Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Day trips from Florence’

 

So…you are staying in Lucca, have arrived in the city by train, or you have parked at the train station. Would you like to enjoy a unique break just outside the city walls-perhaps some exceptional pastries and fabulous coffee?

 

I recommend the perfect place: The LuccaLibri Coffee house and Bookshop.

Located less than a two minute walk from the train station piazza in Lucca (Piazzale Bettino Ricasoli) and only five minutes from the southern-most city gate of Lucca, Porta San Pietro, this place offers it all: great coffee, exceptional baked goods and a clean, safe environment in which to relax.

Wanda Martinelli, a dear friend and guide, introduced me to this special place in the spring of 2015. Every time since, when I visit Lucca with our small group tours or on my own, I stop in for a welcomed break. I have worked with Wanda for over fifteen years and she is, without question, the best guide in the area!

Next time you are in Lucca, regardless of circumstance, please give this wonderful place your business. You will not be disappointed!

Details:

LuccaLibri

Vialle Regina Margherita, 113

55100 Lucca

Tel: +39.0583.46.96.27

Hours: 06:00AM – 20:30PM (8:30PM) DAILY

Directions:

From the train station, walk across the graveled piazza in front of the station. Turn LEFT on the sidewalk along the main ‘ring road’. LuccaLibri is on your left about 100 meters from the station piazza.

If you park at the train station in Lucca, exit the parking area toward, and across, the piazza, and you will find LuccaLibri on your left about 100 meters from the station piazza.

If you are inside the city walls, you can exit the Porta San Pietro, walk to your left to the pedestrian walkway at the traffic light and cross the main road. Turn LEFT and walk about 200 meters to LuccaLibri.

FB Page – LuccaLibri

The baked goods case and coffee prep area, on the right

Reading room at the Cafe

View from the cafe on a beautiful spring day

 

Read Full Post »

Some friends recently invited me to join them on a visit to the Villa Medici in Poggio a Caiano, about fifteen miles west of Florence. What an incredible surprise.

This makes for an easy day excursion from Florence city center, by train, to an historic palazzo and beautiful small village in Tuscany.

Why visit?

Read on. This gorgeous Renaissance palazzo contains some of the finest art commissioned by the Medici family; from the time of Cosimo the Elder to Lorenzo de Medici (Il Magnifico) to the Grand Dukes. An additional ‘treat’ is that admission is FREE.

Facade Poggio a Caiano

Facade Poggio a Caiano

HISTORY:

It was in 1420 that Palla Strozzi began acquiring land and buildings from the Cancellieri, the office of the administration, in Florence. It is at this time we find the name Poggio a Caiano mentioned for the first time in a few historical documents next to the names of Bonistallo and Caiano.

In 1488 another famous Florentine family began to show an interest in the area when Giovanni Rucellai purchased the possessions, buildings and houses of Poggio a Caiano.

The history of the city, however, has remained tied to another, even more illustrious and celebrated family, that of the Medici.

By 1431 Cosimo dè Medici had bought six farms in the region. His grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent purchased more property in the area including all of the surrounding estates, began to build the Villa, initiated a complex project to contain flood waters by means of canals and stabilization of the banks of the Ombrone River and upgrading farming techniques on the estates north of the river.

In 1477, work began in earnest on what was to become the farm of  Poggio a Caiano – Tavola. Many highly skilled craftsmen moved to Poggio a Caiano, including masons, carpenters, furniture makers and artists. This colony of skilled labor constituted the nucleus of the town that was born as a “factory” for the Villa.

Franciabigio, Return of Cicerone from Exile 1519-21_ca._with additions by Alori, 1578-82_ca.)_01

Franciabigio, Return of Cicerone from Exile (1519-1521) with later additions by Alori (1578 – 1582).

Over time, Lorenzo and one of his sons who became Pope Leo X, commissioned artists as famous as Alori and Pontromo to create frescoes for the great rooms, especially the ballroom, of the villa.

pontormo Vertumnus and Pomona Poggio

Jacopo Pontormo, Vertumnus and Pomona (1520-1521)

The main ballroom, also referred to as the Room of Leo X, is a startling and unforgettable surprise.

Room of Pope Leo X Poggio a Caiano

Ballroom or Room of Leo X Frescoes by Alori, Pontormo, Franciabigio and others (15th, 16th and 17th Centuries)

Poggio’s location, between Florence and Pistoia, and the presence of the Villa Medici (which remained after the end of the Medici dynasty the summer home of first the Hapsburg-Lorraine and then of the House of Savoia-Italy’s first King used this palace as a country home after the unification of Italy) helped to maintain the prosperity of the small town.

Menerous rooms in many Medicean villas were filled with Still Life paintings; in Italian, Natura Morta. The Medici family was very passionate about cataloging the numerous varieties of vegetables and fruits grown in Tuscany.

Bartolomeo Bimbi Limoni Poggio a Caiano

Bartolomeo Bimbi, Limone (1715) Catalog of the many different types of lemons available on the estate and in Tuscany (Note the ‘shield’with the reference numbers below the painting.)

These innumerable paintings have been collected in to one museum at the Villa Poggio a Caiano. You should absolutely be sure to reserve in advance your entrance time for this unique collection of art.

A dear friend, Carla Geri Camporesi and her co writer Barbara Golini, who used to live near Florence in Impruneta, wrote a cookbook featuring many of these paintings along with recipes of the time. Even though written in Italian, the quality of the photographs alone are worth adding this volume to your collection.

From The Art of the Medicis to the Tables of Today

There is no charge to visit the collection of still life paintings, yet you must reserve with the villa directly to enter. Please see details below.

 

Scacciati (1642) Flowers - Poggio

Andrea Scacciati, Flowers (1642) Poggio a Caiano

At the End of World War II:

During the retreat of the German army in August of 1944, the city of Poggio a Caiano was heavily damaged by artillery fire. Many lives were lost in the town. The villa became a refuge to villagers who hoped for protection inside the estate’s walls.

Manetti’s famous iron bridge, one of the best examples of an early 19th Century suspension bridge with cables made of iron, was destroyed by the German Army. Only the two large stone entrance towers for the bridge remain.

After the war, Poggio became one of the principal centers for the art of straw weaving (braids, hats, etc.), or paglia: many of you may remember the straw braided Chianti bottles of years ago.

Post-war development was culminated by the separation of Poggio a Caiano from the nearby city of Carmignano. The comune of Poggio a Caiano became its own separate city on July 14, 1962.

Camignano, a mostly agricultural community challenged by a textile economy, suffered from the general crisis felt throughout agriculture in Italy in the last part of the 20th century.

Poggio a Caiano, however, with its fortunate location between Prato, Pistoia and Florence increased its development in industry and handcrafts, eventually becoming part of the wool and textile industry centered in Prato.

Poggio a Caiano

GETTING THERE:

Located about 20 minutes outside of Florence by train.

Trains to Signa depart regularly (generally at :16 and :53 past the hour) from the Santa Maria Novella station in Florence. The trip takes about eighteen minutes. Train fare, each way, is Euro 2.60 per person.

Taxi fare from the Signa train station to Poggio a Caiano averages Euro 18 per taxi. This is the easiest way to enjoy a day excursion from Florence without the hassle of driving, parking and possible fines!


If you are in the area for lunch, I highly recommend:

Il Falcone, Piazza XX Settembre, 35,Poggio a Caiano, Italy

Tel: +39.055.877.065

Hours: (Closed Wednesdays)

Lunch 12.00 – 14.00
Dinner  19.30 – 21.30

Fabulous food, great service, warm atmosphere, fair prices and a very good wine list!


Villa Visiting Hours

Admission: FREE

Opening hours:
Daily:
8.15 – 16,30 (November – February)
8.15 – 17,30 (March and October)
8.15 – 18,30 (April, May and September)
8.15 – 19,30 (June – August)
Closed on the 2nd and 3rd Monday of each month, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day.

PLEASE NOTE: To vist the Museum of Still Life (Naatura Morta) it is necessary to book an entrance time by calling the Museum office at +39.055.87.70.12

CONTACT US! If you are interested in any of our small group explorations of Italy, please send an email to private_italy@hotmail.com. One of our staff will reply to your inquiry as quickly as possible. We hope to share “our” bella Italia with you! Thank you for reading and following our travel blog.

 

Read Full Post »

Palazzo dell Archiginassio BolognaYes, it is a tongue twister, this gorgeous palazzo in the center of Bologna – Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio (Arkey-je-nah’-see-oh).

This was once the main building of the University of Bologna, Italy’s oldest university.

With the Cathedral of San Petronio, once a church well on its way to outsize St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Fountain of Neptune and the food of Bologna to temp you, why visit? Read on.

The University was founded in 1088. It was not until 1563, when Pope Pius IV commissioned the construction of the Palazzo, that all university classes were consolidated.  Until then. classes were housed in various locations across the city. The facade of the Palazzo provides only a hint at the beauty within.

What draws many visitors to this fascinating and historic structure is the Anatomical Theater located on the second level of the palazzo.

Gli Spellati, Teatro Anatomico Archiginassio Bologna

Gli Spellati, Teatro Anatomico
Archiginassio Bologna

In 1637, Antonio Levanti was given the commission to build the theater, first of its kind in Italy. Constructed in both cedar and cypress wood, the theater was used for the first student human dissections permitted in Italy. The “Doctor” as the professor was called, sat on a special seat above the operating area. A large baldaquin rose above him,  upheld by carved figures of men with no skin on their bodies – called ‘gli spellati’ in Italian – created by Ercole Lelli. As morose as it may sound, the figures are beautifully carved, as are the busts and other figures in the theater.

Curiosity follows curiosity in this historic room. Statues of the most prominent physicians of Greece and Rome, Hippocrates and Galen, grace the front corners of the room. Directly across from the Doctors seat, above the theater seats, is a small door (often unnoticed by visitors). It was during the twenty-four hour dissections that members of the Dominican Inquisition would open the panel, observe and judge whether or not the teachings were heretical.

Under the watchful gaze of those judging eyes, the Doctor’s three meter pointer would be used to instruct the students in various important details about anatomy. If any of the teachings were judged inappropriate, the Doctor would have to pause instruction, then debate and defend his position.

Seat of the Doctor Archiginassio Bologna

Anatomical Theater, Archiginassio
Antonio Levante, 1637

Travelers have wondered why cedar and cypress were used to construct the theater. One only need imagine twenty four hour dissections, conducted with no break (and no opportunity to leave the room), to imagine why fragrant and odor absorptive woods were used.

In 1838, the gorgeous open rooms that once housed the University library became the home of the Communal Library for the city of Bologna. See IF YOU GO below for details about visiting the library.

This is certainly a unique and unusual corner of Bologna.

So, when you visit the city and have completed your time at the Duomo and the food market areas of the city, I highly recommend a visit to both the library of Bologna as well as the Teatro Anatomico in the Palazzo dell’Archiginassio.

IF YOU GO:

Palazzo dell’Archiginassio:

Both the Palace (including the library) and the Teatro Anatomico are open Monday through  Friday from 09:00AM to 18:45 (6:45PM). On Saturday, hours are 09:00AM to 13:45 (1:45PM). On Sundays and Holy/Festival days the building is closed to the public.

NOTE: From 1 to 24 August, the building is open only between the hours of 09:00AM and 14:00 (2:00PM) Monday through Saturday. Sundays and Holy Days/Festivals the building is closed.

Library

Over 38,000 manuscripts and incunabula, along with other objects, are now housed in the library. It is open to the public. However, you must leave your backpacks and books behind in a secure area when you register at the front desk. The only exception to allowing computers and other items in the library is if you present a letter of research from a college or university.

Teatro Anatomico:

The Anatomical Theater can be visited at any time during the palazzo’s open hours.

Read Full Post »

Charterhouse of Pisa
Calci, Tuscany, Italy

Few tourists know of the road that connects Lucca with the small village of Calci. Nor do many visitors know of the monumental surprise that awaits them – the Charterhouse of Pisa.

My recommendation is to not take the A-11 autostrada from Lucca to Pisa. Rather, as you arrive at the Lucca Ovest (West) interchange follow signs to the SS-12 (Strada Statale-State Road) toward San Giuliano Terme.

As you drive toward San Giuliano Terme, you will pass through the village of Santa Maria del Giudici then enter a tunnel. After you leave the tunnel and drive into San Giuliano Terme, watch for a turn to the left ttoward the town of Calci. Once you are on the road to Calci, the signs directing you to the Certosa (Charterhouse) of Pisa make the rest of the trip very easy.

Why go?

Charterhouse of Pisa
(Monumentale Certosa di Calci)
Tuscany, Italy

This is an enormous complex of buildings, many of them restored after World War II. The remote and beautiful setting, once referred to as the “Valle Graziosa” or “Pretty Valley,” allows visitors the opportunity to enjoy a visit to a beautiful church without the crowds that are found below in the city of Pisa proper. Though the charterhouse is located only about six miles from Pisa, you may as well be a hundred miles from such a large population center.

History

It was in 1366 that Carthusian Monks established their hermitage near Calci. The Carthusian order derives its name from the location of the first heritage established by Saint Bruno. The Chartreuse Mountains, located east southeast of the French city of Lyon is where Bruno began his religious life.

Gorgona, a small island located about twenty miles off the port of Livorno, is part of the Tuscan Archipelago. (On very clear days,you can see the island from a few of the small seaside villages north of Livorno – Tirrenia and Marina di Pisa). In 1369, Pope Gregory XI expelled a group of Benedictine monks  from the island. Some of the monks from Calci were sent to repopulate the island, even as their population grew at the Charterhouse. In the mid-15th Century, due to threats of possible attack by Saracens, the monks on the island brought all of their valuable documents to the Charterhouse.

Cloister, Charterhouse of Pisa

The current architectural style of the buildings is owed to Baroque work of the 17th and 18th Centuries.

After Napoleon’s suppression of religious orders, in 1808, the Carthusian order at Calci was forced to disband. The majority of the monks moved to the Vallombrosian Monastery in Pisa. Most of the silver and gold pieces collected from the religious community were sent to Florence to be melted and used for other purposes. Contents of the library, records, archives and many valuable paintings were sold.

In 1814 when the Grand Dukes of Lorraine permitted the return of the order the Charterhouse, their financial support assisted in the purchase of items that had previously been sold.

A few years after the unification of Italy, in 1866, the government decreed that all works of art, the library and other important documents were to be removed. The buildings and land, then, were assigned to the new Ministry of Education.

From 1946 until 1963, a group of Carthusian monks from the Netherlands attempted to establish a group of monks at the Charterhouse, with the hope of reestablishing their order in their home country. Their efforts yielded no success. When the last of the two Carthusian monks were moved from the monastery in 1972, the state took over responsibility for the maintenance and care of the buildings.

In 1981  the Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa was moved into one wing of the Charterhouse. The collections, started in the mid-16th Century, primarily include paleontological and mineral specimens collected over the centuries.

Choir Stalls, Charterhouse of Pisa

Interior

The major construction work on the buildings occurred after the monks returned from the Island of Gorgona (1425) and during the 17th and 18th Century. Monk’s cells, the main chapel and other parts of the building, to include a natural pharmacy based upon the research of herbs grown in the Charterhouse’s “Giardino dei Semplici,” were completed in the early part of the 16th Century. The garden, similar in purpose to one established in 1545 by Grand Duck Cosimo di Medici in Florence, was intended to investigate and research plants that might be used for the cure of disease and infection.

The interior of the church contains some of the finest hand carved choir stalls in Italy. Giovan Francesco Bergamini began, and his son Alessandro (1665-1686) completed, work on a beautiful altar made from Carrara marble. One of the few remaining original works is one of San Bruno (founder of the Carthusean order)

Baldasarre Franceschini (Il Volterrano)

offering the Charterhouse to Our Lady (1681) by Baldassarre Franceschini, called Il Volterrano. An interesting note about the work is that San Bruno holds a model of the Monastery as it appeared before Baroque era changes.

This is an incredibly beautiful building, little known by the millions of tourists who flock to a certain tower in the city of Pisa. If you are in Lucca, or Pisa, and seek the opportunity to explore an historic and beautifully preserved site, visit the Charterhouse of Pisa.

IF YOU GO:

Here are some on-line resources for your information before a visit.

Charterhouse of Pisa

Opening Times
• Tuesday to Saturday: from 8.30am to 6.30pm
• Sundays and public holidays: from 8.30am to 12.30pm
• Closed Mondays and 1/1, 1/5 and 25/12.

Admission
• Full Euro 5.00
• For 18 to 25 year old visitors Euro 2.50

Natural history Museum of the University of Pisa

NOTE: This is a very popular place for school visits, so you may be a bit surprised to see so many children crowded at the entrance to the Charterhouse. Those groups usually only visit the Museum and do not enter the main religious structures for a tour.

Information about the collections

Read Full Post »

My introduction to the Villa Garzoni and its gardens was during my childhood.  Our family lived in Tirrenia, a seaside village about midway between Pisa and the port city of Livorno. Those early impressions have been solidified over many years of subsequent visits to the village and the park named for its most famous son, author Carlo Lorenzini. There will be more on his impact on this tiny town later in this post.

Where, exactly, is Collodi?

Villa Garzoni and Collodi

Between Florence and Lucca, along the foothills of the Apennine mountains, is the city of Pescia. A bit north and west of that city, strung along a small ridge, is the village. The village’s main walkway is far too steep for cars or even the infamous “Vapi”, that noisy impossibly small three wheeled transport used by so many Italians. To walk along the cobbled steps and street through town is to encounter an increasingly rare Tuscany. It is a place, above the roads that approach the old city gate, that harkens to black and white photos, to grieving widows dressed in black, to less complicated eras.

In 1652, the Garzoni family began construction on a country villa. The site for this home was along a steep hillside near a 10th Century fortress. From the villa’s location, the family enjoyed a view over the valley below. The gardens were designed to complement the villa, while taking into consideration the very steep land upon which it would be built. The results of the design , completed in 1752, were gorgeous. In 1786, members of the family selected a local landscape architect, Ottavio Diodati, to design a water cascade that would run from the highest point of the garden to a grotto constructed at the point where the steep hills met the parterre.

When you enter the garden, the first impression is one of grandeur and beauty. Now known as one of only a few high Baroque gardens in Italy,

Garden View, Villa Garzoni

the centuries have proven the worth of both the Grazoni family’s and Diodati’s efforts.

Three flights of balustrade stairs lead to a Grotto. At each terrace, as visitors ascend the garden, there are long flat planting areas, almost like ribs, that splay out and away from the central axis of the garden. Yews, Eucalypti, palms and other local plants and trees provide welcome shade from the piercing Tuscan light.

At the top of the garden, and it is a steep climb, visitors arrive at a statue of Fame, Jove’s messenger. From the large sea shell that Fame holds to her mouth is a long arch of water that ends in a small pond at her feet. On the descent from this high point, visitors can walk to the Villa for a tour, descend through the lush Bamboo forest and return to the entrance gate of the property.

Pinocchio Park

Less than a five minute walk from the entrance to the Villa Garzoni and gardens is the entrance to the Pinocchio Park.

Parco Pinnochio
Statue by Emilio Greco, 1956

The park was named after a character created by author Carlo Collodi. Born Carlo Lorenzini in Florence (1826), he became a well-known political author. In the course of his journalistic career, he began to write political allegory. After many years of work, he took his mother’s home town as his pen name (Collodi) and wrote Pinocchio. The now famous marionette was used by Lorenzini as an allegorical figure who represented the liberating metamorphosis from strict forms of his creation, wood, to the freedom of being a truly human boy.

Lorenzini died in Florence in 1890, a mere seven years after Pinocchio was published. He did not live long enough to enjoy the spectacular success that his book created. Now translated in over 100 languages, it is one of the world’s best-selling books of all time.

You can read the entire book, on line, or download an e-book copy at this site. Special thanks to the Guttenberg project and the phenomenal work they do.

Adventures of Pinnochio by Carlo Collodi

The “Parco Pinocchio” was opened in 1956, the result of country-wide artistic collaboration. Artists from across Italy participated in the creation of sculptures and mosaics that appeal to child and adult alike. Scenes from Carlo’s fable are represented within the small confines of the park. A visit gives you the unique opportunity to enjoy yet another treasured corner of Tuscany.

It has been decades since my first visit to this tiny, magical, place. Every time I am in Tuscany, I return. Take time to enjoy this extraordinary and little-known village perched on a hill between Florence and Lucca.

IF YOU GO:

If you do not have the use of a car, you can take an inexpensive regional train from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station and, for Euro 10.40 per person, arrive in Pescia.Trains between Florence and Pisa leave nearly every hour between 6:00AM and 10:ooPM. The trip to Pescia takes about one hour.

Schedules and more information about train schedules can be found at: www.trenitalia.it

From the Pescia train station you can take either a local bus (VaiBus) or taxi. Their complete schedules for the Pistoia region, which includes both Pescia and Collodi, can be found at: VaiBus

Taxi fare between the Pescia station and the town of Collodi averages Euro 30 per taxi (not per person!)

Entrance tickets:

You have a choice of purchasing three different tickets, depending on your interests:

Pinocchio Park, Euro 11.00

Garzoni Gardens and Butterfly House, Euro 13.00

Pinocchio Park, Garzoni Gardens and Butterfly House, Euro 20.00

Official Web site of the Villa and Gardens

Villa Garzoni and Gardens

Official Web site of the Parco Pinocchio (Pinocchio Park)

Parco Pinocchio

Information for the Park.

Tel: Parco di Pinocchio TeL: +39.0572.429.342

Read Full Post »

A beautiful hilltop retreat, and the gardens of a Medici Villa, beckons from the valley of Florence. This easy day trip north from Florence takes you directly to both the Abbey of Monte Senario and the Villa Demidoff Parco di Pratolino. These are two little-known corners of Tuscany, rarely visited by tourists.

View of Monte Senario

A brief history:

Monte Senario, as it is now called, was one a wild, untamed, place where winds whistled through limestone caverns and wolves prowled the land. In the midst of religious upheaval in Florence, seven friars began a long and arduous journey in search of retreat, a place where they would avoid the temptations of the city.

Hilltops in the Mugello, directly north of Florence, attracted the friars. It would be in the beautiful hills of that area, they believed, they would find the best, remote, location for their hermitage. Their struggles were rewarded when, in 1241, they reached the top of Monte (as it was called at the time) Sonario – named for sounds made by winds in local limestone formations. The small group immediately went to work on a house that would serve as their retreat.

Over the centuries, the Servite order (named for their dedication to serve the Holy Mother) friars have built a large Basilica and many other buildings on their property.

Why go? The hills north of Florence are famous for their beauty. Winding roads cut through forests, pass along vineyards and provide visitors incredible views. Between Florence and Monte Senario, you pass the gates of another famous Tuscan Villa, Pratolino.

Built by Francesco I, First Grand Duke of Tuscany, the villa was completed in 1581. Designed by Buontalenti, Francesco’s favored architect and landscape designer, the villa has recently been restored. Why did Francesco choose such a remote site for this villa? His mistress, Bianca Capello, desired a county home.  The gardens were completed before Francesco’s marriage to Bianca in 1579.

Colossus of the Apennines
Parco Pratolino

Gardens with monumental statuary, including one of “The Colossus of the Apennines” over twelve feet tall, provide a shady and cooling retreat for visitors. The gardens evoke a sense of Romanticism, an intentional decadence and decay that still attract those fascinated by Italian, specifically Tuscan, gardens. The original Pratolino gardens were categorized “Mannerist”, a style that includes water features and statuary with water hydraulic systems that animate man-made structures such as doors, gates and playful water games.

After Francesco’s and Bianca’s deaths, the villa fell into disrepair. It was, after over 100 years of abandonment, that the villa was demolished. Leopold II, former Grand Duke of Tuscany, sold the property to a Yugoslavian prince, Pavel Pavlovich Demidov.

Villa Demidoff
1872 Restoration

He wished to have a residence on the grounds and set about restoring the original building where the Pages that served Francesco and Bianca lived. Hence, the current name of Villa Demidoff.

He also had the gardens redesigned in the English style. While retaining some of the large sculptures that were built at the time of the Medici, he focused on simplifying the layout of the gardens so that they were easier to both maintain and explore. The property, which the prince expanded from approximately fifty acres to nearly two-hundred, is now the property of the province of Tuscany.

The grounds, park and villa are truly worth a stop during your travels further north to the Monte Senario complex.

So it is on an easy day trip from Florence. From the remains of a powerful Medici Grand Duke and the moneyed influence of a Yugoslavian prince you arrive at a place of retreat and sacrifice where friars gave everything away in dedication to their religious beliefs.

IF YOU GO:

Villa Demidoff and Parco Pratolino

Vaglia, Via Fiorentina 282

Tel: 39.055.408.0734 or 39.055.408.0777 (office)

Tel: 39.055.409.427 (Reception)

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.

Visits are free of charge

 

Driving Directions

From Florence, driver to the Piazza della Libertá

As you enter the Piazza, watch for overhead sings in the direction of Mugello, Pratolino and Bologna (Old State road to Bologna, North)

Stay on SR 65 and you will arrive at Pratolino. The car park is on your left, directly across from the main gate of the Villa/Park property

Take SR Route 65 NORTH toward Pratolino.

 

To return to Florence, return on the same route, headed south

Read Full Post »

View of Fiesole
Above Florence

Atop a hill to the north of the city of Florence, largely ignored by most visitors to the city, is the Convent of San Francesco. Below that gorgeous renaissance building is the heart of Fiesole, a little known jewel and the birthplace of modern day Florence.

The village was founded by the Etruscans. When the Roman’s conquered the village in the third century BC, they named it Faesulae, hence its modern name. The earliest inhabitants of Florentia, modern day Florence, came from Fiesole.

What most visitors don’t realize is that within a few minutes bus ride from the center of Florence is one of the best archaeological sites in Tuscany.

The Archaeological site includes remains of the Roman temple (built on the foundations of the Etruscan’s temple), a well restored Roman bath complex and an amphitheater capable of holding up to 2000 spectators.

Amphitheater Fiesloe

Beyond the relics in the Etruscan Museum, located on the grounds of the archaeological site, is the Museo Bandini, which offers an amazing collection of 14th to 14th Century works by artists like Taddeo gaddi and Lorenzeo Monaco. The ticket for the archaeological site includes admission to this museum.

There are not many walks in the are of Florence that offer more spectacular views of the city than the Via San Francesco, which leads from the main town square UP the hill to the convent of the same name. If the timing is right, stop by the Erta del Mangia, a lovely restaurant on your right as you climb above the town. The restaurant offers a quiet garden and fairly priced meals.

Courtyard Fiesole
Monastery of Saint Frances

The chapel at the Monastery of San Francesco, sited on what once was the Acropolis of the Etruscans, contains a spectacular early Renaissance altarpiece. The quiet inner courtyard offers a sense of the peaceful seclusion found by the monks who once inhabited the buildings.

Fiesole is truly a little-known jewel above the city. Include a visit when you are in the area and you will not be disappointed.

Some additional details and restaurant recommendations are listed below.

IF YOU GO:

The Number 21 bus leaves from Santa Maria Novella Station on a regular basis. Fares run Euro 3.50 each way for the trip to the main piazza in Fiesole. Easy access to all the sites mentioned in this post from this bus stop.

Tickets for the Archaeological Area and the Museo Bandini are available at the entrance to the site. The entrance is located a few steps from the main square in the village.Cost: Euro 10.00 per person. No discount for children unless EU citizens. Group rate available for groups larger than ten visitors. (Euro 6.00 per person)

Archaeological Site: Via Portigiani, 1 – Fiesole
Open: 9,30am- 7pm (summer) and 9.30am-5pm (winter). Closed on Tuesdays only during the winter.

Museo Bandini: Via Dupré, 1 – Fiesole
Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays – in March, 10am-6pm, in April 10-7pm
Call 055.596.1293 to verify opening times

Monastery of Saint Francis: May-Sep 10am-12 noon and 3pm-6pm; Sat, Sun and holidays 3pm-6pm; rest of the year 10am-12 noon and 3pm-5pm; Sat, Sun and hols 3pm-5pm. Closed on Mondays.

Restaurants:

Perseus: On the square in the village. Excellent Tuscan menu, authentic preparations. Beefsteak Florentine? This place is famous for its preparation. Italian’s eat here. Not much more to say.

Hotels:

Hotel Villa Aurora: The entrance to this unassuming three stay hotel is directly off the main square in the village. They offer lovely clean rooms for a fraction of Florence’s costs – the views from the rooms facing west are unforgettable. There is a large terrace for drinks and meals – owned by another business, yet directly next to the hotel. Good value.

Piazza Mino, 39 – 50014 Fiesole (FI)
Tel. 05559363 –

Web Site: Hotel Villa Aurora

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: