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Museums in Florence
Florence is renowned for being the culla del Rinascimento, the birthplace of Renaissance, as well as one of the major art towns in the country.
Everybody from "the Boot"- Italy is called so because of its peculiar shape!- knows the famous museums and places of cultural interest of this magnificent city.
Churches, squares and palaces represent a must, but if visiting Florence, you must count in a tour to its museums. Here is a list of some of those you absolutely have to see:
Galleria dell'Accademia- the Accademy Gallery
Vallombrosa: a natural haven of peace in Tuscany
Considering the peaceful and relaxing atmosphere at Vallombrosa, the motto Ora et labora, pray and work, was certainly used by its monks, since the earliest times.
Vallombrosa is actually known for its perfect combination of nature and calm: the territory hosts one of the most famous and richest arboretum of the country, with more than 5,000 species of trees. A path immersed in pure, uncontaminated nature, will lead you to the top of the historic site where the Abbazia, the abbey, is situated.
100,140 inhabitants. Arezzo is a beautiful city in Tuscany, and like the rest of the region it offers a spectacular scenes of medieval buildings and harmonious architecture, right in the middle of four gorgeous natural valleys. Arezzo is actually a very old town, indeed, it is even older than Rome, and the civilisations that preceded it. It was already a settlement during prehistoric times, although the modern Arezzo is mainly medieval. Like some of the cities in Northern Lazio, Arezzo was also an important dwelling for the Etrurians, before the Romans entirely took over during their imperialistic expansion.
Garfagnana: the ideal destination for nature lovers.
Tuscany is one of the most varied regions of Italy, thanks to the different sceneries and geographical areas it offers: sea, countryside and mountains. However, there is an area which may not be on the most beaten of tracks, but is well worth a visit: Garfagnana.
Garfagnana is situated near the province of Lucca, between the Apuane Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Appennines. It includes 16 small villages, the most famous of which is Castelnuovo di Garfagnana.
Il Parco della Maremma: Maremma Park
The area of Maremma is renowned for the preservation of its territory and nature and the Parco della Maremma is certainly one of the greatest results of this policy. In fact, the park keeps untouched nature alive at its purest state. The Parco della Maremma is one of the greatest wonders of the beautiful Tuscan territory, thanks to the several varieties of flora and fauna that it protects. The park is characterized by the presence of various types of animals and vegetation.
The vegetation involves four main types: forestal vegetation, the sandy- coast vegetation, palustrine vegetation and anthropical vegetation:
Just a 'stone's throw' from well-known towns such as Pienza and Montepulciano, and close to the borders with Umbria, the small lake of Chiusi sits in a basin between hills, and permits visitors a peek into its tranquil world. If you happen to be in the area, it is definitely worth stopping by. If you're a bit of a naturalist, here is an unspoilt, protected lake with as much 'natural goings-on' as you would hope to find. If you're there at the right time, you may spot various forms of aquatic life from the wooden jetties: carps, eels, perches or tenches as well as a surprise, as I myself had. I was fortunate enough to witness a snake slide into the water to snatch a fish, and hastily retreat back to its shelter under an upturned boat at the water's edge.
Lucca is part of our suggested tour of lesser known Tuscany.
Lucca is the first stop of our tour of Tuscany and will be our home base. It is not the most central of all the locations of this tour, but this small city has a haunting, charming beauty, well worth a visit and, why not, a few days' stay.
Come along to Sarteano (province of Siena) in early August and you'll feel the gathering excitement for the town's most important annual event the Giostra Del Saracino. Held every year on August 15th (Italy's Festa day for the Assunzione della Santa Vergine), the tournament is taken seriously between the five contradas: Sant'Andrea (red and blue), Santissima Trinitá (yellow and violet), San Lorenzo (red and white), San Bartolomeo (violet and white), and San Martino (blue and white).
Il Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Chiusi is a museum of great significance for the town and it's surrounding area, which is known as ancient Etruria. Chiusi (Clevsin in Etruscan) together with eleven other towns and cities of Tuscany are steeped in Etruscan history dating back to between the 9th and 1st century BC. Many Etruscan tombs and settlements have been discovered over the years which contain amazingly well-preserved items that have since been conserved by the museum and are now displayed in behind spotlessly clean glass.
The Isola d'Elba, an amazing island situated between the Tyrrhennian and Ligurian Sea, is the largest of the Tuscan Archipelago. It can be easily reached from Piombino with both Toremar and Moby Lines ferries.
There is also an airport on the island, Marina di Campo, that is served by Intersky for international flights (to Friedrichshafen, Munich and Zürich), and ElbaFly for national routes.
Standing at 1738m above sea level, Monte Amiata is passed by to many people racing along the old Cassia road between Rome and Siena, and the Aurelia passing Grosseto near the coast. Try to find a day to explore this unspoilt treasure. Mount Amiata is under the province of Siena and the province of Grosseto.
The historical center of Sarteano is a labyrinth of little streets and alleyways, huddling together at the base of the medieval castle originally built in 1038. The views from the castle are spectacular. You will see the landscapes of Val di Chiana, Monte Cetona and the Umbrian mountains on the horizon. If you visit Sarteano make sure to bring your camera. The castle is open to visitors between May and December.
The Arcipelago Toscano National Park features seven stunning and unique islands as well as gorgeous mountain cliffs. The marine park safeguards almost 56,766 hectares of sea and more than 17,000 hectares of land. Over the years the national park has labored to preserve the natural beauty of the area for visitors and future generations.
Chianciano or Chianciano Terme is located in the region of Tuscany in the province of Siena. The charming spa town is located close to the cities of Siena and Florence. The spa town with its world renowned mineral water which are rich in healing elements is located 550 meters above the level of sea. The climate of the town is pleasant and because of its great geographical location it has become a very popular tourist resort in the last few years.
Montecatini has often been described as a rich treasure chest which is full of culture and art and is considered to be one of the most important tourist destinations in Tuscany. Montecatini is a charming town which is known to be the capital of spas and thermal treatments in the region. Thousands of visitors each year travel to the town to enjoy a rejuvenating and a relaxing vacation. There are several thermal establishments which are equipped with high technology equipments in the town.
Bagni di Lucca, the name of the town has been so since 1862. Before then the town had been called Bagno a Corsena, the name by which it had been known since the Roman times. The Countess Matilda of Tuscany in 1101 had the Devil's bridge in the town so that she could easily reach the thermal springs located in the town. Emperor Frederick II in 1245 had visited the thermal springs along with all of the courts.