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The Toscana Region of Italy

Toscana's Major Cities

 

Toscana is famous for its unique art treasures and cultural monuments, its style and high fashion, its mediaeval castles, cities and towns, its festivals and its exceptional wine. It also has magnificent beaches and magical

islands to visit.The ten major cities of Toscana are Arezzo (AR), Firenze (FI), Grosseto (GR), Livorno (LI), Lucca (LU), Massa-Carrara (MS), Pisa (PI), Pistoia (PT), Prato (PO), Siena (SI).

 

Firenze (Florence)

 

 

 

Firenze is the capital city of the region of Toscana and its rich historical, artistic and cultural heritage make it one of the main tourist destinations in Italy and Europe. It was founded in the 1st century A.C. by the Romans and has remained a magnificent city through both prosperous and dark periods. The city experienced the battles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, it was a Commune and then a "Signoria" under the Medici during the Renaissance. It was part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany first with the Medici and then under the Lorraines during the 18th century, up until it became a part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Cimabue, Dante Alighieri, Giotto, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Botticelli and Michelangelo are just a few of the famous Tuscan artists who contributed to making Florence such a beautiful and important city in the world.It was also the seat of the Renaissance in Europe under the Medici. The patron saint of Firenze, St.John the Baptist, is honored each June 25 with "Calcio in Costume" (a game of soccer in medieval costume) played in Piazza Santa Croce. The Palazzo Pitti in Firenze is the scene of many fashion openings and shows. The Ponte Vecchio (bridge over the Arno River) is lined on both sides with stores selling the finest gold jewelry, and the Mercato Centrale offers international goods. Firenze is also noted for its leather goods and shoes.


Arezzo

This city is the capital of the Tuscan province of the same name. originally it was one of the most important Etruscan cities. It was conquered by the Romans in 311 B.C. and became a military station. Two important sites are the Piazza Grande, and the Loggia of Vasari, designed by the author Giorgio Vasari.(below)

 

 

It is the home of the famous Antique Furniture market (first weekend of each month), and the Saracen Joust (Giostro del Saracino-knoghts dressed in medieval costumes joust against a target, and the townspeople also dress in medieval costumes). It is also the prolific producer of fine Italian gold jewelry. Be sure to try the noted Pappardelle alle Lepre ( Flat noodles with wild rabbit sauce) which is a specialty of Arezzo. The famous Tuscan artist Piero della Francesca lived and worked in Arezzo for most of his life. Visit the Arezzo web site at left.

 

Siena

 

 

Siena is one of Italy's loveliest medieval cities, and a trip worth making even if you are in Florence and Tuscany for just a few days. It is located about an hour and a half south of Florence. Il Campo (left photo) is world-renowned for its famous Palio, a festival and horse race that takes place on this central piazza itself two times each summer (Movie audiences worldwide can see Siena and the Palio in the last James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, since tickets to the race are almost impossible to obtain). The Campo is dominated by the red Palazzo Pubblico and its tower, Torre del Mangia. Along with the Duomo, the Palazzo Pubblico was also built during the same period of rule by the Council of Nine. The civic palace, built between 1297 and 1310, still houses the city's municipal offices much like Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Its internal courtyard has entrances to the Torre del Mangia and to the Civic Museum. If you feel energetic, a climb up the over 500 steps will reward you with a wonderful view of Siena and its surroundings. The Museum, on the other hand, offers some of the greatest of Sienese paintings. The Sala del Concistoro houses one of Domenico Beccafumi's best works, ceiling frescoes of allegories on the virtues of Siena's medieval government. But it is the Sala del Mappamondo and the Sale della Pace that hold the palaces's highlights: Simone Martini's huge Maestà and Equestrian Portrait of Guidoriccio da Fogliano and Ambrogio Lorenzetti's Allegories of Good and Bad Government, once considered the most important cycle of secular paintings of the Middle Ages. Siena is a city of art, fashion and architecture as well as the capital of the province of Siena. Be sure to try Panforte di Siena, a special sienese fruitcake.

 

San Gimignano

 

 

The town of San Gimignano, located on a hill in the Elsa Valley, is an enchanting town steeped even today in its medieval atmosphere, remaining almost unchanged through the ages. San Gimignano was named after its Bishop Saint Gemimanus who defended the town from Atilla the Hun. The characteristic city conserves its imposing defensive walls and thirteen of the numerous medieval towers which were built by the town's wealthier families as a symbol of their power.
Every corner within San Gimignano is worth visiting, but the main points of interest are the Piazza della Cisterna and Piazza del Duomo, with the Palazzo Comunale (Civic Hall) and Chiesa della Collegiata forming one angle of the square. In the hills surrounding the town of San Gimignano, vineyards produce the grapes of one of the most prestigious and well-known Italian white wines, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

 

Pisa

 

The coastal city of Pisa is in the center of a fertile plain in northwestern Tuscany, a strategic geographic position that allowed it to become an important Naval Republic during the Middle Ages.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is without a doubt the monument that represents the city of Pisa, even if not many know that it is the cathedral's bell tower. The Cathedral and its Tower, the Baptistery and the Camposanto (necropolis) are all found in the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Square of Miracles, one of the most beautiful squares in Italy and the world which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pisa was the birthplace of one of the world's greatest scientists, Galileo Galilei. The city is also the home of the University of Pisa, founded in the 12th century.

 



The city of Florence Site


The Official Toscana Region Site


The city of Arezzo Site


The city of Siena Site



The city of San Gimignano Site


The city of Pisa Site
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