Why choose an agriturismo in Tuscany? Agriturismo Il Giaridno degli Ulivi enjoys a prominently strategic position within the heart of Tuscany as from here all most historically, culturally and gastronomically interesting towns of Tuscany and Umbria may be easily and quickly reached.
Arezzo lies 80 Km south of Florence and it dominates the beautiful valley in which the Valtiberina, Valdichiana, Casentino and Valdarno valleys all join together. The higher part of the town, dating back to the Middle Ages, has a Cathedral, a Medici Fortress, aristocratic palaces and picturesque towers. The lower part is modern and constantly expanding. Arezzo was an important town during the Etruscan period, as shown by the two statues of the Chimera (now displayed in the Archaeological Museum in Florence). It continued to be very important under the Romans as shown by its beautiful vases and ceramics. The mayor things of interest to see are the Church of Santa Maria, which contains some paintings by Lorenzetti, and the Church of San Francesco with the frescoes made by Piero della Francesca.
Montepulciano is the highest of the Tuscan hill towns and offers fine examples of Renaissance architecture. Montepulciano is known as the pearl of the 15th century where there are many famous buildings to see such as the Cathedral, the Loggia del Mercato, the Avignonese and Tarugi palaces and also the Bucelli Palace with burial urns and Etruscan and Latin inscriptions. Other places of interest to visit in Montepulciano are the Church of Saint Agnese, the patron saint of the town, and the Civic Museum. Montepulciano is also world-famous for its excellent Vino Nobile and other typical Tuscan products.
The medieval village of Pienza is to be regarded as a real monument as a whole in its orderliness and rationality and offers some incredible views of the Val d’Orcia, as if they were in a painting made by the best Renaissance artists. Particularly interesting monuments in Pienza are the Cathedral, the Palazzo Piccolomini and the Diocesan Museum, where works by Sodoma and a number of magnificent Flemish tapestries by the 15th and the 16th century are collected. Pienza is famous for its production of sheep cheese produced in the countryside of the Val d’Orcia amid its ravines and its rolling hills, the so-called “Crete”, and seasoned in a variety of different flavors ranging from walnut leaves and vinasse to pit seasoning.
The medieval town of Siena is located South-West of Arezzo, edging through the Chianti region. Formed by the meeting point of three hills on which Siena is built, the famous and spectacular Piazza del Campo is divided into nine sections commemorating the council of nine who governed the town in the 13th century. Twice a year, in July and August, the Sienese inhabitants faithfully recreate their medieval heritage in the Palio, a sumptuous pageant-cum-horse race taking place on the square. Some other important monuments to be seen are the Palazzo Pubblico, the Museum and the Cathedral built at the end of the 12th century
Montalcino is perched on top of a hill overlooking the Val d’Orcia, the Val d’Arbia and the Valle dell’Ombrone. Montalcino is a town having a typical medieval layout, and the Town Hall, the Cathedral and the churches of S. Agostino, S. Egidio and S. Francesco. are not to be missed In the Archaeological Museum you may see a number of interesting prehistorical and Etruscan findings from the area whilst in the Museo Civico you may see two terracottas by Andrea della Robbia. However, Montalcino is, above all, the home to one of Italy’s and Tuscany’s most important red wines: the Brunello di Montalcino. It is made from pure Sangiovese vines grown in the nearby hills and it is one of the best expressions of a territory and a landscape that are the very heart of Tuscany.
Florence is almost in the middle of Tuscany and Italy, and it is one of the most important cities for art, architecture, culture, commerce and industry. Thanks to its central location, it can be easily reached by train and many other important towns are driving distance. Florence began its rebirth after the decadence of the Barbaric ages and reached its highest splendor between the 11th and the 15th century, as a free city. Then came under the rule of the Medici Family, who later became the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. This in fact was when the city was at the height of its glory in art and culture, in politics and economic power. Italian painters Cimabue and Giotto, the innovators of the Renaissance Brunelleschi and Donatello, and universal men like Leonardo and Michelangelo lived here. Among the monuments to see in Florence, you cannot miss a visit to the Uffizi (the most prestigious art gallery in the world), Michelangelo’s sculptures, the Medici Chapel, the Baptistery with its mosaics, and the Cathedral.
The town of Castiglione del Lago rises on a promontory that once formed the fourth island of Lake Trasimeno, the fourth largest lake in Italy. The area of Trasimeno is very pretty, there are boat trips in the summer to visit the three islands in the middle or to cross from one side to another. The best beaches are situated right near Castiglione del Lago, nice Etruscan town, where the medieval walls and the ancient castle are still well preserved.
The city of Perugia is divided into five quarters, each named after the original city gates: Sant’Angelo, Sole, San Pietro, Eburnea and Santa Susanna. Piazza IV novembre is the city’s main square where you will find the San Lorenzo Cathedral finished in 1430 and the Fontana Maggiore designed by Fra Bevignate. Just opposite is the Palazzo dei Priori which still houses the municipal offices and the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, which is one of central Italy’s biggest and best art galleries. The Collegio della Mercanzia, located on Corso Vannucci next to the Palazzo dei Priori, and the Collegio del Cambio, located in the same building, are the town's medieval money exchange offices and their walls were superbly frescoed by Perugino. At the Southern end of Corso Vannucci you can see the Giardini Carducci from where there are excellent views of the surrounding countryside. Underneath the gardens is a 16th century fortress Rocca Paolina: destroyed after Italian Unification, the ruins remain a symbol of defiance against oppression.
Assisi, the most enchanting and spiritual town in Umbria, lies at the foot of Mount Subasio. Founded by the Etruscans and later dominated by the Romans, the town is the birthplace of Saint Francis, Patron Saint of Italy. The main attraction of Assisi is the Basilica of Saint Francis. It consists of two churches. The upper one was built between 1228 and 1230 and is emebllished with frescoesmade by Giotto and Cimabue on Saint Francis' life; the lower one was built from 1230 –1253. The entrance to the basilica dates back to the 15th century. Attached to the Basilica is the Franciscan monastery founded by Saint Francis in 1206. Another magnificent example of Gothic architecture: the Church of Santa Chiara where you can see the crucifix that spoke to Saint Francis according to what was handed down.
The Roman town of Gubbio has the most medieval appearance of the Northern Umbrian towns. Gubbio is famous for its local crafts, mainly ceramics, and for its well preserved medieval traditions, including the well renowned procession of the Candles in May. The place to start a tour of Gubbio is Piazza Quaranta Martiri, named after forty citizen shot by the Nazis in 1944. Here you can visit the Cathedral of the 13th century building, which is an admirable example of Gothic architecture. Other important monuments in Gubbio are the Plazzo Ducale, the Palazzo dei Consoli end the Roman Theater, a perfectly preserved 1st century amphitheater located at the foot of the town.