Tuscany Journals

A Taste of Tuscany

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A March 2004 trip to Tuscany by moatway

Cortona Photo, Tuscany, Italy More Photos
Quote: Avoiding the large center of Florence, we opted to see a few smaller centres that appealed to us as an introduction to the area.

A Taste of Tuscany

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Overview

Quote:
Tuscany has earned a reputation as one of those places where one would like to retire or at least spend some time in... it has been glamourized, particularly in the North American consciousness. We actually passed down through Tuscany on our way to Assisi from France and so our first stop was Pisa. Pisa was a duty... everybody goes, so one has to go. And the Duomo and the area surrounding it are impressive. But the next day in San Gimignano was next to magic. I can't imagine many more attractive places... particularly in such small packages. Regardless of what else you choose to do in central Italy... go there. Having settled in western Umbria, we had the ability to see much of eastern Tus...Read More

Hotel Bologna (Pisa)

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Hotel

Quote:
I booked this hotel through itwg, a great site. The hotel is on the opposite side of the Arno from the main attractions of Pisa… the Leaning Tower etc., which are about a 10 or 15 minute walk. On the other hand, Via Mazzini is next to and runs parallel with Pisa’s main shopping and promenading street, Corso Italia. That also places it close to the train station. There don’t seem to be a lot of places to eat nearby, but I could be mistaken. There is a good-looking pizzeria just up the street in the Piazza Victor Emanuele II and the hotel was able to recommend a very good restaurant just 30 yards away. By the time you arrive, it may have its own… renovations were ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 2, 2004

Hotel Bologna (Pisa)
Via Mazzini, 57
Tuscany, Italy
050502120

Pisa

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Attraction | "Wandering Pisa"

Pisa Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
We hit Pisa a little later in the day than planned, so immediately checked into our hotel. If you’re driving into the center city and you’ve reserved a 3-star or more they are well-signed and easy to find. Except for the Duomo, the Leaning Tower and the museums attached to them, Pisa seems pretty pedestrian. There are other things to do, of course, but they are really overshadowed by the big site. It was March and everything at the Duomo site closed by 5:30, so we considered all the ticket combinations, the likelihood of really getting involved in another painting and decided to opt for the Duomo and the Baptistry… a combination ticket costing 6 Euros. That’s not too ambitious when you...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 2, 2004

Pisa
Pisa
Tuscany, Italy

Cortona

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Attraction | "A Visit to Cortona"

Cortona Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Cortona, on the Tuscan-Umbrian border, sits on a mountain that rises 1900 feet from the valley below. The drive up the twisting road bodes well as does the fact that there is lots of parking at the top. From the parking lot, entrance is made through a portal in the high, city wall. The climb into the square is steep, but well worthwhile. The square is the Piazza Signorelli, named after the town’s native son and Renaissance artist. There are signs everywhere, so it’s easy to find the sites here… around the corner from the square is the Cathedrale di Santa Maria and the Museo Diocesano. I am not normally a big devotee of Musee Diocesanos and have avoided a number of them, but I do recommend that y...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 2, 2004

Cortona
City centre
Tuscany, Italy

Montepulciano (Medieval and Renaissance hill town)

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Attraction | "A Taste of Montepulciano"

Montepulciano (Medieval and Renaissance hill town) Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
As you drive into Montepulciano from Castiglione, Perugia or Siena, you should come upon two parking lots at the foot of the town. There is an Esso station and a public park in the area and the approach road divides in a flurry of signs. So you park and you choose – right or left. The signs tell you that there are a number of churches to the right; they also say that tourist information is to the left. Go right, young man, go right. That street will take you up into a charming town that dominates the valleys below and provides many great views of the area. Entering through the city gate, you will have the opportunity to see much of the old city and see exterior views of many of its fine old mans...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 2, 2004

Montepulciano (Medieval and Renaissance hill town)
City Center
Tuscany, Italy

Museo Diocesano, Duomo (Cortona)

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Attraction | "Museo Diocesano, Duomo (Cortona)"

Museo Diocesano, Duomo  (Cortona) Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
5 Euros for the museum, 3 Euros for an audio guide A visit to the Piazza Duomo is worth it just for the views across the countryside. The cathedral, which is on the right side, became such in 1507. Considerable work was done on it in the 16th century and much of the artwork was added through the 17th. It is a three-nave church, the most interesting feature of which is its decorated barrel-vaulted ceiling. The altar is interesting and the rear of the apse is lit by a single stained-glass window with a cupola overhead. It is an interesting church, but not outstanding. For outstanding, you will have to cross the small piazza to the Museo Diocesano. It occupies the former church of the Soc...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 2, 2004

Museo Diocesano, Duomo (Cortona)
Piazza del Duomo
Tuscany, Italy

Historic Centre of Siena

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Attraction | "Siena and the Palazzo Pubblico"

Historic Centre of Siena Photo, Siena, Italy
Quote:
We found driving into Siena easy, and the city offers a number of parking lots… we chose the Il Campo lot just inside the Porta Tufi in the southern extremity of the city. The walk to the Piazza del Campo took only about 10 minutes, as Siena is actually quite small albeit larger than the average hill town. It does merit its reputation… it is lovely and all the things you will want to see are in a very small walkable area. The streets around the Piazza del Campo are busy, but you don’t have to wander far to lose the tourists. Piazza del Campo is ringed with restaurants and obviously they are tourist traps and food quality can be at best, mediocre (and a beer can be 9 Euros, even I got sticker sho...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 2, 2004

Historic Centre of Siena

Siena, Tuscany

Siena Cathedral/Duomo di Siena

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Attraction | "Duomo (Siena)"

Siena Cathedral/Duomo di Siena Photo, Siena, Italy
Quote:
By now, this striped Tuscan cathedral with its three naves is world-famous. Seven hundred people at a time are permitted in to see a building that was begun over 700 years ago. Among the things you will first notice are the busts of the popes that decorate the area over the arches of the central nave. There are four large, marble side-chapels in the side aisles before the transept. In the transept, to the right of the dome is the beautiful marble Cappella della Madonna del Vito which has its own dome with cupola. Outside its doors are offerings from those who gave thanks for prayers answered. The cathedral floor is patterned but it also contains marble narrative panels… apparently there are 56 o...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 2, 2004

Siena Cathedral/Duomo di Siena
Piazza Del Duomo
Siena, Italy 53100

Wandering San Gimignano

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Story/Tip

San Gimignano Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
And the winner of the prize for the best hill-town in central Italy… If you’re driving down from Pisa on S429, the drive into town on a winding road through Chianti country is beautiful. There are a number of parking areas around the city. I did the obvious, settled in the first available space without any consideration of how far I actually was from the city gate. It turned out to be only five minutes up the hill and we entered through the Porta San Matteo. At the other end of the city is a larger lot (where the tour buses park) and entry is through the Porta San Giovanni. Regardless through which gate you arrive, you will walk to the other through the streets which are named for the gates....Read More