Via Francigena An extraordinary journey to discover the Tuscan territory

Via Francigena crosses the entire Tuscan region marking a journey to discover her many places, even those lesser known, giving the visitor an opportunity to fully appreciate a land whose purpose is to amaze and inspire anyone who travels on it. The Via Francigena is a 380 km route that can be travelled in 15 stages; a fully signposted and secure journey to avoid repetition, thanks to important measures implemented over the years by the Tuscany Region; an itinerary that can be experienced by the traveler who wants to rediscover the beauty of the territory and regain their relationship with nature, through bicycle and horseback rides, and on foot, or a wonderful combination, whilst enjoying a gastronomic experience, rich in history, art, culture and spirituality.

The city with the architecture of Heaven

Florence has no face, because Florence is a state of mind. This city exists inside to me, to us, to everyone. I believe that’s true. I’m Russian journalist who travelled extensively. My home city is Moscow, the capital of my country. The difference between our cities is great. Moscow never sleeps, and you can find an all-day shop everywhere, if you want to have a bite at 3 am. When we returned in Florence at 10 pm after our work in Venice, we noted with surprise that all shops and restaurants were closed.

L’assedio di Firenze 17th February 1530 - 17th February 2016

17th February 1530. Florence is surrounded by the joined armies of Emperor Charles V and Pope Clement VII. A slow war, of the trenches, fought for more than four months between the fortifications of the besieged, on one side, and those provisional but always more powerful, the besiegers, on the other. It was Carnival, and an ancient Florentine tradition urged that in this period football should be played. Not the football of modern times, obviously, but what we now call Historical Football: an ancient game, that according to some had already been practiced by the Roman legionaries with the name of Harpastum, to keep fit during the long winter months.

Florence in the middle of the Mediterranean

Scholars, researchers and artists from around the world met on the 4th and 5th December in Florence to discuss the past, the present and the future of the Mediterranean civilization. The occasion was the annual conference organized by Florence University of the Arts in collaboration with Stony Brook University of New York (SUNY), entitled “De Re Mediterranea”, focused on the theme of civilizations that have developed over the centuries in the area of Mare Nostrum. From historical conflicts that have affected this crucial western civilization area, models of coexistence and fusion of different cultures have been explored and the diverse effects of this secular interaction. The academic relevance of this annual event, now in its seventh edition, was evidenced by the sponsorship of the Union of the Mediterranean University, the University of Florence and the Ministry of Heritage and Culture and Tourism.

New Year in Florence

3…2…1… Happy New Year! How will you be spending the hours leading up to 2016? When it comes to ringing in the New Year in Florence, there are parties, events and dining that can make the start to your 2016 the best you’ve ever had. Did I mention the Florence skyline filled with fireworks? There isn’t an official municipal fireworks display. Many of the larger restaurants and hotels will have their own displays, frequently held from the roof top gardens. The top viewing points include the square in front of the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio bridge, or anywhere else alongside the Arno River. The best panoramic view will be from Piazzale Michelangelo so, arriving early is highly recommended. Live concerts, for free will take place in piazzas all over the city center.

Christmas in Florence!

The Christmas atmosphere in Florence, as in many Italian cities, starts in early December. The pastry shops begin to smell like childhood, the window displays seem detached from fairytales and the narrow streets of the city are decorated with the traditional Christmas lights. On December 8th a large Christmas tree is set up in the magnificent setting of Piazza del Duomo along with the Nativity scene, located to the front and left of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Nativity scenes, also known as ‘presepe’ are displayed in many churches and piazzas and crafting these ornate works of art by hand remains an artisanal tradition in many parts of the country. Bagpipes are the most common Italian Christmas sound. The zampognari, the shepherds who play the bagpipes, come down from their mountain homes at Christmas time and perform in the market squares.

La Compagnia di Babbo Natale

The Compagnia di Babbo Natale returns with many charitable initiatives and a portfolio of direct donations for children and families in need and partially in favor of the entities that support young people in need. The Compagnia di Babbo Natale, founded in 2007 by Roberto Giacinti, grows in memberships that have exceeded the one hundred and thirty units. They are friends that each year tax themselves and commit themselves to raise funds for those who are in need, uniting “solidarity with play time”. Each year the Company promotes fund raising by publishing a collection volume; “Christmas lunch and the recipes of Christmas Eve” is the title for Christmas 2015. It’s not just a recipe book, in fact, the book reminds us of the flavors from the homes of the Santa Clauses who wrote the recipes with their hearts in the memory of the flavors and fragrances that go beyond the taste buds and always stay in our mind; times when mothers wouldn’t dedicate only their spare time to the kitchen.

Siena Contemporanea

“The key words of the program of Siena, Italian Capital of Culture, have been participation, innovation and sharing. The many initiatives, in fact, were produced by a path of confrontation and mutual stimulation between Institutions and citizens who have voluntarily decided to engage”. These are the words of the mayor of Siena, Bruno Valentini, about the shared vision that recently led to the realization of the program of the Week of Contemporary in Siena. Meetings, workshops and exhibitions of artists from Siena at the Santa Maria della Scala, but also installations of international artists and performances (music, dance and theater) in other places in the city.

Certaldo, home of Boccaccio

Certaldo is a small town in the province of Florence, located in the middle of Valdelsa. The city is divided into an upper and a lower part, tied together by a funicular railway that operates every 15 minutes. While the lower part of the town, Certaldo Basso is a modern, functional city, the upper part, Certaldo Alto is a glimpse into a perfectly preserved medieval world. The red brick walls, narrow streets, and vintage shops allure tourists to explore, to get lost into its beauty and charm.

Florence Winter Park

Starting on October 28, and continuing all the way to March 6, the Florence Winter Park returns to Obi Hall. A perennial favorite, the 4th edition brings ice-skating, tubing, and skiing to the banks of the Arno. One can lace up their skates at the newly designed ice-skating rink which has been divided into two areas. There is a small rink specifically designed for beginners or kids, and a primary larger rink – enabling both amateurs, and ex-NHL hockey players laid up in Tuscany to share the same space. The small rink also plays host to the fantastically crazy sport of Broomball (hockey without skates), and families can also book it for birthdays or holidays, ensuring your entire kids’ party is on the verge of falling down at any moment. Also returning is the popular snow-tube track, where one can plummet down a snow-filled ramp on an inner-tube, reaching speeds fast enough to take out the kid who pushed you in the hall at school.

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