Friday, 28 May 2021

An exquisite reliquary bust at the Diocesan Museum of Florence

My attentive readers will know that from time to time I like to draw attention to works of art in small museums that are unjustly negrlected by visitors to Tuscany. Today I want to describe a beautiful reliquary bust commissioned by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III and created in 1703. The bust is silver cast using the lost wax method and finished by chisel, with gilded copper details. It was intended for the Pieve di San Cresci located on the slopes of Monte Giovi (province of Florence). San Cresci lived during the 3C and is considered to be the evangeliser of the Mugello where he was martyred around the year 250.

For the execution of this splendid reliquary, the Grand Duke turned to his court artist, the sculptor, architect and great draftsman Giovanni Battista Foggini who executed the design, leaving the execution of the work to another great artist of the Medici court, the German silversmith Bernard Holzman who performed the work in silver, clothing the saint in finely decorated and chiseled Roman armour. The youthful face of the saint, bearded and with thick hair, is slightly turned to the right. On the base runs the inscription: Sancti Crescij Xp Martyris Caput.

From a stylistic point of view, you can see the high quality in the accuracy of the finishing of the details and in the pride of the figure, clearly derived from the classical models, already used in the Middle Ages by the Arezzo goldsmiths Pietro and Paolo and then again in the Renaissance also by Donatello when he made the reliquary bust of San Rossore in Pisa.

This reliquary is one of the many masterpieces exhibited in the all too neglected Diocesan Museum of Florence in Santo Stefano al Ponte. If you can spare the time during your visit to Florence, I strongly recommend spending a couple of hours there.


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Sunday, 23 May 2021

Getting married in Tuscany: great wedding venues in Tuscany

If you're planning on getting married in Tuscany, a wonderful wedding venue will be at or near the top of the list of "musts" to make the your wedding a super-special occasion. There's an enormous range of great wedding venues in Tuscany at your disposal so I want to mention some wedding locations of which I have personal experience.

Getting married in Tuscany
Wedding dinner at Villa Felceto

For a do-it-yourself wedding in Tuscany, I can strongly recommend Villa Felceto, located on the Podere Felceto olive farm near Panzano in Chianti, halfway between Florence and Sienna. The villa, in ancient times a monastery, and the nearby dependencies provide accommodation for 20 people while the nearby agriturismi plus hotel and apartment accommodation in Panzano offer a good range of additional places to stay for your guests. The villa and its grounds provide beautiful settings for your wedding ceremony and wedding dinner. And very importantly, the owners, Roberto and Jussara, who speak excellent English, can and will provide lots of assistance with your arrangements, especially catering, so that you can organise everything without the assistance of a wedding planner.

More about Villa Felceto wedding venue in Tuscany.


Do it yourself wedding location in Tuscany
Wedding feast at La Ghiandaia in Tuscany

Another great do-it-yourself wedding venue in Tuscany is Agriturismo La Ghiandaia which is located near the tiny village of Lucolena in central Chianti, 30 km from Florence. The agriturismo is an ideal location for a wedding of up to 30 - 35 guests all of whom will be able to stay on site. For your wedding buffet you can take advantage of the beautiful veranda with its panoramic view, ideal for dancing, or a splendid converted wine cellar for inside dining in case of rain.

Silvia, the gracious owner of La Ghiandaia, is ready and able to organise everything for your wedding. She is experienced in organising complete, customised weddings at her house, including accommodation, finding a church or town hall, reserving a suitable restaurant if required, organising the buffet and party at her house with musicians and waiters, flower decorations, rental vans and wedding car and in general everything that is necessary to make your wedding day happy and memorable for you and your wedding party.

Review on Trip Advisor: "A perfect Wedding" at La Ghiandaia in Tuscany.

More about La Ghiandaia wedding location in Tuscany.

great wedding venues in Tuscany
Wedding reception at Villa Gamberaia


If you prefer to celebrate your wedding at one of the most famous villas in Tuscany, then Villa Gamberaia is the place for you. This magnificent villa is located in Settignano just a few km from central Florence, and its formal Tuscan garden is probably the most famous in Tuscany, if not all of Italy. The views from the garden are spectacular. Villa Gamberaia is not only its garden: within the villa there are magnificent salons and an interior colonnaded courtyard which may be rented for weddings. There is sufficient accommodation in the villa dependencies for your wedding party, and of course a huge range of accommodation around Settignano and Fiesole, and in Florence for your guests.

More about Villa Gamberaia.

More about accommodation at Villa Gamberaia.


Wedding in Tuscany - Villa Vitigliano
Villa Vitigliano dining al fresco

Last but not least, the height of luxury and sophistication in Tuscany is to be found at Vitigliano , a recently restored rural "borgo" located between Panzano and Greve in Chianti, 45 minutes south of Florence. I have already praised this uniquely beautiful Tuscan boutique hotel, and I want to add that Vitigliano is surely the most luxurious wedding venue in all of Tuscany, with its own Turkish bath, whirlpool and professional kitchens. The Bridal Suite in the Tower offers an unforgettable ambiance for your wedding night, and the other luxury suites are ready for the bridal couple and their families. Accommodation for the wedding guests is readily available within a ten minute drive. Vitigliano has its own ancient chapel for a traditional wedding ceremony.

More about Vitigliano wedding venue.



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Friday, 7 May 2021

Bargello Museum in Florence re-opens: Sala degli Avori (Room of the Ivories) re-organised

To me, the Bargello Museum of Florence is one of the most under-appreciated art collections in the world. There are bigger museums without a doubt but many of them require a pair of roller blades to visit. The Bargello is intimate and human in scale, and stuffed with masterpieces, both Florentine and especially pieces collected by Florentines from elsewhere. On no account miss it when you visit Florence.

After being closed for several months on account of the corvid pandemic, the Bargello is open once again and with a completely re-organised Sala degli Avori (Room of the Ivories), now completed after six years of work. 

Bargello Museum room of the ivories

 The Room of the Ivories in the Bargello Museum, Florence

The exhibition layout has been completely re-organised and includes the display of works that were previously kept in the archives, among them a valuable Baroque crucifix that is back on display after almost a century in dark obscurity. The collection of works in ivory covers 15 centuries, ranging from rare Etruscan and Roman objects to 19 C artefacts. There are about 250 works on display, in a wide variety of styles and from both Eastern and Western civilisations. The displayed works of art now have labels in English in addition to Italian. 

Byzantine ivories in the Bargello Museum, Florence

 Byzantine ivories in the Bargello Museum, Florence

The Sala degli Avori is located on the first floor of the Bargello and exhibits precious and historic ivories such as a diptych with scenes from the life of Saint Paul and Adam in the earthly paradise and a plaque with the Byzantine Empress. Other works include the rare Carolingian Flabellum from the abbey of Tournus, the Olifante of Sainte-Chapelle, donated to the king of France in 1274, as well as mediaeval paintings, mosaics and sculptures.

Ivory mirror in the Bargello Sala degli Avori

Ivory mirror in the Bargello Sala degli Avori

Many of the art works that comprise the Bargello's ivory collection are the legacy of the Lyonnaise antique dealer Louis Carrand who, on his death in 1888, gifted to the Bargello almost 2,600 works, including sculptures, jewels, paintings and fabrics. Other ivories in the collection come from 19 C purchases and from historic Florentine Grand-Ducal collections.


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Thursday, 6 May 2021

Events and festivals in Tuscany during 2021

The new year has begun and now is the moment to think about events and festivals in Tuscany during 2021. If you're planning a trip to Tuscany, do look at our lists of folkloric festivals, jousts, archery and crossbow contests and numerous other events that take place in Tuscany during the course of the year. These range from the massive float parades of the Carnevale in Viareggio through the great mediaeval costume festivals to simple village food feste.

Events and festivals in Tuscany
Huge prossesion float at Viareggio Carnevale

 The festivals of Tuscany have become more and more polished and exciting in their presentation and yet remain genuine folk festivals dependent entirely on the enthusiasm of the local organisers, in many cases these being competing local contrade, rioni etc. These latter are clubs and societies based on the various residential quarters of villages, towns and cities, the most famous being the contrade of Sienna which enter their horses (and riders) in the famous Siena palio twice every year.

The competitions are almost always costume events with processions, and very often dinners and food stands play an important role. Look through our lists for local events taking place near where you will be staying, and in addition try to attend at least one major event during your stay.

The main Tuscan festivals.

A comprehensive list of local events and festivals in Tuscany.



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