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Places to explore easily in a day
Famous for Vernaccia wine and her two towers, San Gimignano rises from the hills above the Val d'Elsa. The village centre is an authentic jewel of the area's artistic heritage, where the charm of an past era is perfectly preserved. Of special interest is the beautiful collegiate church of Saint Maria Assunta built in the twelfth century. Within its walls you will find thirteenth century Senese frescos that retell the story of the Old Testament, and works by Barna da Siena, Bartolo di Fredi and Taddeo di Bartolo, together with fourteenth century Florentine frescos. The Church of Saint Augustine (La Chiesa di S. Agostino) contains frescos by Benozzo Gozzoli and the Coronation of the Virgin by Antonio del Pollaiolo. Also of note is the Palazzo del Podestà which contains a fresco by the Sienese painter Sodoma. The Piazza della Cisterna with its famous artesian well at the centre, is particularly attractive.
Colle Alta is enclosed within twelfth century walls and contains the villages of Santa Caterina and Castello. Passing though the imposing gateway of Porta Nuova, attributed to Giuliano da Sangallo (1445-1516), you will travel through the village of Santa Caterina with its attractive medieval and renaissance houses to reach the bridge leading to Castello. This bridge was constructed to replace the original drawbridge. The village of Castello has preserved its original medieval layout – narrow, winding streets, including the particularly interesting via delle Volte, a picturesque tunnel at least a hundred meters long, and the tower houses: including the home of Arnolfo di Cambio, which is an outstanding example of thirteenth century architecture. Traveling down to the Colle Bassa you will find the thirteenth century church of Saint Augustine (Sant'Agostino) which contains the Madonna with Child by Taddeo di Bartolo, and a masterpiece by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio. It is worth visiting the nearby Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Badia a Coneo.
Certaldo Alto still has a large part of its original medieval walls and three gateways intact, Porta Alberti, Porta al Sole and Porta al Rivellino. There are two main streets originating from different eras, via del Rivellino and via Boccaccio. A series of characteristic narrow lanes and alleys cut across these two arterial roads. Numerous secluded orchards and fields within the city walls are a characteristic feature of this town. The village is accessed by traveling up the ancient and precipitous roads of either Costa Alberti or Costa Vecchia, or rather by taking the more recently constructed via del Castello. The village and its surroundings offer a rare example of medieval urban planning which culminates in the imposing Palazzo Pretorio situated at the summit. Also worth visiting are the church of Saints Jacob and Phillip (la chiesa dei SS. Jacopo e Filippo) and the house of Giovanni Boccaccio, celebrated author of the "Decamerone".
Siena is a city of immense cultural and artistic importance, and is home to numerous prestigious works of art. It is the city of the Palio, the city's most famous and exciting sporting event. The Palio is held twice a year on the 2nd of July and the 16th of August in the celebrated Piazza del Campo. Situated in the heart of Tuscany (322 m above sea-level) Siena is an enchanting maze of paved streets which contain a myriad of architectural and artistic wonders, and many hidden corners just waiting to be discovered. So much to see – from the Piazza del Campo to the City Cathedral (Duomo), then down the steep steps of the Baptistery (Battistero) which leads to the Ospedale of Santa Maria della Scala which now houses a museum.
Volterra is situated in the heart of Tuscany, approximately 40 km from the coast. Castled on the summit of a range of hills 545 meters above sea-level, it offers spectacular panoramic views of the Cecina and Era valleys. Volterra overlooks, in complete isolation, a vast territory rich in artistic, historical and environmental resources.
Florence is the custodian of an outstanding artistic heritage, which is the result of the city's centuries-old civilization. Large works are housed in the city's numerous museums: the Uffizi, contains the world's most selective collection of art, the Palatina Gallery with its paintings from the "Golden Age"; the Bargello with its Renaissance sculptures, the Cappelle Medicee, and the Casa Buonarroti, are home to sculptures by Michelangelo. Not to be missed are the Gallery of Modern Art (la Galleria d'Arte Moderna), the Cathedral Museum of Opera (il Museo dell'Opera del Duomo), the Argenti and the Pietre Dure. Other places to visit include the Baptistery (il Battistero) famed for its mosaics, the many medieval churches, the Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, Ponte Vecchio, the monasteries and cloisters, convents and the charming artist coteries, and of course the Certosa.
Rising about the banks of the Arno river and close to its estuary, Pisa was once an important seafaring republic whose dominion extended as far as Corsica. Its artistic heritage is concentrated in Piazza dei Miracoli with the Romanesque-Pisano cathedral (Duomo), the Baptistery (il Battistero), and of course the bell tower, known throughout the world as the "Leaning Tower of Pisa".
Situated in the green hills of Tuscany, The Mall Gucci Outlet offers high fashion shopping at reduced prices of 30-50%. The Mall is a 45 minute drive from Florence through Valdarno, a striking Tuscan landscape and the birthplace of the famous Masaccio. GUCCI, FERRAGAMO, ARMANI, BOTTEGA VENETA, SERGIO ROSSI, YVES SAINT LAURENT, VALENTINO, UNGARO, ERMENGILDO ZEGNA, LORO PIANA, LA PERLA, HOGAN.
Address: Leccio, Reggello Km 119
Tel. 055 8657775 - A1 exit Incisa, go to Pontassieve, then to Leccio..
Open Day: Monday - Saturday: 10.00 - 19.00 / Sunday: 15.00 - 19.00
Barberino Designer Outlet, half an hour away from Florence and less than an hour from Bologna. More than 90 shops featuring the best brands with fashion products from previous seasons at prices cut by 30 to 70% all year round.
FROM FLORENCE: A1 tratto Firenze - Bologna, exit Barberino di Mugello.
Tel 055 842161