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3 Great Reasons to Visit Poggio a Caiano Now!

July 23, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

If you’re in Florence or Tuscany from now until October, I suggest you plan to include a visit to the Medici Villa at Poggio a Caiano, just 30 minutes from Florence.

REASON #1: THE VILLA

The very first reason why you should visit the villa is just because it is a Medici villa, one of 12 other villas (and 2 gardens) in Tuscany that were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013. Poggio a Caiano is from the late 15th-early 16th century, built for Lorenzo de’ Medici. Through the centuries, the villa has been built upon and modernized to be used by the ducal court and royalty, up until the King of Italy when Florence was capital of the new nation. You will find the extraordinary ballroom with frescoes by Andrea del Sarto, Franciabigio and Alessandro Allori awe-inspiring, and see the rooms used by King Vittorio Emanuele II, and the private rooms that Elisa, Napoleon’s sister, loved while using the villa as a summer residence, among other treasures. You can read more about the villa’s history and what you can see inside on our article here.

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Support New Projects for the Botanical Garden and Orti Dipinti

July 22, 2015 by Cristina Romeo

botanico-k

Last September 2014, a violent storm caused severe damages throughout Florence, particularly at the beautiful Botanical Garden, also known as the “Giardino dei Semplici”, which is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world.
The Garden was closed for several months, the time needed to make important restoration works that required, of course, also a significant economic effort.

In order to help the garden reopen, PlanBee, the first Italian platform for crowd-founding for “green” projects created by Treedom, launched an important fundraising campaign (VisitFlorence was a media partner for the campaign) to support the project “Color the Giardino dei Semplici” for the redevelopment of four areas of the Botanical Garden. Thanks to the contributions collected many colorful shrubs, Japanese hydrangeas and azaleas were planted which all visitors can enjoy today!
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The Monteriggioni Medieval Festival

July 3, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

The small, medieval walled town of Monteriggioni near Siena every July organizes one of the best medieval fairs in all of Italy. We love traveling “back in time”, especially when it is in such a beautiful, and time appropriate, setting as is this small fortified village set upon a hill.

Monteriggioni, di Torri si Incorona – which means, Monteriggioni, Crowned by Towers, perfectly describes this charming town whose walls still stand, with its 14 towers still standing (although a few no longer rise taller than the walls). This year, in its 25th year, the medieval festival has been organized over 3 weekends: June 27-28, with a medieval tournament taking place below the castle (which we reminded you of last Friday but couldn’t go to :( ) and the two weekends of July 3-4-5 and July 10-11-12, with the medieval fair inside the castle and each weekend having a different theme. The first, the Sacred, the second, the Profane.

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Magnificent – A fascinating digital artwork on display in Florence

July 2, 2015 by Cristina Romeo

magnificent

Magnificent – the incredible story of the Beauty that revolutionized the world is the new video exhibition staged in the Sala d’Arme in Palazzo Vecchio, inaugurated last May and running until October 31st, 2015.

Magnificent is a fascinating story, visually and audibly, of the history of Florence through salient episodes and important personalities that marked the destiny of the city and not only. We went last week and truly enjoyed the show!

The narrative voice of Andrea Bocelli accompanies the spectacular projections made by Felice Limosani, who has reworked with digital techniques some famous frescoes, paintings and sculptures that allow the visitor to take a trip back in time through the main places of art and culture in the city. Read the rest of this entry »

La Divina Bellezza – Discovering the Divine Beauty of Siena

June 30, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

This summer, visitors to Siena will have the opportunity to experience a spectacular, colorful, sensory display that will immerse you in the rich history of Siena, to when it was the center of the world, when much of the beauty you can still see today in Siena was created.

In practical terms, the Opera del Duomo of Siena along with the municipality of Siena have come together to create a very interesting video mapping project. In collaboration with Filmmaster Events and Opera Gruppo Civita (both members of IEN, the Italian Entertainment Network), every summer evening starting July 24 you can head to the piazza next to the Duomo to experience “Divina Bellezza, Discovering Siena” as it is projected on the sides of the monuments in that square, bringing them and and story to life.

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Bargello Celebrates 150 years

June 19, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

On June 22, 1865, the Bargello National Museum became the first national museum in Italy after its unification. This Monday, June 22, 2015 will thus mark its 150th birthday for the Bargello and as a celebration of sorts, the “Montanina” bell in its bell tower will once again ring after 15 years of silence at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm.

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Summer in Tuscany: Top 5 Things to Do on Elba Island

June 17, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

If you come to Italy during the summer, it would quite sad if you didn’t spend at least a few days on the Italian coast, enjoying the Mediterranean sea and sun. If you’re in Tuscany, we recommend skipping the Cinque Terre as they get very crowded in the summer and have very limited beaches where you can lay your towel to catch some sun. We recommend heading instead to the magnificent island of Elba, the island where Napoleon was exiled to back in 1814 (follow in his footsteps here).

Having just spent another 4 wonderful days on Elba on a tour organized by ElbaMyLove.com, we want to share our 5 top tips on what to do on Elba, which will make your time on the largest island of the Tuscan archipelago just off 12 miles (20 km) off the coast memorable!

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Trying out the E-MTB on Elba

May 29, 2015 by Stefano
All happy and about to try the E-Mtb

All happy and about to try the E-Mtb (thanks to Sivano Leonardo for the Photo)

I’ve had a dream of seeing Elba on bike ever since my first vacation on the island a few years ago when it became clear that it is cycler’s paradise.

Sure that it required a little bit of training on my part, and a companion to share in the adventure, my “bike holiday on Elba” has remained a dream up to now.

But thanks to Elba4Fun, I had the chance to try out a preview of what it could be when I participated in #myelbatour15 organized by ElbaMyLove and Tuscany Buzz  this May.

Together with a few blogger friends, we tried out some blazing new electric mountain bikes (E-Mtb) for a day, setting out to roam the streets and paths near Marina di Campo.

I’ll be upfront and state that I have always been wary of using electric bicycles. I always thought that for a real cycling lover there is no need for help, that pedaling with only the “engine” of one’s legs if the only way to get maximum satisfaction. Then there is the additional weight of the E-bike to be considered, as the motor and battery do make it quite heavy to even try to think of carrying it around.

Curiosity prevailed on this occasion and so we launched ourselves out onto the “Via dei Rosmarini” (part of the trail called “Via delle Essenze” or “Trail of Scents” that goes around Elba), since it was one of the few paths we knew and which offers beautiful views and scents of nature.

It's great to ride and smell the sea and the scents all around!

It’s great to ride and smell the sea and the scents all around! (taken with my gopro)

The first impression was that the small electric motor was helping out too much: already on flat ground, it amplified the effect of each pedal stroke making us dart ahead faster than I planned. The first uphill on asphalt was quite effortless. I soon realized, though, that it is important to test the various levels of “electric” help and find the best adjustment of the battery: with a setting of just a “minimum” help from the motor, you will be able to pedal without feeling too fatigued, but not like you’re riding a scooter! In this manner, the battery also has the incredibly long range of power, up to 100km, which should give anyone a certain peace of mind if you’re planning a longer, more demanding excursion on off-road trails.

We found and took the start of the path at full speed (safely, of course!) and it was immediately clear that with a little bit of electric help, it is much easier to overcome the small obstacles and uphills the dirt road offers. At the same time, it takes a bit of practice to get the feel of the motor and find that a slight press of “help” in certain spots is needed, making sure it isn’t too much. Shifting gears is also quite different: I often forgot to change them since the engine would actually intervene before I realized I needed to shift!

Almost too soon, one of us had a flat tire, certainly the result of a sharp rock on the trail. In the excitement of going off, we had forgotten to get a repair kit and returning on foot with the heavy E-MTB was definitely to be the last resort. Luckily, the guys at Elba4Fun were ready when we called, and only a few minutes after, they arrived at the trailhead with an exchange E-bike and off we were again.

We soon discovered that the path of the Via dei Rosmarini, despite being beautiful, is not quite ideal for mountain bikes: after a few km, you reach a steep climb after which the trail continues along the cliff. We didn’t think this part can be done safely, so we headed back. We tried out the first part of the trail several times back and forth before heading back down and continuing along the streets around Marina di Campo and along the waterfront.

A close-up of the E-mtb

A close-up of the E-mtb

My assessment of the E-MTB can be enclosed in one word: “COOL!”.

To describe it further, I now am convinced it is a good solution – once you’ve practiced a bit to get the hang of the settings and using the battery only when it really is necessary – to be able to go on long and demanding paths with the assurance offered by the quiet, long power of the battery. At the end of the day, after about 3-4 hours of uninterrupted use I had used less than 20% of the battery’s power.

In this way, you can ride around Elba on bike even when you don’t feel in tip-top physical shape or perhaps when your travel partner is not at the same level. The cost is quite affordable: 28 € per day, € 183 for 7 days.

The limit for me in this case was, as I think it will be for many, not knowing the off-road trails in Elba. Elba4Fun reassured me that an App is being created for customers to use that will have the recommended trails and which will also identify your location in case there should be need of assistance, as happened to us.

If up to now I had only dreamed of cycling on the roads and paths of Elba with one of my own bikes, I can now seriously consider accomplishing my dream of riding on Elba with an E-mountain bike rented there directly!

Riding with my friend Matteo

Riding with my friend Matteo of Igers Pistoia

Day of Celebration at Florence’s Botanical Gardens May 21st

May 20, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

Tomorrow, May 21st, is a full day of celebration at the Giardino dei Semplici, Florence’s wonderful Botanical Gardens. The official reopening of the gardens will be celebrated from 10am with interesting guided tours, demonstrations of the various plants, seeds and more growing within the garden, music and even bubbles to delight children and adults alike!

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On our way to Elba!

May 20, 2015 by Lourdes Flores

We’re preparing our departure for Elba! We were there this past September, and we’ve been invited back for 3 full days of fun and learning as part of a blog tour sponsored by ElbaMyLove.com, a new portal dedicated to every aspect about visiting the island. The organized tour is to share with us both new and trusted local services that offer services to visitors, from restaurants to hotels and hiking trails and local shopping.

Joining us on this trip is Georgette from GirlinFlorence.com, Sophie from CiaoTutti.nl, Valentina from Toomuchtuscany.com, Ilaria from Fanpage.it and Alessandro M. from 100days.it. The tour is being organized by the lovely ladies from the TuscanyBuzz.com team – you can check out more info on who’s participating here:
http://www.tuscanybuzz.com/bloggers-giornalisti-e-instagramers-di-myelbatour15/

We will be based in Marina di Campo from May 21st through the 24th and a full program is planned. We want you to come “along” with us on this adventure so follow us on Instagram here and on Twitter here and Facebook here. We hope to learn lots of invaluable tips and suggestions to then write about and share with you upon our return to make your summer on Elba in Tuscany fantastic!

Stay tuned and visit #Elba with us and #ElbaMyLove on #MyElbaTour15!