Two women leaving soft footprints through city streets, country roads, and green mountain paths. Two friends with backgrounds in Fine Art Restoration and Art History who share an appreciation for simple pleasures and a passion for introducing others to Florence and beyond.

Angelica Turi - Tuscan, Licensed Environmental Guide. Elizabeth Namack - American, Licensed Tour Guide for Florence and Province

Come share the journey with us! Reflections and Wanderings through Tuscany and Italy!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Happy August Vacations

The term August comes from the Latin phrase Ferragosto feriae Augusti (the rest of Augustus), indicating a feast instituted by Emperor Augustus in 18 BC linked to other ancient holidays falling in the same month, to celebrate the harvest and the end of agricultural work. 

The festivities of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on August 15th, was intended to provide a political, as well as adequate rest period, which was greatly needed after the great labors in the fields.

For this reason in August celebrations took place throughout the empire. Horse races were organized, and draft animals, such as oxen, donkeys and mules, were exempt from work and decked with flowers. 

These traditions are still alive today, almost unchanged in form and participation during the "Palio"  horse race, held in Siena every year, on August 16.

We wish you a wonderful summer vacation with this picture shot last July in the Cinque Terre Park !

Since 2001 Elizabeth & Angelica lead day trips to this area, also directly from Florence, in addition to organizing tailor made tours and experiences in this unique and romantic area of the Italian peninsula.

See you again in September … !

Elizabeth & Angelica 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sorano- a spot still to be discovered in Tuscany

We discovered a special place in Tuscany. Even Angelica had never been here, and she is from Tuscany.


Sorano is a small town, a little off the beaten track, which evokes a special allure. The town is located in the Maremma, the southern part of Tuscany. 

The city is built on a rugged outcropping of ochre, yellow, grey and red volcanic tufa rock. These rocky ridges tower 150 meters over precipitous ravines where torrents run into the main flow of the river Lente. Elements of Etruscan times, Medieval times and Renaissance times still survive in and around Sorano today.

The town itself looks out over the surrounding tufa ridges covered with dense Mediterranean woodlands of cherry, oak, holm oak, ash and chestnut trees. The massive Castle and defensive fortifications defended the routes to Orvieto, Siena, Chiusi and inland Italy. The strategic position of the fortress ensured that it became the very center of endless conflict and subject to repeated sieges. Nevertheless, in spite of continuous attack, Sorano’s fortress never fell to enemy hands.  First Longobard rulers, and then later the Aldobrandeschi, Orsini, Medici, and Lorraine families ruled this area, warring constantly against neighboring Papal States.

The Orsini Castle, which was given this name from one of the past ruling families, is the most important medieval military fortress of Tuscan Maremma.  

A nearby archeological park contains an incredible number of grottos and cave dwellings (more than 200) from different time periods. 

Among the ruins of the medieval town of Vitozza are three fortresses and two ancient churches. That me, where a church once stood.

To Visit Sorano.

What you need:
You need a car. 
You need to stay for an overnight or two in the area since it is a bit in the middle of nowhere. 
You need a spirit of exploration. 
You need an open mind.
You need a bathing suit.... (it is fun to go to the nearby thermal springs of Sorano or Saturnia).

What you can enjoy:
Enjoy being transplanted back into time. 
Enjoy a picturesque alley on every turn. 

Enjoy a walk in the woods.
Enjoy a picnic.
Enjoy an Etruscan path.
Enjoy and abandoned town from long ago.

Enjoy Good food, Good Company, Scenic Vistas.

Enjoy Tuscany. Happiness Guaranteed.

- Post and photos by Elizabeth

Monday, May 25, 2015

Prestigious Tuscan Wine Cellars

The Etruscan origins of Tuscany celebrated wine in many different ways with the cult of Dionysus.

And wine can still be considered one of the most important resources in the region and in the country.

There have been some major investments in this sector in the last few decades, and we mean not just improvements to agricultural technology. Some interesting building commissions of very high-tech wineries, with world re-known architects, have been built. These can be considered modern day "temples", honoring the juice of Bacchus!

Here are some wineries you may want to consider visiting when crafting a winery excursion in Tuscany.
Full Day in Chianti   1hrs drive away rom Florence
In takes less than a 1hr drive south of Florence to reach the Chianti Hills, and all of the sudden you step into another world.
In a day, in this area you may choose to visit to one or two wine producers, including lunch at one of the quaint villages ( San Donato, Castellina, Panzano, Greve ), with a brief walk through the vineyards. Choices of wineries could be:
Castello di Fonterutoli in Castellina in Chianti
Cantina le Masse in Panzano
Antinori at Bargino
Tenuta di Coltibuono (Gaiole In Chianti)
Full Day in Montalcino or Montepulciano  2 hrs drive from Florence
In the Orcia Valley, a protected UNESCO site, you can see the most beautiful and unspoiled area of Tuscany.
The famous Brunello and the Vin Nobile di Montepulciano are produced in this territory. Choices of wineries could be:
Cantina di Montalcino (Montalcino)
Tenuta di Castelgiocondo (Montalcino)
Salcheto (Montepulciano)
Icario (Montepulciano)
Cantina Triacca (Montepulciano)

Full Day in Maremma 2 hrs drive away rom Florence
The wild west of Tuscany is now producing excellent wines.
Pieve Vecchia
Choices of wineries could be:
Pieve Vecchia (Campagnatico)
Tenuta dell’Ammiraglia (Magliano In Toscana)
Rocca di Frassinello
Rocca di Frassinello (Grosseto, built by the studio of the Arch. Renzo Piano)
Among the previous projects of Renzo Piano studios: the Nemo, (Science Museum) in Amsterdam; the NY Times Tower California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Airport of Kasai in Tokyo; Centre Pompidou in Paris, and so many more others

Le Mortelle (Castiglion della Pescaia)
Petra (Suvereto)
Rubbia al Colle (Suvereto)
Caiarossa (Riparbella)
Colle Massari (Cinigiano)

We know, it is hard to choose which winery to visit! So if you can't visit them all, at least begin by tasting a glass of wine from them all- that might help you decide where to eventually go!

- Post by Angelica, photos Internet

Monday, May 11, 2015

A day excursion between Siena and Florence- San Gimignano and the Via Francigena

The best way to enjoy Italy is by foot....  and we offer a Full Day Excursion into the Countryside between Florence and Siena- which includes walking a portion of the Via Francigena and visiting the Medieval town of towers, San Gimignano.

Enjoy some photos which I recently took and next time see it in real life. Yes... it really is too good to be true, especially on a sunny day!

In the morning enjoy a 5-6 mile, easy to moderate walk, which takes you through woodlands, wheat fields, olive groves and vineyards to the old Sienese fort of Monteriggioni. After lunch (with some great suggestions), a short car ride takes us to the Medieval town of San Gimignano, famous for its 13th century towers. Walk the ancient alleys, and gaze over the countryside from the 16th century Medici fort, now used as a public garden!

Bask in the late afternoon light, which turns the ancient travertine stones of this town a magical honey color. And to finish the day in style, we will try award wining gelato from Sergio Dondoli. This gelato,  if we dare say, is truly the best in Italy!

We start our walk at Castel Petraia, a fortified manor house at the foot of Monte Maggio, whose wooded slopes separate the valley of the river Elsa from Siena and its plain. It is an area of geological interest due to limestone with a preponderance of holes and bubbles, producing many deep natural caves. Here a peaceful walk loops around the foot of the mountain through Mediterranean shrub land, low lying macchia and fields of iron-rich red soil. 

We pass the Abbey a Isola, a 12th century monastic complex which was at one time home to Cluniac Benedictines and which became an important stop for pilgrims on the Via Francigena. It is hard to imagine that there was once a lake in this area!

Our walk continues through a field and into a wooded area, where remains from the ancient Etruscan civilization have been found. We walk through olive groves and by ancient farmhouses to arrive at the Castle of Monteriggioni.

This imposing circular fortresss was built by the Sienese to guard the border with Florence. Dante mentions it in his famed book The Divine Comedy. Time to soak in this quaint atmosphere, perhaps browsing the village shops or enjoy a cappuccino in the main square.

In San Gimignano, walk the hidden alley where the venerated Saint Fina once lived. Perhaps see the special frescoed chapel by Domenico Ghirlandaio dedicated to Fina, within the main Collegiate Church.

In the late afternoon, we return to Florence, with memories to last a lifetime!

Interested? Contact us for a specific quote depending on the number of people in your group!

- Post and Photos by Elizabeth