S: Our Grand Adventure of Italy 2009
BC: The last Sunrise on our time in Italy | We will always remember | Our sun filled days | and star gazing nights
FC: Italy | Our Grand Adventure August 2009
1: Dave and Heidi, Thank you both so very much for such a wonderful and memorable holiday. There are no words that express our deepest gratitude and thanks for your generosity and kindness. We would certainly have probably never had the opportunity to visit Italy without you. They say that one of the most popular regions in Italy is Tuscany, and we would certainly agree. Tuscany, which is one of twenty regions in Italy, and is centrally located and stretches from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Apennines. The main cities we visited include Florence, Pisa, Siena, Lucca as well as others such as Montevarchi, Montegonzi, Civita and Bagnoregio and San Gimignano to name a few. Tuscany was once the homeland of the Etruscans, which was annexed by Rome in 351 BC. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the region became known as Tuscany (Toscana in Italian). Later, in the twelfth century, Tuscan cities began to gradually gain their independence as republics and started forcing the nobility to live in the cities. By the high Middle Ages, the cities of Pisa, Siena, Arezzo, Pistoia, Lucca, and especially Florence had become wealthy because of textile manufacture, trade, banking, and agriculture. There were many wars between the city-states to conquer territory and power. Gradually, Florence came to overshadow and conquer all other cities in the region until later when Rome (founded in 625 BC) would become prominent in the region and last (at least the eastern empire with Constantinople) until its fall AD 1453 at the hands of the Turks and Mohammed II.
2: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words & the look on our faces say it all.
3: La Selva Giardino del Belvedere is located in Tuscany on the Chianti Hills where it was built more than 300 years ago and then restored with the use of hand-made materials to what it is today. Surrounded by centuries-old oaks, olive groves and meadows, the villa with its amphitheatre and a private swimming pool are nestled in the middle of a 32 acre private botanical garden (Giardino del Belvedere).
4: We are most certain that the villa was one of the high lights of our stay in Tuscany. The pool, fresh herb gardens, barbeque area and rooms were so amazing that we found ourselves lost in the beauty of it all. Since our return home we have let our minds wander back to Italy time and time again thinking about its beautiful star filled nights and wondering when we might return. Hopefully, one day.
5: Secret hidden Shower
6: Some pictures of the Villa
7: Personal Notes
8: Montegonzi | Quaint little town with great food and alot of charm
11: Florence was first called Florentia and originally founded by Julius Caesar in the 1st century BC. Located on an important road linking Rome to France, it found itself destined to fame and fortune. It became a significant trade centre with powerful artists' guilds in the 13th century, trading primarily in wool and silk throughout Europe. Florentine bankers issued the first monetary bills along with the famous florin. To this day some of the same Tuscan Banks carry on business under the names and in the places they did then. | Among the most noted architects, painters, sculptors, writers and other members of the artistic community over the centuries in Florence were Michelangelo, Giotto, Dante, Machiavelli, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi, and Donatello. The sheer number of the world's most treasured works of art that can be seen in Florence is astounding.
12: From the Ponte Vecchio on the Arno River
13: On top of the Duomo
14: Rubbing a Boars nose for good luck
15: Cheers to good wine, food and family
16: Cooking.... who would have thought it would be soooooo much fun. Tiramisu, Pizza, zucchini, lasagne, roast pork (maybe wild boar) and of course BBquing were the flavours of most days and although cooking is usually a big production, the Italian basic style of cooking was indeed the most scrumptious food we could have ever possibly imagined.
19: As good is it is to cook, eating is much better and we did alot of that
20: San Gimignano
21: San Gimignano rose from an ancient Etruscan settlement around a seventh century parish and a castle gave to the Volterra's episcope in 929. The local families of considerable wealth in San Gimignano ordered 72 towers to be built (but, as the law forbade, citizens were not allowed to exceed in height the Commune tower, called Rognosa). The Urban structure and the amount of civil and religious buildings of San Gimignano, almost intact, preserve the medieval fascination; nowadays remain only 15 of the 72 towers, unbroken or cropped, but they are enough to give an unmistakable mark to the town.
25: According to legend, Siena was founded by Senius, son of Remus, who was in turn the brother of Romulus, after whom Rome was named. Statues and other artwork depicting a she-wolf suckling the young twins Romulus and Remus can be seen all over the city of Siena. Siena began as an Etruscan settlement and a small Roman town, and was the seat of a Christian bishop by the 5th century. Its importance began in the early 12th century, when a self-governing commune replaced the earlier aristocratic government. Siena rivalled Florence in the arts through the 13th and 14th centuries however; Siena was devastated by the Black Plague of 1348 and never recovered its earlier glory, losing out to Florence in inter-urban rivalry. Siena retained its independence in Tuscany until 1557. Siena's cathedral, the Duomo, begun in the 12th century, is one of the great examples of Italian gothic architecture. The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, the town square, is another architectural treasure and is famous for hosting the Palio. Today Siena thrives with tourism and the likes of us whom travel far and wide to see the cities magnificence.
26: The"Piazza del Campo" where the famour horse race is run twice a year to celebrate the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary
28: Civita di Bagnoregio | Created by the gradual decay of the land and the erosion of the spur of tufa a handful of perched and isolated houses, now reachable only by foot over a concrete bridge about 300 meters long is where Civita sits. Civita is an enchanted place where time does not seem to roll over. The total absence of cars makes the atmosphere within Civita even more unreal and a mystical place. The Etruscans founded Civita 2500 years ago on a cliff of tuff chosen for his very defensible position. Even though its strategic position on its 1000' perch, Civita was rocked by two earthquakes that added to its demise and was then given its current name "The dying city". Civita today is home to about 50 families that still remain in Civita despite a recent loss of several homes due to the constant erosion of the hills.
30: The city of Pisa lies in the North of Italy in the region of Tuscany and has become world famous because of it's leaning tower. Pisa was first settled around 1000 BCE, but the city began to flourish under the Romans and then the Lombard’s. By the 11th century, Pisa had established itself as one of the great Italian Naval republics (along with Venice, Genoa and Amalfi). Their empire expanded after war with the Saracens won them Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. This was to be the high water mark of the city-state and after wars with Genoa and then Florence in the fifteenth century; Pisa found itself just another city under the Florentine sphere of influence and then later Rome. | Pisa
34: From Around
35: and Around Italy