Tuscany part 5 : Castello Banfi..

Castello di Poggio alle Mura, also known as Castello Banfi, is located 15km from the city of Montalcino, at the confluence of the Orcia and Ombrone rivers. It houses a winery, a hotel, a restaurant, a wine bar and  the Bottle and Glass Museum “John F. Mariani”.

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Its position, and the ancient history of the surrounding territory, let us suppose that the origin can even go back to the time of the Long Beards, that probably erected here one of their watch towers. There are no proofs at documentation of this theory, even it is sure that the construction of the first fortified nucleus on this hill is antecedent to year 1000. The first great widening of the castle dates back to the second half of 13th century [just after the battle of Montaperti, 1260]. The written sources tell about Poggio alle Mura for the first time in 1377, indicating the castle between the properties of Francisco di Tommaso Colombini. After the above-mentioned reconstruction of 1438, Poggio alle Mura became one of the larger castles of the Sienese peasantry. Other works were carried on during 17th century. A wing of the castle was mined during the world war II and reconstructed within the recent magnificent restoration undertaken by the current property. (source

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About a year ago during an excursion to Tuscany, we had a stop for a glass of Brunello di Montalcino at the beautiful courtyard of Castello Banfi and then we visited the “John F. Mariani” museum.

The museum illustrates the various eras of glass production through history, from the 5th century BC to our current day. Within the historic walls, in the old stable and olive pressing room, which still holds equipment dating back to 1857, the display rooms have been attentively assembled to explain the history of glass and the evolution of the wine bottle. In these rooms you will find collections of antique wine bottles, ancient and modern glassware from Venice, including the stupendous “The Water Girl” by Pablo Picasso.

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“The Water Girl” by Pablo Picasso

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Museum interior, at the right you can see an old Winepress..

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The “Enoteca”

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photos © chrysoula papagianni

Tuscany part 3 : Siena!

Hi everyone! At last i can present to you my favorite Siena, one of the most enchanting cities i visited!

Siena was my first contact with Italy almost 8 years ago, before even coming to Florence. I stayed there for a month and took an intensive Italian course. It was a unique experience since I met people from all over the world, several of whom I have kept in touch until today!

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Siena is a classic medieval hill town in Tuscany famous for its large fan-shaped Piazza del Campo which is the heart of the town and home to the famous summer horse-race, known as Il Palio. Palio is a horse race that is held twice each year, on July 2 and August 16. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards, as Siena retains a ward-centric culture from medieval times.

Main sights :

  • Siena Cathedral (Duomo)
  • Palazzo Pubblico
  • Torre del Mangia
  • San Domenico
  • Pinacoteca Nazionale
  • Santa Maria della Scala

According to legend, Siena was founded by the son of Remus, and the symbol of the wolf feeding the twins Romulus and Remus is as ubiquitous in Siena as in Rome. In reality the city was probably of Etruscan origin, although it wasn’t until the 1st century BC, when the Romans established a military colony there called Sena Julia, that it began to grow into a proper town.

In 1966 Siena was the first European city to banish motor traffic from its heart. To stroll its arteries, unclogged by carbon monoxide and unthreatened by speeding vehicles, scooters notwithstanding, is not the least of the town’s pleasures.

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photos © chrysoula papagianni

Tuscany part 2 : San Gimignano..

Hi everyone! I’m more than happy that i’m posting from my pc again, let’s hope it will last.. 🙂

Second stop in our journey to Tuscany the impressive San Gimignano, in other words, the medieval Manhattan!

San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. Known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture, unique in the preservation of 14 of its tower houses, which, with its hilltop setting and encircling walls form “an unforgettable skyline”. Within the walls, the well-preserved buildings include notable examples of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture, with outstanding examples of secular buildings as well as churches. The Historic Centre of San Gimignano, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town also is known for the white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced from the ancient variety of Vernaccia grape which is grown on the sandstone hillsides of the area. (Wikipedia)

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San Gimignano developed on the site of a small Etruscan settlement and grew considerably during the Middle Ages thanks to the Via Francigena, which runs through the town. In the thirteenth century San Gimignano became an important halt for pilgrims and merchants travelling throughout Europe. In this period the town knew its highest splendour, and there was a remarkable flowering of works of art adorning churches, palaces, and monasteries. Its robust economy, based on the commerce of local fine-quality products such as saffron and wine, benefit the development of aristocratic families who boasted their political power by building the famous towers: of the original 72 towers in the fourteenth century, only 14 remain today. (Source)

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photos © chrysoula papagianni

Around Tuscany..

On our way to Montalcino now.. Have a nice weekend everyone! 🙂

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Fresh strawberry muffins..

I just made these delicious muffins with fresh strawberries!
Unfortunately my computer is “dead” and for a while I will post only from my iPhone.. 😦
Buonanotte!

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Aperitivo by the river..

Aperitivo by the Arno river now.. I love this time of the year at Florence!

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Listening to : this mess we’re in!

Tuscany part 1: Monteriggioni..

I think it’s about time we discover Tuscany!

First stop the tiny but unique Monteriggioni, definitely one of my favorite destinations. Despite its size it attracts me much more than other villages of Tuscany. Perhaps this is because you don’t have much choice other than to relax and sit in it’s one and only square Piazza Roma and enjoy fine wine accompanied by a tasty tagliere (tuscan salami and cheese). Yesterday for the first time we left the car 1.5 km far and walked in the countryside. Then we went for lunch at Bar dell’Orso, a small trattoria with excelent italian atmosphere, amazing sandwiches and original tuscan recipes! And after that a coffee at Piazza Roma of course and more countryside. I love spring!

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Some information :

Monteriggioni is one of the most classical and best known Italian walled town. Since the Middle Age its fame was so big that also the great poet Dante Alighieri makes sign to his ‘round enclosure‘ in the Divine Comedy (Hell, chant XXXI vv. 40-41). The town walls, nearly intact, cover a length of 570 meters and are alternated by 14 towers and two gates. The Senese Gate is at the base of a square tower while the Florence Gate is opened in the curtain and defended from one of the towers of the fortified perimeter.

The town was built by the Senesis in the years 1213-1219 on a hilltop overlooking of the Cassia Road. Its ideal position allowed to control the Elsa and the Staggia Valleys in direction in Florence, the historic enemy of Siena, that at that time was rapidly expanding its territory.

The hill where Monteriggioni rises is natural, even if it could seem a great ‘motte‘ (from the name of the classical Norman castles ‘Motte-and-Bailey’ built on artificial hills and gifted of enclosure), and the circular, almost perfectly, layout of the walls was obtained simply following the sketch of the ground’s curves of level. In the planning was tried of to limit the weak points for excellence, the gates, entrusting the only connections with the outside only to a  east to west crossing road. To Monteriggioni the military building work appears physically distinguished by the inhabited area confined to its inside but well separated from the walls from a ‘territory of respect‘, although in the ancient times the inhabited area has been more intense than today and consequently with a more narrow band of separation. The hamlet that we can admire our daysis essentially authentic, being ever been object of building and tourist speculations. The only changes to its aspect happened in the first years of the 16th century when, trying to conform the fortifications to the development of the new fire weapons, were lowered the towers andaccumulated earth at the base of the walls with the purpose to get a bastionated effect. (Source)

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Have a nice weekend eveyone!

photos © chrysoula papagianni

Spring by the Arno river..

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Weekend full of spring..

Goodmorning everyone!!

How was your weekend..? Here in Florence the first signs of spring appeared!

When spring arrives Florence is stunning.. It’s definitely my favorite time of the year!

So Saturday i went for an “aperitivo” with my friends Elisabetta and Nadia at Volume a bar at Santo Spirito area.. Then we went for another drink with Nikos and Enrico at this new place called Quelo at Santa Croce area.. IMG_9962

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Sunday when i woke up the weather was amazing! I had to study but at the end i couldn’t say no to a walk by the river.. So we went with Elena, Nadia, Giorgos and Nikos at a kiosk next to San Niccolo bridge where you can sit by the river and enjoy the sun!

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With this amazing sun i got an appetite for a “gelato” (ice-cream), so we went to one of my favorite places called Gelateria de’Medici which is a bit outside the city center, close to Fortezza da Basso.. It’s not a place you will find in a travel guide, but  it is definitely among my 3 favorite places for gelato! They have many and unique flavours, so you won’t be disappointed! My favorite is Crema de’ Medici, their own cream with a fair amount of chocolate of course!

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Have a nice week everyone!

photos © chrysoula papagianni

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