Tuscany, with Florence its capital and a host of gorgeous medieval cities set in a rolling countryside of fields, vineyards and olive groves, is the cradle of the Renaissance and for many visitors the cultural heart of Italy. This guide amply covers Florence (itself the subject of a whole Blue Guide) but also gives extensive coverage to the other major Tuscan cities – Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Cortona, Arezzo. Ideal for the Florence-based visitor making day-trips to the surroundings, or for a tour of the whole of Tuscany. Includes Blue Guides Recommended short lists of hotels and restaurants.
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My wife and I just returned from a four day visit to Lucca, which included a one-day trip to Pisa. Overall we found your Guide to be extremely helpful especially as we used it in place of taking guided tours in the two locations. I have three comments on your 5th Edition Guide to Lucca and Pisa: First, it would appear that there is an inconsistency in your treatment of The Leaning Tower. On page 441 of the Guide, you state as follows in reference to the Tower: “Its architect remains anonymous, although Vasari suggested it was Bonanno da Pisa…” Then on page 444, in your description of the Campsanto, you state at the beginning of the paragraph: “The Camposanto … was begun in 1278 by the architect of the Leaning Tower, Giovanni de Simone, and completed in the 15th century.” You should endeavor to clarify this inconsistency in subsequent editions, particularly as the Leaning Tower is the foremost tourist attraction in Pisa. Second, we would wholeheartedly recommend Bruno’s Trattoria, a short walk up Via Luigi Bianchi (just outside the city wall), as a location for a hearty Tuscan luncheon or dinner following a visit to the major sites clustered around the Duomo. The food is excellent and the service impeccable. Finally, in Lucca, the major treat for us was attendance, on two evenings, at the Puccini Festival, held every evening of the year at a church nearby the Duomo (St. Martin’s?). The concert, which lasts only an hour, features very fine operatic singers. It is well attended. Thank you again for the help provided by your Blue Guide to Tuscany.
Thanks for the helpful comments. In fact both architects DID work on the Leaning Tower: Bonanno is thought to have built it to about 10m, after which it began to lean and was abandoned. A century later Giovanni di Simone completed it.
Dear Editor, We would like to inform you about a new business that can be interesting for readers of your guides about Italy, Tuscany and Chianti; the rental shop “Noleggio Chianti 500”, which was open in June 2013. The rental shop “Chianti 500” is located in Castellina in Chianti, one of the main town of the Chianti Classico region; we are specialized in Fiat 500, a symbol of the Italian style and history, (we have the vintage 500 as well as the new one), Vespa and bicycles. Following you can find a short description: Chianti 500 is a rental shop where you can find New and Vintage Fiat 500, Vespa and bikes. Here you can rent a wide range of Fiat 500 fully restored and serviced, ready to go with you at the discovery of the most suggestive places of the region. The cars are available for all kinds of event, such as tourism, weddings and other ceremonies. For those who prefer two-wheel, they have Piaggio Vespa 125 cc, equipped with helmets and motorcycle pannier, ideal for moving around in hot summer days and, for the sportsmen, they have mountain bikes, hybrid bikes and electric bikes by Scott and road bikes by Scapin. Reservation advised. Our address and contacts are: Via IV Novembre, 35 53011 Castellina in Chianti – Siena Phone +39 0577 148 1001 – Fax +39 0577 148 1002 Mail: email@example.com – Web site http://www.noleggiochianti500.it Our GPS coordinates are: Long. E. 11° 17′ 22″ – Lat. N .43° 27′ 54″ Opening hours: We are open every day from 9.00am to 1.00p.m. and from 3.00p.m. to 7.00 p.m. From November to March we are open, but we suggest to call first: +39 0577 148 1001 For more info (prices, photos, description etc.) please look at our web site: http://www.noleggiochianti500.it or send us an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. I remain at your complete disposal
Dear Blue Guide Editors: I am just back from several weeks in Tuscany during which your “Blue Guide Tuscany” was ever at hand. Thank you for careful research, your passion for the history of architecture and art, which you eloquently convey, the heaps of helpful information, excellent maps, index, and even a glossary (wherein I finally found what all those signs that said “pieve” meant.) I travel a lot and have used many guides, of which yours is the gold standard.
Thanks, too, for the hotel and restaurant suggestions, some of which we took. (Hotel Davanzati in Florence was one, a pleasing, friendly, comfortable, unpretentious place. Another was Osteria La Porta in Monticchiello—excellent.)
May I make a restaurant suggestion, which I hope you’ll be willing to consider? In Montepulciano is A Gambe di Gatto, Via dell’ Opio nel Corso, 34, in the centro storico. Here a young couple has for the past six years run a delightful, small caffè that features local ingredients, Tuscan specialties, enthusiastic explanations of offerings (all in Italian—no “tourist” menus here), excellent wines and olive oils (each lovingly introduced by charming, some-English-speaking owner Manuel—he makes up for unknown words with lots of charisma) and superb food prepared by tiny wife Lara, who may emerge shyly from kitchen if you ask to congratulate her. They are serious “slow foodies” and carefully research vineyards, farm sources, olive oil producers.
We ate there three times, congratulating ourselves for having found it—by accident. I’d put in “moderate” price category, though can’t recall the euros now—maybe 7 or 8 euros for hors d’oeuvres, 11, 12, 13, 14 for primi– but I imagine Manuel could email you a menu if you wished.
(I notice in referencing your price designation for La Porta above that you used the one-euro symbol for it. If it’s any help, the prices there were higher than at A Gambe di Gatto; maybe La Porta has gone up and needs re-evaluating—what do I know?)
A Gambe di Gatto also sells wines and olive oils. Email: email@example.com Tel.: 0039 578 75 74 31 Closed Wednesdays. The name relates to an old Tuscan proverb and why they chose it a long but lovely story.
My partner and I used your guidebook when we visited Venice earlier this year. We’d just like to let you know that the Venice guidebook was excellent! Your guidebook helped us learn the history, understand the art and guide us through the various districts in Venice. The book was easy to follow; we even did all the walking tours described in the book.
We also recently used the Tuscany Blue Guide. We visited a number of the towns in the countryside. I found the guidebook a little harder to follow and would like to give you some feedback for improvement. Siena:
* Pinacoteca Nazionale – the section in the book starts off with describing the “Second floor” of the museum. I think the main enterance led to the “First floor” which meant that I didn’t realise there was a section for the “First floor” until afterwards. It would be better if the sections can be put in order of the rooms as you enter the museum.
* I didn’t manage to follow any of the suggested Itineraries through the Contrada. I think my partner was able to only follow one or two. We just found it hard to find many of the places or art mentioned. Perhaps it may be good to include one or two walking itineraries through the city including a map of the route.
* The Duomo section is excellent!
* It would be easier to follow if the sections on the places of interest were put in some kind of order e.g. going from west to east if following the map on p 472. I actually numbered the sections and noted the numbers myself on the map. I would suggest reordering the section to the following:
1. Museo Nazionale Di Palazzo Mansi
2. San Paolino
3. Piazza Del Giglio & Piazza Napoleone
4. Piazza San Michele
5. San Michele in Foro
6. Santi Giovanni e Reparata
7. The Duomo of San Martino
8. Museo della Cattedrale
9. Guinigi Tower
10. The Eastern District with San Francesco
11. Museo Nazionale Guinigi
12. San Frediano
13. Palazzo Pfanner & its district I think the order above makes it easier to walk around the city and read up on the various points of interest. You could also include it in a suggested walking itinerary style. Hope this helps! We’re planning on going to Florence for a few days towards the end of this year and will definitely be using your guide book again =)
I was recently in San Gimignano and found a new and uniquely different gem that my entire family LOVED!
I met the Director of the Project, Pietro Bortolotti, and promised to help him get the word out—it was truly something that Americans need to see. Attached is a brief piece he sent me about San Gimignano 1300 (a recreation of the Town as it existed 700 years ago). You should also take a look at their website, that fully describes the project, exhibits, and hands-on workshop: http://www.sangimignano1300.com.
This is a family attraction that would be great in your Tuscany Guidebook (which I loved).