Saturday, 25 May 2013

Radda in Chianti, a classic Chianti wine village

Today I would like to introduce you to one of the small towns located near where I live, namely Radda in Chianti, a classic Chianti wine village. Radda, along with Castellina and Gaiole, was one of the three counties that formed the original Lega del Chianti from the 15 C onwards until the league was dissolved in the late 18 C. Today, clustered around its church, it is a tranquil village that serves the numerous wineries and agriturismi (farmhouse vacation rentals) in the surrounding countryside. The area is famous for the numerous castles, both ruined and inhabited, that dot the hills.

Radda in Chianti
View of Radda in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy
Radda is a place to buy your supplies or dine out while spending your vacation in one of the many places to stay in and near Radda in Chianti. The Palazzo del Podestà is the principal building in Radda, aside from the romanesque Church of San Niccolò, which houses a venerated wooden Crucifix dating from the 15 C. Nearby is the convent Santa Maria al Prato which dates from the mediaeval period. It now houses an art museum. Another interesting sight is the "Ice House" of the Grand Duke, built at the end of the 19 C to store snow and turn it into ice for cooling purposes.

More about Radda in Chianti and its environs.

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

Chianti Travel Guide

Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A tour of the Val d'Orcia by steam engine - the Trenonatura

This past Sunday I went on a tour of the Val d'Orcia by steam engine - the Trenonatura. I can safely recommend this excursion to all who would like to do something a little different during their stay in Tuscany. My babbo was a train nut, with the result that some of my earliest memories are of visits to obscure stations and smokey engine sheds to view huge, steaming machines with gleaming pistons gracefully sliding back and forth. This Spring, I decided it was time to go for a ride in a train pulled by one of these splendid monsters. I discovered that the Provincia di Siena and a group of volunteers organise train tours every Spring and Autumn (the risk of fire being too high during Summer). These tours usually depart from Siena and do a loop through the Val d'Orcia, dropping the passengers off for a few hours at whichever town has an interesting event or festival taking place on the day in question.

A tour of the Val d'Orcia by steam engine - the Trenonatura
A tour of the Val d'Orcia by steam engine - the Trenonatura
The Trenonatura follows a route through a variety of terrains including the classic Val d'Orcia "big sky" country with views of Monte Amiata, the Crete Senesi, the River Orcia itself and the famous cypress tree clusters and rows that are so popular with photographers. At Monte Antico, the engine is moved to the other end of the train and filled up with water. This occasion provides plenty of photo opportunities for the passengers.

Most of the carriages are third class and dating from before World War II. The wooden seats are very comfortable and you have to wonder how the airlines and, for that matter, modern railways have got it so wrong despite the money they claim to pour into seat design. Bring some refreshments, including something to drink, because these are not available on board. My carriage was filled with a merry crowd and a very informative volunteer who provided an interesting commentary both on the train and on the country we were passing through. He was happy to answer everyone's questions. I was surprised to see that on the return route we went a far as Castelnuovo Berardenga at the southern boundary of Chianti Classico.

Steam engine in Tuscany Italy
Steam engine in Tuscany Italy - Trenonatura

A note on reservations. I reserved my place via email about two weeks ahead of time and paid, as the agency requested, by bank transfer. They never confirmed receiving the payment nor did they send me a confirmation nor any other information, despite multiple emails from me. I phoned them two days before the trip and they confirmed verbally, more or less by chance also giving me my carriage and seat number. My name was on the list when I showed up at Siena station. If you don't receive a confirmation from the agency, my advice is to bring along a copy of your email requesting a reservation plus a copy of the bank transfer, just in case your name isn't on the list.

Val d'Orcia Tourist Information.

Val d'Orcia on Facebook.

Trenonatura timetable.

Recommended vacation accommodation in Chianti towns, villages and countryside.

Author: Anna Maria Baldini

All content copyright © ammonet Web Site Promotion 2012 - 2017. All rights reserved.

"The Springtime of the Renaissance" - a great exhibition currently showing in Florence

The Strozzi Palace is currently hosting a wonderful art exhibition under the title "The Springtime of the Renaissance" (La Primavera del Rinascimento. La scultura e le arti a Firenze 1400-1460. Palazzo Strozzi.). Everyone with an interest in the history of art, especially Renaissance art, should seize the opportunity to spend half a day (or a whole day) at this exhibition here in Florence or, from September, at the Louvre in Paris, if they possibly can. Every year there is a very good exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi, but this year (2013), the Bargello and the Louvre have put together a truly fabulous show of early Florentine masterpieces displayed alongside equally beautiful Classical and late Gothic works of the kind from which the Florentines drew inspiration.

La Primavera del Rinascimento. La scultura e le arti a Firenze 1400-1460
The modern, the renaissance and the classical - a study in character.

The creators of this exhibition suggest that it was from sculpture more than painting that the Renaissance sprang, and they see the initial glimmer in the form of the two bronze relief panels submitted in 1401 by Brunelleschi and Ghiberti for the competition to create a set of new bronze doors of the Florentine baptistery. Sculpting scenes based on an identical biblical story, both artists combined Gothic elegance of costume and scenery with human figures inspired by classical sculpture. From this point on, the exhibition is dominated by the sculpture and spirit of Donatello, who did his apprenticeship in the workshops of Brunelleschi and Ghiberti. Donatello strongly influenced his contemporaries, both sculptors and painters, among whom we may count Michelozzo, Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, Paolo Uccello and Andrea del Castagno, stylistically and through his introduction of perspective in his low relief works.
Donatello at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence
Single point perspective, classical depiction of the human form and draperies
- Donatello's St George and the Dragon in very shallow relief.

The spatial organisation of the exhibition is excellent, not least with the placement of a huge, 4th century BC, bronze horse's head, the Medici Protome, visible through an arch from the first room of the show. Later, when we enter this room, Donatello's Carafa Protome, is revealed, and we can easily see why it was long thought to be a classical work.
Donatello's Carafa Protome
Donatello or ancient Greek? Visit this exhibition to find out which!

At the appropriate points in the exhibition, Classical sculpture including portrait busts and sarcophagus friezes, are juxtaposed with early Renaissance works in which the artists were evidently struggling to relearn the artistic skills of the Greeks and Romans, especially in depicting the human form. At other points, the juxtapositions of contemporary paintings and sculptures emphasize how painters set out to make their paintings more sculptural

The Springtime of the Renaissance
Painters set out to make their paintings more sculptural.

During my visit at the end of April, viewers were sparse and I often had entire rooms to myself. You can also view the exhibits close up, with a magnifying glass if you wish (and have one with you). In most of their native museums, this is surely not possible. Try to attend this show early or at least in Florence. It will definitely be packed out when it moves to Paris

More about La Primavera del Rinascimento.

Recommended vacation accommodation in Chianti towns, villages and countryside.

Author: Anna Maria Baldini

All content copyright © ammonet Web Site Promotion 2012 - 2013. All rights reserved.