Tuscany Journals

TRAVELS IN TUSCANY - No Licence Required

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An April 2000 trip to Tuscany by Ozzy-Dave

No touching the produce Photo, Tuscany, Italy More Photos
Quote: To drive or not to drive. That’s the question when planning a trip to Tuscany. How to visit those medieval villages and explore the vast landscape. Faced with this dilemma on a recent journey through Italy we decided not to drive, preferring to explore the area using public transport.

TRAVELS IN TUSCANY - No Licence Required

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Overview

No touching the produce Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
The pressure’s on! Tuscany highlights in 200 words: 1. Moonlight and Valentino; Sounds corny? No way. Try a moonlight stroll along Florence’s Arno River, framed by medieval palaces, then steal a kiss under the lamplight on the Ponte Vecchio. 2. Gastronomic Gluttony; Sample Tuscany’s legendary connection with the land through a bounty of food and wine in earthy trattorias, neon-lit cafes and local markets. 3. Cultural Cravings; From Florence to Chianti hilltowns, the wealth of art, architecture and cultural tradition is overwhelming. Favourites? Florence, San Gimignano and Siena – but hey, you try and pick. 4. Landscape Art; A walk through patchwork...Read More

Pensione Maria Luisa de' Medici

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Hotel

Pensione Maria Luisa de' Medici Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
After a week with Mama Aily, threadbare tea towels and Italian soap operas, we yearned for accommodations more consistent with the romantic mood Florence had conjured. Medicis was recommended by guidebooks and fellow travellers, all making claims of "eccentric", "unusual" and "unique".They were spot on. Let’s meet the cast. Ms. Paintbrush The door opens on the second floor of this grand old 17th century palace and we’re greeted by a frumpy sixtyish woman in a woollen skirt, grey smock, purple feather boa and black beret. She peers around an artist’s palette and flat bristl...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Pensione Maria Luisa de' Medici
Via del Corso 1
Tuscany, Italy
055 280 048

Aily Home

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Hotel

Aily Home Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Bargain accommodation is still possible in Florence. And you don’t have to stay near the train station. The quiet working class Oltrarno district across the river and the labyrinth streets surrounding the Duomo shield a handful of cheap, authentic pensiones. At the Tourist Office they’ll deny any existence of doubles for under 70 euros. Rubbish. We found two, and there are plenty more. Aily Home, by the ponte Vecchio, was our first stop. That’s right, by the ponte Vecchio! We rode the four floors in a shoebox-size elevator and rang the doorbell. Mama Aily stood before us, a four-foot incarnation of grandma from the Beverley Hillbillies. "Avete camere libere?" I enquired. "Eh?" ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Aily Home
Piazza Santo Stefano 1
Tuscany, Italy

Three Florentine Faves

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Restaurant

Three Florentine Faves Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
What Tuscany journal is complete without paying homage to its gastronomic delights? Here’s three of our favourites, hand-picked for their combination of food and hospitality. Borgo Antico The Oltrarno seems deserted, a few workers amble through Piazza Santo Spirito past the 15C church while we enjoy a beer in a neighbouring bar. An English girl at a jewellery store recommended this restaurant. The doors open and within ten minutes the place is jumping. No menu, comfortable wooden tables and chairs, olde worlde trattoria atmosphere, and not an English word anywhere. We chat in broken Italian-English with two twentyish table companions as our waitress grabs a friend to decipher...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Three Florentine Faves
Various city centre locations
Tuscany, Italy

San Gimignano

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Attraction | "San Gimignano - Towers Over Tuscany"

San Gimignano Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Traveller’s Rap San Gimignano is breathtaking. Perched atop a small hill, the medieval walled town commands 360-degree views of the patchwork landscape from its many remaining towers. Built by rival noble families during the 12th and 13th centuries as a demonstration of power, the plague of 1348 triggered its decline, and it’s remained well-preserved ever since. Regular buses deliver you to the front door in 80 minutes. It’s small and easily explored on foot, but allow a full day, preferably a weekday, and go early to beat the tour groups. Must-do: Feast on frescoes in the Romanesque church of the Collegiata, sample Tuscany’s exceptional wine and produce, explore local artisa...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

San Gimignano
San Gimignano
Tuscany, Italy

Vallombrosa - Benedictine Beauty and Home Brew Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Traveller’s Rap Over 3,000 feet above Florence, in the hills to the east, lies a peaceful and little-visited corner of Tuscany. This is a region of thick, fir-wooded forests and old monasteries. At Vallombrosa there is an 11th century hermitage, now the site of a beautifully decorated church and lively Benedictine congregation preparing equally lively distilled digestives. There are plenty of forest walks and abundant wildlife, and there’s a good trattoria preparing cheap, fresh food. Buses take about an hour and the journey alone is worth it. Must-do: Visit the monastery for some "home brew", and look for deer and other wildlife on walks through the surrounding forests....Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Vallombrosa - Benedictine Beauty and Home Brew
Vallombrosa
Tuscany, Italy

Fiesole - Walk with the Etruscans

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Attraction

Fiesole - Walk with the Etruscans Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Traveller’s Rap The Etruscans surrendered to Rome in the 5th century BC, but in the hills north of Florence their legend survives. This picturesque area supported the original Etruscan empire, founded in the 7th century BC, and impressive ruins litter the surrounding countryside. Local buses make the 20-minute trip to Fiesole’s main piazza, where it’s a short walk to the archaeological park and several interesting churches. Must-do: Explore Etruscan relics in the archaeological park and trek up nearby Via di San Francesco for spectacular views of Florence, a Franciscan friary and 9th century church. A Diary Extract… The sun continues to shine and we catch the l...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Fiesole - Walk with the Etruscans
Fiesole
Tuscany, Italy

Travels in Tuscany - No Licence Required

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Story/Tip

A selection of bus schedules Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Travels in Tuscany – No Licence Required By Dave Underwood To drive or not to drive. That’s the question when planning a trip to Tuscany. How to visit those medieval villages and explore the vast landscape. Faced with this dilemma on a recent journey through Italy we decided not to drive, preferring to explore the area using public transport. Florence is Tuscany’s largest and most famous city. Writers, painters, sculptors and architects conspired during the Medici reign to produce an awe-inspiring monument to the Renaissance – a living museum. Today it’s also the region’s road and rail network hub and an ideal base for exploring. Relax to a p...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Pisa

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Attraction | "Pisa - More Than a Cockeyed Tower"

Pisa Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Travellers Rap Fortunate to survive a 15th century war with Florence and a 20th century world war, Pisa’s wealthy history remains for all to enjoy in its sensational architecture. A one-hour train ride delivers you to a modern station, the perfect place to commence a circuit walk around this fascinating city. There are maps available here for planning your route. Must-do: Picnic in the Field of Miracles under the gaze of the Leaning Tower, discover the inventor of graffiti in Piazza dei Cavalieri, marvel at the tiny 13th century gothic church of Santa Maria della Spina and shop for bargains in the Borgo Stretto markets. A Diary Extract… The train journey takes ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Pisa
Pisa
Tuscany, Italy

Historic Centre of Siena

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Attraction | "Siena - Tales of Rivalry"

Historic Centre of Siena Photo, Siena, Italy
Quote:
Traveller’s Rap Siena was a powerful city in the Middle Ages, once rivalling Florence as a capital. The rivalry culminated in the famous 13th century "donkey dropping" episode, when Florentines catapulted dead donkeys, complete with droppings, over the city walls hoping to start the plague! Today the city is famous for its cobblestone streets of sienna-coloured gothic buildings and one of Italy’s most magnificent piazzas. Express buses take about an hour and you’ll need a day to explore. Must-do: People watch in Piazza del Campo, star gaze in the Duomo and explore the back lanes and hilly streets for unforgettable views and hidden treasures. A Diary Extract… At...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Historic Centre of Siena

Siena, Tuscany

Greve-in-Chianti - Land of the Classico

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Attraction

Greve-in-Chianti - Land of the Classico Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Traveller’s Rap An intoxicating mix of wine and postcard landscapes defines the heart of Tuscany’s most famous region. This is a place to get out and about; a place to walk, meet the locals and sample Italy’s finest wines and fresh produce. Regular buses visit the region’s villages, delivering you to Greve in under an hour. Excellent information about walks and attractions in the area is available from Tourist Offices in Florence. Must-do: Walk to the old village of Montefioralle, visit a wine estate or sit with the locals in a rustic village trattoria enjoying the area’s produce. A Diary Extract… After bidding farewell to ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Greve-in-Chianti - Land of the Classico
Greve-in-Chianti
Tuscany, Italy

Florence

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Attraction | "Florence - A Day in the Life"

Florence Photo, Tuscany, Italy
Quote:
Florence – A Day in the Life A Diary Extract... Outside Mama Aily's we stop at our "local" for espresso and croissants. Guido and Aldo are here again, still arguing in the corner. The conversation sounds the same as yesterday but I guess we wouldn’t know any different. Across the ponte Vecchio we head for the Boboli Gardens, Karen repeating the name ad nauseum as we walk. I think she’s lost her marbles. "Boboli, Boboli, Boboli." There are cool, aromatic forests of ilex and cypress. We sit on the grass, enclosed by boxed hedges. Karen photographs red and yellow tu...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2002

Florence
Florence
Tuscany, Italy