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The Medieval Market of Filetto

August 8, 2011 by Stefano

Filetto Main Street

If you also find yourself in Lunigiana between the 11th and 15th of August, make
your way to the Medieval fair in Filetto!

The area of Lunigiana has so much to offer, as we had ourselves discovered a year ago when we
first started exploring this area staying a few days in the countryside near Aulla.

At that time we visited the small charming village of Filetto, easy to reach near Villafranca in
Lunigiana. We discovered only afterward that a medieval fair is held every year in the small
medieval center, the “first and largest in Lunigiana”… and anyone who has read our past posts,
we particularly love to attend these events.

Checking out the program on the official website we
are excited to see that there are many attractions and entertainment planned… so the fair looks
very promising!

In particular, everyday at 20.30 you can enjoy a special dinner with medieval dishes prepared for the festival. The dinner is a fixed menu at 38 euros per person, you have to reserve ahead by phone by calling either 320.020.8059 or 347.076.4935. The menu looks very interesting, definitely merits to be tried out!

We contacted the fair organizers to request a few more details and they’ve underlined the wish
to have all participants dressed in medieval clothes. We see that as an excellent sign of passion
toward the organization of the event. It is not strictly required, but we will try our best to fit in as well in our medieval clothes – we’ll let’ you know how it turns out!

Hope to see you there! :-)

Main Square in Filetto

Filetto in Lunigiana

Calici di Stelle Tuscany 2011

August 4, 2011 by Elena

Calici di Stelle Tuscany 2011

If you love wine and would like to pass a beautiful summer evening next week, remember that Wednesday, August 10, 2011 is generally known as the day of falling stars, which falls on the day of San Lorenzo. For this special night, many towns across Tuscany have dedicated a special night called “Calici di Stelle” to celebrate the region’s great wines!

Organized by the Wine Tourism Movement, Calici di Stelle offers many extraordinary events in many piazzas across Italy, from Sicily to Piedmont. This year Calici di Stelle is in fact dedicated to the anniversary of the 150 years anniversary of the Unification of Italy.

Tuscany has a record number of towns and villages participating in the manifestation, with over 30 municipalities organizing tastings of wine and other typical products, meetings, art exhibitions, shows, historical parades, concerts, and fireworks.

Amongst the many Tuscan cities participating in the event is Castellina in Chianti, Castiglione d’Orcia, Colle di Val d’Elsa, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Montepulciano, San Gimignano, Siena, and Vinci, all renowned for their fine wine production.

Wine will be the absolute protagonist in one of the most suggestive and evocative nights of the year, when you will have the possibility to admire San Lorenzo’s falling stars, the “tears” of the saint according to the legend, in the good company of exquisite wine.

A magic summer night when all your dreams will come true!

The complete list of all the Tuscan and Italian cities participating in the event is available on the official website of the National Association “Città del Vino”.

Livorno and Effetto Venezia 2011

July 25, 2011 by Cristina Romeo

La terrazza Mascagni a Livorno

Livorno is preparing to live “Effetto Venezia“, a traditional big event organized in the characteristic city district named “Venice” and which comes this year to its 26th edition, completely inspired to France.

For ten days, from July 29 to August 7, 2011, will take place all kinds of events, from special guided tours, theater performances,concerts, exhibitions and street performances played in the Venice neighborhood, transformed for the occasion on this year in a large district of Paris.

Saturday, July 30 will be a “Notte Bianca” or “White Night” and main museums, churches and shops are open till late at night. At the Darsena Nuova in the port of Livorno at 1030pm you can also assist to the “Palio dell’ Antenna”, an exciting race of the four rowing boats representing the main city neighborhoods.

“Effetto Venezia” is with no doubt a wonderful opportunity to visit Livorno and appreciate one of his most characteristic districts!

The complete event program is available on the official website of the Effetto Venezia (only in Italian).

The Renaissance of Colle di Val d’Elsa

July 12, 2011 by Stefano

Cannon at the door of Colle Val d'Elsa Castle

The first edition of the Renaissance Fair at Colle Val d’Elsa! Our impressions

Anyone who has read our blog for a while probably has already understood we love to go to medieval festivals and that we often return to the ones held in Monteriggioni, Volterra and Roccatederighi in Tuscany. When we found out there would be a similar festival in Colle Val d’Elsa this year, right away we marked it on our calendars. This past Sunday, July 3, the entire Discover Tuscany made their way to Colle to go to “The Renaissance of Colle between 1479 and 1592”.

The dates the event’s official title refers to are important for Colle: the first marks the year Florence conceeded Colle citizenship in exchange for their fedelty against the Sienese enemy (1479) and the other was when Colle was proclaimed a diocese, marking it a city to all effects (1592).

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Renaissance Festival 2011 in Colle Val d ‘Elsa

June 28, 2011 by Cristina Romeo

The beautiful town of Colle Val d ‘Elsa situated between Florence and Siena is completing the final preparations to take you back in time this upcoming weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday July 2 and 3, 2011 the medieval village will host “The Renaissance of Colle – History, Festivals and Battles between 1479 and 1592”.

During the two days, starting at 5pm up until midnight all streets, squares, shops and public places in Colle Val d ‘Elsa will become the setting for the celebration of the Renaissance, one of the city’s most important historical periods.

It will be an unique opportunity to see Colle Val d’ Elsa come alive with characters in Renaissance dress, skillful jugglers, fabulous musicians, street performers and actors entertaining and engaging the public from later afternoon until midnight.

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Historical Parade in Florence

June 27, 2011 by Lourdes Flores

We’d like to share our shots from the parade in historical costume that made its way through Florence’s historical center on Friday in celebration of St. John the Baptist, Florence’s patron saint. The parade made its way to Piazza Santa Croce, accompanying the players of the Blue team from Santa Croce and the White team from San Frediano that were disputing the final match. The Blue team won – here are some newspaper shots of the game and of the victory celebrations.

The parade is a bright and colorful affair, with soldiers, guards, nobles and ladies in their fine clothes, drummers, cannons, flag throwers and much more! We love the colors, hope you enjoy the pictures if you weren’t able to see them in person yet!

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Celebrating Florence’s Patron Saint

June 23, 2011 by Lourdes Flores

Are you in Florence this Friday, June 24th? Then take the chance to join in the celebrations for Florence’s patron saint, St. John the Baptist!

The big events on this day are the historical parade in costume through Florence that is followed by final match of the Calcio Storico in Piazza Santa Croce and the fireworks show at night. The Calcio Storico is a rough version of soccer played in Florence since the 16th century, and today still played in costume.

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Tourist Tax Coming Soon to Florence

June 8, 2011 by Elena

If you’re traveling to Florence this summer, you may find it useful to know that the city will soon start applying a tax on your stay within the city. Starting July 1, 2011, visitors sleeping in Florence will start paying a tourist tax per person per night. The tax will involve Florence hotels, residences, bed and breakfasts, guesthouses and hostels as well as campsites. (Btw, if you are looking for an accommodation in Florence take a look here at our dedicated guide).

The cost will vary, from 1-5 euros in hotels based upon the hotel’s star rating and generally from 1-3 euro for all other types of accommodation. The maximum daily tax is fixed at 5 euro per person and will be applied up to a maximum of 5 nights spent in the Renaissance city.

The money collected from the tax will be used to improve a number of tourism services including maintenance works, support to properties, public services and so on.
The city council in Palazzo Vecchio is still defining the details so we’ll keep you updated as soon as the details are defined and set!


UPDATE 28/06/2011: The city council has finally approved and confirmed the new tourist tax which will become effective starting July 1st, although its terms are still not very clear. Be prepared to find it on your bill if you are staying in Florence!
On the other hand, a new service that the city will be offering and which the extra tax should go to cover in the future includes free water. A special fountain has been set up in and just inaugurated in Piazza della Signoria that offers the choice between still or sparkling water! Hooray for better services to thirsty visitors in Florence! :)

Artisans at Work

May 13, 2011 by Lourdes Flores

What: Artigianato e Palazzo
When: Starting today until Sunday: May 13 – 14 – 15 from 10am to 8:30pm
Where: Giardino Corsini, Via della Scala 115, Florence
Tickets: Full price is 8,00 euro, get them for 6 euro if you buy online at

This is a very special event in its 17th year that allows you to see the crafts that made and continue to make Florence a great artisan city. Approximately 100 small local craftsmen are selected to set up stands in the centuries old Corsini garden off Via della Scala to showcase and to show you what their work entails.

Nowadays, we all take for granted that everything gets made in a machine most likely in China. Not true! In Florence and Tuscany, the centuries-old tradition of artisan work and craftsmanship still continues today even if it gets difficult to pass on the passion and dedication to new generations. The artisans will share the techniques passed down through the centuries in making bronze, wood, glass, iron, paper and marble objects. Gold leafing, jewel making, printing, pottery, scent making, hat making, restoration of marble and stone inlaid furniture and much much more.

We highly recommend making your way to Artigianato e Palazzo as it shows firsthand the unique crafts that make Florentine and Tuscan products unique in the world.

Have the remains of Mona Lisa been found?

May 12, 2011 by Lourdes Flores

Who was the woman whose enigmatic smile was captured by Leonardo da Vinci in the most famous painting in the world? It has long been said that Mona Lisa, a painting called La Gioconda in Italian, is the portrait of Lisa Gherardini who was married to a Florentine cloth and silk merchant by the name of Francesco di Bartolomeo di Zanobi del Giocondo. In 2005, Lisa was definitely identified as the model for the Mona Lisa after a citation was found in a book.

It is known that during Lisa’s life she established a personal relationship with the convent of Sant’Orsola in Florence where one of her daughters became a nun. It was believed that in when Lisa fell ill in 1538, her daughter took her to the convent of Sant’Orsola where she died about four years later. In 2007, this was also confirmed when a scholar found a death register at San Lorenzo that stated “Lisa di Francesco Del Giocondo died on 15 July 1542 and was buried in Sant’Orsola.”

It was then deemed “important to find Lisa’s remains” since modern technologies can reconstruct facial features, and thus be able to see if her face matches that portrayed by Leonardo. The search was on!

For the past few weeks, researchers have been shifting through the dirt below the old pavement of the Convent of Sant’Orsola in search of Mona Lisa’s remains. Yesterday, the dig moved into two internal chapels and two bone fragments and several nails were unearthed. Could it be the remains of a coffin? Could it be the Mona Lisa? The bone fragments will be analyzed and DNA can be compared to descendants of the family. Researchers hope to find the skull as well to reconstruct facial features. Maybe only then will the researchers rest easy with scientific proof in hand that Lisa Gherardini was indeed the model for Leonardo’s famous painting.

Me? I’m satisfied with continuing to admire the enigmatic smile of the woman and wondering what she was thinking! :)

photo by Claudio Giovannini