Collodi

April 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Splendid estates lie in the pleasant surroundings of Pistoia as they do around any important city. These include Villa Forti in Chiari and Villa Cecchi, known as the Guardatoia, but the finest of all is the imposing Villa Garzoni (now Gardi dell’ Ardenghesca), built between 1633 and 1662 on the site of a medieval castle in a typically Luccan Baroque style. Behind the villa lies the town of Collodi whose fame is in part due to the fact that the Florentine writer Carlo Lorenzini (1826-1890), the author of Pinocchio, used the name as his pseudonym. He passed his childhood here in the town his mother was born in. In its labyrinth of lanes, Collodi retains a medieval character, clustered around the Church that was founded in the 14th century and the ruins of the keep. Not far from Villa Garzoni, near the Osteria del Cambero Rosso, designed by Giovanni Michelucci in 1963, is the Park of Pinocchio with the monument to Pinocchio and the Fairy by Emilio Greco (1956), the Piazzetta dei Mosaici by Venturino Venturini and the Paese dei Balocchi (Land of Toys) where Pinocchio’s adventures are enacted.

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Torre del Lago

April 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

The small town became famous in the early 1900s due to the presence here of the Luccan composer Giacomo Puccini, who built his residence on the shores of the lake. Today his villa lies only a few meters from do water and contains musical and hunting mementos of the master in the dusky rooms, furnished in the Art Nouveau style then in fashion. The bust in the srml square overlooking the lake is also dedicated to Puccini. Every summer in Torre del Lago there is an interesting musical event, the Puccini festival, during which thaw are open air performances of the great composer’s most famous operas.

Fiesole

April 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

This ancient city of Etruscan origins lies at the top of  a hill overlooking Florence. The town centers around the lowly Piazza Mino da Fiesole with the large Cathedral of S. Romolo dating to the 11th century, contains the important Cappella Salutati, frescoed in the 15th century by Cosimo Rosselli and the of Bishop Salutati by Mino da Fiesole. The Palazzo Vescovile (11th century) and the old Church of Santa Maria Primerana lie across from the Cathedral. From here one can go up towards the Church and the Franciscan Convent (14th century), which houses the Ethnographic Mission Museum which contains important Etruscan material. It is but a short walk from the piazza to the Museo Civico Archeologico and the lovely Roman Theater dating to the first century B.C. where important theatral and cinematographic manifestations are held. Nearby are the Roman Baths and the Etrusco-Roman Temple. Not to be forgotten is the valuable Museo Bandini which houses sculpture and painting from the 13th to the 15th centuries, and the very old Basilica of San Alessandro.

Massa and Carrara

April 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Massa

Situated on one of the low hills which block the narrow valley of the stream Frigido, at the foot of the Apuan Alps, Massa is about five kilometers from the sea. The city contains various interesting examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture. Important buildings in Massa include the Palazzo Cybo Malaspina, which was begun in 1557 on what remained of a precedent Malaspina villa; the Cathedral, originally 13th century, but heavily remodelled and restored in the course of time; and the Museo Storico di Arte Sacra, annexed to the Cathedral. Note should also be taken of the 18th century Church of the Carmine and the Malaspina Castle, which consists of a large complex including the Rocca Malaspiniana which dominates the entire city, as well as the fortress, built between the 15th and the 16th century.

Carrara

The town is separated from Massa by the hills of Candia. The torrent Carrione runs through the town which is situated below the Apuan Alps. Carrara is the city of marble; its inexhaustible quarries have been known for over 2000 years. The city is proud of its Marble Museum which exhibits samples of the various types of marble to be found in the Apuan Alps, and of the Palazzo Cybo Malaspina with its 16th century layout, the seat of the Accademia delle Belle Arti. Next to the fountain of Andrea Doria or of the Giant, a lovely unfinished work by Baccio Bandinelli, is the Cathedral, begun in the 11th century and completed two centuries later. It is completely covered with a facing of grey and white marble and is partly Romanesque and partly Gothic. The 13th. century campanile is a fine example of Ligurian architecture. The tripartite interior of the church is ornamented with 12th and 13th century frescoes and important sculpture.

Barga

April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

The city was the heart of the Medici Grand Duchy in Garfagnana. The religious buildings of the city are particularly interesting: first and foremost the Cathedral, built and modified in various stages from the 9th to the 20th century. No less interesting are the 16th century Church of San Francesco. the numerous palaces which belonged to the important local families and which line the Via di Mezzo, di Borgo and Pretorio; and the Palazzo Pretorio, seat of the Florentine podesta who set their coats of arms on the 14th century loggia next to the building.

Vinci

April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

The town is famous above all because it is the birthplace of Leonardo, the great genius who still today is why people come to Vinci. A fine Museum has recently been installed which serves as a study center on Leonardo’s work as well and which houses numerous models of machines and contraptions made from designs by Leonardo. But the town is much older than its illustrious representative: it developed around the castle of the feudatory Counts Guidi and then in the 13th century passed under the dominion of Florence. Still today the Castle retains its 13th century appearance: inside it is decorated with coats of arms and other ornaments. Within the walls of the castle is the Church of Santa Croce, Romanesque in origin but frequently remodeled. Also of interest is the 17th century Oratory of the Santissima Annunziata, on the site of a particularly venerated shrine. Inside is an Annunciation attributed to Paolino da Pistoia.

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