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Located at the heart of Tuscany, Colle di Val d’Elsa is a lovely hilltop town overlooking the Elsa valley. The town is located on the ancient Via Francigena – an ancient pilgrimage route that leads from Canterbury, through France and Italy, ending in Rome. Colle di Val d’Elsa is also famous for producing around 15 percent of the world’s crystal. From here, you can also get out and about to experience the best of Tuscany. The beautiful city of San Gimignano with its beautiful skyline of traditional rooftops and towers is just a 30 minute drive away, whilst you can also find yourself within the heart of the Chianti wine region within half and hours’ drive.View villas in Colle Val d'Elsa
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Some typical dishes in Siena include the following: beef from the special Chianina breed of cattle, pici, pasta e fagioli, extra virgin olive oil, pecorino cheese, truffles, tuscan salami, and desserts such as panforte.
Pizzerias, cafes and gelaterias.
Colle di Val d'Elsa has a relaxed evening atmosphere with a good selection of bars and restaurants throughout the Colle Alta (old town) and new town. Spend time wandering through the town’s piazzas to find a traditional pizzeria or wine bar.
Exploring the town of Colle di Val d'Elsa you will find its split into two, the upper and old town known as the Colle Alta and features lots of medieval architecture. The lower town is modern with many shops selling crystal glass that’s made locally.
The Museo Civico e Diocesano d'Arte Sacra is a small museum within the town showcasing 14th century frescoes, Etruscan pottery and Sienese paintings. The museum is currently housed in the fantastic Palazzo dei Priori.
Colle di Val d'Elsa's Duomo is located on the Piazza del Duomo. The cathedral was renovated in the 17th and 18th centuries and the facade was rebuilt in 1603. The interior displays a stunning marble 15th century pulpit.
The Santa Maria in Canonica is a Romanesque, architectural style church located within the old town. Its stone facade is decorated with brickwork.
The Porta Nova is a majestic Renaissance fortress providing a gateway into the town. Built in the 15th century to protect against attack from the Volterra road.
Entering the Colle Alta (old town) from the west and passing under the 16th century archway brings you to the main street called the Via del Castello. This street is lined with medieval houses and throughout the old town you can appreciate the fantastic architecture and narrow lanes.
The Palazzo Campana is also worth a visit and is a unique mannerist style mansion that forms a gateway to Colle Alta and was built in 1539 on a viaduct.
Pisa is a city located on the right of the mouth of the river Arno and is the home of the University of Pisa and many research schools. The centre of the city offers vibrant cafes, bars and a lively street atmosphere, or alternatively a large collection of Romanesque buildings, Renaissance piazzas and churches can be found giving all visitors lots to see and do. However the real reason millions of people visit the city each year is for its famous Leaning Tower. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is also partnered by the Duomo (cathedral), the Baptistry and the Campo Santo cemetery situated on the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles).
The Leaning Tower:
Construction of this uniquely breath-taking tower, also known as the campanile (bell tower) for the Duomo (cathedral), began back in 1173 but had to stop due to the structure starting to tilt after the third storey was completed. Work continued despite the lean and was fully completed in 1350. Open to the public, today a small number of visitors at a time can climb the 294 steps to the top.
Many other sights in Pisa include the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, the Museo delle Sinopie and the Piazza dei Cavalieri.
While in Tuscany, a trip to Florence is an absolute must. The city is known to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and possibly the most beautiful city in Italy. Florence boasts hundreds of local restaurants and shops as well as an overwhelming amount of museums, galleries and stunning architecture.
Some of these tourist sites include:
Possibly the most iconic building in Florence, the Duomo (or cathedral of Florence) dominates the city with its enormous dome. A visit to this magnificent cathedral wouldn’t be complete or fully appreciated without climbing its 463 interior stone steps to the top, where views of the surrounding city can be enjoyed. Located in the Piazza del Duomo, this cathedral complex also includes the Campanile and Bapistery, with the Bapistery being one of Florence’s oldest buildings. The Campanile (bell tower) contains 414 steps to the top and offers the reward of a view nearly as impressive as that from the dome. Together these buildings form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Known to be among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany, this medieval palace was completed in 1322 and boasts a striking campanile (bell tower) that reaches 94 meters high. The palazzo overlooks the Piazza della Signoria, a piazza showcasing a unique outdoor sculpture gallery with statues highlighting major events in the city’s history.
The Uffizi gallery is among the oldest and most famous art museum in Europe and possibly the world. This gallery is situated in Piazzale degli Uffizi and is overflowing with Renaissance masterpieces, including: ‘The Birth of Venus’ (1485) by Botticelli, ‘The Venus of Urbino’ (1538) by Titian and ‘Dukes of Urbino’ (1460) by Piero della Franesca to name a few.
A medieval bridge, built in 1345 that crosses the Arno river. The bridge is Florence’s oldest and is noted for still featuring shops built along it. Currently the shops are let to jewellers, souvenir sellers and art dealers.
An art museum in Florence that is most famously known as the home of Michelangelo’s sculpture, David. The museum also showcases a collection of Renaissance paintings.
Many other sights in Florence include the Palazzo Pitti, Basilica of Santa Croce, Boboli Gardens, Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and the Basilica di San Lorenzo to name a few.
Built on seven hills, Siena features a network of narrow cobbled streets and alleyways as well as wide variety of local restaurants and bars. Some of the main tourist sites include:
Piazza del Campo:
At the city’s centre, the Piazza del Campo is undoubtedly known as the heart and social centre of the city. Built on the site of a former Roman marketplace, the piazza floor is sloped so you will find many locals and tourists spend time just sitting and watching the world. The piazza features the Fonte Gaia, a rectangular fountain decorated with statues.
The Palazzo Pubblico is possibly the most iconic building in Siena and has been the town hall since the 13th century. At 102 meters high the bell tower, also known as the Torre del Mangia, boasts 500 plus steps and is the second tallest medieval tower to be built in Italy. Climbing to the top provides outstanding views of Siena and the surrounding area.
Other sights in Siena include the Museo Civico, the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena’s Duomo (cathedral), the Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana, Palazzo Piccolomini and the Basilica of San Domenico to name a few. There is also the popular ancient sporting event known as Il Palio annually held on two days during the summer on the Piazza del Campo.
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