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image of MONTEFIORALLE
 
MONTEFIORALLE
The village of Montefioralle is probably one of the most ancient in Chianti and is still today enclosed within its original walls...

These were initially two circuits but houses now fill the space between the original structures.
The walls were octagonal in outline, with four gates, modifications of which still exist. During the Middle Ages it was one of the largest military and administrative centres of the area. The first notice of the settlement is from 1085. It belonged to the families Ricasoli, Benci, Gherardini and Vespucci.
In 1325 it was sacked by Castruccio Castracani. At the highest point of the village, the church of S. Stefano, rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries, may be visited. In the wide nave are a number of works of art, notably a precious work of the 13th century depicting the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus and two angels, attributed to the Master of Bagnano or to the Maestro of Greve. In the presbytery is the "Trinity and four Saints", an anonymous work showing the influences of Neri di Bicci and Andrea del Castagno. On the left is a painting of the Virgin Mary with the John the Baptist and Saint Stephen, a work of the school of Lorenzo Monaco (beginning of the 15th century). Until 1630, the name of the village was Monteficalle. Since the 18th century, this fortified village has been overtaken by Greve in Chianti, originally a local market.
It is a wonderful experience to walk and get lost in the narrow streets that suddenly opens up to a breathtaking wiew of the tuscan hills, it really seems to go back in the Middle Ages in a quiet small farmers village.

Where is Montefioralle:
is located in the middle of Florence province, at the beginning of the Chianti area

How to reach Montefioralle:
From Florence, direction south on the Chiantigiana road S222 until Greve. From Greve take direction Montefioralle. Florence is 28 Km far

Nearby: Visit the Chianti area, Greve, Panzano, Castellina and Radda

Distances: Florence 28 Km - Siena 37 Km - Arezzo 83 Km - Pisa 105 Km
 
 
image of MASSA MARITTIMA
 
MASSA MARITTIMA
The name is misleading, with the adjective "marittima", which means "maritime" in Italian, seeming to refer to the vicinity of the ocean or the fact, affirmed by various local legends, that far back in time the ocean lapped at these hills and later receded...

Actually, the adjective denotes the region in which the city is located: that very special environmental and cultural setting known as the Maremma, while the word "massa "signified in late latin an aggregation oflanded properties: thus, Massa di Marittima. It is situated in the area of the "Colline Metallifere", or Metalliferous Hills, noted for the presence of minerals which have been associated since Etruscan times with the mining activity which has been such a distinctive feature of the city i economic and social history.
The city is divided in three parts called "terzieri", a division which came about during the thirteenth century when the transition from a feudal type of organization to a communal one was accomplished. Around the year two, the first urban nucleus established itself in proximity to the Castello di Monteregio (Castle of Monteregio) which, as the residence of the Bishop-Count, was built on the highest point of the hill.
In 1225 after the city was liberated from the Bishops and the Free Commune had been proclaimed, work was begun on the public buildings necessary for civic life andwhich would form what later became known as the Citta Vecchia (Old City).
The main square thus gathered together, the first example of such a form, all the most important buildings the Cathedral, the Ecclesiastic Residence, the Palazzo del Podesta, the Town Hall, the Loggia del Comune, the Mint and the Public Fountain and from it descended the streets of the Borgo, where the artisan shops were located.
During the first half of the 13th century the large increase in population due to the favorable social and economic conditions created by the new institution of the commune made it necessary to enlarge the urban area. This extension, known as the Citta Nuova (New City), arose in the immediate vicinity of the Torre del Candeliere, which was just then being completed. It was given a particular urban design characterized by an orthogonal grid plan, and the Church of S. Agostino was built to replace the older S. Pietro all'Orto which was by now insufficient.
In 1335 Siena conquered the city and put an end to the Free Commune. This was the beginning of a period of grave decay and depopulation. A few years after their victory, the Siennese built the Fortezza, connecting it with an arch to the Torre del Candeliere, and a new set of city walls, which still divide the Old City and the Borgo from the Citta Nuova (New City).

Where is Massa Marittima: is located in the north of Grosseto province, on the border with the province of Livorno.

How to reach Massa Marittima: From Grosseto, take direction north Livorno and exit after 45 Km at Follonica est. Massa Marittima is 14 Km far

Nearby: Visit Castiglione della Pescaia, Bolgheri

Distances: Grosseto 60 Km - Siena 60 Km - Pisa 124 Km - Florence 114 Km

 
 
image of MONTECATINI TERME
 
MONTECATINI TERME
Montecatini Terme is one of the European spa capitals.
It was founded and developed around its most precious riches, its waters. One of its most striking characteristics is the large green area in the "heart" of the city.....


The spa park covers a surface of at least 460,000 sq./mt.: a real "green citadel" amid the spas. Montecatini Terme is a relatively young city which developed between 1800 and 1900. Formerly, it was called Bagni di Montecatini and only in 1928 took on its actual name, Montecatini Terme. While the spa center called Tettuccio represents the thermal center of the city, Piazza del Popolo and its adjacent streets lined with their elegant shops, which form the city's commercial center, can be considered as the "living room" of Montecatini. The square was the result of the enlargement of the old road "via Regia lucchese", which, as the name indicates, was the road connecting Lucca to Pistoia. It is here that the people from Montecatini chose to build their basilica. This was built in 1833 and designed by the architect Luigi Cambray Digny. However, as it turned out to be too small to serve the needs of the citizens, in 1962 it was decided that it should be torn down and rebuilt it according to the design of the architects Fagnoni, Spadolini, Stocchetti e Negri. In the center of the square is a fountain from 1913 which replaces an ancient loggia used for markets and trade fairs. The main streets of the city branch off from Popolo Square. Corso Roma with its majestic Kursaal (theater and ballroom) sets off from the West side of the square. After years of abandon, the Kursaal is about to be reborn again. On the East side, we find Corso Matteotti which goes as far as the train station. Viale Verdi, which leads to Tettuccio Spa, starts from the north side of the square. This avenue was designed in 1778 by the engineer Francesco Bambicci and originally was called Stradone dei Bagni. It seems that it was the Grand Duke himself who wanted this street to resemble the broad avenues that at the time were being built around Europe.
Later, some of the main buildings of the city were built on this avenue, including Palazzo Comunale (the town hall) which was built on the former stables of the Grand Duke. This palace was embellished by decorations by Galileo Chini who designed some of the big skylights, painted the lunettes and decorated the vaults.
Just before the town hall, on the other side of the avenue is the Palazzina Regia, which originally was the summer residence of the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo and which today is the general headquarters of the Montecatini spas. Further along is the Verdi theatre. The repeated references to the great composer are no coincidence: Giuseppe Verdi spent long periods in this spa city where he also composed some operas.
The theatre was inaugurated in 1930 as 'Teatro giardino Le Terme" (Garden theatre "The Spas") with the performance of Verdi's Aida. In 1981 the theatre was provided with an extended modern marquee. In the last few years it has been often used for TV shows (from "Serata d'Onore" with Pippo Baudo to "Torno Sabato" with Giorgio Panariello and Nina Moric) and operettas.
In the first section of the avenue is also the Café Gambrinus, one of the last "caffé concerto" tearooms in Italy.
 
 
image of MONTERIGGIONI
 
MONTERIGGIONI
In the province of Siena, half way between Florence and Siena, a small medieval village known throughout Italy because the walls which encircle the settlement are still perfectly intact.
Dante mentions the village in 'the Divine Comedy'....

There are 570 meters of wall, 14 towers and two gateways - Porta Franca, which faces towards Siena and Porta St Giovanni, facing towards Florence. Built on a hill top, Monteriggioni was originally a surveillance point looking out over the Elsa and Staggia Valleys. To see: the 14th Century Parish Church and the Romanesque Abbey Abbadia a Isola of 1001.
Cereals, grapes and colza are grown in the surrounding countryside where there are also numerous stud farms. Also present in the area are chemical, furniture and food industries.
Craft traditions of Monteriggioni include the production of ceramics, and articles made from wood, granite and marble.
 
 
image of VOLTERRA
 
VOLTERRA
Idyllically set amidst gently rolling hills and lush woodland, the Cecina and Era Valleys captures the essence of Tuscany and is distinguished by its relaxed, gentle pace of life and warm welcome. Its cultural heritage and timeless atmosphere is majestically crowned by Volterra...

Volterra, a haven of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Rennaissance art, dominates the Cecina Valley, 550 metres above sea level, affording a spectacular view as far as the sea.

The city still retains traces of its majestic past which gradually unfurls as you wander through the narrow streets and explore the Etruscan Museum, The Art Gallery and Museum of Sacred Art.

And yet Volterra’s charm not only lies in its historical patrimony but in the undefiled surrounding countryside, a slow traditional way of life and its age-old tradition of alabaster carving.

This elusive stronghold requires careful and patient attention for it takes time to absorb its timeless atmosphere, treasured secrets, unique ambience and culture.

One of the most unspoilt areas in the region, close to other important art centres and the coast, this is an ideal choice for a holiday in Tuscany.
 
 
image of AREZZO
 
AREZZO
Arezzo was born as an Etruscan settlement in the 4th century B.C. and ows its name to this people.
In the Roman period it had a great importance as a military station along Via Cassia...

Arezzo was born as an Etruscan settlement in the 4th century B.C. and ows its name to this people.
In the Roman period it had a great importance as a military station along Via Cassia, but it began to decay in the early Middle Ages.
Its recovery as a town was due to the bishops’ power between the 9th and the 12th century.
In 1098 it became a free medieval commune and started fighting against Siena and Florence.
The battle of Ciampaldino, in 1298, exactly against Florence, cost Arezzo a big defeat.
In the 14th century the town passed under the control of the Medicean signoria. Only with the unity of Italy Arezzo flourished again, both from the economic and the administrative points of view.
Certainly you must not miss St Francis Church and its magnificent interior.It was begun in the second half of 1200, by request of the Franciscan friars and it has bacome famous for the precious frescos of “The Legend of the True Cross”, by Piero della Francesca, who started to execute it in 1400.
If you continue your way from the square towards Corso Italia, you get to Pieve S. Maria, one of the greatest expressions of the Romanesque art, with an early Christian structure.
Then the visit to the Archaeological Museum is important too (which is near the Roman Amphitheatre of the 1st-2nd century) and preserves Greek and Etruscan vases, the ruins of Roman floorings, coins and statues.
Absolutely to visit around Arezzo:
The Verna, a peak (1129m.), covered by beeches and firs, that was given to St Francesco d’Assisi by Count Cattani in 1213, as well as the complex of the Franciscan sanctuary built between 1216 1218, still today active and rich in works of art;
Poppi (Popium), a little town in the heart of Casentino; it was the ancient residence of Count Guido di Simone;
Please look at the wonderful landscape !!
 
 
image of San Gimignano
 
San Gimignano
San Gimignano is probably the most famous small town in Italy, and there are few places that evoke the atmosphere of mediaeval Tuscany so powerfully...


San Gimignano is probably the most famous small town in Italy, and there are few places that evoke the atmosphere of mediaeval Tuscany so powerfully. Fifteen of the original seventy-two towers survive. the towers represented wealth and influence. The higher the tower, the richer your family.
San Gimignano, with its stunning towers. rises on a hill dominating the Elsa Valley Once the seat of a small Etruscan village of the Hellenistic period (200-300 BC) it began its life as a town in the 10th century taking its name from the Holy Bishop of Modena, St. Gimignano, who is said to have saved the village from the barbarian hordes. The construction of the towers dates back to the 11th and 13th centuries, when San Gimignano was part of an important trade route and grew in prosperity. The architecture of the city was influenced by Pisa, Siena and Florence. There are 14th century paintings of the Sienese School to be seen and 15th century paintings of the Florentine School.
When you arrive in San Gimignano and walk through the ancient gates, you'll think the time had stopped many centuries ago. Inside the town-walls everything had preserved its Medieval shape. It is history personified.
 
 
image of Fiesole
 
Fiesole


Fiesole was founded in the 9th-8th century BC, as it was an important member of the Etruscan confederacy, as may be seen from the remains of its ancient walls.The Roman theatre is still used. The first recorded mention on the town dates to 283 BC when the town, then known as Faesulae, was conquered by the Romans. In pagan antiquity it was the seat of a famous school of augurs, and every year twelve young men were sent thither from Rome to study the art of divination. Sulla colonized it with veterans, who afterwards, under the leadership of Manlius, supported the cause ofCatilina. Fiesole fell to the Germanics hordes of the Vandals and Suevi under Radagaisus were defeated in 405 by hunger rather than by the troops of Stilicho. During the Gothic War (536-53) the town was several times besieged. In 539Justinus , the Byzantine general, captured it and razed its fortifications.It was an independent town for several centuries in the early Middle Ages, no less powerful than Florence in the valley below, and many wars arose between them; in 1010 and 1025 Fiesole was sacked by the Florentines, before it was conquered by Florence in 1125, and its leading families obliged to take up their residence in Florence.
Main Sights:
• Remnants of Etruscan walls.
• Roman baths.
• Roman theatre.
• Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) of the 14 century .
• The cathedral (Il Duomo)
• The Badia or ancient cathedral of St. Romulus.
• The monastery of S. Francesco on the crest of the hill, with the cells of St. Bernardine of Siena and seven Franciscan Beati.
• San Girolamo, the home of Venerable Carlo dei Conti Guidi, founder of the Hieronymites of Fiesole (1360).
• San Domenico, the novice-home of Fra Angelico da Fiesole and of St. Antoninus of Florence.
• Villa Medici in Fiesole
In the neighbourhood are:
• Monte Senario, the cradle of the Servite Order, where its seven holy founders lived in great austerity and were cheered at their death by the songs of angels
• S. Martino di Mensola, with the body of St. Andrew, an Irish saint, still incorrupt.

 
 
image of Val d'Orcia Hills
 
Val d'Orcia Hills


In the heart of Terra di Siena you find a perfect, essential landscape consisting of hills, erosion furrows, the winding course of the river and cypresses which, in isolation, crown the high ground or, in ordered rows, follow the progression of the roads.

On the hills, hamlets and isolated monuments of extraordinary charm overlook oak woods, olive groves and vineyards where Brunello and other great Tuscan wines are produced.

To the west the landscape is closed by Monte Amiata, the highest extinct volcano in Italy.

At Bagno Vignoni and Bagni San Filippo, the spa waters rising from the heart of the volcano come powerfully to the surface and form concretions of rare beauty.
For millennia these waters have offered well-being and health to a public willing to travel a very long way to enjoy them.
But emotion comes first and foremost from the hills. Because Val d’Orcia is first and foremost nature.
The colours of dry clay and golden earth, share the hills, dark green moss and undergrowth cover the base of rocky crags and old farm houses, the gentle colours found in the orderly lines of vineyards mix with the silver grey of the olive groves.

The solitude, the empty spaces, the light, the views, conjure up a sense of pleasure, delight and even loneliness difficult to define.
 
 
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