This beautiful hilltop city occupies a breathtaking position overlooking vast expanses of the famous Tuscan landscape. Volterra is not as well known to tourists as the neighbouring city of San Gimignano, but offers a wealth of historical and artistic treasures as well as some wonderful architecture. These include two beautiful castles, a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, and a number of Etruscan sites. The town also boasts a beautiful domed cathedral built in a Romanesque style. Volterra is also famous for its alabaster crafts, which are for sale in abundance throughout the city. The surrounding valleys and countryside are perfect for touring by car, and the vineyards of the Chianti region are also not far away, where you can learn more about how this world famous wine is made.
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Volterra is well known for producing olive oil and local cheeses. Wild boar is also a popular delicacy.
Volterra is an interesting and historical town brimming with nice restaurants, pizzerias and a few lively bars. The nightlife here is family friendly and usually stops around midnight.
Wander the small cobbled streets of Volterra and in the centre of the town is the Piazza dei Priori, a walled square surrounded by medieval buildings, where you will find an occasional open air market as well as the impressive Palazzo dei Priori. This is the oldest town hall in Tuscany and has featured briefly in the popular Twilight film series.
The popular Museo Etrusco Guarnacci is well worth a visit while in Volterra, hosting one of the largest collection of Etruscan artefacts.
The Alabaster museum in Volterra explains the local craft of finely sculpted stone, excavated from the surrounding area. The museum exhibits over 300 stone works, antiques and paintings.
Situated next door is the Pinacoteca Comunale, an art gallery occupying a collection of local, Sienese and Florentine art.
Additionally there is the Museo d'Arte Sacra, located within the Palazzo Arcivescovile in Volterra, which holds a collection of sculpture and architectural fragments from the Duomo and local churches, as well as a range of church bells from the 11th to 15th centuries.
Marvel at the marble archways and gilded ceiling of the Duomo di Volterra, otherwise named Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta. Located in the centre, within the Piazza San Giovanni, the Cathedral dates back to the 12th Century. In front of the Duomo is also a 13th century baptistry featuring a small marble front.
Wandering through the small cobbled streets of Volterra will enlighten you to its stunning architecture of medieval buildings throughout the town. Just northwest of the Piazza dei Priori you will find Volterra's eroded cliffs, also known as the Balze, where the weather is continuously taking away the edge of the city.
Visit the open air Roman Theatre, located just outside the city walls and built in the first century AD. The theatre is usually open from mid-March to October.
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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