Things to Do in Tuscany - page 3
The renovated Central Market (Mercato Centrale) is a trendy gastronomic mecca in the heart of Florence. On the ground floor, you’ll find 19th-century architecture and traditional food stalls; upstairs, there’s an urban food court featuring more than a dozen stands and shops, as well as a cooking school.
Pass through the arched entrance of Florence’s stately Pitti Palace and into the serenity of the sweeping Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli), once the private playground of this Renaissance capital’s ruling Medici family. Dating from the 16th century, the Giardino di Boboli is among the earliest examples of formal Italian gardens, commissioned for the wife of Cosimo I de Medici in 1540. The gardens were expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries, and now cover 11 acres (4.4 hectares) of hillside and include a collection of outdoor sculptures dating from ancient Rome through the 17th century, making it a veritable open-air museum.
One of the finest examples of renaissance architecture in Florence, Palazzo Strozzi was built in the 15th century for the wealthy Strozzi family and today serves as an exhibition space hosting some of the city’s most prestigious shows. Though not among Florence’s most famous venues, it will appeal to visiting art aficionados.
One of Tuscany’s most beautiful sights, the Abbey of Sant'Antimo (Abbazia di Sant'Antimo) is a 12th-century Romanesque church and monastery set deep in the rolling olive groves outside the hilltown of Montalcino in the Val d'Orcia. The abbey is a popular stop during wine tours or day trips through the Tuscan countryside.
To get a glimpse into the sumptuous life of Florence’s wealthy and powerful Medici family during the Renaissance, look no further than Medici Riccardi Palace (Palazzo Medici Riccardi). Designed by Michelozzo in the mid-15th century for Cosimo de' Medici, the palace is considered a masterpiece of early Renaissance architecture.
The main thoroughfare running through historic Lucca is Via Fillungo, one of the liveliest streets in town. It stretches from the Porta dei Borghi (one of the ancient gates in Lucca's pristine city walls) to Canto d'Arco. The street is lined with shops and cafes, making it a magnet for tourist activity as well as for locals.
Some of the attractions along this pretty street include the 11th-century Church of San Cristoforo and Palazzo Manzi. The famous clock tower is not far away, and from the top of that tower you get an excellent view down Via Fillungo.
Opened in 1891, Opera del Duomo Museum (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo) houses works and artifacts from Florence’s Duomo Cathedral, including Lorenzo Ghiberti’s original doors for the Baptistery of St. John (Battistero di San Giovanni), Donatello’s Penitent Magdalene statue, and the unfinished Florence Pietà—aka The Deposition—that Michelangelo intended to cover his own tomb.
One of the most historically important churches in Siena, the Basilica of San Domenico (Basilica di San Domenico) is famous for another saint: the city’s own Saint Catherine. It was here that Catherine took her vows in 1363 at the age of 15, and the church holds a number of her relics, including her head, thumb, and whip used for self-flagellation.
The Medici Chapels, tucked into the 15th-century Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence’s historic center, are home to two of Michelangelo’s famous sculptural masterpieces. Built as mausoleums for members of the Medici family, the Medici Chapels include New Sacristy and the larger Chapel of the Princes.
The historic and happening Oltrarno, which sits on the opposite side of the Arno River from the Duomo, the Uffizi, and the Accademia, is one of Florence’s most dynamic neighborhoods. Home to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, the quarter is also known for its artisan workshops, restaurants and wine bars, and nightlife.
More Things to Do in Tuscany
The heart of Siena is Piazza del Campo, and the heart of this famous square is Fonte Gaia (Gaia Fountain). Dating from the 15th century, the fountain is lined with replicas of the original bas-relief panels by Jacopo della Quercia, considered a precursor to Michelangelo, and is one of the top attractions in this Tuscan town.
Sculpted in 1545 by Benvenuto Cellini,Perseus with the Head of Medusa is one of the main attractions in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria. The bronze statue, which depicts the Greek hero Perseus defeating the monster Medusa, is considered to be a great masterpiece of Italian Mannerism.
Italian style is famous the world over, and one of the most recognized fashion labels from Italy is Prada. To find this popular designer’s chic bags, shoes, and clothing at discounts of up to 50 percent off retail prices, head to the large Prada outlet (aka Space) just outside of Florence.
Located on the Serchio River some 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Lucca, the Devil's Bridge (Ponte del Diavolo or Ponte della Maddalena) is one of the region’s most striking landmarks. The stone, pedestrian-only bridge dates to the 11th century and was used by religious pilgrims. It’s recognizable for its irregularly shaped arches.
Pisa’s most famous attraction may be its Leaning Tower, but for centuries its heart was Knights’ Square (Piazza dei Cavalieri), remodeled by the architect Vasari in the 16th century into a classic example of Renaissance civic planning. Today, the square is home to Pisa’s university in the medieval center.
The Siena Civic Museum (Museo Civico di Siena), housed in Palazzo Pubblico on Piazza del Campo, is one of the most important museums in Siena, with a large collection of frescoes, paintings, and sculptures from the Sienese school and others. The most significant is Ambrogio Lorenzetti's massive 14th-century fresco cycleThe Allegory of Good and Bad Government.
A bit of a misnomer, the Dante House Museum(Museo Casa di Dante) was never the 13th-century Italian poet Dante Alighieri's residence. Instead, this small museum is home to reproductions of early manuscripts of his magnum opus,The Divine Comedy, and other engaging exhibits that re-create Dante's life and times.
The Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano), designed by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century, is an elevated medieval passageway connecting Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti), each set on opposite banks of the Arno River in Florence. Snaking through and along many of the city's landmarks, the near-mile-long, elevated walkway was once a secret, used by the Medici family to travel unnoticed through Florence. Today, it is an art gallery, home to Italy’s most important collection of self-portraits. Visitors can admire views over the river from its large windows running over the Ponte Vecchio.
Italy is home to some of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, including the Monumental Cemetery of Pisa (Camposanto Monumentale). Part of the UNESCO-listed cathedral complex, this Gothic cloister features intricate marble arches encircling a central courtyard, 14th-century frescoes, chapels, and rows of Roman sarcophagi.
If Florence is the capital of the Italian Renaissance, the Bargello Museum(Museo Nazionale del Bargello) is the capital of Italian Renaissance sculpture. Housed in the city’s medieval Palazzo del Podestà, the collection includes masterpieces by Cellini, Andrea della Robbia, Luca della Robbia, Michelangelo, Bernini, and Donatello.
With its beautiful grassy expanses and Renaissance basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s Piazza di Santa Maria Novella is beloved by Florentines and visitors alike. The centrally located square, lined with historic townhouses, restaurants, and cafés, has been a popular gathering place for 800 years.
In pride of place at the center of the busy Piazza della Signoria, the Fountain of Neptune has long been one of Florence’s most memorable landmarks, set against a backdrop of the grand Palazzo Vecchio (Town Hall). Inaugurated in 1565, the striking artwork is the masterpiece of sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati and was commissioned to celebrate the wedding of Francesco I de’ Medici and Johanna of Austria.
The elaborate bronze and marble statue portrays a 5.6-meter-high image of Neptune, the Roman God of the Sea, with the face of Cosimo I de 'Medici, stood on a high pedestal above the water, around which Satyrs and horses frolic. Despite sustaining considerable damage over the years, including losing one of its hands to vandals back in 2005, the statue has now been painstakingly restored and remains a popular meeting place for both locals and tourists.
Italy is known for its vibrant outdoor markets, and one of Florence’s liveliest is the Sant’Ambrogio Market (Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio). Here you can enjoy the authentic atmosphere of a traditional Italian food market and make some purchases from the stalls piled high with fresh produce and local specialties.
The Cathedral complex is among Siena’s top attractions, and it includes both the Duomo and adjacent Baptistery of San Giovanni (Battistero di San Giovanni). Echoing the Cathedral’s Gothic architecture, the stripped-down facade of the baptistery belies its sumptuous interiors, decorated by some of the 15th century's most important artists.
- Things to do in Siena
- Things to do in Florence
- Things to do in Pisa
- Things to do in San Gimignano
- Things to do in Chianti
- Things to do in Livorno
- Things to do in Umbria
- Things to do in Emilia-Romagna
- Things to do in Piedmont & Liguria
- Things to do in Perugia
- Things to do in Bologna
- Things to do in Lake Bolsena
- Things to do in Lazio
- Things to do in Veneto
- Things to do in Lombardy