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Urban Trekking: Getting to Know the Towns through City Walks

October 23, 2014 by Lourdes Flores

In it’s 11th edition, “Trekking Urbano” is a national day when several towns across all of Italy organize guided walking visits of their town to explore their town, including known and off-the-beaten-path areas of town. Siena in Tuscany was one of the first cities in Italy to adopt this initiative, and has developed several itineraries every year to explore the beautiful medieval town, each with a slightly different theme.

This fall, the Urban Trekking National Day falls on Friday, October 31st. In Tuscany, three towns are participating: Manciano, Pistoia and Siena. This edition’s theme is a day of remembrance of the history and impact of the Great War (as World War 1 is remembered) on these towns, 100 years since it first began. Each of the towns was touched in a different way and thus each itinerary is quite unique.

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Picasso and Spanish Modernity at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence

October 20, 2014 by Cristina Romeo

One of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso, is the protagonist of an interesting exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.
The exhibition, entitled “Picasso and Spanish Modernity”, offers the opportunity to see up close some significant works of Picasso and other Spanish contemporary artists associated with him, mostly from the famous Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid.

I had the opportunity to participate in a guided visit of the exhibition on the occasion of the blog tour #PabloalMercato and I must say that being in front of the works of Picasso cannot leave you indifferent, especially if you can set them into the historical, social and personal context where they were created.
Visiting the exhibition with a guide certainly allowed me to appreciate it at its best, but thanks to the descriptions (in several languages, I might add) that accompany the various works you can understand all of the works even on your own, giving you more space to space out your visit according to your personal tastes and to the emotions they might evoke.

In particular, two versions of “The Painter and the Model” (which you can see one above) open and close the show, which is a perfect way to express in a metaphor the creative process, which for Picasso was inspired by the love he also felt for them.
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General Strikes in October and November 2014

October 18, 2014 by Lourdes Flores

Unfortunately for us and visitors to Italy and Tuscany, fall and winter is when Italian unions decide to show their strength and political clout by announcing general strikes that paralyze the country. These impact all sectors of transport: the airports, ferries, trains and buses. Fortunately, the “hot” days are not that many; we’re sharing what has been communicated so far so that you can check whether it affects your travel days and thus plan accordingly around them.

The first one has been called for October 24th, as a general strike involving all public and private transport. The second one falls between November 14-15th and will involve airlines, trains and maritime transports. Here’s a bit more details on the days of strikes.

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The Giant of the Apennines returns to dominate the Medicean Park of Pratolino

October 17, 2014 by Cristina Romeo

After a long restoration, a magnificent work of art will once again be finally visible to the public at the Medicean Park of Pratolino found just to the north of Florence: the imposing Giant Apennine created by Giambologna between 1579 and 1580.

The official presentation of the Colossus of the Apennines will be this Sunday, October 19th and for the occasion, the Park is organizing several free initiatives open to everyone.

On Sunday morning at 10:30am in front of the Giant Apennine some experts will tell us more about the work of restoration of the statue and highlight several new itineraries just opened to the public inside the Park.

From 12pm to 6pm there will be a series of excursions and guided tours conducted by environmental guides. To participate in these activities, you just need to book them at the Locanda (Inn) of the Park upon your arrival. I do believe all of the guided activities are in Italian only; however it would still be interesting to join in if you can.
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Travel by Slow Steam Train to a Local Festival near Siena

October 10, 2014 by Helle D. Rasmussen

Do you want to experience Tuscany in the fall in a very special, unique way? How about taking a steam train?! Not even many locals have experienced this way of enjoying Tuscany, as times have changed and many prefer to drive. But a day trip in this manner allows you to slow down, enjoy the scents of the countryside and enjoy a local festival in a way that reminds us of a time long-past.

The steam train takes you slowly through the Tuscan landscape, letting you enjoy every part of it arriving at a village where you will join a local festival. This will of course offer local food and drink (wine) before taking you back again in the afternoon.

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Following Picasso in Florence: from the Mercato Centrale to Palazzo Strozzi

September 25, 2014 by Cristina Romeo

Those who follow us on Facebook and Instagram have already seen a preview of #pabloalmercato, a tour held last Friday in Florence which led us to Palazzo Strozzi, where a wonderful exhibition dedicated to Picasso and other leading Spanish artists has just opened and to the Mercato Centrale (Central Market), a recently renovated Florentine historical market that has become one of the most innovative gastronomic spaces in the city since this late spring.

For the exhibition “Picasso and Spanish Modernity” which just opened on Saturday September 20th, Palazzo Strozzi and the Mercato Centrale have formed a special partnership that will surely be greatly appreciated by visitors to both spaces. With “Pablo al Mercato” (Pablo at the Market), the exhibition of Picasso enters directly inside the Mercato Centrale. On the first floor, visitors will be able to admire special posters and drawings that reinterpret the market and its artisans in the style of Picasso – we found them very cool!

The collaboration between the museum and the Central Market is not accidental. It actually seems that Picasso was very attracted by the colors and scents of the market (built in 1874 in iron, glass and stone) and that during his visit to Florence in 1949, he was literally fascinated by the stalls of the fishmongers and by the rich shades of color found in their fish.
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Museum closures after heavy rain

September 20, 2014 by Lourdes Flores


Yesterday afternoon a pretty freakish storm descended on Florence that made national news: heavy rain with hail about 2 cm wide carpeted most of Florence making it seem like snow had fallen. The hail cause quite a bit of damage while the wind and rain cause many trees to fall. At least no one was majorly hurt.

Most museums closed temporarily to access damage, as windows were broken by the hail and water came into buildings where priceless works of art are on display. Some did get wet. Closures included the Uffizi Gallery, the Academia Gallery and the Pitti Palace. After a few hours, the Uffizi and Accademia were reopened but this post is actually about those where heavier damage means longer closures.

Among these are the Boboli Gardens, parts of Palazzo Pitti, the San Marco museum and parts of the Palazzo Davanzati museum.

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The Altarpiece of The Assumption of the Virgin of San Gimignano and the Sienese Years of Pintoricchio

September 12, 2014 by Cristina Romeo

The Altarpiece of The Assumption of the Virgin of Pintoricchio

This past weekend opened the new exhibition at the Pinacoteca in San Gimignano entitled “PINTORICCHIO – The Altarpiece of The Assumption of the Virgin of San Gimignano and the Sienese Years“. The show is dedicated to the famous painter Bernardino di Betto Betti from Perugia, better known with his nickname Pinturicchio (often also spelled Pintoricchio).

The exhibition has been set up inside the Pinacoteca of San Gimignano, in the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall). The main protagonist is the beautiful “Altarpiece of the Assumption” by Pintoricchio, a work created by the artist between October 1510 and February 1512 for the monastery of the Olivetian Congregation of Santa Maria Assunta in Barbian and which is part of the artistic heritage of the Civic Museums of San Gimignano.

The Assumption of the Virgin of Pintoricchio

The Altarpiece of the Assumption by Pintoricchio

The Altarpiece represents the Virgin Mary in glory painted by Pintoricchio at the center of an almond. The Madonna is surrounded by angels and rests her feet on two cherubs. The city is represented in the background, while beside the Virgin are represented the Saints Gregory the Great and Benedict in prayer and looking to the Madonna.
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Be Freddie for a Day on September 5th

August 30, 2014 by Lourdes Flores

Given we are Queen fans here at the DiscoverTuscany office and love the Hard Rock Cafe in Florence, we could not share this upcoming event: “Freddie for a Day“! On Friday, September 5th on the occasion of Freddie Mercury’s birthday, the event is celebrated at all of the Hard Rock Cafes worldwide.

The event not only commemorates the legendary artist and front man of Queen, but is also a day of fund-raising for the Mercury Phoenix Trust, a volunteer organization active throughout the world. Founded immediately after the death of Freddie, the organization raises funds for research and fight against AIDS.

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A “Plant” Perspective at the Forte Belvedere & Boboli

August 29, 2014 by Lourdes Flores

If you want to view incredible views of Florence during this summer and fall with the added plus of great outdoor art, I recommend you add Forte Belvedere to your itinerary. The Forte Belvedere – and Boboli Gardens too – are currently hosting a major exhibition dedicated to the international artist Giuseppe Penone (who just finished an exhibit Versailles in France). The exhibit “Prospettiva Vegetale“, or Plant Perspective gave the sculptor the challenge of creating works that would adjust to the magnificent ramparts of the fortress and gardens, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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