The Colombari

The colombari tombs, excavated in the tufa rock sometime around the first century BC for use as dwellings and shelters, are so called for their resemblance to dovecotes. Usually large, their name derives from the square holes dug into the walls from floor to ceiling in a beehive pattern. They were probably used by the Etruscans to deposit the ashes of their dead. Many believe these caves were the dwellings of primitive peoples later transformed by the Etruscans into necropoli, and then again by...

Narni In Fiction

Some believe that CS Lewis discovered his fictional Narnia as a child when he came across a mention of the Roman colony of Narnia, which stood where the town of Narni is today. The argument is fueled by a visit to the town, where you'll find adjoining the city cathedral, a shrine to a local saint known as the Blessed Lucy of Narnia (the author's main character). One of the most interesting tours in town takes you into the subterranean rooms of the antique Convento di San Domenico. From this...

Val dElsa

From Empoli, the S429 follows the Elsa River south to Certaldo, with the SS2 offering an alternative route to Montespertoli and Certaldo through the Chianti hills south of Florence. Trains ( 848-888088, www.trenitalia.it) on the Empoli-Siena line stop at Castelfiorentino and Certaldo. Sita buses ( 800-373760, www.sita-on-line.it) link Empoli with Castelfiorentino, Gambassi Terme, Certaldo and Montespertoli. From Certaldo train station, two stone-flagged paths (Costa Alberti and Costa Vecchia)...

Sightseeing

SJPB Known as the golden lily of cathedrals, Orvieto's Gothic Duomo was r y three centuries in the making. (Piazza Duomo, s 0763-341167, Apr-Sept, md 7 30 am-12 45 pm, 2 30-7 15 pm, Mar Oct, 7 30 am-12 45 pm, 2 30-6 15 pm, Nov-Feb, 7 30 am-12 45 pm, 2 30-5 15 pm, free.) Started in the late 13th century by Benedictine monk Fra Bevignate to celebrate the Miracle of Bolsena, it was worked on by a variety of the era's leading architects and artists, including Arnolfo di Cambio, Lorenzo Maitani,...

Carrara

Half a million tons of marble pass through Carrara each year, so it should come as no surprise to learn its nickname is the city of marble. The city is completely tied up in its production, with all churches, monuments, squares, palazzi and fountains bearing the mark of the calcareous rock, which brought artists such as Michelangelo here to choose their own. Writers and poets such as Dickens and Tolstoy, d'Annunzio and Pirandello also came to check out the source that provided the material for...

Something For The Kids

The Acquario dell'Elba (Elba Acquarium, Marina di Campo, 3 0565-977881) will entertain the kids with its collection of 150 different species of Mediterranean fishes. The main town in this area is Capoliveri, the capo dei liberi or free hill, so-called because it was once a Roman town inhabited by ex-slaves. It is a charming town of narrow streets (known as chiassi), archways and picturesque staircases, which emerges onto a gentle hilltop piazzetta (the island's living room). From here, trails...

In This Chapter

Their very existence is steeped in mystery with scholars still in dispute about their exact roots. Some believe they arrived by sea from the Far East, some argue they came over land from northern Europe, while many believe they are descended from the so-called Pre-Italians of the Bronze Age. All are agreed, however, when it comes to their historical importance. The Etruscans formed the first consistent civilization in the area, and their growth can be traced from the original...

Volterra the Colline Metallifere

The wide fertile valley of the Valdera (the Era Valley) spreads along the Era River south from Pontedera bordering the provinces of Florence and Siena. From Pontedera, you can easily access the windy SS439 (known as the Sarzanese Valdera'), which runs through the valley to the northeastern hills of Volterra. It is your best approach to the hilltop villages, which dot the land picturesque hamlets that descend from the ancient castles and aristocratic villas once so fiercely fought over between...

Getting Here Around

By Train Trains (3 848-888088, www.trenitalia.it) from Florence run through Pisa to Livorno Centrale, where you should also get off if arriving from Pisa's Aeroporto Galileo Galilei (3 050-849202, www.pisa-airport.com). If arriving from Rome, the Rome-to-Turin service stops in both Livorno Centrale and Pisa Centrale. The train station is to the east of town along Viale G. Carducci and is well-served by bus links to town. By Bus Lazzi (3 0583-584876) runs bus services between Livorno and...

Outside of Orvieto

Tear yourself away from Orvieto if you can and head across the Tiber River Regional Natural Park to the beautifully preserved town of Todi. On its main square, Piazza del Popolo - one of the most beautiful in Italy - a break in one of the pretty caffes offers the chance to soak up the great view over the city Duomo, palazzi and surrounding countryside. By Train Frequent trains (s 848-888088, www.trenitalia.it) run from Florence to Perugia (Ponte San Giovanni station), where the private Ferrovia...

The Devils Stone

Through Piazza Antelminelli and past the fountain Nottolini built to crown the completion of the aqueduct (1832-35), a road leads to Palazzo Bernardini. It is here that you can spy the so-called devil's stone, a warped stone that, despite numerous replacements and even the use of metal bars, hampered the building's 18th-century construction. Although the stone's propensity to distort in this particular spot (to the right of the entrance) has never been explained, locals believe it is because a...

Where to Eat

Just under a mile out of Anghiari, Locanda al Castello di Sorci (Loc. San Lorenzo 25, s 0575-789066, fax 0575-788022, www.italyone.com castellodisorci, closed Mon, ) is the area's best-priced option with a menu of homemade pastas and grilled meats. Also in Anghiari, ristorante-enoteca Cantina del Granduca (Piazza Mameli 13, s 0575-788275, closed Tues and winter, ) offers a range of hearty Tuscan fare in classic peasant dishes such as spaghetti di farro con il lardo di colonnata (spaghetti made...

Truffle Hunting

The Parco Regional Fiume Nera in the Valnerina is another of Umbria's important black truffle centers. Watch for the precious black truffles in dishes all over the region between November and March. In and around Amelia, try Anita (Via Roma, s 0744-982146, closed Mon, ) or Da Emma (Loc. Montenero, s 0744-882462, closed Tues, ) for typical Amerino dishes, especially game. Up in Avigliano Umbro, you can get tasty agnello tartufato (truffle-stuffed lamb) and pollo alla cacciatore (hunter-style...

Parks Of The Val Di Cornia

The half-wild and barely populated hills of the Val di Cornia extend alongside the river between Campiglia Marittima and Piombino. The umbrella organization I Parchi della Val di Cornia (The Parks of the Val di Cornia, Via G. Lerario 90, Piombino, s 0565-49430) is made up of six parks in the region the Mediterranean scrub vegetation of the Parco Naturale di Rimigliano and the Parco Naturale di Sterpaia, the green wooded hills of the Parco Naturale di Montioni and the Parco Naturale di Poggio...

Citta di Castello the Alta Valle del Tevere

Set in the Upper Tiber Valley among quiet and sleepy natural surroundings, the world-renowned historical and artistic treasures found in Citta di Castello can come as something of a surprise. Only in Umbria can the town that contains the region's most important collection of medieval art be so difficult to reach. By Car From Perugia, the SS3bis (E45) snakes north to Citta di Castello via Umbertide if arriving from Florence and eastern Tuscany, take the SS73 from the Arezzo exit on the A1...

Promenade Hotspots

Viareggio's history is reflected in its seafront promenade of historic bars and Liberty-style coffee houses The Neoclassical Cinema Savoia was built to a design by Alfredo Belluomini and decorated by Galileo Chini. It has all the Belle poque stuccoes, lamps and decorations that epitomize the work of Chini, the famous majolica artist, who made his mark here. The architecture takes an Art Nouveau twist at the Duilio 48 department store. The nearby Galleria del Libro began as a fashion house in...

Adventures

You can join the Siena branch of the CAI (Viale Mazzini 95, s fax 0577-270666, caisiena libero.it) on their Sun treks into the province without joining as a member. The group is a great source of information, having marked most of the territory's trails. The nationwide Legambiente organizes a variety of treks in the outskirts of Siena (s 055-6810330, fax 055-6811620, www.legambiente.com), leaving from the city. One is a walking tour of the Crete (see page 169) with an opportunity to sample...

Where to Stay

IjP I For hotel accommodation within the historical center of Spoleto, your y r best options are the following MM Dei Duchi (Viale G Matteotti 4, s 0743-44541, fax 0743-44543, www.hoteldeiduchi.com, ), overlooking the Teatro Romano. Dell'Angelo (Via Arco di Druso 25, s 0743-222385, fax 0743-207965, hoteldellangelo libero.it, ), alongside the Arco di Druso. Aurora (Via Apollinaire 3, s 0743-220315, fax 0743-221885, hotelaurora virgilio.it, ), on Piazza Sant'Agata. Residenza d'Epoca Palazzo...

Tomboli

The name tomboli is given to the strips of beachside vegetation that characterize much of the Etruscan Coast, especially the shores of Cecina, Bolgheri and Donoratico, and part of the coast of the Grosseto province. Typically found in sandy areas, they extend inland for around 800 m (2,624 feet), where the initial strip of salt-resistant vegetation is replaced by juniper scrub, then helm-oaks and pinewoods. Created in the 19th century, tomboli played an important role sheltering cultivated...

The Etruscan Gates

Of the original seven Etruscan gates, six still exist, although many were modified by the Romans or later in the Middle Ages. You've already seen the Arco Etrusco (also called the Arco di Augusto), but there's also the Arco della Mandorla on Via San Giacomo (to the west) Porta Marzia near Rocca Paolina (to the south) the Arco dei Gigli in Via Bontempi (to the northeast) the Arco di San Ercolano, on the stairs that bear the same name and the Arco di San Luca in Via dei Priori. Continue along...

Adventures on Foot

Prato lies in rich hiking territory, with the Acquerino-Cantagallo Nature Reserve and Val di Bisenzio to its north and Monte Albano and the wine hills of Carmignano to its south. From the city itself, you can strike out onto the western face of the 12,600-acre protected area of Monteferrato (the famous quarry where the green serpentine marble seen in church fa ades all over Tuscany was sourced) and west onto the slopes of the massive karst formation of Monti della Calvana. Both are detailed...

Local Flavors

This is an area best known for its Vino Nobile and Chianina steak (try it accompanied by ciaccia, a flat bread dunked in oil), but there are also simple country recipes to tempt you. Some of the tastiest include the pici (handmade spaghetti-like pasta), panzanella (bread salad), ribollita (refried bread and cabbage soup), rivoltolo (flour dough cooked in oil), ravaggiolo (local soft sheep cheese), porchetta (pork roasted with garlic and rosemary), game (such as pheasant and rabbit) and pansanto...

Getting To Giglio

Two ferry companies offer daily services between Porto Santo Stefano and the island of Giglio Maregiglio (Porto Santo Stefano, s 0564-812920, fax 0564-801160, www.maregiglio.it and Giglio Porto, s 0564-809309, fax 0564-809469) and Torremar (Porto Santo Stefano, s 0564-810803, fax 0564-818455, http web.tiscalinet.it metranotoremar and Giglio Porto, s 0564-809349). Appreciated for its beaches and wild nature, Isola del Giglio is the second-largest of the Tuscan Archipelago after Elba (although it...

Sightseeing in the Upper Valdarno m

But the less attractive valley towns do actually hide some pretty little hilltop villages. Especially on the slopes of the Pratomagno, rolling greenery, much of it belonging to locally born shoe-magnate Ferragamo, can only really be explored by ambling along the SP1 Setteponti. A worthwhile first diversion north off the SP1 will take you to the splendid Riserva Biogenetica Naturale di Vallombrosa (Biogenetic Nature Reserve of Vallombrosa, s 055-862029) with, at its heart, the stark white...

Hotel Price Chart

Rates are per room with private bath, based on double occupancy, including breakfast. serving Mugellan specialties , the 10-room Albergo Gualtieri Via S. Lucia 7, Fraz. S.Lucia, s 0558-42163, fax 0558-423051, sits in prime adventure territory north of the town on the approach to the Passo della Futa and SOFT trails 11 and 12 . San Piero a Sieve In the old center of San Piero a Sieve, the nearly 100-year-old Albergo La Felicina Piazza Colonna 14, s 0558-498181, fax 0558-498157, cristina19651...

The Valnerina

The Valnerina, Umbria's green heart, is an adventure sports paradise a mix of high and low land rock and waterways historic and artistic monuments. There is lots of sightseeing to attract your attention in between the hiking, cycling, rock climbing, rafting and other activities. The area includes the Cascade Marmore the Marmore Falls , at 165 m 541 feet , the highest waterfall in Europe, the Parco Regionale Fiume Nera Nera River Regional Park and, to the south, Lago di Piediluco Piediluco Lake...

The Cannibal Count

Condemned in Dante's Inferno to an eternity of skull gnawing, it seems that Cannibal Count, Ugolino della Gherardesca, wasn't as bloodthirsty as was previously thought. Gherardesca was found guilty of treason and left to die ofhunger with his children and grandchildren in the Torre della Muda in the late 1280s, where according to legend, he staved off the inevitable by eating his relatives. However, DNA tests of bones found in the family crypt in 2002 disproved the theory We should bear in mind...

Not To Be Missed

Piazza del Duomo Famous address of the Duomo, Campanile and Battistero see page 33-34 . Galleria degli Uffizi The most select picture gallery in the world and potent symbol of Medici power see page 38 . Palazzo Vecchio Medieval town hall architecture at its most forceful see page 37 . Galleria dell'Accademia Home to Michelangelo's David see page 48 . Via dei Tornabuoni Even if you can't afford to buy, you'll enjoy the window-shopping on this luxury-laden street see page 67 . Piazza Repubblica...

Sightseeing in Foligno

Start your visit on the Piazza della Repubblica and the Piazza Duomo -two adjoining squares at the junction of four main streets that form the historical center's rectangular-shaped heart. Overlooking it is the Duomo Cathedral , the 13th-century Palazzo Comunale Town Hall and adjoining Palazzo Orfini, the Palazzo Pretorio and the Palazzo Trinci. The Palazzo Trinci preserves some of the city's most valuable frescoes and wall decorations. Many of the city's museums are in this area as well....

Orchids

An unusual feature of the Argentario is the number of wild orchids, some 40 different species, making it the most important orchid area in Italy after the Galgano. Aceras anthropophorum left, also known as Hanged man , Ophrys apifera, Ophrys bertolonii, Ophrys tenthredinifera which looks like an insect are just some of the blooms to look for. Porto Ercole Port of Hercules , south of Orbetello, is the oldest of the island's towns and a former stronghold of the Spanish State. The Spanish built...

Ghost Town

Created after World War II, the artificial Lago di Vagli Vagli Lake covers the town of Fabbriche di Car ggine, which reappears every 10 years when the electricity company, ENEL, empties the lake for maintenance the next showing is in 2014 . As it drains, the ghostly village reappears first church steeple, then campanile, stone house, bridge and finally the dilapidated paving stones, which you are allowed to walk upon. If you arrive out of drainage season, you can rent boats at Vagli Sotto,...

Adventures on Foot on Monte Cetona

Trekking itineraries up Monte Cetona can be picked up from Cetona and Sarteano. Some of the best include the half-day walk from Centona into the Parco del Biancheto on the side of Monte Cetona site of some of its best prehistoric caves . After a hard slog in the Chiana countryside, head to the tiny village of Casciano dei Bagni, south of Monte Cetona. Unlike many of the commercial spas, the 42 thermomineral springs that erupt out of the ground around the village are mainly left to run free. You...

Michelangelos Road

Local marble provided Michelangelo with the material for masterpieces such as David, but with prices so high and transportation so difficult and dangerous, he decided to take matters into his own hands. The result was a new road, built to transport the huge blocks to the sea. But the road was thought lost until traces of it were discovered several years ago in the most overgrown part of the Apuan Alps the Valley of Monte Carchio. It can be started from Serravezza by following the road alongside...

Bike Rental In Siena

CentroBici Viale Toselli 106, s 0577-282550, www.sienabiking.com, 16 a day, 155 a week DF Bike Via Massetana Romana 54, s fax 0577-271905, dfbike biemmepro.it Ginanneschi Antonio Via E S Piccolomini 35, s 0577-283930 Ricci Autonoleggi Piazza Maestri del Lavoro 12, s 0577-226068 and, just out of the city, Berti Guiliana-Rent Bike c o Bar Sport, Via Campo a Paolo, Casciano di Murlo, s 0577-818058 . A number of loop trails take you out and back from Siena, including routes to Monteriggioni 23...

Marble In Pietrasanta

With the marble mountains of the Apuan Alps on its doorstep, Pietrasanta quickly rose to prominence in the marble industry. Important local sculptors made their mark on the town architecture the baptismal font in the cathedral by Bonuccio Pardini 1389 , the logetta of the Chiesa di Sant'Agostino by Leonardo Riccomanno 1431 and the decoration of the cathedral chancel 1502-07 by Lorenzo Stagi, with son Stagio later adding the two holy water fonts and 16th-century candelabra. Find out about their...

Hiking Etiquette

Do not stray from the designated hiking trails. Respect the environment by not damaging or collecting rocks or minerals. Do not damage the dunes by walking on them unnecessarily. Respect the plants and animals - don't feed the animals or collect samples of any kind. Do not camp outside of the designated areas. It is forbidden to light fires due to the high fire risk. Bring sufficient supplies of water, as there are no fountains or springs along the Maremma itinerares. Bring bug repellent and a...

The Island of Elba

BPSI Elba, the pearl of the Archipelago, is the biggest P y and most important of the islands. It is best known -beaches and diving apart - for the exile of Napoleon, who was confined here from the 4 Mar 1814 to the 26 Feb 1815, and traces of his stay can be visited as soon as you step off the ferry at Portoferraio. Frequented from the end of the Etruscan era for the richness of its mineral mines - in particular iron ferro , hence the name of its main town, Portoferraio - Elba was first...

Excursions from Pistoia Valdinievole

You're entering some of Italy's prime spa territory as you head west into Valdinievole, the Valley of the Mist. Trains on the Florence-to-Viareggio line stop at Montecatini Terme get off at Montecatini Centro after passing through Pistoia. From here Lazzi buses depart from the train station every 15 minutes to Monsumanno Terme which can also be reached on Copit buses directly from Pistoia . The towns are also reached by car from the Montecatini exit of the A1. You can also reach Monsummano on...

Alpine Refuges

Rifugio Alpino La Selletta Via Brennero 249, Abetone, s 0573-60171 Rifugio CAI Portafranca San Marcello Pistoiese, s 0573-490338 Two major routes dedicated to orienteering can be found in the Montagna Pistoiese, one at Cutigliano, the other at the biogenetic nature reserve of Piano degli Ontani, near Abetone. There are also some fascinating nature walks offered by the nature reserve of Macchia Antonini, the 5,600-acre forest of Maresca and Abetone the Abetone nature trail taking you around the...

Emergency Telephone Numbers

a branch of the police Department Italian Automobile Club telephone inquires P l While Italy has a generic star-classi-l jlTI fication system for hotels, most star categoriesfrom the deluxe five-star down to the most basic one-star - are fixed with the provincial tourist office and quality and prices can vary considerably between provinces. Prices are generally lower during the off-season months November to March and even hotels that enforce a set price throughout the year can be bargained...

Information Sources

Tourist Offices There are pro locos dotted all over the Val d'Orcia or Orcia Valley, with the bigger centers at Pienza Piazza Pio II, w fax 0578-749071, www.comunedipienza.it, Mon-Sat, 9 30 am-1 pm, 3-6 30 pm , Montalcino Costa del Municipio 1, w fax 0577-849331, www.prolocomontalcino.it, Tues-Sun, 10 am-1 pm, 2-5 30 pm and Abbadia San Salvatore Via Adua 25, w 0577-775811, fax 0577-775877, www.amiataturismo.it, Mon-Sat, 9 am-1 pm, 4-6 pm, Sun and public holidays, 9 am-1 pm . Otherwise you can...

On Foot

There are plenty of hikes and nature walks in Migilarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Regional Park see page 11, 251, 258, 286 to the west and the Monte Pisano see page 294 to the east. If you wish to join the local group of the CAI Via Cisanello 2, Pisa, 3 050-578004, you can do so every Wed and Thurs see the website for the latest excursion information. Migilarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli Regional Park There are plenty of walking and cycling routes in the pine forests of this coastal natural...

The Original Ice Cream

Florence has a lot to thank Bernardo Buontalenti for, as an architect of unquestionable skill and the inventor of ice cream. He is thought to have put together the concoction a frozen mix of milk, butter, eggs, honey and fortified wine for a Medicean grand banquet of visiting Spanish gentries. In tribute, Florentine gelaterias or ice cream sellers to this day sell a flavor akin to the original recipe and named after the great Renaissance man. Where to Buy Considered the best ice cream maker in...