Monteriggioni

Monteriggioni is, without doubt, one of the most classical and best known Italian walled town. Since the Middle Age its fame was so big that also the great poet Dante Alighieri makes sign to his ‘round enclosure‘ in the Divine Comedy (Hell, chant XXXI vv. 40-41). The town walls, nearly intact, cover a length of 570 meters and are alternated by 14 towers andtwo gates. The Senese Gate is at the base of a square tower while the Florence Gate is opened in the curtain and defended from one of the towers of the fortified perimeter.

The town was built by the Senesis in the years 1213-1219 on a hilltop overlooking of the Cassia Road. Its ideal position allowed to control the Elsa and the Staggia Valleys in direction in Florence, the historic enemy of Siena, that at that time was rapidly expanding its territory.

The front toward Florence.

The hill where Monteriggioni rises is natural, even if it could seem a great ‘motte‘ (from the name of the classical Norman castles ‘Motte-and-Bailey’ built on artificial hills and gifted of enclosure), and the circular, almost perfectly, layout of the walls was obtained simply following the sketch of the ground’s curves of level. In the planning was tried of to limit the weak points for excellence, the gates, entrusting the only connections with the outside only to a  east to west crossing road. To Monteriggioni the military building work appears physically distinguished by the inhabited area confined to its inside but well separated from the walls from a ‘territory of respect‘, although in the ancient times the inhabited area has been more intense than today and consequently with a more narrow band of separation. The hamlet that we can admire in our days is essentially authentic, being ever been object of building and tourist speculations. The only changes to its aspect happened in the first years of the 16th century when, trying to conform the fortifications to the development of the new fire weapons, were lowered the towers and accumulated earth at the base of the walls with the purpose to get a bastion effect.

Recently a part of the wall walk of the town walls has been restored and made accessible. From the top of the walled circuit, it is possible to admire the surrounding countryside towards Chianti and the Valdelsa and to enjoy a unique view of the town and its fortifications. More info: http://www.monteriggioniturismo.it/en/museum-and-walkway.html



Villages in Chianti

Radda in Chianti
This village (53Om, pop: 1,655) is situated on a hill covered with woods and extensive vineyards forming the watershed between the Pesa and Arbia valleys.

Formerly belonging to the Guidi family, it came under Florentine control in 1203. After being fortified in 1400 it was, from 1415 onwards, head of the League of Chianti, and it preserves the remains of its ancient walls.

The structure of the medieval village is still intact; it grew up elliptically around the church of San Nicolò, of 14th century origin and the Palazzo Pretorio. Built about 1415, its facade is adorned with the coats of arms of the podestà (chief magistrates), the latter is now the seat of the municipality.
 
Just outside the village, in the Vignale farm, are the headquarters of the Chianti Classico consortium (its symbol is the black-cockerel, the former emblem of the League of Chianti), and the Centro di Studi Chiantigiani (Centre for Chianti Studies), founded in 1984, with a small library and an archive devoted to the history of Chianti and its agriculture. The Montevertine farm, near the village, houses the small Museo del Chianti, with displays relating to the farming community.

Where is Radda in Chianti: it is located in the north of Siena province, in the border with the province of Florence and Arezzo. 

Distances: Siena 30 Km – Florence 50 Km – Pisa 110 Km – Arezzo 57 Km
Castellina in Chianti
The city’s origins go back to Etruscan times and came under Florentine control starting in the 12th century when it became an important outpost due to its strategic position between Florence and Siena. It was destroyed and rebuilt many times during the battles between the two cities and every time the town was reconstructed with bigger defensive walls. Legend has it that even Brunelleschi was asked to work on the project of new walls for the town.

Along the ancient walls an impressive underground tunnel used by the guards back then remains, now called Via della Volte which today is a fascinating tunnel with shops and restaurants. I suggest you walk down the tunnel during different times of the day so that you can admire the view of the surrounding Chianti countryside with various degrees of light from the small windows along the tunnel. The tunnel itself goes around the city and encloses the delightful city center, itself divided by its main street, Via Ferruccio. Here you’ll find many shops, workshops, restaurants and important palaces such as Palazzo Banciardi and Palazzo Squarcialupi, both belonging to local noble families. Inside Palazzo Squarcialupi the Enoteca Antiquaria is now housed, a wine shop for over a 100 years old which represents an important historical archive of wine and which has helped preserving the original characteristics of Chianti Classico wine itself.

The Church of San Salvatore deserves a visit. It was rebuilt in 1945 after the devastation of WWII but which still displays a valuable fresco by Lorenzo Bicci depicting the Virgin Mary with Child and a wooden statue from the Renaissance. A few steps away from the city center, theFortress with its tall tower offers a stunning panorama of the town and countryside. Inside the Fortress is the headquarters of the Municipality and the Archeological Museum of Chianti, displaying important archeological findings from the surroundings that testify to the ancient origins of the Chianti region.

Hot Springs and Spa History

PETRIOLO HOT SPRINGS AND SPA HISTORY

The Petriolo’s thermal baths are very ancient. The Romans knew and appreciated them. It is very likely that these are the baths mentioned by the orator Marco Tullio Cicero in his pro Marco Caelio.

Recently, Roman tombs have been found in the area, proof of a long time recognition of the beneficial effects of this water.

It is without doubt that these hot springs were highly appreciated in the Middle age and during the Renaissance period. As early as 1215, the Republic of Siena maintained a series of “stationes”, a sort of “bathing hut” for single “bathers”, similar to today’s beach cabins.

Many important people are known to have frequented the Petriolo thermal baths: the Medici, Lords of Florence, the Gonzaga, Lords of Manuta and leading exponents of the Church including Pope Pious II Piccolomini.

Also of note are the remains of the ancient walls built in 404 in the typical Sienese architectural style, which are the only exisitng example of fortifies thermae (fortified thermal baths).

Of the original baths, composed by four groined vaulted rooms, only one room still exists. It opens onto the river Farma with arches built on octagonal pillars. Besides the hot springs, the Farma river is perfect for bathing and swimming. http://termepetriolo.it/it/

At the Petriolo, you can indulge at the brand new spa center by the natural hot pools, which offers massage, beauty and health treatments, or you can enjoy the hot springs (43°C), open to the public free of charge, where you can relax in the pools along the banks of the river Farma.

While Umbrians and Etruscans were most likely the first inhabitants of its location, Castiglione della Pescaia was first recorded under the name Salebrone in Roman times. The hill close to the coast proved to be an excellent location, as it dominated the sizable inland Prelius Lake, while the lake itself provided food (fish) and trading goods (salt). In Medieval times, the city suffered from repeated pirate attacks and almost disappeared. It resurfaced in the 9th century AD under its current name, under joint protection of the Papacy and the Republic of Pisa.

The Petriolo Thermal Baths and Natural Hot Springs TODAY
At the Petriolo, you can indulge at the brand new spa center by the natural hot pools, which offers massage, beauty and health treatments, or you can enjoy the hot springs (43°C), open to the public free of charge, where you can relax in the pools along the banks of the river Farma.

The Petriolo’s thermal baths are very ancient. The Romans knew and appreciated them. It is very likely that these are the baths mentioned by the orator Marco Tullio Cicero in his pro Marco Caelio.

Recently, Roman tombs have been found in the area, proof of a long time recognition of the beneficial effects of this water.  It is without doubt that these hot springs were highly appreciated in the Middle ages and during the Renaissance period. As early as 1215, the Republic of Siena maintained a series of “stationes”, a sort of “bathing hut” for single “bathers”, similar to today’s beach cabins.

Many important people are known to have frequented the Petriolo thermal baths: the Medici, Lords of Florence, the Gonzaga, Lords of Manuta and leading exponents of the Church including Pope Pious II Piccolomini.

Besides the hot springs, the Farma river is perfect for bathing and swimming, and the surrounding woods offer many nice spots for a picnic.

BENEFITS OF HOT SPRINGS

Petriolo thermal waters, rich in precious minerals and oligo-elements, rise to the surface at a temperature of 43°C, directly from the spring located on the banks of the Farma stream, with an average capacity of approximately 40 litres per second.
The smell of sulphur coming off it is due to the presence of great quantities of sulphurated hydrogen (hydrogen sulphide level: 21 mg/l). Based on the temperature measured at the spring eruption point and on the quantities of minerals, these waters are classified as hyper-thermal, containing bicarbonate, sulphate, calcium, magnesium, iodine, bromine, sulphur and carbon dioxide.

The therapeutic and healing properties of Petriolo thermal waters are useful in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of various pathologies. As well known in ancient times and as confirmed by recent studies, these waters are particularly appropriate for osteoskeletal, tendon, skin, respiratory and phlebology issues.

 

 

Tuscany Yoga Retreat What Do Client’s Say?

It is a sincere privilege to be trusted to guide small tribes of incredibly curious, high vibration people in Italy, the land of my cultural heritage. Never for a moment do I take this for granted. I am honored you chose me. I can assure you that I have taken great care and meticulous attention to designing the best Tuscany Yoga Retreat possible! My Italian Father would be so proud I share with you what I love.

Thank you with all my heart. Here now is what my previous Tuscany retreat guests have said…

What do our Tuscany Client’s Say?

What aspect of your life transformed the most (physical, mental, emotional)? 
Before the trip, I was a bit run down from work life. While attending the retreat and afterwards, I became so much more aware of what I needed in order to deal with the mental and emotional stresses of work and gained a new level of respect for what laughter can do to enlighten my life and the lives of others. – Jessica

How did our Tuscany Yoga Retreat help you make positive changes in your life? I went to Tuscany by myself to explore everything that the Yoga Retreat through Alchemy Tours could and would offer. I discovered that I could travel alone, make great friends of all ages and backgrounds and could be my complete self. Silvia is more than a friend, she is my inspiration to follow a life I love and make no excuses. –  Laurie

What aspect of your life transformed the most (physical, mental, emotional)? 
Physically, mentally and emotionally I felt transformed. The physical components were great, as was the extremely healthy diet, and although I ate like I was on vacation, I came back feeling healthier and few pounds lighter from all of the yoga. Mentally, I was in a state of bliss from the amazing surroundings, stress free environment, and wonderful people I was able to share the experience with. Emotionally, I felt like I gained a greater understanding about what is really important and a greater sense of my life’s purpose. – Laura

What aspect of your life transformed the most on the Tuscany Yoga Retreat (physical, mental, emotional)? For me, the biggest changes were mental changes. Waking up early to attend a morning yoga class, taking walks and choosing to participate in activities that were offered were all choices I made based on what I wanted to do. Doing yoga with Silvia is more like a life walk. She takes you through the beginning, building up your confidence, letting you shine in the peak poses and lets you feel okay with relaxing at the end. – Sarah

tuscany next best 2016Alchemy Tours is wonderful! Silvia is an insightful and loving teacher who has lifted me up more times that I could ever keep track of. Tuscany, Siena and surrounding areas – all of the day trips that we did were wonderful. Lastly, but definitely not least, the yoga two times a day was a wonderful way to begin and end each day. ~Kimberly

One of the best choices I ever made was going to Tuscany with Silvia. Not only is this part of Italy gorgeous, I learned so much about myself… not to mention the amazing food and yoga everyday. I highly suggest you go. It will be a trip you never forget! – John

I travel quite a bit, so I tend to have high expectations. I can honestly say this trip was beyond my expectations! I’m not sure how anyone couldn’t enjoy staying in Tuscany, touring Tuscan cities, village and vineyards, wine tasting, eating amazing food, shopping, yoga and swimming in the Mediterranean! – Amber

This was also a very well organized trip and our guides deserve tremendous credit for leading us on some internal exploration as well as an external journey through stunningly beautiful landscapes ~Rich

You have such a gift for teaching and such of depth of knowledge and training, in both the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga. And you clearly embody all that you teach, I admire your sense of peace, calm, and thoughtfulness – you are beautiful inside and out – I want to bring more of these attributes into my life. ~Karen

If you’re looking for an authentic Tuscan experience, you really can’t beat staying in the heart of Tuscany. ~Anonymous

I went on a yoga retreat with Alchemy Tours to Tuscany. I was in a place where I was feeling like I needed to do something for myself to reconnect and gain clarity on my life. Do all this while practicing yoga and cycling in the hills of Tuscany? Sign me up! I didn’t know quite what I was searching for, but called it my “Eat, Pray, Love” trip. On the retreat I found myself laughing and feeling happier than I had in months; while also gaining the confidence through self-reflection that I truly am in charge of how I want my life to unfold. Since returning, I have been making small changes that are the building blocks to creating a more satisfying/fulfilling professional and personal life. And most of all, I can’t wait to go on another retreat. – Ann

Silvia took care of everything too, so it was never stressful.  She had everything meticulously planned, but wasn’t rigid about it. She was flexible, accommodating and made adjustments so everyone was able to get the most out of the trip. I felt that she truly cared about us, was tuned into what we needed and did everything she could to make it an experience of a lifetime for everyone. – Amber

How did your Yoga Retreat help you make positive changes in your life?
 Before the yoga retreat, I was looking to reconnect with my wife and myself. The retreat helped in so many different ways with just those things, as well as opening up some amazing new friendships. I felt like a totally new person afterwards. – Jordan

You have such a gift for teaching and such of depth of knowledge and training, in both the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga. And you clearly embody all that you teach, I admire your sense of peace, calm, and thoughtfulness – you are beautiful inside and out – I want to bring more of these attributes into my life. – Christine

 

San Miniato al Monte

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The beautiful landscape of San Miniato al Monte

According to tradition, the martyr St. Miniatus, who was suffered during the persecution of Decius in the 3rd century, was buried on the hill where the church bearing his name now stands. It was the idea of the bishop Hildrebrand to build the basilica, together with the adjoining Benedictine monastery, on the site where it was believed that the relics of the saint (today preserved in the crypt of the church) were found.

Work was begun in 1018 and was completed about 1207. The new church which was built on the site of an earlier church reflects the various stages of its construction in its different parts, from the crypt to the elaborate marble floor of the nave.

Continue reading this article in The Museums of Florence

 

What is Your Travel Dream?

We all have a Travel Dream we’ve replayed in our sleep over and over. To be honest, we’ve sat in our offices or have been at home preparing dinner and day dreamed the same thing. The question is, Are you ready to blossom open? Why wait even a day longer?

Some say you can fall in love with a place just as you can with a person. This is certainly true of Tuscany! The tastes, sights and people of Tuscany will nourish your spirit and renew your sense of joy. Experiencing life under the Tuscan sun is something that stays with you forever. In Italy, you slow down to enjoy each breath, each sip of chianti, each taste of antipasto. You may in fact realize that you are actually home: the home of your heart. And life will never be the same after that. Tuscany teaches us to savor each moment and live inspired by the details that might have otherwise passed us by. Our combined years of guiding in Italy ensures that you will experience the joy of La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life) with us.

Stop dreaming and start planning now to be delighted!

Join our 7 Day Italian Adventure to Tuscany, in the Heart of Renaissance Italy, June 19-25, 2016 guided by Yoga Teachers, Healers, Authors and International Guides Silvia Mordini and Amita Stark, who are both passionate about Tuscany, have lived in Italy, and are both experienced in the culture! We will be guests at Antico Borgo di Tignano recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site focusing on Tuscan traditions. Stay in your own 10th century restored villa all with private baths. Peacefully nestled into the hills with epic views of Casole d’Elsa and Volterra in the distance, this is the perfect entryway into the Tuscan countryside.

IMG_3175We will travel to many famous Art Cities, including: Florence, Monteriggioni, Siena, Radda in Chianti, San Gimignano, Castellina in Chianti, Tignano, Petriolo Natural Hot Springs & Spa, The Mediterranean, Casole d’Elsa, and Colle Val d’Elsa. Lingering with iconic art, architecture, and design punctuated with wine, food, fashion, and fun, you will experience the real sensuousness of Tuscany and understand why it is on everyone’s bucket list! Many people decide to spend some time after our trip, to build on the foundation, and we highly recommend it!

This week is all about recharging. We will move at a relaxed pace; participation in any event is not mandatory and there will be plenty of time offered to explore on your own. You will certainly have time to re-learn the art of relaxation or as the Italians say “Il Bel Far Niente,” set mindful goals, and renew your entire sense of well-being.

Do not hesitate to ask us any questions. We want to make this a truly memorable experience! Download the complete brochure of information about the trip here!!

Grazie and Namaste,
~Amita & Silvia~

ACTIVITIES OVERVIEW DURING OUR 7 DAYS:
Day 1: Ciao! Florence, Piazza Michelangelo, San Miniato, Tour Unesco World Heritage Site, Antico Borgo di Tignano, Welcome dinner
Day 2: Medieval Castles, Culture, Art & Fashion of Monteriggioni & Siena. Sunset aperitivo on Piazza Il Campo.
Day 3: Wine Tasting & Private Walking Tour in Radda in Chianti
Day 4: Explore Tuscany by Bicycle or Foot Casole D’Elsa
Day 5: San Gimignano Tasting Exploration tour. “World’s Best” gelato, cheese, wine, olive oil, balsamic tasting extravaganza. Hands-on Bruschetta-making Class.
Day 6: Morning drive to the Mediterranean relax on the beach, afternoon lunch and visit to Petriolo Natural Hot Springs, evening dinner party
Day 7: Final Yoga, Brunch and Arrivederci!

INVESTMENT INTO LIVING YOUR DREAM:
*$250 OFF Triple, $300 OFF Double, $350 OFF Single Early Birds by MAY 31, 2016! *
$1999 per person Triple Room (Early birds $1749)
$2108 per person Double Room (Early birds $1808)
$2699 Single Room (Early birds $2349)

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