Florence A town "for which no rational statement is adequate" (Kennth Clarke). There are many guide books on this, the capital of Renaissance, Tuscany. The list of sights is endless, its history fascinating. From its Roman origins Firenze became the centre of wool and textiles, was ruled by a succession of guilds, the pope, the emperor and then the Medici family. It was also ruled by a charismatic monk who was later executed by the papacy. The Florentine galleries chart the rise of the Renaissance, whereas each of the churches is more of a monument to the specific artist who worked on it. ”Must see”places include the Battistero, Campanile and Duomo in the piazza of the same name; San Lorenzo with a library and tombs by Michelangelo, Santa Croce with works by Donatello, Santa Maria del Carmine with frescoes by Masaccio and Santa Maria Novella for frescoes by Ghirlandaio; lovers of religious art are spoilt for choice. The galleries of the Uffizi and Accademia have unique collections. The second most famous sight in Florence is that of the Ponte Vecchio with its overhanging shops and houses and no trip should miss this out. Visit the area south of the river for antique shops, Piazza Michelangelo with fabulous views of Florence and the Boboli gardens. Quality does not come cheap in Florence but if you are buying leather goods, jewellwry or antiques it pays to haggle and also to visit the factory outlet shops in the surrounding suburbs!
Tuscany has a special magic. A bewitching, beguiling quality that draws you in and entrances you forever.
We are happy to bring a little more of the region we love best. Every year our product manager drives thousands of miles searching for those special Castles or Villas with that indefinable quality that sets them apart from the others. A holiday in a villa bar none: Wonderful views are mandatory, country style essential and the hospitality of the villa owners without question. Be comfortable in the knowledge that all of the villas are hand picked, visited by our professional staff and maintained with the zeal of house proud locals. Never knowingly undersold.
The rich heritage of Tuscany is largely as a result of the bloody wars fought on its soil since time began. From the Roman conquest of Italy right up to the Middle Ages the Tuscans have fought for their identity. Great battles between powerful cities struggling for supremacy, between Guelphs and Ghibellines, papists and principalities everywhere you find relics of conflict and controversy. Today there is also a serene stillness and you can sense, with certainty, that such traumatic times have long since passed leaving only the legacy of fortification and disputed borders.
Florence is still the strongly beating heart of Tuscany, rich in Renaissance heritage, famous museums, palaces and churches not forgetting a plethora of farmhouses, villas and castles at superb prices. Tuscan cities such as Siena, famous for its palio horserace, Pisa, with its leaning tower and national parks and Arezzo, with a wealth of frescos, offer a variety of apartments in the historical city centres and villas within easy driving distance. Viareggio with its beach front exclusivity, Empoli with many fashion outlets and a charming ols city centre, Lucca with its walled Medieval simplicity and Cortona which clings to a hillside in typical Tuscan fashion are unique, more personal and have a very different character to discover, live the dream, wander the streets, relax. But it would be remiss of us not to suggest some of the smaller hidden gems such as San Gimignano, Badia a Coltibuono, Murlo, Vicopisano; the list is truly endless and a joy to visit at any time of year.