenna

If you’re in search of great material for scenic photography (plus some history and architecture), pay a visit to Spaltenna, the castle and the parish church near Gaiole in Chianti, Tuscany. Spaltenna is a classic example of a Tuscan fortified settlement consisting of a monastery (previously a castle), a parish church and a cluster of

Certaldo Alto, hometown of Boccaccio

Certaldo Alto

When you’re exploring Tuscany to the southwest of Florence, the old town of Certaldo in Tuscany, known as Certaldo Alto, is definitely worth a visit. This is the hometown of Boccaccio, author of the Decameron and contemporary of Petrarch, and it retains much of its mediaeval architecture and charm. Boccaccio’s house for the last years

Abbey of Sant’Antimo near Montalcino where you can hear Gregorian chant

Abbey of Sant'Antimo near Montalcino, Tuscany

One of the most photogenic and atmospheric sights in Tuscany is the Abbey of Sant’Antimo near Montalcino. The abbey, abbazia in Italian, is located in a beautiful valley within easy reach of Montalcino in the Val d’Orcia. This is also one of the few churches in Tuscany at which you can regularly hear Gregorian chant,

Tuscan folk festivals and historical re-enactments

Tuscan folk festivals and historical re-enactments

Italy offers some of the best folk festivals in the world, with Tuscany among the leaders. Tuscan folk festivals and historical re-enactments should not be missed if the opportunity arises. Almost every town and village has its own costume event, often with a mediaeval or Renaissance theme, or a reenactment of a famous battle or

Villa Vignamaggio – NOT where Mona Lisa was born!

Villa Vignamaggio

Lisa del Giocondo, née Gherardini, Mona Lisa, was born on the 15th of June, 1479. On the road between Greve in Chianti and Lamole there is a magnificent Renaissance villa. This is Villa Vignamaggio – NOT where Mona Lisa was born! Lisa was born in Florence on Via Maggio. The family originally lived near Santa Trinita

Castello di Brolio, home of modern Chianti Classico wines

Castello di Brolio

Brolio Castle (Castello di Brolio, home of modern Chianti Classico wines) is located near Gaiole in Chianti and is a major attraction for visitors to the area. Historically, the castle is very famous as the ancestral home of Baron Ricasoli who was an important political figure in the new Italian nation during the late 19

A Tuscan farmhouse – the beauty of a Tuscan casa colonica

Case coloniche - the beauty of Tuscan farmhouses

The Tuscan farmhouse is among the most attractive of all forms of vernacular architecture, perhaps equalled in aesthetic appeal only by the villages of the M’zab in the Algerian Sahara. In contrast to the M’zab, Tuscany is, of course, easily accessible to all and a great many of these beautiful Tuscan farmhouses have been sensitively

Butteri, the cowboys of the coastal Maremma plains of Tuscany

Butteri, the cowboys of the coastal Maremma plains of Tuscany

Butteri were the cowboys (formerly also mounted shepherds) of the coastal Maremma plains of Tuscany. The buttero was a herdsman, the man in charge of watching over, taking care of, taming and breaking in large herds of cows and horses bred in the wild. However, the land reclamation works carried out under Mussolini in the

Greve in Chianti becomes a flower and shrub market for the Festa dei Fiori

Greve in Chianti transformed for the annual Festa dei Fiori

In early May each year, the main piazza of Greve is transformed into a flower and shrub market for the Festa dei Fiori. The Festa dei Fiori is a commercial market where local people buy shrubs, roses and annuals for their gardens and window boxes. It is also a great moment to visit Greve in

The Cortona farmhouse of Frances Mayes and “Under the Tuscan Sun”

Bramasole, Frances Mayes' house at Cortona

A great many readers were introduced to the Tuscan hilltop town of Cortona via a popular memoir, “Under the Tuscan Sun“, written by Frances Mayes about impulsively buying and then restoring an abandoned house, Casa Bramasole, near this beautiful town. The book was the basis of the film of the same name and one of

The garden of Villa La Foce, created by Cecil Pinsent for Iris Origo

The garden of Villa La Foce, created by Cecil Pinsent for Iris Origo

I readily admit to being a garden nut, with a special love for the formal gardens of the Tuscan villas. Among these, I rank near or at the top of my list the garden of Villa La Foce, created by Cecil Pinsent for Iris Origo in the Crete Senese of Tuscany. This garden is one

Church of San Miniato al Monte, above Florence in Tuscany, Italy

Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, above Florence in Tuscany, Italy

The Church of San Miniato al Monte, above Florence in Tuscany, Italy, was Michelangelo’s favorite church and it’s easy to see why. Both inside and out, this Basilica is an architectural gem that should not be missed by anyone visiting Florence, both for the church and the magnificent view out over Florence. The facade was

San Miniato in Tuscany, location of a great truffle fair during November

San Miniato in Tuscany, location of a great truffle fair during November

For anyone interested in truffles or, indeed, Tuscan gastronomy in general, San Miniato in Tuscany, location of a great truffle fair during November, is a name to conjure with. San Miniato is about 45 km from Florence (one and a quarter hours by car) and the time to visit is during October and November when

Big sky country – the Val d’Orcia

the Val d'Orcia, Tuscany, Italy

From time to time, I post about sights outside of the Chianti region but within easy reach for visitors who are making Chianti their Tuscany base. One of the most famous and beautiful regions of Tuscany is what my friend Anna Maria Baldini calls “big sky country” – the Val d’Orcia. In contrast to the

Hermitage of Montesiepi near San Galgano in the Val di Merse, Tuscany

Hermitage of Montesiepi

The Hermitage of Montesiepi near San Galgano in the Val di Merse was built between 1182 and 1185. This is one of the most remarkable churches in all of Tuscany and is definitely worth a visit. In addition, it overlooks the famous ruined Abbey of San Galgano which is within easy walking distance. San Galgano

Villa Medici at Fiesole, the first true classic Renaissance villa in Tuscany, Italy

Villa Medici at Fiesole

Villa Medici at Fiesole, the first true classic Renaissance villa in Tuscany, Italy, was commissioned by Giovanni, the second son of Cosimo il Vecchio and, among other owners over the centuries, belonged to the mother of Iris Origo in the early part of the 20 C. Life there during that period is described by Iris

History of Tuscany and Tuscan Culture

History of Tuscany and Tuscan Culture

Usually I confine my posts to bite-sized morsels of practical Tuscany tourist information. However, today let’s try something cultural and historical. I’ll try to provide some pointers on one way to think about the huge topic of the history of Tuscany and Tuscan culture. One approach is to see the culture of Tuscany in terms

The photogenic Tuscan abbey known as Badia a Passignano

The photogenic abbey known as Badia a Passignano

This is the Abbazia di San Michele Arcangelo a Passignano, the photogenic Tuscan abbey known as Badia a Passignana, located on the road from Greve in Chianti to Sambuca in Chianti, Tuscany. It contains a major fresco of the “Last Supper” by the Ghirlandaio brothers and can be visited on the infrequent days when it’s

Biblioteca Laurenziana (Laurentian Library), one of the great libraries in Florence, Tuscany.

Biblioteca Laurenziana (Laurentian Library) in Florence, Tuscany

The Biblioteca Laurenziana (Laurentian Library), one of the great libraries in Florence, Tuscany, is a part of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, which includes the main cloister, the vestibule with Michelangelo’s staircase leading up to the reading room, the reading room itself and the vestibule that was added to the reading room in the first

A beautiful Tuscan garden, the Piccolomini Gardens at Pienza in southern Tuscany

piccolomini gardens pienza

Pienza is one of the gems of Tuscany and should on no account be overlooked. Although located near the Val d’Orcia south of Sienna, it is readily accessible as a day trip from Chianti. A beautiful Tuscan garden, the Piccolomini Gardens at Pienza in southern Tuscany, overlooking the Val d’Orcia with Monte Amiata in the

Abbey of Santa Mustiola near Torri in Tuscany

Abbey of Santa Mustiola near Torri in Tuscany, Italy

This is the Abbey of Santa Mustiola near Torri in Tuscany. The Abbey is otherwise known as the Chiesa della Santissima Trinità e di Santa Mustiola, first recorded in 1070, with its cloister dating from 13-14 C. The Abbey of Santa Mustiola is unique in Tuscany in having preserved its Romanesque character, including its beautiful

The garden of Villa Gamberaia in Tuscany near Florence

The garden of the Villa Gamberaia in Tuscany near Florence

Of all the Renaissance villa gardens of Tuscany, perhaps none is so perfect as the garden of Villa Gamberaia in Tuscany near Florence. The garden of Villa Gamberaia represents one of the finest examples of the integration of an italianate garden into the architecture of a Tuscan villa. Among the outstanding villa gardens of Tuscany,

Joust of the Saracen (Giostra del Saracino) in Arezzo

Joust of the Saracen (Giostra del Saracino) in Arezzo

The Joust of the Saracen (Giostra del Saracino) is a famous mediaeval costume festival held twice a year in Arezzo, Tuscany. In this joust, knights on horseback, representing different areas of the town, charge at a wooden target attached to a buratto, a revolving carving of the Saracen king. Like the other festivals of Tuscany,

Montefioralle, a Chianti walled mediaeval village

Montefioralle near Greve in Chianti, Tuscany

Tuscany is famous for its hilltop towns and villages, and, among the latter, one of the best preserved and most photogenic is Montefioralle, a Chianti walled mediaeval village. Montefioralle was once the main inhabited location of this area, at a time when Greve, down in the valley, was no more than a market place. As

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