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Image result for VILLA DEMIDOFF PRATOLINO

On Easter Sunday, the Medici Grand Duke’s Villa Demidoff, near Pratolino, is reopening. The spectacular gardens are among Tuscany’s largest. With the estate’s well tended woodlands and open fields, and visits to the various buildings within the park, it is a wonderful easy day excursion from Florence. The trip by bus takes about forty-five minutes, a bit less by auto. Please refer below to further information “Location and Visiting Hours.”

See also our previous blog post, Villa Demidoff  with further details and information about this incredible estate.

During your time at the park, you can visit places of interest like the Buontalenti Chapel, the Sala Rossa, the Grotto of Cupid and the Fagianeria. Please note that these visits require prior reservation and payment. See “Opening Hours” listed below in this article. 

The access to the park is allowed only on foot and you can leave your car in the free public parking in front of the main entrance. Inside the park you can find toilet facilities, a playground area for children , free wifi and a restaurant and coffee bar service.

View this video to learn more about visiting the park:

 

LOCATION AND VISITING HOURS:

ENTRANCE TICKETS: FREE

HOURS: Open April 1, 2018 – October 31, 2018

AUTO:

If you’re driving, head to Piazza della Libertà; once there, follow road signs to “Ponterosso – Via Bolognese” and drive away from the city. Via Bolognese, also the SS65 road, leads you out of Florence through Pian di S. Bartolo and Montorsoli to arrive in Pratolino. You’ll see a parking lot on the left as you arrive in Pratolino, turn and park there – the entrance to the park is right across the road.

BUS:

Take the ATAF bus #25A from Piazza San Marco – the “A” is important because otherwise you’ll not get to Pratolino. The #25 stops before the Demidoff Park; the 25A gets you to the a stop just above the park entrance. You can easily walk back down the incline to the park entrance.  of the property.  SITA also offers service to Pratolino from the main stop at the Santa Maria Novella Train Station with stop on Via Nazionale in Florence. The ATAF bus stop in Pratolino is a little beyond the park entrance but it isn’t far to walk back toward the park.

OPENING HOURS:

From April 1, 2018: All Fridays through Sundays 10:00am – 8:00pm. Beginning October 1, the park closes at 6:00PM.

The park is closed for national holidays with the exception of Liberation Day (April 25th) and Labor Day (May 1st).  The park is open on these two Sundays even though they are National Holidays.

You can request special visits during the week and obtain other information via email:

 parcomediceodipratolino@cittametropolitana.fi.it

Visits during the week there is a charge for visits. Please request further details directly from the management via email listed above.

TELEPHONE:

+39.055.29.08.32 (Monday through Saturday)

 

 

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Visitors to Siena now have the unique and very special opportunity to visit one of the most critically important music centers in the world, the Accademia Musicale Chigiana.  Founded in 1932 at the behest of Count Chigi Saracini, the Accademia has become a world renowned center for musician and composer instruction and performance.

Image result for musicians at accademia chigianaSince its founding, the Academy has provided instruction to many known names in music performance fields: Zubin Meta, Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado and Carlo Maria Giulini to name only a few. Students travel, each year, to this prestigious academy to further perfect their craft with the support of renowned, experienced, composers and musicians.

Across numerous musical disciplines, the academy offers Master Classes lead by the most celebrated maestri of all the main instruments, of voice, of orchestral conducting, and of composition.

2018 Accademia Musicale Master Classes

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Concert in the Performance Hall, Accademia Chigiana Siena

In addition to Master Classes, the academy hosts special events at the time of the annual Siena Palio, dinners or mornings at the academy, Chigiana International Festival and Summer Academy (July/August each year), private events and Micat in Vertice, an annual music festival which beings in late November and continues through the following spring season.

Visits can now be booked and confirmed for the academy’s home palazzo. The structure houses an enormously important collection of art, ranging from Franz Liszt’s piano to works by Botticelli and other Renaissance masters.

Accademia Chigiana Palazzo Interior

Interior Room, Accademia Chigiana Palazzo Siena

The Accademia is always looking for your support. If you believe that the important work of this important institution is deserving of your financial support, please click on the link below for further information:

Join in support of the Accademia Chigiana

Booking  for visits to the palazzo MUST be reserved well in advance.

VISITING THE PALACE:

Booking is required for guided tours in English.

OPENING HOURS
Guided tours – lasting approximately one hour – will be held
from October 1 2017 up to June 30 2018
(except for holidays and the following days: 1, 24 and 31 December 2017; 8 February and 29 March 2018)

From Monday-Saturday* at 11:30.
Those on Thursday and Friday at 4 p.m. too

* Visits on Saturday must to be booked (See “Information and Booking” below)

PRICES
Full-price tickets for the tour cost 7 Euros.
Tickets for visitors under the age of 26 and for groups of at least 10 visitors the price is 5 Euros per person.
Entrance is free for children up to 6 years of age and for those who are accompanying groups.

INFORMATION AND BOOKING
Call center 366 8642092 from Monday-Friday between 9 and 11 a.m. or +39.0577.22091 from Monday-Friday between 9 and 13 a.m.
E-mail: infochigiana@operalaboratori.com or visite@chigiana.it

PALACE TICKET OFFICE
Bookshop of Palazzo Chigi Saracini (via di Città, 89 – Siena)
Opening hours: half an hour before each visit.

Michelangelo_1475-1564_Sacred_Family_the_Doni_Tondo_grande (1)Join Road Scholar and Mark Gordon Smith, Instructor in Italian Renaissance Art History, Conversational Italian and Travels Across Italy, in a five day program entitled, “The Beautiful and the Powerful of the Italian Renaissance“.

The program begins on 22 April 2018 and concludes on 27 April 2018.

The program is based on the beautiful campus of Montreat College, about fifteen minutes east of Asheville, NC.

Participants will learn many background stories of the Italian Renaissance’s most powerful families, the iconic as well as less known works of art they commissioned, and the effect that their patronage of the arts had on western civilization. From Florence to Venice, Rome to Naples, the trace of Italian Renaissance art is a fascinating and remarkable one.

The pace is easy, informal and comfortable.

Please visit the Road Scholar web site for further details and information. Join us for what will be an enjoyable and fascinating exploration of Italy’s incredible Renaissance art and political history.

The Beautiful and the Powerful of the Italian Renaissance

22 – 27 April 2018

Montreat College Campus (on the outskirts of Black Mountain, NC)

Telephone Inquiries: 800-454-5768

Montreat College View NC

Montreat College View – Western North Carolina

Mark Positano May 11 2015

Mark Smith, Owner of Private Italy Tours LTD, above Positano on the Amalfi Coast.

We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to all of you who have read, or follow, our travel blog about Italy.

This week, we surpassed the 200,000 views of our blog.

Thank you.

We are dedicated to continuing improvement about the accuracy and reliability of all of the information we provide to those who love bella Italia.

Join us on one of our incredible explorations of Italy!

Private Italy Tours LTD

Come Home Again to Italy

 

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In the past few months, increased visitor security screening was initiated at the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo, in Florence. As with most of the other museums in the city (Uffizi, Bargello, Museum of the Works of the Duomo and many others), visitors are security checked before entering sites.

The result of the increased security at the Duomo in Florence is frustratingly long lines. During a recent visit to the city, in mid-March, the line stretched from the facade entrance all the way along the northern side of the structure and around to the entrance of the Museum of the Works of the Duomo. This was easily a wait of well over an hour before entering.

Security is critical to the protection of historic sites; this is an article to assist visitors in avoiding long waits before visiting this incredible cathedral.

Best recommendation we can make is to go EARLY. If you can be in line at least fifteen minutes prior to the Duomo’s opening, see Hours listed below, you will not have to stand for extended periods of time before entering.

While you do not need a ticket to enter the Duomo, the new combined ticket offered by Il Grande Museo del Duomo includes your admission to the Baptistery, Museum of the Works of the Duomo, Giotto’s Campanile (Bell Tower), Brunelleschi’s Dome (NOTE: Visitors to the Dome MUST reserve a specific entrance time, or will not be admitted) and the Crypt of the Duomo.

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HOURS:

Cathedral 10:00-17:00 details
Dome 08:30-19:00 details
Baptistery 08:15-10:15 / 11:15-19:30 details
Bell Tower 08:15-19:00 details
Crypt 10:00-17:00 details
Museum 09:00-16:30 details

 

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On a recent visit with our Annual Art Tour in Tuscany, we stopped in to Bistro Olivieri, a recently opened restaurant in the village of San Gimignano.

The establishment’s tag line, Cucina Toscana Contemporanea, Contemporary Tuscan Kitchen, is reflected in the varied and fairly priced menu.

We all agreed that the exceptional modern Italian interior design was a perfect contrast to the textured ancient stone towers and streets of the village.

Daily specials are written on the glass wall that separates the kitchen area from the dining room; a stylish and easy to reference list.

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There is an exceptional wine list which is updated to keep pace with the ever changing and flavorful menu offerings.

Highly recommended. Web site is on Facebook. Make reservations, though walk-ins are welcomed. During high season, May – September, this place will be busy.

Olivieri Bistrot

Via S. Matteo, 55

53037 San Gimignano (SI) Italy

Tel: +39.0577.94.07.90

Hours: 

Friday 10AM–12AM
Saturday 10AM–12AM
Sunday 10AM–12AM
Monday 10AM–12AM
Tuesday 10AM–12AM
Wednesday 10AM–12AM
Thursday 10AM–12AM

 

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Isola San Giulio View. Church bell tower on the left.

 

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Graffiti at Isola San Giulio, Lago Orta

Admittedly, unashamedly, Lago Orta in the lake region of Italy is one of my  favorite haunts. Isola San Giulio, located in the shadow of Madonna del Sasso high above the lake and just off shore of the village of Orto San Giulio, is a treasure.

It is not only the Way of Silence and the Way of Meditation which wend their way through the narrow lanes of the island that make this such a unique and memorable place; it is also the secrets of monks inside the Basilica di San Giulio which add intrigue and even some humor to the quiet meditative interior of the church.

Study the graffiti etched in to the frescoes on columns in the church and surprises await. Amidst the clutter of too many modern scars are Latin notes made by monks in centuries past.

“The weather is cold today.”
“Brother Paul is asleep.”
“I am bored.”
“The weather is cold today.”

It is as if the monks, bored, cold, jealous or otherwise distracted took advantage of early morning or evening services in the dark, shadowed corners of the basilica to add a note of discontent or criticism; no worries that the surface used were 15th or early 16th Century frescoes by artists of their day.

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Graffiti scarred frescoes – Basilica di San Giulio

When you next visit the lake region, please take some time to visit this intriguing island in one of the least known lakes in Italy.

IF YOU GO:

Isola San Giulio: Information about the lake area, hours for various visits and other helpful details.

Navigazione Lago d’Orta: Timetables and information about ferry schedules on Lake Orta.

 

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