Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy new year: see you in Florence

The staff of A Florence View bed and breakfast Florence wish you all a happy new year 2007.
An happy year, which will be much happier visiting Florence!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sito Ufficiale della 32ma America's Cup

Sito Ufficiale della 32ma America's Cup

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tuscan jewel: Chianti wine

Chianti is Italy's most famous red wine. It used to be easily identified by its squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called fiasco ("flask"). (The fiasco is only used by a few makers of the wine now; most Chianti is bottled in traditionally shaped wine bottles.) Low-end Chianti is generally fairly inexpensive, with a basic Chianti running less than US$10, though more sophisticated Chiantis are made and sold at substantially higher price points.

The popularity and high exportability of this wine at the moment of introduction of the
DOC, 1963, was such that many regions of central Tuscany didn't want to be excluded from the use of the name. As a result the large (for Italian standards) production area was split in seven sub-regions: Classico, Rùfina, Colli Senesi, Colli Fiorentini, Montalbano, Colli Aretini, Colline Pisane (from 1994 there is a new sub-area: Montespertoli, formerly part of Colli Fiorentini). Wines labeled Chianti Classico come from the heart of the area that is traditionally attributed to this wine. The other variants, with the exception of Rufina from the north-east side of Florence and Montalbano in the south of Pistoia, originate in the respective named provinces: Siena, Firenze (Florence), Arezzo and Pisa.

Until the middle of the
19th century Chianti was based solely on Sangiovese grapes. During the second half of 19th century Baron Bettino Ricasoli who was an important Chianti producer and, in the same time, minister in Tuscany and then Prime Minister in the Kingdom of Italy, imposed his ideas: from that moment on Chianti should have been produced with 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca (Malvasia bianca is an aromatic white grape with Greek origins). During the 1970s, producers started to reduce the quantity of white grapes in Chianti and eventually from 1995 it is legal to produce a Chianti with 100% sangiovese, or at least without the white grapes. It may have a picture of a black rooster (known in Italian as a gallo nero) on the neck of the bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the "Gallo Nero" Consortium; an association of producers of the Classico region sharing marketing costs. Aged Chianti (38 months instead of 4-7), may be labelled as Riserva. Chianti that meets more stringent requirements, (lower yield, higher alcohol content and dry extract) may be labelled as Chianti Superiore. Chianti from the "Classico" sub-area is not allowed in any case to be labelled as "Superiore".

Chianti is not the only traditional wine made in
Tuscany, and there are also new wines, based on sangiovese (i.e.: Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano etc.) and some popular French grapes that are usually dubbed "Super Tuscans". Due to rule changes, some of these wines (particularly the pioneering Tignanello) could legally be labeled as Chianti, though many producers of these wines have chosen not to do so.

The word "Chianti" can be used as a
semi-generic name in the United States if the place of origin is clearly indicated next to the word to avoid consumer confusion. However, with the popularity of varietal labeling, semi-generic names are rarely used today, even on jug wines.

Due to the wine's relative cheapness, its easy-drinking qualities, and the frequent use of the empty fiasco as a candleholder, Chianti is very strongly identified with
Italian American cuisine, especially the "red sauce" variety pioneered by southern Italian immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century.

A Florence View - bed and breakfast Florence

Tuscany: Migliarino - San Rossore Park

Close to Versilia and the world's most famous tower (in Pisa), a mosaic of miraculously integral natural environments, protected by the park.
The beach is among the most solitary of the Tuscan coast and abounds in low dunes and pioneer plants.
Inland, green pine forests planted from the eighteenth century onward, fragrant expanses of Mediterranean underbrush and strips of mixed woods that host a rare vine, the periploca, deer and wild boar.
As for wetlands, Lake Massaciuccoli hosts an important avifauna and precious peat-bogs that extend among the cane-brakes .
MIGLIARINO - SAN ROSSORE - MASSACIUCCOLI REGIONAL PARK
Extension: 23.115 ettari.
Sede: Via Aurelia nord, 4 - 56122 Pisa - tel. 050 525500.
Sito web: www.parks.it/parco.migliarino.san.rossore

A nice spot to be visited from Florence (1 hour by car).

A Florence View - Bed and breakfast Florence

Saturday, December 09, 2006

San Gimignano, Tuscany bed and breakfast

In Italia Lodging, Charming accommodation in Italy, you have a small but significant choice of bed and breakfast in San Gimignano.

These accommodation, both located inside the old historic centre and in the surrounding country-side, are extremely charming and very well manged.

Il Palagetto:
Extremely nice apartments and B&B in rooms in San Gimignano
In the stupendous setting of the San Gimignano hills, only one kilometer from the old town centre, you will find the "Il Palagetto" residence, which offers its guests a unique opportunity to enjoy an exceptional holiday full of beauty and relaxation. The structure includes a castle of medieval origins, Villa Il Palagetto, which has been divided into 6 pleasant apartments and recently restored in line with its original architectural elements, and a farmhouse, the Palagetto Guesthouse, which has been divided into Bed&Breakfast bedrooms.
web site: http://www.italialodging.com/est/ilpalagetto/

La Mandragola:
An extremely charming accommodation in San Gimignano
Between art and nature, with its dominating and sunny location in one of the most picturesque and quiet spots in San Gimignano, Locanda La Mandragola offers its guests an unforgettable stay, in comfortable rooms with panoramic view, in the warmth of an ancient Tuscan villa. Locanda La Mandragola is located at the borders of the "Rocca di Montestaffoli" Park (ancient fortress of 1353), in a quiet position, few steps from the lively main squares of the town. Locanda La Mandragola is an ancient villa, totally and faithfully renewed, offering its guest eight rooms with bathroom and all comforts, as well as buffet breakfast
Web Site: http://www.italialodging.com/est/lamandragola/

Molino di Foci:
Immersed in the charm of the Tuscan countryside
Molino di Foci B&B is at about 5 km from the historical centre of San Gimignano (a UNESCO World Heritage site), in the heart of the Siena Chianti Region, one of the areas with the most beautiful landscape and cultural attraction all over Tuscany. The bed and breakfast is immersed in the quiet of the Tuscan countryside and is surrounded by swaying grain fields and sunflowers. A beautiful terrace and a large outdoor swimming-pool offer ideal conditions to relax and to appreciate the charm of this stunning region.
Web site: http://www.italialodging.com/est/molinodifoci/

Il Poggio:
Delightful farmhouse right outside San Gimignano
Il Poggio is a beautiful farmhouse with outbuilding, once a military outpost from the medieval times, situated in a dominating position just a short distance from San Gimignano. Attentive restoration work has allowed for the architectural characteristics to remain intact and to create 4 pleasant apartments and 4 bedrooms, with simple but comfortable furnishings. The structure is located in a very beautiful position and offers a spectacular view of San Gimignano and its fascinating towers.
Web site: http://www.italialodging.com/est/ilpoggio/

Whenever you are looking for an accommodation in Tuscany, to complete your visit of this amazing region after Florence, here you have some good suggetions.

A Florence View - bed and breakfast in Florence

Monday, December 04, 2006

Santa Maria in Fiore, Florence - History

It was built on the site of a previous cathedral, Santa Reparata, prompted by the magnificence of the new cathedrals in Pisa and Siena. At the end of the 13th century, the nine-centuries-old church of Santa Reparata was crumbling with age, as attested in documents of that time. Furthermore, it was becoming too small in a period of rapid population expansion. Prosperous Florence wanted to surpass in grandeur its Tuscan rivals, Pisa and Siena, with a more magnificent church, grander in size and more richly adorned at the exterior. This cathedral was, as a result, the largest in Europe when it was completed, with room for 30,000 people. It is now only exceeded in size by Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, the Seville Cathedral, and the Milan Cathedral.

The new church was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296 to be the largest Roman Catholic church in the world (although the design was altered several times and later reduced in size). Arnolfo di Cambio was also the famous architect of the church of Santa Croce and the Palazzo Vecchio. He designed three wide naves ending under the octogonal dome, with the middle nave covering the surface of Santa Reparata. The first stone was laid on September 9, 1296 by cardinal Valeriana, the first papal legate ever sent to Florence. The building of this vast project was to last 170 years, the collective efforts of several generations.

After Arnolfo died in 1302, work on the cathedral slowed or was suspended during thirty years. The building drive got a new impetus, when the relics of San Zanobius were discovered in 1330 in San Reparata. In 1331, the Arte della Lana (Guild of Wool Merchants) took over the exclusive patronage for the construction of the cathedral and in 1334 they appointed Giotto as overseer for the work. Assisted by Andrea Pisano, he continued along di Cambio's design. His major accomplishment was the building campanile, but he died in 1337. Andrea Pisano continued the building, until he was stopped by the Black Plague in 1348.

It was not until 1349 that work resumed on the cathedral itself under a series of architects, starting with Francesco Talenti, who finished the belltower and enlarged the overall project with the apse and the side chapels, but did not alter the outside. After 1359 he was succeeded by Giovanni di Lapo Ghini (1360–1369) who divided the center nave in four square bays. Other architects were Alberto Arnoldi, Giovanni d'Ambrogio, Neri di Fioravante and Orcagna. By 1375 the old church Santa Reparata was pulled down. The nave was finished by 1380, and by 1418 only the dome was left uncompleted.

Drawing of Brunelleschi's dome.
The walls are covered in alternate vertical and horizontal bands with many-colored marble from Carrara (white), Prato (green), Siena (red), Lavenza and a few other places. These marble bands had to repeat the decorations of the Baptistery and Giotto's belltower. There are two lateral door, the Doors of the Canonici (south side) and the Door of the Mandorla (north side) with works of art of Nanni di Banco, Donatello, and Jacopo della Quercia. The six lateral windows, notable for their delicate tracery and ornaments, are separated by pilasters. Only the four windows, closest to the transept, admit light; The other two are merely ornamental. The clerestory windows are round, a common feature in Italian Gothic. The floor of the church was laid in marble in the 16th century.

During its long history, this cathedral has been the seat of the Council of Florence (1439), heard the preachings of Girolamo Savonarola and witnessed the murder of Giuliano di Piero de' Medici on 26 April 1478 (with Lorenzo Il Magnifico barely escaping death).