Tuscany should be visited all year round and the many small local realities give the region its continuing fascination. Our latest Tuscany travel articles below.
This is the second of 2 articles dedicated to a Delicious Italy visit to WineTown 2013.
But back to Tuscany and Chiostro del Museo del Bargello (below) also along Via del Proconsolo.
This palace has seen some history to say the least. It was the house of the High Magistrate of Florence from 1260 to 1504, before becoming a prison.
From 1865, it has been home to priceless sculptures such as the David di Donatello, Michelangelo's Bacchus and the Narcissus of Cellini.
The waters of the Serchio Valley plummet towards the Lucca Plain to remind you that this is a hilly zone of Tuscany. You can even ski in nearby Abetone. The towns seem to be hidden away around bends in the road and it is sometimes difficult to get your bearings. One landmark, however, is unmissable, the so called Devil's Bridge in the Media Valle del Serchio or mid Valley.
It is located near Borgo a Mozzano just 20km from Lucca, but its seems like 200 and a couple of centuries. The actual Ponte della Maddalena straddles the river with an incredible arch, commonly referred to as a 'donkey back'.
No doubt much local merchandise has been transprted across the river in such a way over the centuyries, but perhaps the first to use it may have been a local pig. The poor porker was used to exorcise the devil who had offered to help complete its construction in return for the soul of the first human who used it.
Bagnoli a Ripoli is a short hop due east from Florence towards the Val D'Arno. In fact, it is close enough to Florence to have been once called 'Quartum', a reference to the Roman miles from ancient roman Florentia of the time. Ripoli refers to the barrages which held back the annual flooding of the River Arno in the zone.
Our suggestions making up a series of holiday or vacation ideas to keep children and young ones entertained in between your wine tasting cantina visits. in no particular order province by Tuscan province, read on.
Collodi, Parco di Pinocchio; All the classic characters from the story of Pinocchio by Carlo Lorenzini at the town of Collodi, which is also the pen name of the writer. Abetone, The nature Trail; The forest botanical Garden is situated in the high valley of Sestaione at 4000 feet above sea level and covers 3.5 acres. This woodland hosts a wide variety of tree and plant species as well as a stream and all the species of flora present in the mountains of Pistoia.
Prato, Castello dell'Imperatore or the 'Emperor's Castle'; ancient (XIII century), imposing castle built for Frederick II of Svevia.
Tasting olive oil can be a real art or a thoroughly scientific process. In fact, both methods are used to analyse olive oil, detect impurities and separate your extra virgin olive oil from plain olive oil. The difference is not to be underestimated. Rather comfortingly, the nose and palate of a trained expert is almost as infallible as a person in a white coat squeezing things into test tubes.
Delicious Italy participated in an olive oil tasting exercise in the town hall of Castel del Piano near Montalcino in Tuscany. 15 olive oils were sampled and, as is the standard practice, a munch on a slice of apple and a sip of water separated each test.
Typical Tuscan style soup with vegetables, beans and bread.
Red onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, beans, savoy cabbage, leek, zucchini, beans, tomato sauce, thyme, white Tuscan bread, salt and pepper, stale bread.
If you have never heard of the Valdambra in Tuscany, then it's probably because, for a mere 2 km, it does not feature on any map of the Chianti Classico wine route.
Administrative borders have placed the valley and its principal town, Bucine, in the province of Arezzo and also a stone's throw away the River Arno and the province of Florence.
So when Delicious Italy received an email from Tenuta di Lupinari located near Ambra to participate in a weekend long discovery of the zone in the company of a group of Food Bloggers, it was an invitation too good to miss.
The added spice was that Antonella, the owner of Tenuta di Lupinari, had lined up a cooking contest between all of us for the Saturday, as well as Sunday morning choice of quad biking at Pergine Valdarno, the thermal baths at Rapolano Terme or horse riding at Villa A Sesta Polo Club towards Castelnuovo Berardenga.
If you are travelling from Florence towards Chianti then you may want to stop off in the zones of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa and neighboring Barberino Val d'Elsa. It is here you will find people and small companies keeping traditional artisan skills alive. I had the opportunity to do just this courtesy of an invite from the Comune of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa and was taken to Sambuca Val di Pesa to visit the workshop and showoom of L'Argento Firenze.
Easter in Florence Featured
Lo Scoppio del Carro, the traditional Easter Sunday event in Piazza del Duomo Florence, could be best described as the 'Doves of Peace Cart Explosion'.
A literal explanation for what is literally an explosive affair. Its origins go back to the 12th century and the appropriately named Pazzino dei Pazzi.
The crusader was the first to climb over the walls of the besieged Jerusalem and his courage was rewarded with a few stones from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Each Easter Sunday they light the symbolic 'nuovo fuoco'.
A cart in the form of a dovecote is pulled into Piazza del Duomo by two oxen. During Easter mass the stones supply the spark and the cart is suddenly twisting and turning with light and noise supplied by fireworks.
The success of the spectacular guarantees a good harvest and fortune for the city in the year ahead. To see it be there for 11am.
Florence's football or soccer team may play in pink, yet there is another, older game played every year in Florence. The feast of St. John (Giovanni) the Baptist, patron of Florence, is celebrated by the Florentines in a very particular way with a no-holds-barred Renaissance version of soccer. In medieval times, Florence divided the city into four geo-political subdivisions (or quartieri) from which it mustered its militia from the most easily riled populous.
On February 17th, 1530, in Santa Croce Square (image below), they devised a tournament (descended from a ball game called Arapasto which was played by Roman legionaries and is a mixture of wrestling, rugby, basketball and soccer) with the intention of using it to keep Florentine citizen-soldiers in fighting trim and, more importantly, to force those in adjacent neighborhoods - hence the most mutually antagonistic and vendetta prone groups of citizens - to work together as teammates and future comrades-in-arms.