Category Archives: Florence

Travel to Tuscany’s Vino con Vista Wine Regions in Italy

The gallo nero seal of the Consorzio Chianti C...

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Sangiovese vines of Brunello di Montalcino in ...

Sangiovese vines of Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chianti sub-zone

Chianti sub-zone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A bottle of the Italian wine Chianti Classico ...

A bottle of the Italian wine Chianti Classico made from Sangiovese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A close-up view of sangiovese grapes ...

English: A close-up view of sangiovese grapes to be made into Chianti at the Colle Lungo vineyard in Castellina in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuscany is Italy’s quintessential wine region and the birthplace of three important red wines: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. These wines are made from Sangiovese grapes but have distinctively different flavors in Tuscany’s diverse microclimates.

Vineyard growing in the Italian wine region of...

Vineyard growing in the Italian wine region of Tuscany, home of the Sangiovese-based Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine. The photo also demonstrates the viticultural technique of clear (or bare) cultivation that leaves bare soil between the vines and rows with no cover crops. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chianti is produced in seven subzones in Tuscany. The Chianti Classico zone has DOCG status. The other six Chianti subzones are: Chianti Rufina, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Aretini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane and Chianti Montalbano. The “Chiantigiana” is the scenic road that twists and turns through the Chianti zones between Florence and Siena.

Brunello is Tuscany’s rarest and most expensive wine. It is produced in the walled medieval village of Montalcino, south of the Chianti Classico zone. The climate is warmer and the hills are steeper. The wine is aged longer and it must be aged in oak barrels.

Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2003 I...

Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2003 Italian wine from Tuscany made from Sangiovese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has been made in the town of Montepulciano since Etruscan times. This wine is made from prugnolo grapes a sangiovese clone and was granted DOCG status in 1980.

Here’s Wine Spectator’s detailed overview map of Tuscany . The map includes: Chianti, Bolgheri, Brunello di Montalcino, Maremma and the Montepulciano appellations.

Click here to view the map: http://assets.winespectator.com/wso/Maps/Tuscanymap.pdf

On February 27th, 2014 there was an annual award ceremony for the Best of Wine Tourism 2014 winners at Palazzo Capponi in Florence.

The winners were:

Castello di Gabbiano, San Felice winery, Enotria, Castello di Poppiano, Castello La Leccia, Tenuta di Poggio Casciano from Ruffino, Panzanello winery and Col d’Orcia.

“The stretch of coastline from Livorno to Piombino is known as the Etruscan Coast, the area chosen by the ancient Etruscan people to exploit the huge mining and agricultural resources.  Medieval jewels like the towns of Casale Marittimo and Bolgheri, famous for its Viale dei Cipressi (Cypresses), which gained everlasting fame thanks to the poem “Davanti a San Guido” by Giosuè Carducci, as well as Castagneto Carducci, dominated by the castle of the Gherardesca counts, and Suvereto, a medieval town with charming architectural harmony.

Visit the Etruscan Coast wine trail where you can meet most local wine producers and visit their cellars and vineyards. Here are some helpful links for this area:

To learn more about Italian food and wine read Vino con Vista Travel guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

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Filed under Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico, Florence, Italian Food, Italian Food and Wine, Italian Wine, Italy, Italy Travel Guides, Sangiovese, Sienna, Travel and Tourism, Tuscany, UNESCO, vino con vista, World Heritage Sites

Incredible Easter with Fireworks in Florence Italy: Lo Scoppio del Carro

English: Capture of Jerusalem during the First...

English: Capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, 1099, from a medieval manuscript Deutsch: Mittelalterliches Gemälde der Belagerung Jerusalems durch die Kreuzfahrer 1099 Suomi: Jerusalemin valtaus 1099. Keskiaikaisen käsikirjoituksen kuvitusta. Polski: Zdobycie Jerozolimy podczas I krucjaty (1099 r.) – rysunek ze średniowiecznego rękopisu Italiano: Conquista di Gerusalemme durante la Prima Crociata, nel 1099, da un manoscritto medievale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photo by User:Gilabrand. Dome of the Rock view...

Photo by User:Gilabrand. Dome of the Rock viewed through Bab al-Qattanin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scoppio del Carro (Florence)

Image via Wikipedia

English: Jerusalem, Dome of the rock, in the b...

English: Jerusalem, Dome of the rock, in the background the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Deutsch: Jerusalem, Felsendom, im Hintergrund die Grabeskirche (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Easter morning, an ornate 500-year- old,  30-foot cart is paraded through the streets of Florence Italy by a team of  white oxen covered with flowers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FmiZNeYbto&feature=fvwrel.

English: Scoppio del Carro2 (Florence) Italian...

English: Scoppio del Carro2 (Florence) Italiano: Scoppio del Carro2 (Firenze) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The oxen cart is escorted by men dressed as Roman soldiers, city officials,  musicians and flag-throwers dressed in medieval costumes from the Porta al Prato to  the magnificent Piazza del Duomo . This annual event is called Lo Scoppio del Carro. This “Explosion of the Cart” celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and a new beginning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIlWMQoTnhs&NR=1

After the 11:00 Easter Mass in the Duomo, the “Explosion of the Cart” will occur in front of the Baptistery at noon. The cart is pre-loaded with fireworks. A wire that stretches from the altar inside the Duomo is rigged with a mechanical dove with an olive branch in her beak called the “Columbina” (little dove) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT5qr1xqbKo&feature=related.

The olive branch and the dove symbolize the Holy Spirit as well as Easter peace. After the parishoners sing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” (Glory to God in the Highest) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MuHQ2cxPr8&feature=fvst, the Cardinal of Florence will light a fuse that travels from the Church to ignite the cart in the Piazza. The fire is ignited by historic flints from Jerusalem. During this event, the Bells from Giotto’s Bell Tower will be  joyously ringing.

The traditional annual event lasts for about twenty minutes. A successful explosion signifies a good harvest and good business in the coming year which translates into good news for the wine-makers of Tuscany.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui8SLFG6h84&feature=related

Lo Scoppio del Carro festivities originated in the First Crusade when Europeans seiged the city of Jerusalem in an attempt to claim Palestine for Christianity. Bishop Ranieri took over Jerusalem during the First Crusade and on July 15, 1099, Pazzino di Ranieri de Pazzi‘s army defeated Jerusalem and hung a Christian banner on the walls of the Holy City.  Pazzino de Pazzi, a wealthy Florentine, was the first man to scale the walls of Jerusalem. As a reward, his commander-in-chief, Godfrey IV de Buillon gave him three chips of stone from the Holy Sepulcher of Christ which he brought back to Florence in 1101.

Scoppio del carro

Scoppio del carro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These flints were held by the Pazzi family for many years and were used to spark the “New Fire” which symbolized new life. The fire was shared with other families to help ignite things around the house like candles and fireplaces. These lights were put out on Good Friday and then lit again on Easter Sunday.

scoppio-del-carro1_17

scoppio-del-carro1_17 (Photo credit: bwohack)

The city of Florence assumed the responsibility and the tradition of passing the fire from Jerusalem. For many years, the stone chips were kept in the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Porta, but in 1785, the Holy Sepulcher stones were moved to the Chiesa degli Santi Apostoli. Watch this slide presentation to see the event:

http://firenze.repubblica.it/cronaca/2012/04/08/foto/lo_scoppio_del_carro-32965499/1/

The capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders on 1...

The capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders on 15 July 1099 1. The Holy Sepulchre 2. The Dome of the Rock 3. Ramparts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Holy Fire has traditionally been struck from these ancient flints at Eastertide to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. In 1494, the Cart Explosion was lit in front of the Baptistery for the first time. They were also lit on the street corner of the Pazzi family. The lighting in front of the Pazzi family was discontinued in 1900. Over 500 years ago, the exciting tradition of lighting fireworks on Easter Sunday assumed its present form in Florence.

 

Interior of the Pazzi Chapel.

Interior of the Pazzi Chapel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scoppio del carro 2013 31-03-2013 11-00-32

Scoppio del carro 2013 31-03-2013 11-00-32 (Photo credit: Hari Seldon)

To learn more about Italy read my Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com. Happy Easter!! Buona Pasqua

 

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Amazing Art Exhibitions in Italy’s Finest Vino con Vista Cities

Italiano: La Deposizione di Cristo.

Italiano: La Deposizione di Cristo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucas Cranach d. Ä. 092

Lucas Cranach d. Ä. 092 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucas Cranach d. Ä. - Madonna met kind

Lucas Cranach d. Ä. – Madonna met kind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucas Cranach the Elder

Lucas Cranach the Elder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucas Cranach the Elder. Venus with Cupid Stea...
Image by alarcowa via Flickr

Italy has outstanding regional Art Museums that have temporary exhibits that you may want to attend in many of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage Cities.

Check the Museum Websites for detailed information about Temporary Exhibitions.

In Rome:

The Borghese Gallery‘s has held temporary shows including a “Lucas Cranach” exhibit that featured the German Renaissance painter. There were actually two famous “Cranach” painters, Lucas Cranach the Elder and his son Lucas Cranach the Younger. Admire 45 works from major international museums including Cardinal Borghese‘s  prized “Venus and Cupid”  which is the only Borghese Gallery possession.

Scuderie del Quirinale‘s temporary shows have included “Painter’s of the Risorgimento’s War Scenes” and Caravaggio’s works from around the world.

In Florence:

Palazzo Strozzi‘s temporary exhibits have included: “Bronzino: Painter, and Poet of the Medici Court”.

Palazzo Pitti‘s exhibits have included “Vinum Nostrum: Art, Science and Wine in Civilization.”

The Bargello‘s “Giovanfrescesco Rustici and Leonardo” exhibit linked the 15th century sculptor with da Vinci, Verrocchio and others.

In Milan:

I loved Palazzo Reale’s “Salvatore Dali” exhibit.

Dali... Salvatore Dali...

Dali… Salvatore Dali… (Photo credit: michal.kolodziejski)

Museo Poldi Pezzoli‘s “Sandro Bottecelli Works from Lombardy” were incredible.

Perusia:

Palazzo Zabarella’s offered from “Canova to Modigliani: The Face of the 19th Century” with 100 portraits and sculptures..

Modigliani at the San Diego Museum of ArtModiliani painting slod for almost $69 million

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides. Learn more about Italy at www.vino-con-vista.com.

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World’s Best Gelato and Vernaccia Wine in Vino Con Vista San Gimignano Italy

San Gimignano, Tempera on panel, Museo Civico,...
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San Gimignano delle belle Torri’ is 32 miles southwest of Florence in the Val d’Elsa. It is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Italy and is considered the Manhattan of Tuscany.

Things to do: Visit the Piazza della Cisterna,  climb the Torre Grossa, visit the Civic Museum. Tour the Romanesque Collegiata and the Church of Sant’Agostino with a 15th-century fresco cycle by Benozzo Gozzoli, head over to the torture museum for some cool selfies.

Here’s a good link: San Gimignano 1 day itinerary

The town experienced a period of economic wealth and flourished artistically in the mid-1300s from merchants and pilgrims traveling along the Via Francigena.

The majestic skyline of noble Medieval towers are enclosed in a 13th century wall that was built for defensive purposes. The towers were built as a symbol of status and wealth by s wealthy families. The family with the highest tower, attempted to exhibit the most power.

“According to official decree, no other tower in San Gimignano could surpass that of La Rognosa.” In the year 1300, 70 towers symbolized the 70 wealthy families inhabiting San Gimignano; today, only 13 towers are left from the original 72. The Torre Grossa is still open to the public. Even though only 13 of the original towers have survived, San Gimignano has retained its feudal atmosphere and appearance.
It is the Tuscany,  UNESCO 1990, proclaimed: “this masterpiece of creative human genius, it is unique testimony to a past civilization, and as an exceptional exemplar of both architectonic complex and landscape, demonstrates significant passages in human history.”

The town has several masterpieces of 14th and 15th century Italian art. known artists from the Sienese school traveled to San Gimignano to paint: Simone Martini, Lippo Memmi and Puccio Taddeo di Bartolo.

Visit the Romanesque Basilica of the Assumption of Mary. Visit the splendid Chapel of Santa Fina with frescoes by Domenico del Ghirlandaio that depict episodes from her life: “The Annunciation” and “Death of Saint Fina” were painted in 1478 in The Chapel of Santa Fina at the Romanesque Collegiata cathedral.  In the cathedral there are also notable frescos by Bartolo di Fredi and Benozzo Gozzoli. Taddeo di Bartolo’s frescoes including the “Last Judgement” (1393-1396) are amazing.

Saffron and chilled Vernaccia are abundant in San Gimignano. Vernaccia is one of Italy’s finest whites and is often served with fish. It was even the first Italian wine to bear the title Controlled Designation of Origin (D.O.C.) in 1966. The vineyards can be seen along the road from Poggibonsi to San Gimignano. Check out the Museo del Vino della Vernaccia, in the Villa della Rocca di Montestaffoli.
The grape harvest takes place from late September to early October. Vernaccia Normale can be bottled in March, while the Riserva must be aged in the wine cellars for one year.

Climb 175 feet to the top of Museo Civico’s forbidding fortress completed in 1311. Climb to the top of the tower through the museum entrance for a panoramic view. After your climb to the top of the tower,  you have definitely earned the “World’s Best Gelato” at Pluripremiata in the square by the cistern, Piazza della Cisterna. I tried a few of the flavors and loved them all!

To learn more about Tuscany visit www.vino-con-vista.com

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The Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence is the “National Pantheon”

A monument to the florentines fallen during th...

A monument to the florentines fallen during the WW1. God the Father, by Bandinelli. Santa Croce cloister, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crucifixion, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence...

Crucifixion, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pulpit, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy.

Pulpit, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Français : Monument à la mémoire de Donatello,...

Français : Monument à la mémoire de Donatello, Basilique Santa Croce de Florence, Italie. 1895. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Exterior of the Basilica of Santa Cro...

English: Exterior of the Basilica of Santa Croce (Florence). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in th...

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in the Pazzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Santa Croce is the church of the Franciscans and was built in the Italian gothic style.  It was completed in 1442.

Français : La porte principale de la basilique...

Français : La porte principale de la basilique de la Sainte-Croix (Santa Croce) à Florence, Italie. English: The main gate of Basilica Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Santa Croce

Santa Croce (Photo credit: Dorina Bernard)

The Neo-Gothic façade was re-clad in 1863 in pink, green and white Tuscan marble. It is located in the Piazza di Santa Croce.

Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy

Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy (Photo credit: SpirosK)

Florence Italy

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in th...

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in the Pazzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is dubbed the “National Pantheon” because it has tombs or centotaphs of the greatest Italians.  A centotaph is a funerary monument without the remains of the deceased.

The six-pointed star in the central tympanum is Medieval and these rays  symbolize St. Bernadino. In Christian art, there are many saints associated with this star: St. Bruno bears a star on his breast; Saint Dominic, Saint Humbert and Saint Peter of Alcantara have this star on their head or forehead.

Florence Italy

The beautiful bell tower was rebuilt in 1842 by Gaetano Baccani because it was destroyed by a bolt of lightning in 1512.

Michelangelo's tomb

Michelangelo’s tomb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Florence Italy

Tondo of Saint Matthew the Evangelist on the d...

Tondo of Saint Matthew the Evangelist on the dome of Pazzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy (It has been suggested that it was the work of Donatello.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tondo of Saint John the Evangelist on the dome...

Tondo of Saint John the Evangelist on the dome of Pazzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy (It has been suggested that it was the work of Donatello.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

South of the church, visit the secret garden and cloisters. The Pazzi Chapel was designed by Brunelleschi in 1429. It is set in front of the neo-Gothic bell-tower. The chapel  is adorned by  terracotta tondi of the apostles by Luca della Robbia and by roundels of the Evangelists by Donatello.

The loggia was built and decorated in grey sandstone and decorated with terracotta.

inside view of the Dome hidden in the portico ...

inside view of the Dome hidden in the portico of Cappella dei Pazzi, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in th...

Tondo of an apostle by Luca della Robbia in the Pazzi Chapel, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Main Chapel was commissioned by Jacopo degli Alberti. The polyptych on the altar was redone in the 19th century and portrays the Virgin, Saints and Fathers of the Church crowned by a large crucifix by “Maestro de Figline” who worked in Giotto’s workshop. There is a beautiful Polyptych by Giotto and his pupils in the Baroncelli Chapel.

FLorence Italy

The Florentine Pantheon has tombs and monuments to legendary citizens. Many marble tombstones cover the floor of Santa Croce.

Renaissance tombs exalted the dead person’s achievements on earth. Most of the monuments is Santa Croce have designated allegorical figures to depict the earthly accomplishments of the deceased. The wall of the right nave contains the “Monument to Michelangelo” by Vasari (1570).

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michelangelo returned to Florence between in 1499–1501, after after the fall Girolamo Savonarola who was executed in 1498. Michelangelo was asked to complete a colossal statue portraying David that was started 40 years earlier by Agostino di Duccio.

David

David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Statue of David  would occupy a prominent spot  in the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Today the statue outside the Palazzo Vecchio is a replica. The real David is in the Academia in Florence.

Michelangelo-Buonarroti-David-Replica-Florence

Michelangelo-Buonarroti-David-Replica-Florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This famous sculpture was made from a marble block from the quarries at Carrara.

In 1505, Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by Pope Julius II to build the Pope’s tomb. He worked on the tomb for 40 years.

The tomb of Pope Julius II by Michelangelo and...

The tomb of Pope Julius II by Michelangelo and its statue of Moise in the basilica San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tomb is located in the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli in Rome and  Michelangelo’s statue of Moses is the central feature.

Statue of Moses by Michelangelo, church San Pi...

Statue of Moses by Michelangelo, church San Pietro in Vincoli; Rome, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Michelangelo died, Vasari erected his tomb in Santa Croce. The sarcophagus is surrounded by allegorical figures of “Painting” by Battista Lorenzi, “Sculpture” by Valerio Cioli and “Architecture” by Giovanni dell’Opera.  The bust of Michelangelo was carved by Lorenzi. The beautiful frescoes that flank the monument were done by Domenico Ghirlandaio.

On November 17, 2015, they launched a  Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the restoration of the Pazzi Chapel Loggia, one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture, in the Santa Croce complex. make your contribution here: http://www.santacroceopera.it/en/Opera_Sponsor.aspx

cappella pazzi, santa croce, florence

The interior of Santa Croce, Florence

The interior of Santa Croce, Florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides to Italy at www.vino-con-vista.com

Florence Italy

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Tour the Uffizi in Vino con Vista Florence Italy

English: Vasari Corridor

English: Vasari Corridor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor...

English: Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor, seen from the Uffizi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Banks of the Arno, seen from the Ponte Vecchio...

Banks of the Arno, seen from the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), Florence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Birth of Venus.

Image via Wikipedia

The Uffizi contains the highest concentration of Renaissance art in the world. The gallery is located along the Arno River in Florence Italy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Uffizi owns about 4800 works of art including paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture and pottery. Go to www.googleartproject.com to see some of the magnificent works of art in the gallery. This website allows you to tour other galleries around the world. A true feast for any art-lover.  Admire masterpieces by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca and many others.

The Uffizi building contains the gallery built for Cosimo I. It was created as a U-shaped administrative center of the Grand Duchy and was originally designed by Vasari in 1560. Vasari was the court architect and master of public works for the Medici family. It was linked to the Palazzo Vecchio to allow rulers to safely cross the city via the Vasari Corridor. Later, it was linked to the Loggia dei Lanzi by Buonatalenti. The Uffizi was opened to the public in 1769 by Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine.

“Recently,  wi-fi was introduced so visitors can access information about the museum on their devices including: events and exhibitions, maps, tips and tidbits in Italian and English.

Evening openings have been scheduled from June until the end of the year: every Tuesday and Saturday, from 7 to 11 pm.

Book it: see here!  The first Sunday of every month is “Sunday at the museum” and the state museums are free for everyone!
To learn more about Italy read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides.

 

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Have a Feast in Fiesole Italy near Florence

Sangiovese vines of Brunello di Montalcino in ...

Sangiovese vines of Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Florence as seen from Fiesole.

Florence as seen from Fiesole. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

View to Fiesole in Florence, Italy
Image via Wikipedia
Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Thermae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vineyard growing in the Italian wine region of...

Vineyard growing in the Italian wine region of Tuscany, home of the Sangiovese-based Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine. The photo also demonstrates the viticultural technique of clear (or bare) cultivation that leaves bare soil between the vines and rows with no cover crops. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bistecca alla fiorentina

Bistecca alla fiorentina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Theater. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Thermae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Thermae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Temples. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Thermae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. ...

Fiesole archaeological site, Florence, Italy. Temples. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiesole is in the province of Florence in Tuscany. It was a former Etruscan settlement. It is nestled on a hilly ridge 30 minutes north of Florence. It’s position offers a breath-taking view of Florence.

Head for tranquil Fiesole for lunch or dinner at Trattoria Le Cave de Maiano. Order a veal chop or the famous “Bistecca alla Fiorentina” (Florentine T-Bone) from Tuscany’s famed Chianina beef and a bottle of Bolgheri Rosso, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or Brunello di Montalcino.  Dine at La Reggia degli ‘Etrusci‘s terrace for a fabulous “Vino con Vista”.

Visit the Piazza Mino de Fiesole, the main square, and have an expresso at the Caffe Aurora in the bougainvillea shaded terrace with a fabulous view of Florence.  Take a picture with the bronze statue of Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II.

Roman theater in Fiesole, Italy

Roman theater in Fiesole, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Explore the 14th century Franciscan Friary of San Francesco with a presepi on display all year long. Visit the Archeological area in the first century BC Roman theater,  public baths and a 4th century Etruscan temple.  The temple is dedicated to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and healing.

Stay at Villa San Michele in Fiesole and ask for the Michelangelo Suite. This Orient Express property was a former 15th century monastery that was designed by Michelangelo. Fabulous cooking classes are only available to hotel guests with “Guest Chefs” from many other world-class hotels www.villasanmichele.com. Another option is Italy’s Top Spa (19 miles northwest of Florence) www.termemontecatini.it.  After your spa treatment, take the Funicular to Montecatini Alto for a panoramic vista all the way to Florence.

see above

see above (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

see above

see above (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To learn more about Italy read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides and

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Vino con Vista Loves Italian Renaissance Art

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, Galleria d...
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English: Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. R...

English: Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. Red chalk. 33 × 21 cm. Turin, Royal Library (inv.no. 15571). NOTE This image is in red chalk. Do not revert to the black and white image. Deutsch: Kopf eines bärtigen Mannes, sog. Selbstbildnis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Annunciation (1475–1480)—Uffizi, is thought to...

Annunciation (1475–1480)—Uffizi, is thought to be Leonardo’s earliest complete work. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This complex Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo...

This complex Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci was never completed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Death of Leonardo da Vinci by François-Guillau...

Death of Leonardo da Vinci by François-Guillaume Ménageot (now to be seen in the observatory and museum at Amboise). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michelangelo-pieta

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Raffael 006

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Leonardo da Vinci - Madonna Litta - WGA12702

Leonardo da Vinci – Madonna Litta – WGA12702 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Euro-standard circulation Italian 1 euro coin ...

Euro-standard circulation Italian 1 euro coin (national/obverse side). The design represents Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of the proportions of the human body (also known as the Vitruvian man). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Statue of Leonardo da Vinci ...by himself ? In...

Statue of Leonardo da Vinci …by himself ? In front of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint...

The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leonardo da Vinci was the embodiment of a Renaissance Man because he excelled at a variety of worthwhile endeavors. He was a celebrated sculptor, painter, architect, engineer and scientist. Leonardo’s “Vitruvian Man” represents the perfectly proportioned man.

English: Studies of Embryos by Leonardo da Vin...

English: Studies of Embryos by Leonardo da Vinci (Pen over red chalk 1510-1513) Français : étude anatomique du foetus dans l’uterus, par Léonard de Vinci (1510-1513, Plume, encre sur papier) Cette célèbre étude montre un foetus âgé de 4 mois. Outre l’image extrêmement plastique de la “position foetale”, Leonard cherche à visualiser la constitution du placenta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watch the following video showing four major Italian Renaissance artists and their work : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVQBVE9BzYk

tempera on gesso, pitch and mastic

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Michelangelo Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbZen2OOA3M&feature=related

Giotto - The Entombment of Mary - Google Art P...

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Titian, Raphael, Giotto Video:

Raphael - Von der Ropp Madonna

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBTtjDMBIbk&feature=related Botticelli Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOILQzTfYww&feature=related are notable Renaissance artists who were commissioned by wealthy families and popes.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leonardo

Leonardo (Photo credit: Arenamontanus)

The contributions of these artists decorate the walls of churches, palaces and museums around the world. The Renaissance flourished in Italy and Italian masters graced humanity with a wealth of masterpieces Bartolommeo Vivarini from Venice produced works of art for cities across Northern Italy and down the Adriatic Coast including this altarpiece of “Saint Mark” around 1490.

Italian Renaissance art

 Cosme Tura from Ferrara painted “Saint George” around 1474 for the Church of San Giorgio fuori le Mura in Ferrara. Carlo Crivelli from Venice painted the “Madonna and Child” in 1468. Alessandro Mattia da Farnese from Rome painted the “Portrait of Prince Augusto Chigi” in 1664. Giovanni di Paolo from Sienna painted “The Madonna and Child with Angels” in 1475. Sano di Pietro from Siena painted “Saint Catherine of Siena” in about 1450. Fra Angelico (Guido di Pietro) from Florence painted “The Madonna and Child” in 1411-1413. Giotto‘s “God the Father with Angels”

Italian Renaissance art

Perugino from Umbria

Saint Jerome

Bernardino Luini from Milan painted “The Conversion of the Magdalene” (An Allegory of Modesty and Vanity) in 1520 with gesturing hands.

Italian Renaissance art

Catena’s “Holy Family” I love Luca Signorelli’s, “The Coronation of the Virgin” 1508

Italian Renaissance Art

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The Ten Most Seductive Vino con Vista Places to Drink Wine in Italy

Almalfi Coast (10/10/2007)

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English: Part of Positano, Italy.

English: Part of Positano, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy Series - Italian Coastal Town

Italy Series – Italian Coastal Town (Photo credit: John O Dyer)

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy.

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy] (LOC)

[Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

English: Map of Italy and its districts.

English: Map of Italy and its districts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Positano

Positano (Photo credit: warlikeangel)

Ravello-Villa Cimbrone Pavillon

Ravello-Villa Cimbrone Pavillon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy is one of the world’s most alluring travel destinations. It is brimming with centuries of masterpieces by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Tintoretto and Caravaggio. Verdi and Puccini created indredible operas.  Venice, Florence and Rome are cloaked with amazing architecture.

It is the historic and cultural epicenter of the Etruscans, the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church and the Renaissance.  Captivating panoramic vistas of the peninsula’s majestic mountains, volcanoes and glistening seas enhance Italy’s timeless charm.  The fascinating array of sights and travel experiences includes glorious cityscapes overflowing with art and architectural masterpieces.  Historic cities are surrounded by dreamy landscapes of rolling hills that are carpeted with vineyards, olive and citrus groves.

Positano

Positano (Photo credit: jimmyharris)

[Forum Boario, Rome, Italy] (LOC)

[Forum Boario, Rome, Italy] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

There are many differesnt types of wine produced in the world; about 80% is still wine, but you can also drink fortified wine and sparkling wine in Italy.

Wine

The grapes thrive on terraced vineyards with intense sunshine; pronounced  fluctuations between day and night temperatures are essential for some grapes. Italy’s landscape is covered with vineyards. Some regions of Italy have more limited wine production than other regions. These smaller production areas do not export much wine because all of the output is consumed locally. These regional wines can only be enjoyed in Italy. Wine, bread and olive oil make up the Holy Trinity of the Italian Mediterranean diet. I like to drink wine and gaze at a panoramic vista of something beautiful. I have selected these locations because they provide what I consider a “Vino con Vista”–Wine with a View.

The micro climates of regions from Piedmont to Sicily provide the nation’s wine producers with resources and endless opportunities to produce highly regarded local wines.  Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Barbera and Nebbiolo grapes become estate wines that ultimately stock wine cellars throughout Italy and the world. There are over 300 varieties of vines that are cultivated in many locations: by the sea, on the foothills and in the southernmost islands. The Italian wine industry provides a wide assortment of wines with various aromas, flavors and textures.  The diversity of these wines tends to harmonize with various types of food because of their overall natural acidity.  The extensive latitudinal range of the terroir allows the grapevines to be caressed by the convergence of many natural forces including: climate, sunshine, soil, humidity, sea breeze and rainfall.  These forces produce a kaleidoscope of wines in many distinctive wine regions throughout the peninsula. Pour, observe, swirl, smell and enjoy.

Ravello

Ravello (Photo credit: Davide78)

Looking back to Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy.

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The Amalfi Coast is dotted with the picturesque hill towns that line the cliffs of the Sorrentine peninsula from Positano to Vietri sul Mare. The area includes the towns of Positano and Ravello with sun kissed vineyards, lemon and olive groves. This is arguably one of the most enchanting coastlines in Italy. Amalfi was the first Maritime Republic before Venice, Genoa and Pisa. The strategic location enabled Amalfi’s military to keep invaders away. As a trading powerhouse, it dominated trade in spices, papermaking and silk.

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy.

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1. Villa Cimbrone in Ravello is perched high upon the mountain overlooking the villages of Atrani and Minori. It was once part of the Republic of Amalfi. Amalfi is the coast’s largest town, but Ravello is the undisputed aristocrat of the Amalfi Coast. Ravello is an enchanting stretch of paradise, perched 1500 feet above the Gulf of Salerno on a high cliff above the town of Amalfi.  It commands awe-inspiring views of the coastline, citrus groves and vineyards. Visit the cathedral, the beautiful gardens of Villa Ruffalo and Villa Cimbrone.

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy.

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The impressive Duomo ( Chiesa de San Giovanni del Toro) was founded in 1086 and has the relics of St. Barbara (www.chiesaravello.com). The 12th century Santa Maria a Gradillo church is also noteworthy.  When you get to Villa Cimbrone, walk out to the belvedere to gaze at the panoramic vista.  Then walk over to the hotel and order a glass of Costa d’Amalfi Ravello Rosso Riserva wine from the pool bar.

Deutsch: Die Terrazza dell'Infinito der Villa ...

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2. Positano was once part of the powerful Republic of Amalfi. It is an exclusive and romantic destination for jet-setters where former palazzi have been converted into luxurious hotel properties. On the Amalfi Coast, Furore and Tramonte grapes grow on terraced cliffs next to lemon and orange trees.  This gives the wine a distinctively delightful flavor. This Moorish hillside village on the southern tip of the Amalfi Drive opens to the Tyrrhenian Sea and provides gorgeous panoramic vistas of the sea and vineyards.

Positano

Positano (Photo credit: bawoodvine)

The town is spread out over the slopes of Mount Commune. Climb the steep, winding “1000 Stairs” pedestrian promenade to the Scalinatella, the highest part of Positano or stay at the beach, rent a chair (stabilimenti) and order your wine from handsome Stefano, as you submerge your feet in the irresistible azure water. Near the beach, dine at La Pergola or Tre Sorelli and order some impepata di cozze (mussels). Navigate the stairs up to the top of the town for more secluded restaurants. Dine at Bruno or El Capitano for panoramic views. After your relaxing day at the gravel beach, visit the lobsters in the tank at LoScoglio on Piazza della Sirene west of Positano.  Request a table overlooking the Bay of Sorrento. Stay at San Pietro on Via Laurito 2 or Le Sirenuse on Via Columbo, 30 for breathtaking views from the 4500 square foot terrace overlooking the Bay. Dine at Al Palazzo in the Hotel Palazzo Murat on Via Dei Mulini and order Paccheri all Napoletana. Most of the hotels cling to the cliffs and have beautiful views of the water. A boat tour will help you truly appreciate the scenery.

Amalfi Coast between Positano and Amalfi

Amalfi Coast between Positano and Amalfi (Photo credit: jimmyharris)

Vesuvius overlooking Sorrento and the Bay of N...

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3Sorrento is situated on a terraced plain above the sea with spectacular views of Vesuvius, Ischia and the Bay of Naples. This enchanting location makes it the perfect destination for exploring this region. The rugged landscape, lush vegetation and mild climate of the Sorrento peninsula are enchanting. Sorrento’s terraced vineyards produce Peninsola Sorrentino DOC wines like Lettere and Gragnano. Sorrento is the ideal satellite location for side trips to Naples, Capri, Positano, Ischia or Amalfi via watercraft from the Marina Grande or the Marina Picolo. Choosing a base for your travels depends on your priorities, timetable and budget.

Reserve a table on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria at sunset; situated on a cliff overlooking the bay and Mount Vesuvius. This is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine from the Penisola Sorrentina vineyards made from white Falanghina or red Piedirosso grapes. The local Tiberio winery produces a nice red Antico Convento. Da Gemma on Via Madre Serafina has a lovely panoramic vista. Plan your next day trip as you watch the boats disembark from the marina to Capri, Ischia, and the Amalfi Coast—La Dolce Vita!  Some additional places for sipping some vino with dinner include the famous upscale Don Alphonso next to Santa Maria delle Grazie in Sant’Agata. L’Antica Trattoria on Via Padre R Guiliani  and Il Buco on Il Rampa Marina Piccola, 5 offer pleasant dining. The lush garden setting of O’Parrucchiano on the main street of Corso Italia a few blocks from the Piazza Tasso is interesting. La Tonnarella’s rooftop restaurant on Via del Capo offers a breathtaking view and a fabulous antipasto table. Stay at the Grand Hotel Capodimonte at Via Capo, 14 for another splendid view of the Gulf and Vesuvius. Another interesting hotel option with a sweeping view is the Capri Palace on Via Capidimonte, 2 where you can dine at its L’Olivo restaurant.

Tuscany is Italy’s quintessential wine region and the birthplace of three important red wines: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. These wines are made from Sangiovese grapes but have distinctively different flavors in Tuscany’s diverse microclimates. Chianti is produced in seven subzones in Tuscany. The Chianti Classico zone has DOCG status. The other six Chianti subzones are: Chianti Rufina, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Aretini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane and Chianti Montalbano. The “Chiantigiana” is the road that twists and turns through the Chianti zones between Florence and Siena.

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia

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4. Montalcino’s Brunello is Tuscany’s rarest and most expensive wine. It is produced in the walled medieval village of Montalcino, south of the Chianti Classico zone. The climate is warmer and the hills are steeper. The wine is aged longer and it must be aged in oak barrels. You may consider staying in Mantalcino at Il Borgo (www.castellobanfi.com).  They offer weekend culinary classes taught by Chef Heinz Beck from Rome’s famous La Pergola Restaurant.  Near the charming wine town of Montalcino, visit the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, a beautiful Romanesque church. Enjoy the Brunello di Montalcino made exclusively from Sangiovese grapes. Montepulciano is another charming wine town, home of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This was one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite wines. Visit the tomb and church of St. Agnes, the town’s patron saint.

Sienna Cathedral

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5. Siena’s yellowish-brown buildings are the embodiment of a gothic medieval city.  Her golden age came to a screeching halt with the plague called the Black Death of 1348.  Enlightened travelers will love this charming city in the heart of the Chianti Classico zone about 21 miles south of Florence. Order a bottle of wine at a cafe in the shell-shaped brick Piazza del Campo is one of Italy’s most triumphant piazzas, large enough to feature a medieval semi-annual 350-year-old summer bareback horse race called the “Palio delle Contrade” (www.paliosiena.com).  The victor of the Palio celebrates with a massive town dinner (cena). Sometimes the horse wins without a jockey. The piazza’s surface is divided into nine segments by colored paving stones, symbolizing Siena’a original Council of Nine. Their members governed the city in her medieval heyday.  The council met at the Palazzo Pubblico on the eastern part of the square. In Siena visit Italy’s most famous Enoteca on Piazza Matteotti housed within the Medici fortress, order from among 1000 wines from more than 50 producers.  Then take the Chianti Road (La Chiantigiana) through the magnificent Tuscan countryside revered and replicated in Renaissance paintings.  Sip some Sant’ Antimo Terre du Siena in the Campo with some pappardelle con leper, pappa al pomodoro or Costata alla Fiorentina. The Tuscan hillsides provide the ideal micro-climates for Sangiovese and Trebbiano grapes. Visit the Italian Library of Wine in Siena owned by the Italian government to showcase their finest wines. The outdoor terrace is a great “vino con vista” venue.

English: Towers of San Gimignano

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6. San Gimignano  is 32 miles southwest of Florence. It is considered the Manhattan of Tuscany. The majestic skyline of noble towers was built for defensive purposes and as a symbol of status and wealth. Pass through the Arco dei Becci (the arch) and enter the Piazza della Cisterna.  You will feel like you have returned to the Middle Ages.  This charming town produces a prestigious white wine called Vernaccia di San Gimignano in the beautiful vineyards that surround the old city.  It is an excellent aperitif.  This was Italy’s first white DOCG wine. Harvest time is generally between September and October 15th.

San gimignano

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Visit a café in the Piazza del Duomo or Piazza della Cisterna and order a local specialty made with saffron to accompany your wine.  The saffron is made from crocus flowers and is produced in this area.  Have a gelato at Gelateria di Piazza. Stay or dine at La Collegiata on Localita Strada, 27 (www.relaischateaux.com) for an extensive wine list and great views.

 

Pisa, Italy

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7. Pisa was a former Roman naval base and commercial port, trade with Muslim Spain, North Africa and Lebanon generated tremendous wealth for this maritime power from the 11th to 13th centuries.  Arabic numerals were introduced to Europe through Pisa.  By 1406 the city was conquered by Florence. A defensive wall surrounds the Field of Miracles.  Pisa was historically an important port since the time of the Romans.  It was a great sea Republic throughout the Middle Ages. The Piazza del Duomo houses a group of splendid monuments known throughout the world. These four masterpieces of medieval architecture were influenced by Islamic architecture.  They include the Cathedral (1064), the Baptistry (1154) and the Campanile (1173), which is the famous gravity-defying “Leaning Tower of Pisa” and the cemetery (1277).  The eight-story bell tower (180 feet tall) was begun under the supervision of Bonanno.  The unstable subsoil caused the Tower to tilt and subside. Galileo conducted some of his experiments on gravity from the top of the tower. There are many cafes near the Leaning Tower.  In Marina di Pisa have some lunch and a glass of Bianco Pisano at Miracles Café on Via P. Agostino da Montrefeltro and sit on the seafront terrace.  Visit the Castellina Maritima Winery on Via Bagnoli (www.terriccio.it).  Visit Foresta on Via Litoraneaz for a great view.  There is a newly renovated Bagni Di Pisa Natural Spa Resort (www.bagnipisa.com).  It was the former summer resort of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.  In Pisa make a reservation at the Relais dell’Orologio on Via della Faggiola 12 (www.relaisdellorologio.com) for outstanding accommodations.

 

Français : La coupole de Brunelleschi vue du c...

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8.  Florence is the world’s celebrated jewel of Renaissance art and architecture is famous for voluptuous domes and intimate restaurants. She rose to economic and cultural pre-eminence under the mighty Medici dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries. The churches, galleries and palaces are brimming with masterpieces. The city was built on the site of an Etruscan settlement and has 600 years of extraordinary artistic activity. It is an incredibly compact city for walking.  Walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset for a glimmering moonlit cityscape.  Marvel at her panoramic glory as the cloak of darkness descends over her dimly lit splendor. Natural and man-made disasters have threatened the city’s wealth of art history.  In 1966, the Arno River’s devastating flood destroyed or severely damaged Florentine treasures.  In 1993, a mafia bomb exploded near the Uffizi and severely damaged the gallery. The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge to escape Nazi bombs during World War II. Her glorious past is evident in the monumental grandeur of her structures. The 13th century cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Church of Santa Croce, the Uffizi, Santa Maria Novella, the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Bargello and the Pitti Palace are incredible repositories of Renaissance art. Florence has the largest concentration of Renaissance art and sculpture in the world. Landmark cloisters, chapels and refectories are all galleries of Renaissance art.

Reserve a table (“vorrei reservare una tavola”) at a café in the bustling Piazza della Signoria.  Gaze at the fashionable residents wearing Florence’s designer icons like Pucci, Gucci, Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli. As you sip your Chianti Classico, Brunello de Montalcino Riserva or Vino Nobile de Montepulciano and admire 600 years of artistic activity.  This strategic location will give you a magnificent view of the Loggia dei Lanzi by Orcagna. The Loggia dei Lanzi was designed by the architect Orcagna.  It is named after Cosimo I’s bodyguards; the Lancers were German mercenaries that were on his payroll. It was built between 1376 and 1383 by Benci di Cione and Simone Talenti. Three classical arches rest on columns of different styles. Above the arches statues of the Virtues occupy the alcoves. Two lions flank the entrance to the center archway.  A copy of Cellini’s bronze statue of the “Perseus beheading Medusa” in 1554 is prominently displayed in the left arch. Cosimo I wanted to warn his enemies of their probable fate. Giambologna’s “Rape of the Sabine Women” (1583) was carved  from a single block of marble.

Consider an afternoon Enoteca (wine bar) crawl.  The local bars offer “Aperito” (Happy Hour); visit Negroni, Zoe and Il Rifrullo.  Interesting wine bars in Florence include Antico Noe on San Pietro, Cantinetta da Verrazzano on Via dei Tavolini, Fuori Porta on Via dei Monte all Croci and Le Vope e l’Uva on Piazza de Rossi. If you prefer, head over to the Frescobaldi Winebar (www.frescobaldiwinebar.it) and try some Toscana Giorgio Primo or Rosso di Montalcino.

English: Italy Duomo di Orvieto Cathedral

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9.  Orvieto in Umbria is perched halfway between heaven and earth on a plateau over 900 feetabove sea level. Take a funicular to the top of the cliff to visit the medieval historic center of this charming town. The town’s crowning jewel is the splendid Romanesque-Gothic Duomo designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. The Cathedral has famous frescoes by Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli. The Cathedral was started in 1290 when Pope Nicholas IV blessed the first stone. The inside and the outside of the Duomo are covered with basalt and travertine stripes. The façade has glistening mosaics including “The Coronation of the Virgin” in the central gable. There are plenty of cafes, wine bars and restaurants. Visit the Enoteca in Piazza del Popolo to sip Orvieto’s famous wine.

English: The Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti in Ven...

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10. Venice  is one of the most magical and romantic destinations in Italy. The majestic “Mistress of the Sea” was founded in the 5th century. This seafaring republic, between the river, lagoon and hypnotic Adriatic Sea is spread over 118 small islands with 150 canals and 400 bridges. Venice embodies the victorious struggle of man against nature. Lavishly adorned palazzi like Ca d’Oro and Ca’ Rezzonicone line the Grand Canal. These palaces are embellished with Baroque magnificence and Rococo elegance. Gondolas and Vaporetti (water buses) transport residents and exuberant tourists through paradise via waterways.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, mainland refugees settled the sparse islands to escape waves of invasions. These residents harvested seafood from the canals of the Adriatic Sea for sustenance. Eventually, they became sailors and then wealthy sea merchants. This gateway to the Asia became a major maritime power in the 10th century. Exotic spices like saffron, cinnamon and curry fueled the Venetian Empire. Salt was a crucially important profit center for the Venetians. The term salary is derived from the Venetian practice of being paid in salt. The extraordinary profits earned through trade, filled the coffers of the patrons of the flourishing artists. Marco Polo (1254-1324) was a prominent Venetian explorer who traveled to Asia. This enchanting city is an architectural masterpiece with domes, spires and campaniles. St. Mark’s basilica and the Doge’s Palace constitute the fulcrum of Venetian religious and civic life. The work of Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese adorn her magnificent buildings. Saint Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is the location of some of the major attractions including St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Sansovino Library. Saint Mark is represented by the winged lion surmounting one of the tall 12th century granite columns. The gorgeous church of Santa Maria della Salute has a prime location on the mouth of the Grand Canal. Purchase a museum card or Museum Pass to avoid long lines in Venice.

View from the Rialto Bridge in Venice

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Meander through the labyrinthine ancient passages of Venice and delight your palate with a “Chicchetti” bar crawl with Venetian bar snacks. Sit at a charming café in the middle of St. Mark’s Square like the Caffe Florian that was built in 1720. Listen to the tuxedo-clad orchestra as you sip some Pinot Grigio delle Venezie. Café Quadri was built in 1628 is also located in the square. Caffe Chioggia has a view of the lagoon. Venetians love to dine at the Osteria al Bacareto located at 3447 San Marco. Have some risotto di mare or sarde with pine nuts (sardines). Another scenic option is the Gran Caffe Lavena where you can enjoy your glass of Rosso Roggio or Laudato Malbech del Venato in the shadow of the Torre dell’Orologia. Effervescent Prosecco is great with a splash of pomegranate juice and a sugar cube. In September, get tickets for the annual International Film Festival. Enroll in cooking school at the 16th Century Hotel Cipriani with Michelin Chefs www.sheraton.com/villacipriani.

To learn more about interesting and seductive places to drink wine read Vino Con Vista Travel Guides available @ www.vino-con-vista.com

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What’s Cookin’ in Siena Italy?

Scene of the race on the Piazza del Campo
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Piazza del Campo with Palazzo Pubblico and Tor...

Piazza del Campo with Palazzo Pubblico and Torre del Mangia, town of Siena, Tuscany/Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Loggia of the Palazzo Pubblico in Piazza del C...

Loggia of the Palazzo Pubblico in Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Loggia of the Palazzo Pubblico in Piazza del C...

Loggia of the Palazzo Pubblico in Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Courtyard

The Courtyard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Palazzo Pubblico and Torre del Mangia in Piazz...

Palazzo Pubblico and Torre del Mangia in Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Vin Santo e Cantucci in Milan, Italy.

English: Vin Santo e Cantucci in Milan, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Palazzo Pubblico in Piazza del Campo in Siena,...

Palazzo Pubblico in Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Façade of the Palazzo Pubblico (town hall) dur...

Façade of the Palazzo Pubblico (town hall) during the Palio days. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thousands of spectators, coming from all the w...

Thousands of spectators, coming from all the world, fill the Piazza del Campo to capacity on the day of the Palio di Siena (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Siena’s yellowish-brown buildings are the embodiment of a gothic medieval city.  Her golden age came to a screeching halt with the plague called the Black Death of 1348.  Enlightened travelers will love this charming city in the heart of the Chianti Classico zone about 21 miles south of Florence.

Siena is the birthplace of Saint Catherine (1347), the patron saint of Italy. She received the stigmata at Pisa and the mortal remains of her head are housed in the Basilica of San Domenico.

The shell-shaped brick Piazza del Campo is one of Italy’s most triumphant piazzas, large enough to feature a medieval semi-annual 350-year-old summer bareback horse race called the “Palio delle Contrade.”  The victor of the Palio celebrates with a massive town dinner (cena). Sometimes the horse wins without a jockey. The piazza’s surface is divided into nine segments by colored paving stones, symbolizing Siena’a original Council of Nine. Their members governed the city in her medieval heyday.  The council met at the Palazzo Pubblico.

Throughout the centuries the residents preserved their city’s gothic appearance, acquired between the 12th and 15th centuries.

Fountain in Siena Italy

Fountain in Siena Italy

Siena Duomo in Italy

Siena Duomo in Italy

Siena Italy

Siena Italy

Recently, I took a cooking class at La Scuola di Cucina di Lella Cesare Ciampoi on Via Fonrebranda, 69.

Lella taught me how to make Cantucci cookies, a Tuscan biscuit that they dunk in Vin Santo. Here’s the recipe:

400 gr. Flour, 250 gr. Sugar, 150 gr. Shelled Almonds, 3 eggs, 3 yolks, Baking Powder, Orange Essence and salt.

Whip 2 eggs and 3 yolks with sugar. Add flour, baking powder, some drops of orange essence and some salt. Lightly roast the almonds and when they cool, add them to the pastry dough. Roll the dough into a log. Place them into a buttered  cookie sheet with a light dusting of flour and brush with whipped egg. Bake for 15 minutes. Cut baked cookie log into biscoti and rebake for 10 minutes.   Enjoy!! To learn more about Tuscany visit www.vino-con-vista.com and

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