Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The parish church of Santa Maria and San Leonardo in Artimino, Carmignano, Tuscany

Today I want to return to one of my obsessions, the abbeys, monasteries and churches of Tuscany, in this case, specifically, the parish church of Santa Maria and San Leonardo in Artimino, at Carmignano in the Province of Prato (in Italian, La pieve di S. Maria e S. Leonardo ad Artimino, Comune di Carmignano, Prato). We are lucky in Tuscany that stone is readily available (ref. my husband's fields) and consequently almost every building in Tuscany is, in essence, a skilfully assembled pile of stones that lasts for millennia. Some of these structures are aesthetically indifferent - some are works of genius, even when they are pure vernacular art - meaning erected by now anonymous workmen with no special skills other than a miraculous feeling for beauty. The Pieve di S. Maria e S. Leonardo ad Artimino is one of these works of genius. It's located deep in the countryside and consequently rarely visited by visitors to Tuscany. This church has miraculously remained embedded in a pristine natural environment. If you're in the area, on no account miss paying it a visit.

La pieve di S. Maria e S. Leonardo ad Artimino, Comune di Carmignano, Prato
The parish church of S. Maria e S. Leonardo ad Artimino
This pieve is referred to in the famous decree of Emperor Otto III, dating from 998, which lists the privileges of the Bishop of Pistoia, also noting "plebs ... in Artimino", which is perhaps referring to a time before the existence of the inhabited settlement of Artimino. The latter was a walled town, documented, however, as "castle" since the 11 C. The then church of San Leonardo was located outside the walls of the castle. This was commonplace during that period, because territorial organisation was characterised by scattered settlements and distinct power centres: the castle and the pieve. The Rinaldeschi of Prato and then the Frescobaldi were the patrons for a long time.

The church was first devoted to the Virgin only during the 16 C and from then onwards was co-dedicated to the Virgin and San Leonardo. In its role as a parish church, the pieve of Santa Maria and San Leonardo in Artimino was the headquarters of several suffragan churches. In the 19 C, it had as its dependencies Santo Stefano alle Brusche at Poggio alla Malva, San Michele in Comeana and San Martino in Campo.

Interior of the Pieve di S. Maria e S. Leonardo ad Artimino
Interior of the Pieve di S. Maria e S. Leonardo ad Artimino

The pieve as a structure is one of the most complete, evocative and early examples of Romanesque architecture of the 11 C in Tuscany. The original buildings have remained intact over the centuries, apart from the construction of the vault cover in the 14 C and the construction of the canonical and "della Compagnia" buildings. The impression formed by the Romanesque elements has been enormously enhanced by the radical restoration of 1971 that eliminated additions of little value and also resulted in the removal of interior decorations of the 17 C and 18 C.

More about the Basilicas, Pievi, Abbeys, Monasteries and Hermitages of Tuscany.


Tuscany Toscana
Don't forget to visit my Tuscany
Travel Guide!

Up-to-date news on what to see and where to stay in Chianti and all of Tuscany.

Tuscany Travel Guide

vacation accommodations in Tuscany


Author: Anna Maria Baldini

All content copyright © ammonet Italian Web Site Promotion 2017. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Barack and Michelle Obama will be relaxing in the Val d'Orcia of Tuscany next week.

Barack and Michelle Obama are currently in Milan for a conference on climate change. They are expected to be relaxing in the Val d'Orcia of Tuscany next week, the third week of May, 2017.


Barack and Michelle Obama on vacation in Tuscany during May 2017

The Obamas will very likely to stay at Borgo Finocchieto near Buonconvento in the Val d'Orcia of Tuscany. Borgo Finocchieto is the property of John Phillips who ended his term as US Ambassador to Italy a few days ago. John Phillips is an American of Italian ancestry who purchased the property in 2001 and spent the next eight years renovating. I think we can safely assume that President and Mrs Obama will have a very comfortable time there in one of the most beautiful areas of Tuscany, especially since the weather forecast is extremely favorable.

If we (meaning your humble blogger, Anna Maria Baldini) can obtain some photos, we'll post them here. (Why have I lapsed into the royal "we" as soon as the presidency comes up?)

Buonconvento, Tuscany
Buonconvento

Michelle Obama visiting Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy
Michelle Obama enjoying Montalcino in Tuscany

The Obamas visit the Duomo of Siena
The Obamas visit the Duomo of Siena

We wish President and Mrs Obama a wonderful stay in Tuscany!

More about the Val d'Orcia, Tuscany.


Tuscany Toscana
Don't forget to visit my Tuscany
Travel Guide!

Up-to-date news on what to see and where to stay in Chianti and all of Tuscany.

Tuscany Travel Guide

vacation accommodations in Tuscany


Author: Anna Maria Baldini

All content copyright © ammonet Italian Web Site Promotion 2017. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

I've been to Tuscany before. What should I see this time?

Today I want to try to provide some hints on the amazing diversity of Tuscany. More than once, readers have written to me to say "I've been to Tuscany before. What should I see this time?" To research your next trip to Tuscany, you basically need to list the aspects that you've already experienced and then to expand your options. Here are some ideas.

Art, yes, done that - then what about architecture as such? Renaissance architecture, yes, done that - then what about vernacular architecture? Head out into the Tuscan countryside and follow some of those quiet, narrow roads - they all lead somewhere, as often as not to farmhouses and hamlets that have grown over the centuries from mediaeval watch towers. It's this almost random agglomeration that gives much of Tuscan vernacular architecture its charm. Tuscany is also dotted with ancient monasteries and parish churches created in the same spontaneous manner. Because they are all invariably built of stone, you'll have no trouble finding inhabited structures documented as dating back to before the year 1000. Settle down in an ancient courtyard for a picnic and enjoy the atmosphere as well as the architecture!

Vernacular architecture in Tuscany
Vernacular architecture in Tuscany
Wine tasting at a winery, yes, done that. But was it at some industrial scale place with several minibuses (or touring buses) parked about the place? From about April onwards, the grape vines begin to sprout and the Tuscan countryside takes on a deep green colour. Right up until the vendemmia in September, it becomes a real pleasure to stroll along the strade bianche that traverse the vineyards and visit one of the many small, traditional wineries of Chianti and elsewhere in Tuscany. You don't need to book in advance - if someone is available, you'll be able to look around and taste the two or three wines that they make. Look for the roses planted at the ends of the rows of grape vines - like canaries in a mine, they warn of imminent danger, in this case mildew. Some wineries still grow crops between the rows of vines, among them irises (giaggioli), the roots of which are harvested for extraction of a stabiliser used in perfumery. Mixed cultivation like this is a reflection of the old coltura promiscua common even in the early 20 C.

Irises planted between rows of grape vines in Tuscany
Irises planted between rows of grape vines in Tuscany

Walking tour, yes, done that. A walking tour of Florence, maybe, but what about the numerous walking paths from one village to another. Some are hilly, that's true, but there are others that are no more than a bucolic stroll. These are popular among Tuscans too, especially if there's a chance to dress up in ancient costumes like the group of pilgrims below on their way to Monteriggioni. There are several excellent guide books describing the most popular routes plus the villages and wineries that you will encounter along them. This is really a great way to get to know the real Tuscany and real Tuscans!

A country stroll under the walls of Monteriggioni,Tuscany
A country stroll under the walls of Monteriggioni.
Go to the seaside, yes, done that. To Forte dei Marmi? Many people, including a very large number of Italians, enjoy nothing better than lying in a deck chair under a sun umbrella in neat rows with hundreds of other like-minded sun worshippers at Tuscan beaches. But Tuscany has numerous stretches of truly beautiful coastline and charming fishing villages, especially in its off-the-beaten-track southwest, around Monte Argentario and Talamone. Here you can swim, go boating or diving around interesting rocky promontories and dine in excellent fish restaurants. Also see my post of the delightful beaches and old town of Castiglione della Pescaia.
Talomone port on the Tuscan coastline
Talomone port on the Tuscan coastline

Take a horse and wagon ride through the Chianti countryside - OK, well, that's something really different. Luca Perrotta who works from Montespertoli, fairly near to Florence, does regular private and shared horse and wagon excursions through the Chianti countryside. He also does excursions that last three days through the unjustly-neglected area of south-western Tuscany known as The Maremma. These excursions are absolute magic for families with children.

See my post on taking a horse-drawn wagon tour through Chianti.

Horse and wagon excursion in Tuscany
Horse and wagon excursion in Tuscany
In future posts, I will have more suggestions on how to refresh yourselves with new and interesting sights in Tuscany. For now, don't forget: one of the objects of a vacation is to relax, and there is no place that offers a greater variety of tranquil locations combined with wonderful weather and views than Tuscany. See you here soon!

Relax in Tuscany
Relax in Tuscany.

Sights, activities, events and places to stay in Tuscany.

Vernacular art of Tuscany.

Vacation accommodation in Tuscany
www.bella-toscana.com


All content copyright © ammonet Italian Web Site Promotion 2014 - 2017. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Chiocchio, the castle of Mugnana and the Cintoia valley in Chianti, Tuscany

Chiocchio is a village on the Via Chiantigiana that wanders from one villa and farm to another along the ridges of Chianti, Italy between Florence and Siena. In early times, Chiocchio was a fairly important crossroads with a road running to the Castle of Mugnana which was probably built on the remains of Ad Aquileia, a Roman way-station on the Via Cassia. The castle represents a typical case of the 14 C transformation of a castle into a single-family, private residence. It belonged to the Bardi family of Florence during Renaissance times and later.

The Castello di Mugnana near Chiocchio in Chianti, Tuscany
The Castello di Mugnana near Chiocchio in Chianti, Tuscany
The Pieve (Parish church) of San Donato a Mugnana is located nearby and was for long a dependency of the Castle of Mugnana. Although much reconstructed over the centuries, the Pieve di San Donato a Mugnana is a Romanesque foundation.

The Pieve of San Donato a Mugnana near Chiocchio
The Pieve of San Donato a Mugnana near Chiocchio
From the via Chiantigiana, I recommend making an excursion by taking the turn to the east a short distance to the south of Strada in Chianti, to explore the beautiful Valley of Cintoia by driving to La Panca and then rejoining the via Chiantigiana at Greve in Chianti.

The Castle of Cintoia might take its name from the Roman expression "centuria", an area of ground of about 50 hectares but it is more ttle of the original castle remains, having been replaced by some large farm houses.
Castle of Cintoia in Chianti, Tuscany
Castle of Cintoia in Chianti, Tuscany




All content copyright © ammonet Infotech 2011 - 2017. All rights reserved.