• History,  Pisa

    Who paid for the Leaning Tower of Pisa

    Detail of Battistero Pisa

    Everybody knows the Leaning Tower of Pisa, endlessly about to topple. The famous tower is in Pisa, Tuscany, a city that now hosts the region’s main airport, but was once the capital of a powerful sea-faring Republic. So how did the Tower get built? And where did the money come from? To answer these questions, we’ll have to dip into some history: A brief history of Pisa Pisa has a proud history, and was founded in a strategic position by the Etruscans. The advantages of its protected position on the coast saved it from the worst damage after the fall of the Roman empire. It become a popular port, with…

  • Culture,  History,  Siena,  Tuscan Cities

    Map of Sights and Museums in Siena

    Map of Siena

    This is an idiosyncratic and personal map of what to see in Siena. There is more conventional google map at the bottom of this post, but this is a map I sketched and it’s my feeling of how Siena hangs together. There are two centres of power, the religious and the secular. The focal point of religious power is the Cathedral, built on the highest point of the city. The focus of secular power lies lower down, in the “Piazza del Campo“, literally the “square of the field“. The famous shell-shaped square is divided into 9 segments, to represent each of the members of the “consiglio dei nove” who ran…

  • Culture,  History,  Tuscany

    Bartali, the unsung cycling war hero

    On the outskirts of Florence, in an unprepossessing building close the motorway, is a small museum. It is dedicated to the memory of Gino Bartali, a man with a remarkable story that has only recently come to light. Gino Bartali is a star of world class cycling, and an inspiration to many. Paolo Conte sang a wonderful song about the cyclist and the many miles he travelled; we now know he wasn’t just training. During the second world war Bartali was already a well known figure, having won the Giro d’Italia twice, in 1936 and 37, and the Tour de France in 1938. During the war he continued to go…

  • Culture,  Food and Wine,  For children,  History,  Tuscany

    20 Italian Food ideas and Experiences you can’t miss in Tuscany

    There are hundreds of good reasons to visit Tuscany—but fabulous food has to be near the top of the list; after all, what’s more fabulous than sipping Brunello with a crusty loaf of bread and some olio nuovo as the sun sets over the terrace of your 19th century villa? Or enjoying fresh capellini with a rich, fragrant pomodoro sauce prepared by your own Tuscan cook? That’s the beauty of Tuscany—there are food experiences to tempt your eyes and your palate everywhere you look. If you’re looking for reasons to visit this magical region of Italy this year, here are 20 one-of-a-kind experiences you should add to your list. 1.…

join the family

Subscribe to our mailing list and keep in touch