In the heart of Tuscany
Volterra is one of the finest and lesser known hilltop towns tucked away in the heart of Tuscany. Idyllically set amidst an evocative landscape of soft rolling hills and lush woodland abruptly defined by barren ,deep clay walled chasms, gullies and ravines, Volterra, 545 metres above sea level, dominates and divides the Cecina and Era Valleys. Volterra is a city of art that, like few others, can document with its monuments, three thousand years of history and still retains traces of its majestic past which gradually unfurls as you wander through the narrow streets and explore the Etruscan Museum, the Art Gallery, the Museum of Sacred Art, the Ecomuseum of Alabaster and the Viti Palace. And yet Volterra’s charm not only lies in its historical patrimony but in the undefiled surrounding countryside, a slow traditional way of life and its ageold tradition of alabaster carving. This elusive stronghold requires careful and patient attention for it takes time to absorb its timeless atmosphere, treasured secrets, unique ambience and culture.
San Gimignano is Italy’s best preserved medieval city, famous for its medieval towers looming over the landscape. As in most Tuscan towns, the centre is closed to traffic but there is plenty of parking outside the walls, it is therefore a pleasure to stoll around in the centre. San Gimignano’s history dates back to the 10th century, its towers date back to the 11th to 13th century. It got it’s name from the Holy Bishop of Modena, Saint Gimignano who was to save the town from the barbarian hordes. In the Middle Ages it increased it’s wealth and development due a trading and pilgrim route that passed it. Due to this prosperity there are many beautiful works of art in its churches and monesteries. In 1199 it became a free municipality. Soon after, due to internal power stuggles, it divided into 2 factions.
In 1348 the Plague dramatically reduced the population, which put the city into a crises that caused it to submit to Florence in 1353. It has overcome it’s downfall due to its beauty and cultural importance and the rediscovery of its agricultural heritage.
Siena is the embodiment of a medieval city. Its inhabitants pursued their rivalry with Florence right into the area of urban planning. Throughout the centuries, they preserved their city’s Gothic appearance, acquired between the 12th and 15th centuries. During this period the work of Duccio, the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini was to influence the course of Italian and, more broadly, European art. The whole city of Siena, built around the Piazza del Campo, was devised as a work of art that blends into the surrounding landscape. Some of the famous artists who lived and worked in Siena are Duccio, Simone Martini, and Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti. Sienese people are fiercely proud of their city and their neighborhood (contrada). The Palio, is all about neighborhood pride and rivalry, and also constitutes the unbroken continuation of a Medieval tradition associated with religion, pageantry, trash-talking, bragging, and occasional violence.
Pisa is most famous for its Leaning Tower. Many visitors arrive into this university town and visit the Piazza dei Miracoli, or Square of Miracles, where the tower, the cathedral and baptistery form the city’s main attraction. Around the square’s perimeter you’ll also find the Camposanto, Opera del Duomo museum and Museum of the Sinopie which we also highly recommend visiting. A few blocks away, the Piazza dei Cavalieri once was the heart of power in the city and later the headquarters of the Knights of St. Stephen. Today, it is a center of culture and learning as the famous Scuola Normale di Pisa has its base in the Palazzo della Carovana that faces onto the Piazza.
Il Teatro del Silenzio
The Teatro del Silenzio (or Theatre of Silence) is an Italian open air amphitheatre which is located in Lajatico, Tuscany — the hometown of Andrea Bocelli. In 2006, Bocelli influenced the municipality of his hometown Lajatico to build the outdoor theatre, and contributed greatly towards its construction. The theatre hosts a concert by Bocelli, its honorary president, once every July, while remaining silent the rest of the year.