Private Siena walking tour

Siena - Duomo - side view
Siena - Piazza del Campo  - panoramaSiena - Palazzo PubblicoSiena - Piazza del Campo - view from the topSiena - detailSiena - viewSiena - Piazza del Campo  - viewSiena - San Domenico - FrescoesSiena - San Domenico - InteriorSiena  - San Domenico - View

From: $33.60

TOUR DURATION

3 Hours

START TIME

09:00 AM

11:00 AM

02:00 PM

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

MEETING POINT

San Domenico Church , more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your Private Siena Walking Tour will begin with a visit to the Basilica of San Domenico, a 13th century Gothic church much frequented for its venerated relics of Saint Catherine, patron saint of Italy and Europe.

Your tour will continue to the Banca Monte dei Paschi, a magnificent palace-like bank that was founded in 1472; it is considered to be the oldest surviving bank in Europe and is in fact still active.

From here, your guide will walk you to the nearby Piazza del Campo, a shell-shaped square that is the undoubted center of Siena’s vibrant city life. As your guide will explain, this is where the famed and exhilarating Palio horse race takes place twice a year. Ten representatives from the seventeen districts of Siena will ride bareback around the Piazza at breakneck speeds for the chance to win the Palio.

Following a brief stop at the Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, which houses the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, you will arrive at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, also known as the Duomo di Siena. This marvelous medieval cathedral made of white marble is one of Siena’s most impressive architectural wonders, a mixture of Classical, French Gothic and Tuscan Romanesque styles.

From here you will be free to continue to explore on your own this wonderful city!

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Expert local guide at disposal

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Siena historical city centre

– Piazza del Campo

– San Domenico Church

– Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in Churches. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts.

Departure point:

San Domenico church

Duration:

3 hours

Return details:

Duomo di Siena

Private Montalcino & Brunello Wine Tour

Siena- Landscape
Montalcino - tettiBrunello Montalcino - BottlesTuscany - landscapeMontalcino - ViewMontalcino - San Antimo - ViewMontalcino - viewMontalcino - panoramaBrunello di Montalcino - wineyardsSiena - Clay Hills

From: $84.01

TOUR DURATION

4 Hours

START TIME

09:00 AM

02:00 PM

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

MEETING POINT

Pick up at your Hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your driver will meet you at your hotel to take you on your full day excursion to the medieval town of Montalcino, travelling through the land that produces the fine Brunello wine.

You will be driven via Brunello Road, then through the dusty and narrow wandering roads that disappear from view amidst the meandering clay hills of Siena. Old farmhouses surrounded by ancient Cyprus trees stand as a testimonial to an agricultural past. Before arriving to Montalcino, you will make a brief stop to visit the Siena Clay Hills, a strange moon-like landscape that is the subject of many photos and artworks in Tuscany.

Continue to the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, an impressive monastery whose true origins are wrapped in mystery. Discover its fascinating architecture and religious treasures, and even assist with the Gregorian Melodies. Get back to your driver to finally reach Montalcino, a charming fortified hilltop town best known for its medieval architecture and production of the prestigious Brunello wine. This wine is a medium bodied dark red with a fruity aroma and dark, peppery notes. You will have the opportunity to visit one of Montalcino’s famous wineries where you will enjoy a wine tasting accompanied by local cheeses and cold cuts.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking driver and guide

– Visit of Abbey of St Antimo

– Visit of Montalcino

– Wine  Tasting and snack in a local wine estate

-Wine tasting of Brunello wine, Altero wine  and Madre wine

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Montalcino

– Val d’Orcia

– Abbey of St Antimo

– Visit of local Brunello vineyard and cellars

– Brunello wine tasting and other two local wines

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in Churches. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts.

Departure point:

Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
4 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your Accommodation

Private Montepulciano & Nobile Wine Tour

Montepulciano - piazza
Montepulciano - PiazzaMontepulciano - San Biagio  - from topMontepulciano - panoramaNobile MontepulcianoMontepulciano - Gattavecchi vineryMontepulciano - SquareVino Nobile - vignetoVino Nobile - vineyard

From: $84.01

 

TOUR DURATION

4 Hours

START TIME

09:00 AM & 02:00 PM

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

MEETING POINT

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your driver will meet you at your hotel to take you on your full day excursion to the medieval town of Montepulciano.

Montepulciano, an ancient fortified town residing at the top of a large hill, is famous for both its beautiful architecture and its delicious wine. Its antique taverns and cafes are, to this day, meeting places for various artists from all over the world. Its atmosphere is steeped in a rich history and tradition while its churches and palaces protect a wealth of artworks from masters of ages past.

This charming town is also the home of the distinguished Vino Nobile, one of Italy’s most prized wines. It is a dark red wine with a fruity aroma, reminiscent of cherries and plums, and a medium body. Walking along the narrow streets or main roads of Montepulciano, you will quite likely be able to catch its delicate aroma wafting from a wine shop or restaurant.

After some time spent exploring the town, you will be able to experience the true character of the region through a tour of a local winery. This tour will end with a wine tasting at Cantine Gattavecchi, one of the oldest cellars of Montepulciano. During the tasting, you will be offered two local wines and will be also be served some local cheese and cold cuts.

Your driver will return you to your hotel at the end of the excursion.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking driver and guide

– Visit of Montepulciano

– Wine tasting and light lunch at Cantine Gattavecchi

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Tuscany countryside

– Montepulciano

– Visit of Cantine Gattavecchi

– Vine tasting of Nobile Wine

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in Churches. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts.

Departure point:

Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
4 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your Accommodation

Pisa

Pisa - Leaning Tower - view
Pisa - Duomo - interiorPisa - Duomo -  columnsPisa - Leaning Tower -  view

Pisa, found astride the River Arno in Tuscany, is famous the world over for its leaning tower. The city offers much more than just its peculiar bell tower however: in Piazza dei Miracoli, where the leaning monument is located, are the Duomo di Pisa and the Baptistry of St. John, both stunning examples of Pisan Romanesque architecture.

Located between the Arno River and the Serchio River, Pisa’s founding is shrouded in mystery, as the Romans who later settled in it already referred to Pisa as an ancient city. Due to its proximity to the coast, Pisa quickly developed as a maritime power, reaching a golden age in the 11th century. The city’s naval strength could rival that of Venice, Genoa and Amalfi, three of the most powerful maritime republics in Italy at the time. Pisa was also an important commercial centre, both by land and sea, allowing a stream of wealth to enter the city.

Things to see

Leaning tower of Pisa

The Leaning tower of Pisa, located in the Piazza dei Miracoli, is the city’s most famous attraction that is recognized the world over. In actuality, it is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, also known as the Duomo di Pisa. Its crookedness is due to the instability of the ground, the slow decline noticeable even before the tower’s completion.

Construction began in 1174, although it is unclear as to who designed the final plans. Unfortunately, the process had to be halted shortly after the completion of the second floor due to the fact that the Republic of Pisa was at war with Genoa, Lucca and Florence, some of the biggest powers of pre-unified Italy. Construction resumed in 1272 under the direction of Giovanni di Simone, the architect of the Piazza dei Miracoli. The seventh and final floor was not completed until 1320, with the bell chamber finally added in 1372. Each floor has a bell corresponding to one of the notes in the major scale.

The tower underwent several renovations, particularly to its structure to make sure that its continuous decline did not lead it to topple altogether. It was completely closed to the public in 1990, where the biggest renovation efforts were taken to even it out, reopening again in 2001. Today, visitors are able to visit the tower and climb to its top to enjoy a beautiful panorama of the area –assuming a private tour was booked well in advance.
Cathedral of Pisa

Found in the middle of the Piazza dei Miracoli is the Duomo di Pisa, a stunning masterpiece of Pisan Romanesque architecture. Indeed, this is the structure which launched the style throughout Pisa, later spreading through Tuscany. Like the leaning tower of Pisa, which is actually the bell tower of the cathedral, the building has visibly sunk into the ground, resulting in a slight incline.

Construction began in 1064 under the direction of the architect Buscheto; it was meant as a display of Pisa’s power and wealth, and possibly a challenge to other great cities, such as Venice. The cathedral was consecrated in 1118 however by the mid 12th century it was already being expanded by the architect Rainaldo, to whom we owe the façade we see today. Over the years, the cathedral underwent several renovations and interventions, namely following the fire in 1595 that destroyed much of the roof and front.

The interior was also subject to a number of changes over time, most notably the addition of “quadroni” (large paintings) that decorate the walls. The inside of the Cathedral is also embellished by detailed mosaics and exquisite ceiling frescoes. Furthermore, there is an impressive collection of sculptures and artworks such as marble pulpit by Giovanni Pisano and bronze crucifixes by Pietro Tacca.

San Miniato

San Miniato - View
San Miniato - ParticularSan Miniato - PanoramaSan Miniato - Landscape

San Miniato is an enchanting little town located in the beautiful Tuscany region.

The first settlement in the area go back to the Paleolithic era. Both Etruscans and Romans have lived here. During the medieval period the city was crossed by the via Francigena, the most important route among Rome and Northern Europe. Many armies passed by together with merchants and travelers. Under the Frederick Barbarossa domination the city was fortified with walls and towers. During the first half of the 13th century San Miniato passed under the Florentine dominion until 1860 when it was annexed in the newly born Italian Kingdom.

This small village has a lot to offers to its visitors. Famous is the 13th century Tower of Frederick, from which it is possible to enjoy a breath-taking view of the Valdarno. The tower was destroyed by the Nazi during the Second World War but luckily it was rebuilt in the late ’50. The Cathedral of Sant’Assunta and San Genesio, also simply known as Duomo di San Miniato, has a unique façade decorated with majolica bowls. The church was initially built in Romanesque style, it was later remodeled several times, and today we can see also a Gothic and Renaissance influence. The Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) was built during the 14th century and has a beautiful great hall. The building is still used as San Miniato’s City Hall! Worth a visit are the Church of San Francesco and the Church of San Domenico both built between the 13th and 14th century. Visitors of San Miniato can also enjoy the view of many beautiful Palazzi built during the Renaissance Period by the local aristocratic families.

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San Miniato is mostly known around the world for the white truffles, which is possible to find in the area around the town. The white truffle is even more valuable than the black one. The month of November is dedicated to this precious truffle with a three weeks long festival.

In 1954 an incredible 2.5 kg white truffle was found and it was sent as a gift to the United States President Eisenhower!

 

Private Siena & San Gimignano Tour

Siena - Palazzo Pubblico
Siena - Duomo - side viewSiena  - Duomo - top viewSiena - Palio  - sbandieratoreSiena - TettiSan Gimignano - panoramaSan Gimignano - ChurchSan Gimignano - palazziSiena - Piazza del Campo - view from the topSiena - detailSiena  - San Domenico - ViewSiena - San Domenico - InteriorSiena - San Domenico - Frescoes

From: $89.61

tour duration

8 Hours

start time

09:00 AM

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

meeting point

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

This full day excursion will take you on a fantastic journey to discover two of the most beautiful medieval towns of Tuscany: Siena and San Gimignano. Your first stop will be Siena which, along with Florence and Pisa, is one of the leading art cities in Tuscany. Throughout the centuries, this city has managed to preserve its handsome medieval character.

Your tour will begin with a visit to the Basilica of San Domenico, a 13th century Gothic church much frequented for its venerated relics of Saint Catherine, patron saint of Italy and Europe. You will continue to the Banca Monte dei Paschi, a magnificent palace-like bank that was founded in 1472; it is considered to be the oldest surviving bank in Europe and is in fact still active. From here, you will walk to the nearby Piazza del Campo, a shell-shaped square that is the undoubted center of Siena’s vibrant city life. As your guide will explain, this is where the famed and exhilarating Palio horse race takes place twice a year. Ten representatives from the seventeen districts of Siena will ride bareback around the Piazza at breakneck speeds for the chance to win the Palio. Following a brief stop at the Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, which houses the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, you will arrive at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, also known as the Duomo di Siena. This marvelous medieval cathedral made of white marble is one of Siena’s most impressive architectural wonders, a mixture of Classical, French Gothic and Tuscan Romanesque styles.

From here, you will have some free time in Siena. You can either keep exploring the city on your own or choose to have lunch in one of the delicious restaurants in the area. Just be sure to return on time to continue your tour to San Gimignano!

The town’s fourteen medieval towers are visible from a great distance, giving the hilltop settlement a remarkable and unforgettable skyline. Like Siena, San Gimignano is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Tuscany, boasting beautiful buildings such as churches and palazzos. The tour will take you to the wonderfully preserved main square called the Piazza della Cisterna, and there you will visit the 13th century the Palazzo del Popolo, San Gimignano’s town hall.

At the end of your visit meet your driver again to return to your accommodation in Florence.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking driver and guide

– Visit of Siena

– Visit of San Gimignano

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Tuscany Landscapes

– Siena

– Piazza del Campo

– San Domenico Church

– Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption

– Piazza della Cisterna

– Palazzo del Popolo

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in Churches. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts.

Departure point:

Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
8 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your Accommodation

Private Pisa & Lucca Tour

Pisa - Leaning Tower - view
Pisa - Leaning Tower -  viewPisa - Duomo - interiorPisa - Duomo -  columnsLucca - piazzaLucca - detailLucca - squareLucca - duomoLucca - View

From: $84.01

tour duration

8 Hours

start time

09:00 AM

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

meeting point

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

You will depart with your private driver for a full day excursion to the beautiful Tuscan cities of Pisa and Lucca.

Pisa is best known its Leaning Tower, considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, however it offers much more in terms of artistic and architectural treasures. The tower shares the Piazza dei Miracoli with the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Duomo of Pisa, as well as St John’s Baptistery. These three beautiful marble buildings are all stunning examples of Pisan Romanesque architecture, and are in fact the originators of this style which later spread through Tuscany. Other beautiful examples of Pisan architecture are the Duomo of San Martino, the Church of San Michael in Foro, and the Basilica of San Frediano in Lucca.

From Pisa, you will continue your tour to Lucca, famous above all for its intact Renaissance Era city walls. These fortifications have long since lost their purpose and are now a poetic pedestrian promenade going around the town’s old section. While in Lucca, you will have time to visit all the gorgeous churches, palaces and gardens on your own time. At the end of your visit, meet with your driver to return to your hotel.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking driver and guide

– Independent visit of Pisa

– Independent visit of Lucca

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Piazza dei Miracoli

– Pisa Duomo and Baptistery

– Leaning Tower

– Lucca Medieval walls

– Lucca historical city center

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in Churches. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts.

Departure point:

Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
8 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your Accommodation

Private Florence Walking Tour

Florence - Ponte vecchio - night view
Florence - Piazza Signoria - particularFlorence - Baptistery - day viewFlorence - Palazzo Vecchio - detailFlorence - David Michelangelo - detailFlorence - Uffizi Gallery - view from the topFlorence - Academia Gallery - statuesFlorence - Academia GalleryFlorence - Duomo - top viewFlorence - Ponte Vecchio - side view

From: $58.25

tour duration

3 Hours

start time

09:00 AM

Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

meeting point

Accademia Gallery or your hotel if central located

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your guide will meet you in front of the Accademia Gallery or your hotel, if central located,  for a three hour walking tour of Florence. The city’s ancient centre will be the spectacular frame for this walking tour dedicated to Florence’s glorious past as well as its vibrant modern life. The slow pace will allow you to discover and enjoy the most important monuments of the birthplace of the Renaissance.

You will begin at the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the famed Duomo whose dome built by Brunelleschi dominates the skyline. Nearby is the Baptistry of San Giovanni, renowned for its golden doors but especially the one nicknamed “Porta del Paradiso”, an exquisite beauty. As you continue the walking tour, you will see elegant palaces, fashionable shops and pass through a number of narrow but charming medieval streets. Piazza della Signoria, your next stop, has been the political complex of Florence since the 1300’s when Florence was considered the richest city in Europe. The L-shaped square is where you will find the Palazzo Vecchio, the Loggia dei Lanzi and, a few steps away, the Uffizi Gallery. Continue to Ponte Vecchio, an ancient bridge that spans the Arno River and is recognized the world over. This bridge attracts much curiosity not only for its unique and charming appearance but also for the fabulous jewelry shops that line both its sides. The tour will end at the Accademia Gallery of Fine Arts Museum where you will have the opportunity to admire the symbol and eternal masterpiece of Florence: Michelangelo’s David. The museum also houses several of Michelangelo’s other works and an impressive collection of pieces by other masters such as by Paolo Uccello, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Sandro Botticelli.

From here, you are free to explore the city on your own. We suggest relaxing in the nearby Botanical Gardens or, if you are feeling hungry, making your way back toward the Duomo of Firenze and trying one of the restaurants around the cathedral piazza.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Expert local guide at disposal

– Skip the line – reservation and entrance fees at Academia Gallery

– Visit of Academia of Fine Arts

– Visit of Duomo

– Visit of Piazza della Signoria

– Visit of Pontevecchio

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Academia Gallery

– Michelangelo David

– Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

– Baptistery

– Piazza Signoria

– Loggia dei Lanzi

– Fountain of Neptune

– Ponte Vecchio

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in churchs and museums. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts. You may risk refused entry if you fail to comply with these dress requirements.

Departure point:
Academia Gallery or your hotel if central located

Duration:
3 hours

Return details:
Concludes at Ponte Vecchio

Abbey of Sant’Antimo

Montalcino - San Antimo - View
Sant'Antimo Abbey - View

Located just a few miles from Montalcino is a large and mysterious building whose true origins are still obscure today. The Abbey of Sant'Antimo is believed to have been built some time during Late Antiquity, with the earliest document confirming its existence dating from the 800s. The current church was actually built in the early 12th century at the bequest of Count Bernardo degli Ardengheschi.

The church quickly became one of the biggest powers in the area, having authority over 38 local churches and owning several hundreds of acres of farmland throughout Tuscany; the church even had control of the Castle of Montalcino, which both protected the area and housed the abbot. The abbey began to decline a century later, due primarily to Siena’s aggressive expansionism and the loss of much of its territory, including Montalcino. The abbey’s decline continued into the 15th century, despite the Church’s attempts at reviving it; it was completely abandoned and left to decay until the 19th century, eventually getting restored in the 1870s. Today, the abbey has resumed function and houses a new religious community of Canons Regular of the Order of Premontre.

Things to see

The building is Carolingian in architecture, with French and Italian influences throughout. Some of the most notable highlights are the frescoes by Giovanni d’Asciano, the French-inspired groin vaulted ambulatory, the crypt and, above all, the capital with Daniel and the Lions.

Siena Clay hills

Tuscany - Farmhouse
Siena- LandscapeSiena - Clay HillsTuscany - landscapeSiena - Clay Hills -  viewSiena - Clay Hills - landscapeSiena- Clay Hills - day view

Just south of Siena is a particular area called the Crete Senesi, or Sienese Clay Hills. This range of hills is composed of grey clay which gives the landscape an odd, moon-like appearance, broken only by a few lonely cypress and oak trees, and a few isolated farms.

The sediments of clay date back to the Pliocene, when the area was covered by sea between 2.5 and 4.5 million years ago. Now, the area is a gorgeous touristic attraction that is also famous for its production of the rare white truffle.

Things to see

The closest towns in the area are Asciano, a well preserved medieval village, and San Giovanni d’Asso, a small medieval hamlet guarded by a large castle. Asciano is known for its Etruscan Museum, housed in the Gothic Church of San Bernardino, as well as the Romanesque Basilica of Sant’Agata, which houses the Museum of Sacred Art and the Archeological Museum. The impressive castle that overlooks the hills around San Giovanni d’Asso houses the Truffle Museum, and is also the home of a festival that celebrates the history and harvest of the local truffles.

Montalcino

Montalcino - tetti
Siena- LandscapeMontalcino - viewMontalcino - panoramaMontalcino - ViewBrunello Montalcino - BottlesMontalcino - San Antimo - View

Not far from Siena is another, smaller medieval hilltop town by the name of Montalcino, famous above all for its production of Brunello wine.

Like most of the towns in the area, Montalcino was originally an Etruscan settlement that remained relatively small until a sudden population growth in the 10th century. In the middle ages, Montalcino gained some importance due to its location on Via Frencigena, an ancient and important Roman road, as well as its production of quality leather goods. The 14th to 16th centuries were tumultuous, with the town getting caught between the warring Florence and Siena, as well as the various battles between the local noble families. Montalcino was eventually conquered by the Florentine Republic in the mid 16th century and remained under their control until the unification of Italy. Today, Montalcino is very well known for its production of Brunello wine, made from the Sangiovese Grosso grapes that are cultivated in the area surrounding the town.

Things to see

Aside from its delicious wine, Montalcino also offers some fascinating sights such as the medieval Fortress that dominates the highest point in town and offers a stunning panorama from its towers. There is also the Church of Sant’Agostino, an imposing Gothic style religious structure from the 13th century, and whose beautiful cloisters were later added in the 15th century. Finally, a little outside of the town is large and mysterious Abbey of Sant’Antimo, whose true origins are still obscure today.
Brunello wine

Made from the Brunello clone of the Sangiovese grape, these red wines are among the most complex and rich expressions of Sangiovese. The soils in these hillside vineyards yield robust, voluptuous wines with great depth and aging potential. Notes of leather, earth, plums, and spices are typical. Brunello is the most tannic and the most potentially age-worthy expression of Sangiovese. Rosso di Montalcino, however, is a much more approachable red. Rosso is what Italians drink while they wait for their Brunello to mature.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano - Piazza
Montepulciano - San Biagio  - from topMontepulciano - panoramaMontepulciano - SquareNobile MontepulcianoVino Nobile - vignetoVino Nobile - vineyard

Situated just southeast of Siena is a small medieval hill town by the name of Montepulciano, famous for its food and wine. Particularly, the town produces Vino Nobile, “noble wine”, which is a delicious red wine renowned the world over.

Originally an Etruscan settlement, it eventually became a small Roman town that served as a garrison for road patrols. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, Montepulciano was ruled by the Lombards, who turned the town into a religious center. The town’s medieval period is marked by constant warring between the surrounding Republics and the local noble families. Montepulciano eventually flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries, with famous local architects such as Giacomo Barozzi and Baldassarre Peruzzi building palaces and other important structures, bringing great beauty to the town. Some of the main sights now are the Palazzo Comunale, the town hall designed in the same style as Florence’s, Palazzo Tarugi, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, also called the Duomo of Montepulciano.

Things to see

Today, Montepulciano is an important agricultural centre, focusing especially on the cultivation of Montepulciano grapes for the various wine productions in the area, the most famous of which is the Vino Nobile.
Nobile wine

The Vino Nobile is a rich red wine produced around Montepulciano, in Tuscany. It is composed primarily from the San Giovese grape which is cultivated in the vineyards around the town, and is listed under the DOCG label of quality.

The Vino Nobile has a bright ruby red color and a rich texture. Refined aromas of cherry and plum follow through to a full-bodied palate, with soft, round tannins and a flavorful finish.

Lucca

Lucca - detail
Lucca - piazzaLucca - squareLucca - plazaLucca - duomoLucca - View

Located on the River Serchio in Tuscany is the charming medieval town of Lucca. It is particularly famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls, which are now a poetic pedestrian promenade that encircles the old town. It is also known as the birthplace of the famed composer Giacomo Puccini.

Originally founded by the Etruscans, Lucca became a Roman settlement around 180 BCE. The town slowly grew following Roman urban planning with forums, squares and theatres; in fact, the influence of an amphitheatre can be seen in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. During the early middle ages, Lucca was an important fortified town, later flourishing in the 11th century via the profitable silk trade that rivaled even Byzantium’s in terms of quality. Over the centuries, Lucca was occupied, sold, surrendered and liberated a number of times until the town managed to claim independence in the early 17th century. It maintained it until it was conquered by Napoleon in 1805, then eventually lost independence in the mid-19th century and gradually became part of the newly unified Italian State.

Things to see

Aside from the well preserved walls that surround the town, Lucca offers many beautiful churches, palaces and gardens. The Cattedrale di San Martino, also known as the Duomo di Lucca, is a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral originally built in the 11th century. It was rebuilt and expanded a few times, namely the western side in the early 1200s and the nave in the 1300s. San Michele in Foro, located in Piazza San Michele, is a Romanesque church dating back to the 11th century. Its most notable feature is the façade, built in the 13th century and composed of a series of sculptures and inlays. The clock tower of Lucca rises from Via Fillungo and offers from its top a breathtaking view of the city and surrounding countryside.

San Gimignano

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Located in the province of Siena in Tuscany is San Gimignano, a small medieval hill town surrounded by a lush green landscape. Famous for its architecture and the many towers that mark its unmistakable skyline, San Gimignano is a fascinating town well worth the visit.

The walled town grew around the Church of San Gimignano, later nicknamed Castle San Gimignano, during the 6th century, adopting its name. During the middle ages, the town was located right along Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrim route, and as a result became a popular stopping point for travelers. The richness of the land around San Gimignano also influenced its importance and wealth, birthing an active trade industry.

Things to see

In 1200, San Gimignano claimed independence from the bishops of Volterra, who had ruled it up to this point. Many churches and public buildings were erected during this time. Between the 12th and 14th centuries, during a period of conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the wealthy families of the town built tower houses, one more impressive than the last, to both defend their land and rival each other. By the end of the medieval period, there were 72 towers, the tallest reaching nearly 70 meters in height. Although San Gimignano escaped destruction from wars, catastrophes or urbanization, sadly only fourteen of these towers remain standing today.

Other notable examples of the medieval architecture of the town are the historic city centre, deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, the Piazza della Cisterna, and the Palazzo Comunale. The two biggest churches, the Collegiata in the Piazza del Duomo and the Chiesa di Sant’Agostino, both contain beautiful frescoes and other important artworks by artists such as Domenico Ghirlandaio, Benozzo Gozzoli and Taddeo di Bartolo.

Palio di Siena

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Famous the world over, the Palio di Siena is a horse race held biyearly during the summer months of July and August. Ten horses and riders wearing the colors of their “contrada” (district of Siena) race around the Piazza del Campo three times at breakneck speeds; the winner is the first horse to cross the finish line, with or without its rider.

Things to see

Not be mistaken as a simple race, the Palio di Siena is an ancient tradition dating back from the medieval period. To this day, the various contrade passionately compete against one another to win the honor of receiving the “palio” (a painted silk banner). Each race is preceded by an elaborate pageant called the Corteo Storico, where various figures dressed in medieval costumes parade and give mounted demonstrations.

Siena

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Probably the most famous medieval town in the Tuscan countryside, Siena offers a wealth of culture, art and cuisine. The town is also renowned for holding the always exhilarating Palio, a historical horse race held twice a year.

Originally an Etruscan settlement, it later became a small Roman town which unfortunately did not prosper under the Roman Empire due to its isolation. It was not until the 4th century, when the Lombards invaded, that Siena began to grow. The town’s medieval period saw the construction of many churches, houses and fortifications that have been wonderfully preserved and can be visited today. Because of its beauty and history, Siena was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Things to see

The Piazza del Campo is the famed shell-shaped town square that hosts the Palio horse race. It also houses the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia, two stunning examples of Sienese medieval architecture. The Duomo di Siena, located near Piazza del Campo, is a beautiful 12th century Romanesque-Gothic cathedral housing an impressive collection of artworks. These include the famed lion-decorated pulpit by Nicola Pisano, perfectly preserved Renaissance frescos by Domenico Ghirlandaio, and bas-reliefs by Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Jacopo della Quercia.

The lush hilly countryside that surrounds Siena is also well worth exploring. Perhaps consider stopping in one of restaurants in town to taste the delicious local cuisine and try some of the wines from the area.