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From Florence to Venice with Italo Trains

October 10, 2012 by Cristina Romeo

Italo treno

In Spring 2012, a new railway company of high-speed trains called Italo by NTV started running in Italy, competing against the half privatized state railways Trenitalia.

Since the very beginning, Italo trains have been stopping in Florence and connecting it with several other Italian cities: Bologna, Milan, Naples, Rome, Padua and Salerno. Just a few days ago, at the beginning of October NTV, launched a new service between Florence and Venice. So, if you’re planning to go to Venice by train from Florence (and vice versa), you have more offerings between Italo or Trenitalia trains.

We did a brief comparison between the rates of the two companies for the Florence-Venice line, taking as a reference the Trenitalia FrecciArgento trains (Inter-City (IC) trains also reach Venice and at lower costs but they are much slower).
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Grapes and Chestnuts: Tuscany celebrates fruits of the land

September 28, 2012 by Cristina Romeo

carro matto in florence

September and October are two very important months for the agriculture in Tuscany as in this period there are the harvest of grapes, one of the outstanding Tuscan products, and chestnuts picking.

It must be said that this year has been very critical for the agriculture in Tuscany: the scarce rains of the Summer have put a strain on the land and therefore all its fruits.

Therefore there is a great expectation for the grape harvest (and the new wine), chestnuts and mushrooms on this Autumn and, according to experts, the production will probably be smaller but of excellent quality.

We’re exciting to celebrate these  delicious products of Tuscany and in a few days will begin a series of dedicated events, that is really worth not to miss!

Grapes and new wine

This Saturday, September 29th in the historical center of Florence arrives the Carro Matto (literally “crazy cart”) which is a large cart pulled a pair of white Chianina oxen, that carries more a thousand of wine bottles  from the Florentine countryside. This event commemorates the traditional presentation to the government in Palazzo Vecchio of the new wine produced in the countryside of Florence.
The Carro Matto arrives in Piazza Duomo about at 4pm. For the occasion, there will also be a beautiful flag throwers show and the whole ceremony ends in the late afternoon in Piazza Signoria.  This a charming event truly  recommended!

On 30 September, starting at 3pm, the Carro Matto and other events related to grape and wine continue in Rufina, a town near Florence, within the Bacco Artigiano Festival.

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Free Entry and Special Events on the European Heritage Days

September 26, 2012 by Cristina Romeo

European Heritage Days

On the occasion of the European Heritage Days on Saturday September 29 and Sunday September 30 all Italian State museums will be open to the public for free.

Tuscany with its gorgeous cultural heritage is also involved in the initiative and offers to all visitors free entry to the State museums and places of art in the region and many special events such as guided tours, exhibitions and extraordinary openings.

Free State Museums in Tuscany

On next weekend in Arezzo visitors will have free access to the State Museum of Medieval and Modern Art an to the Archeological National Museum “Gaio Cilnio Mecenate”.

In Florence the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia, the Bargello and the museums in Pitti Palace, just to name the most famous places of art in the city, will be open and free.

If you’re going to visit Siena, don’t miss the Archeological National Museum in Piazza Duomo, in Lucca the National Museum of Villa Guinigi and in Pisa the National Museum of Palazzo Reale.

These are only some examples of the places you can visit for free on September 29-30, but you can find the complete list of the State Museums in Tuscany clicking here.

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Wine Town 2012: Taste Florence, Discovering its Palaces & Hidden Corners

September 13, 2012 by Cristina Romeo

WineTown is back in Florence for the third edition of one of the most important event about Italian quality wine.
September 21st and 22nd are the save-the-date days you cannot miss if you want to taste the great wines the major tuscan producers will present at WineTown 2012.

The event is made up of wine-tasting, typical produces from Tuscany and amazing food-show, starred by 18 from the most famous Italian chefs. Booking in advance is required to participate to
the chef-exhibition as well as for the chocolate tasting.

WineTown 2012 is based in the Florence historical centre, and hosted inside the most famous ancient palaces and cloisters of the city. Such location like Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Vecchio, Bargello and Palazzo Antinori will open their doors to both tourists and Florentine citizens for free.

Music, theatre rehearsal, buskers show and a lot of different performances will take place in the streets and ancient palaces of Florence to recreate an atmosphere that will remind visitors of the Florentine Renaissance Golden-Age.

Best wine, typical food, magnificent palaces and many kinds of show are great reasons to be in Florence for WineTown 2012. Specifically-for-the-kid events are scheduled to permit families with children being part of the feast.

Wine-tasting requires purchasing “Wine card” at €15. The card top-ups are for only 10€. You can buy Wine Card directly at the exhibitors-stands or in the Conad supermarket shops for a reduced price (€13).

Discover all details about Florence Wine Town 2012 in the website: www.winetown.it and follow the event also on Facebook.

3 Good Reasons to be in Florence on this September 8th

August 29, 2012 by Cristina Romeo

Florence Dome

On September 8th in Italy we celebrate the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and if you are in or around Florence on that day, you certainly can’t miss these special events organized in the city.

The Florence Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, will be regularly open and offers to visitors the incredible chance to visit the terrace of the Duomo at no cost. Here you can enjoy a very special panoramic view over the city and its surroundings. You’ll climb up at 32 meters high and can walk along the terrace around the base of the Cathedral’s cupola getting a 270° view of Florence.

On the feast day of the Virgin Mary, the magnificent and just restored Porta del Paradiso (Gates of Paradise) by Lorenzo Ghiberti will also be presented to the public. After 27 years of meticulous restoration, the door originally located on the east side of the Baptistery of Florence, will be at last displayed under a glass case in the Museum of Santa Maria del Fiore (better known as the Opera del Duomo Museum) and shown to all visitors.

Last but not least, in the evening in the Cathedral the great Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will perform a unique concert with sacred pieces, accompanied, among others, by the Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
The concert is open to the public and free, but only with reservation and subject to availability. For information and reservations, you can call the 055.26524222 (we’ll try to be there, too!).

I remind you that, due to tradition, on the evening of September 7th the historic center of Florence is filled with colorful paper lanterns on the occasion of the Festival of Rificolona. If you’re planning to participate in (and I would recommend it!) or want to learn more about this event, read this article.

If you’re going to visit Florence soon, book your stay on Florence-Accommodation.com: we’ve selected for you the best accommodations in Florence and its surroundings.

Enjoy September in Florence!

Montecarlo’s Wine Festival Coming Up

August 28, 2012 by Chiara Ricci

September in Tuscany is harvest time, which means experiencing local parties, festivals, music, cultural and traditional exhibitions, all aimed to promote local habits and those villages where they take place…but mainly it’s wine time!

Obviously, it couldn’t be any different! If grape harvest is the subject of our interest, wine is nothing other than the fruity protagonist of this typical Tuscan digression, even if local food specialties that usually come with it don’t seem to be less important, going by their international success!!!

If I’d match the word wine with the name of Montecarlo, what immediately comes to mind?

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Ceramics and Passion in Siena

August 24, 2012 by Stefano
La ceramista Sonia Staccioli

Ceramist Sonia Staccioli at work in her workshop

We were taking a stroll near the Duomo of Siena on a warm evening this past July, trying to decide whether we had enough time to go visit the Opera del Duomo museum or rather to relax and enjoy an ice cream, when our attention was caught by a young ceramist painting a dish on the threshold of one of the many (so it seemed) ceramics shops in Siena.

We were about to take a picture of her and the beautiful ceramics when we saw the sign which said: “NO PHOTO (as I don’t eat with photos)”. So we just kept admiring as she continued to work in respectful silence and watched the design take shape under her short, decisive brush strokes.

We then also notice a second sign that I find funny and certainly want to take a picture of that says Made in China Siena, so I interrupt her to ask if I may take the photo, thus marking the occasion to start chatting.

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Uncovered Pavement in Siena’s Duomo

August 21, 2012 by Lourdes Flores

From August 18 through October 24, the extraordinary pavement within the Duomo of Siena will be completely uncovered, considered one of the masterpieces of Italian Gothic

If you’re visiting Siena, one of the the “must-see” places you need to visit is the cathedral, or Duomo, of Siena. Many arrive to Piazza del Duomo and admire the rich decorations on the facade and the colors of the marble used to create this splendor and don’t usually go inside…why?

Maybe because of lack of time or maybe because you have to pay to go in, but let us assure you, the time and entry fee to see the inside the Duomo is definitely worth it and we’ll tell you why:

The Duomo’s PAVEMENT and the Piccolomini Library!

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What to do on August 15?

August 9, 2012 by Lourdes Flores

For all those coming to Tuscany next week, you probably already know that August 15 is a national holiday. While many places will be closed (don’t worry, most restaurants will be open), there are still lots of options for what to do on that day… particularly if you are in a Tuscany city such as Florence, Siena, Arezzo or Pisa or even along the coast.

Aside from relaxing by the pool at your holiday farmhouse or villa or going to the beach, consider that many museums will be open! Which just gives you that much more choices about what to do on that day, particularly if you are in Florence or Siena (for the Palio the next day) or Pisa or Arezzo.

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Enjoy a special night at the Uffizi Gallery, Accademia and Bargello Museum

August 7, 2012 by Cristina Romeo

Would you like to spend a special evening in some of the most famous Italian museums?

If you’re in Florence this summer, you can take advantage of a special initiative called “3 Extraordinary Hours” and take a special night tour at the three best city museums: the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia and the Bargello Museum!
On every Tuesday evening, these three museums are offering special openings to visitors for 3 hours beyond normal hours, from 7pm to 10pm.

The Uffizi Gallery will be open every Tuesday until September 25th until 10pm. The entrance ticket costs 11€ and includes admission to the exhibition “Golden Rays” .

At the Accademia Gallery, the special opening on Tuesday lasts until September 30th. Here you can also visit, in addition to the museum, the exhibition “Art Returns Art” and at 7pm and 8.30pm free guided tours to the museum are offered. Entry ticket costs 11€ (5.50€ reduced).
Special Notice! At the Accademia, you can enter for free on Thursday evenings, read more about that here >>

At the Bargello Museum the evenings are even more tempting!
Every Tuesday until October, the museum will be open until 10pm and here visitors can enjoy a very enjoyable aperitivo, as before dinner cocktails are known in Italy. You can enjoy visiting several of the rooms during the evening, the museum is closed and only open to the guests partaking of the event. Entry ticket costs 12€.
Reservation is recommended and can be made by calling the Florence Museums office at 055294883.
Read our post about the Aperitivo ad Arte at the Bargello>> for more info.

Enjoy art in Florence this Summer!