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Tuscany Blog

Volterra in a day

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We are few kilometres from Pisa. Surrounded by the classic Tuscan countryside, landscapes just like postcards: round hills of wheat fields, golden in summer, green in springtime, stretching out on the horizon like metaphysical silhouettes of terracotta in the autumn. And in the middle of this gentle nothingness, made solely of nature and the secular care of men, the Etruscan Velathri rests atop an extraordinary tufa plateau. To think that in the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. this city was home to 25,000 inhabitants—twice the current population. 

The must-see sites: the Cathedral, consecrated in 1120 and restored in the 13th century in the Pisan Romanesque style; the octagonal Baptistery (1283); the Piazza of the Palazzo dei Priori. The Volterra we see today was formed in that era, with its monumental town centre compactly built of grey stone and dotted with tower houses. The true asset of the city and its craftsmen is alabaster, to which a cultural museum is dedicated, in multiple locations (info tel. 0588 87580). Don’t miss the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum, which houses the famous statuette known as the Shadow of the Night (info tel. 0588.86347). What to eat: wonderful cheeses like Pecorino and cured meats, dishes based on the precious white truffle, and game meats, in particular especially hare and wild boar.

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White truffle of San Miniato, Olive Oil of Lucca

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Between the provinces of Pisa and Lucca, starting at the end of October until the month of December, a flavourful game without equal is played, headed by two excellent products noted the world over for their quality and typicality: the White Truffle of San Miniato and the DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the hills of Lucca. The white truffle of San Miniato is hunted and gathered in about thirty municipalities in the heart of Tuscany in the provinces of Pisa and Florence.

But the real spotlight is on the welcoming, pleasant city perched among the hills of the Arno valley in the province of Pisa, host in the month of November and first weekend of December to the White Truffle of San Miniato National Exhibit Fair (second, third, and fourth weekend of November and first weekend of December; stands open Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 6:30pm in the historic city centre). The perfect occasion to taste the DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil of the Hills of Lucca, on the same dates at the Real Collegio di Lucca, during the eno-gastronomic event Il Desco takes place (every Saturday and Sunday from November 16 November through December 8, from 10am to 7pm). An extraordinary chance to visit as well one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany, which over time has kept its ancient medieval fascination alive and well.

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TRADITIONS. The magic itinerary

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Extending from the LIPU reserve to the artificial lake of Santa Luce (where you can enjoy an unforgettable bird-watching experience) up to Crespina, with its magnificent nineteenth-century villas (Villa Belvedere, with panoramic view, English-style garden and lemon house; Villa Corsini Valdisonzi, Villa Il Poggio and Villa-Museum Carlo Pepi, owned by the famous art critic and housing a rich contemporary art collection), this 30-kilometer itinerary is a magic journey to the heart of the Pisan hills, through the lovely towns of Orciano Pisano, Santa Luce, Lorenzana and Fauglia, offering the chance to take some extraordinary photographs.

Fauglia is home to the Giorgio Kienerk Museum, devoted to the post-Macchiaiolo painter who immortalized the Pisan countryside on canvas. Situated in Pomaia is one of Europe’s major centers of Buddhist culture, the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute. Founded in 1977, it is housed in a big building with meditation rooms, dining rooms, library and guest rooms. All around the main building are the houses of the resident lamas and the wooden cottages used for meditation rituals. Due to the presence of two illustrious resident lamas, the institute has teachers and meditation masters, and has also welcomed famous artists and celebrities who practice Buddhism, such as Richard Gere, among its regular guests.

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CINEMA. Three exhibitions to celebrate the 100 th  anniversary of Cerratelli Foundation

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Do you remember the beautiful costumes of the film El Cid by Anthony Mann? Or those worn in Franco Zeffirelli’s masterpiece film, Romeo and Juliet


  

Well, these extraordinary stage costumes will be on show, along with another thirty-thousand equally beautiful pieces, in San Giuliano Terme, as the highlight of three exhibitions held to celebrate the 100 th anniversary of Fondazione Cerratelli, one of the world’s oldest and most famous stage costume-makers, housed in the magnificent Villa Roncioni in Pugnano, a small town near San Giuliano Terme. Showing throughout 2014, the three exhibitions offer visitors the chance to take a close look at the amazing costumes designed by the greatest Tuscan artisans, whose skill and craftsmanship have become associated with the highest level of quality all over the world. 

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LIFESTYLE. Fashion animates the Versilia, even in Winter

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It is one of the chicest places to spend your vacation in Italy, which, every year, attracts VIPs and celebrities from all over the world. But also thanks to the luxury boutiques in Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio, open all the year round, the Versilia is an ideal destination for shopping as well.



Research is the key concept of the historic multi-brand luxury stores, like Gallery and Morini in Forte dei Marmi, Silvia Bini in Viareggio and Fiacchini in Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio. Among the temples of shopping: Dolce&Gabbana, Gucci, Lanvin, Ermanno Scervino, Prada, Roberto Cavalli and Faliero Sarti in Forte dei Marmi and the stores of Max Mara and Trussardi in Viareggio. But the Versilia is famous  for its jewelry stores as well, since here you can find some of the most beautiful boutiques by luxury brands like Bulgari, Cassetti, Pomellato, Rolex and Audemars Piguet. Some streets you should not miss to walk along: via Carducci, via Montauti, via Roma, via Spinetti,  Piazza Garibaldi and the small Tonini Square in Forte dei Marmi;  viale Marconi (the beautiful and breezy promenade) in Viareggio.

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NEWS AND EVENTS
Events in Bagni di Pisa
Enjoy one day at the Spa with the 'Salus per Aquam' program or an unforgetable Spa Night every thursday from 8pm to midnight  
See
Lucca Comics & Games 2014
From 30th October to 2nd November, Lucca will host one of the most important festival of comics, animation, illustration and games.  
See
Eventi e Notizie