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

 

Florence and Machiavelli: sympathy for the devil

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Machiavelli’s study, where he read, and prepared his famous manuscript

Article in The Daily  Telegraph, published in London

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The Palio in Siena

The Palio in Siena is maybe the most famous sports event of the summer in Italy.  It is not a tourist oriented event as so many others, but its origins hail back to the Middle Ages or at least 1644.

To read more about the Palio, check this article in Discover Tuscany

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A Literary Guide To Tuscany

The landscapes and people of Tuscany have been an inspiration for writers for centuries – perhaps it’s no coincidence that three of Italy’s greatest writers – Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio – were all Tuscan. Besides home-grown writers, Tuscany has provided an inexhaustible source of writing material for foreign writers as well, with the British driving the ranks. –

See the complete article in: ITALY MAGAZINE

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