Must visit places in Italy. Part two – Central Italy

If you wish to visit some of Italy’s most representative cities and medieval towns, or wish to see magnificent Gothic buildings, the central part of the country has it all prepared for you. Pack your bag and get ready for a journey that will indulge all your senses

FLORENCE

My belief is that no other city in Italy can equal Florence. From history, art and architecture, to fashion museums and fine leather goods, Florence is one of the most complex and most diverse cities in the world

Perhaps the best way to start your journey is from Piazzale Michelangelo, where the city is laid out below. Then, start by visiting the Uffizi Gallery MuseumIf you are up for some exercises you could climb the Campanile and the Duomo. They both offer spectacular views after more than 400 stairs climbed. 

A great thing about Florence is that everything you need to see is walking distance away from the Duomo. If you are in Florence, and especially if you love italian designers, you should visit the Gucci Museum for fashion, art and history all together. 

Florence is like a huge open-air museum and this is the beauty and charm of the city where both Michelangelo and Leonaro da Vinci were born. 

SAN GIMIGNANO

Have you ever thought of what a „medieval Manhattan” looks like?

You have the chance to see this if you visit San Gimignano. The city towers will take you back in time to medieval Tuscany. You can walk through the city center, which is part of UNESCO heritage. In the 14th century, San Gimignano, like other hill towns, fell under Florence’s control. The Florentines usually asserted their power over the local nobles by ordering them to lop off their towers. But for whatever reason, some of San Gimignano’s original skyline was allowed to remain intact. Today, 14 of its original 72 towers still stand.

While you are here, enjoy the sunset and the colors with which it dresses all the city’s buildings. Trust me, it’s not an image you’ll easily forget about.

SIENA

Another medieval place that celebrates the Gothic is the city of Siena, built around the Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo is the shell-shaped town square which unfurls before the Palazzo Pubblico with its tall Torre del Mangia. For an amazing view over Siena, you’ll have to climb the 400 stairs of this tower. This is part of the site for the Palio horse race held twice a year, in the summertime. 

Another exceptionally masterpiece you will find here is Siena CathedralThe exterior and interiors are decorated in white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, black and white being the symbolic colors of Siena. This Gothic building is filled with treasures by Michelangelo, Donatello and Pisano. Another treasure you’ll discover here is the Piccolomini Library with manuscripts. In the middle of the room there is a copy of The Three Graces from Roman times, based on the more ancient original that dates back to the Hellenistic period.

PISA

Prepare to see some of Italy’s architectural jewels

The most tangible testimony of Pisa’s former grandeur is the harmonious complex of buildings in white marble that are set in the Campo dei Miracoli or „Square of Miracles”. The cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was the first of the buildings to be erected in the square. Then, in 1153, the Baptistery. On the northern side we find the monumental cemetery called the Camposanto. But by far the most celebrated monument, or the one that has made the greatest impact, is the bell tower. Known as the „Leaning Tower„, this building is responsible for attracting the majority of tourists to the city. 

MONTEPULCIANO

For centuries, just like an ancient icon on top of the hill, stands one of the most beautiful and celebrated cities in southern Tuscany

You will find that florentine architecture has left a distinctive mark on Montepulciano, especially in Piazza Grande. Here, Montepulciano’s town hall, Palazzo Comunale, was modeled on the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence, with a facade designed by Michelozzo. 

What makes Montepulciano so special are the spectacular views it offers over the Val di Chiana and the Val d’Orcia. And while you are here you can admire Caravaggio’s work of art „Portrait of a gentleman” at the Civic Museum and Crociani Picture Gallery ( Museo Civico & Pinacoteca Crociani ). On Via di Gracciano you’ll find some fine buildings, such as Palazzo Bucelli, Palazzo degli Avignonesi and Palazzo Cocconi.  

CHIANTI – Villa Vignamagio

Although Villa Vignamaggio is known as Mona Lisa’s birth place, the fact that it isn’t does not make it less beautiful or worth the visit

This beautiful tuscan villa belonged to „Mona” Lisa’s noble family and it is said that it’s the most beautiful villa in Tuscany. The villa at Vignamaggio was built by the Gherardini family in the XIV century. Today it offers first class accommodation.

Everything here looks just like in a painting: forests, vineyards and countryside landscape surround the beautiful villa. It is not a surprise that in 1993, Villa Vignamaggio was the setting for „Much Ado about Nothing”, written by William Shakespeare. 

ROME

The city where traffic and agitation blend harmoniously with beauty and a lot of history

In Rome, you literally walk on history. And where else if not in the Roman Forum? It takes an imagination exercise in this place because today only the ruins remind us of the greatness and grandeur of the Roman Empire. Leaving the Forum area, I remember how small I felt at the sight of the Colosseum. It is an imposing construction that defied the law of time and especially the famous prophecy that said ” While the Coliseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Coliseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall.”


If you enjoyed the article and wish to read more about Italy, open the link below to read about the northern part of the country http://www.ioanavesa.ro/must-visit-places-in-italy-part-one-northern-italy/ Italy

Photo By: Ioana Vesa

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