Tuscany


Located in central Italy along the Tyrrhenian coast, Tuscany is home to some of the world's most notable wine regions. After Piedmont and the Veneto, it produces the 3rd highest volume of DOC/G quality wines. It is Italy's third most planted region behind Sicily and Apulia, but it is eighth in production volume. This partly because the soil is very poor, and producers emphasize low yields and higher quality levels in their wine.
The history of viticulture dates back to its settlements by the Etruscans in the eighth century BC. There are references by Greek writers about the quality of Etrurian wine. From the fall of the Roman Empire and throughout the Middle Ages, the monasteries save the tradition of winemaking. Later the wine gain the popularity again among the aristocratic and merchant classes. The earliest reference of Florentine wine retailers dates to 1079 and a guild 'Vinattieri' was created in 1282. There were strict regulations on how the Florentine wine merchants could conduct business; no wine was to be sold within 91 m of a church. Wine merchants were also prohibited from serving wine to a child under 15 or to prostitutes and thieves. In the 14th century, an average of 300,000 hl of wine was sold every year in Florence. The earliest references to Brunello di Montepulciano wine date to the late fourteenth century. The Vernaccia and Greco wines of San Gimignano were considered luxury items and treasured as gifts over saffron. In the beginning of 19th century winemaker Ricasoli made experiments and determinated that grape varieties like Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia produced the best wine. In the 1850s odium and war devastated most of Tuscany's vineyards with many farmers leaving for other parts of Italy or to emigrate to the Americas, where they created the base of nowadays wine productions.

To the west is the Tyrrhenian Sea which gives the area a warm Mediterranean climate. The terrain is quite hilly, over 2/3 of the terrain, progressing inward to the Apennine Mountains along the border with Emilia-Romagna. The hills serve as a tempering affect on the summertime heat with many vineyards planted on the higher elevations of the hillsides. The Sangiovese grape matures better when it can receive more direct sunlight, which is a benefit of the many hillside vineyards. The majority of the region's vineyards are found at altitudes of 150-500 meters. The higher elevations also increases the diurnal temperature variation, which helps the grapes maintain their balance of sugars and acidity as well as their aromatic qualities.

The region vineyards cover 65 000 hectares; yearly wine production is 2,156,000 hectoliters; 30% white, 70% red; 55.5% is DOC/DOCG. It produces 15 DOCG and 34 DOC wines.

List of DOCG wines:
  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Carmignano
  • Chianti
  • Chianti Classico as normale and Riserva
  • Colli Aretini as normale and Riserva
  • Colli Senesi as normale and Riserva
  • Colli Fiorentini as normale and Riserva
  • Colline Pisane as normale and Riserva
  • Montalbano as normale and Riserva
  • Montespertoli as normale and Riserva
  • Rufina as normale and Riserva
  • Superiore produced throughout the Chianti region
  • Vernaccia di San Gimignano as normale and Riserva
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano as normale and Riserva
  • Morellino di Scansano as normale and Riserva

Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are primarily made with Sangiovese grape. It is the most prominent grape and is present as many different cloned varieties with many towns having its own local version of the Sangiovese grape. Cabernet Sauvignon has been planted in Tuscany for over 250 years but has only recently become associated with Tuscan wines due to the rise of the Super Tuscans. Other international varieties include Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Nero, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. Of the many local red grape varieties Canaiolo, Colorino, Malvasia Nera and Mammolo are the most widely planted. For white wines, Trebbiano is the most widely planted variety followed by Malvasia, Vermentino and Vernaccia.

Tuscany is also known for the dessert wine Vin Santo, made from a variety of the region's dried grapes. In the 1970s a new class of wines known in the trade as "Super Tuscans" emerged. These wines were made outside DOC/DOCG regulations but were considered of high quality and commanded high prices. Many of these wines became cult wines. In the reformation of the Italian classification system many of the original Super Tuscans now qualify as DOC or DOCG wines but some producers still prefer the declassified rankings or to use the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) classification of Toscana
The marchese Piero Antinori was one of the first to create a "Chianti-style" wine that ignored the DOC regulations, releasing a 1971 Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon blend known as Tignanello in 1978. Other producers followed suit and soon the prices for these Super Tuscans were consistently beating the prices of some of most well known Chianti. Rather than rely on name recognition of the Chianti region, the Super Tuscan producers sought to create a wine brand that would be recognizable on its own merits by consumers. By the late 1980s, the trend of creating high quality non-DOC wines had spread to other regions of Tuscany and even to the Piedmont and Veneto.

The Pomino region near Ruffina has been historically known for the prevalence of the French wine grape varieties, making wines from both Cabernets as well as Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio in addition to the local Italian varieties. The Frescobaldi family is one of the area's most prominent wine producers.
The Bolgheri region of the Livorno province is home to one of the original Super Tuscan wines Sassicaia, first made in 1944 produced by the marchesi Incisa della Rochetta, cousin of the Antinori family. The Bolgheri region is also home to the Super Tuscan wine Ornellaia which was featured in the film Mondovino. The Carmignano region has another Tuscan DOCG and was one of the first Tuscan regions to be permitted to use Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which the region had long historically grown, in their DOC wines. Maremma is home to Tuscany's newest DOCG, Morellino di Scansano, which makes a fragrant, dry Sangiovese based wine. The Parrina region is known for it white wine blend of Trebbiano and Ansonica. The wine Bianco di Pitigliano is known for its eclectic mix of white wine grapes in the blend including Chardonnay, the Greco sub variety of Trebbiano, Grechetto, Malvasia, Pinot Bianco, Verdello and Welschriesling.

PLACES OF INTEREST:
Tuscany is known for its landscapes and its artistic legacy. Tourism is the economic backbone of the so-called "Cities of Art". The historical center of Florence, San Gimignano, Pienza, Lucca and Siena, the square of the Cathedral of Pisa and the Val d'Orcia have gain the Unesco's protection. It has circa 3.6 million inhabitant and the capital is Florence.
The pre-Etruscan history starts with Apennine tribes, which were having connection with the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations in the Aegean Sea. The Etruscans were the first major civilization with a real transport infrastructure, implement agriculture and mining and produce vivid art. The civilization grew to fill the area between the rivers Arno and Tiber from the eighth century, reaching their peak during the 600 BC, and finally won by Romans by the first century. Soon after absorbing Etruria, Rome established the cities of Lucca, Pisa, Siena, and Florence, creating extensions of existing roads, aqueducts and sewers, and many buildings, both public and private. In the sixth century, the Longobards arrived from north and Lucca became the capital of their Duchy of Tuscia.
During the mediŠval period with pilgrims travelling along the Via Francigena between Rome and France, the area gained wealth and development; the food and shelter needed by these travellers fuelled the growth of new communities around churches and taverns. The conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire in central and northern Italy during the 12th and 13th centuries, split the Tuscan people. These two factors gave rise to several powerful and rich communes in Tuscany: Arezzo, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, and Siena. The balance between these communes were ensured by the assets they held; Pisa, a port; Siena, banking; and Lucca, banking and silk.

Tuscany is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, and thanks to its rulers, de'Medici family, its artistic heritage includes architecture, painting and sculpture, collected in dozens of museums in towns and cities across the region. Perhaps the best-known are the Uffizi, the Accademia and the Bargello. It was also the birthplace of Dante Alighieri "the father of the Italian language", Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire by Napoleon, Tuscany was inherited by the successor to the Holy Roman Empire, namely, the Austrian Empire. With the Italian Wars of Independence in the 1850s, Tuscany was transferred from Austria to the newly unified nation of Italy.

FLORENCE
Florence is the capital region of Tuscany and has a population of circa 365 000.
It lies on the Arno River and is known for its history and its importance in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, especially for its art and architecture. A centre of medieval European trade and finance, the city is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance; in fact, it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. It was long under the rule of the Medici family. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. The historic centre continues to attract millions of tourists each year to see the 'City of Art'. In matter of fact the city is so rich in art that some first time visitors experience the Stendhal syndrome as they encounter its art for the first time.

  • Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral with Brunelleschi's cupola.
  • The Baptistery of Saint John is one the oldest building with the doors of Paradise.
  • The church of San Lorenzo contains the Medici Chapel, the mausoleum of the Medici family.
  • The Uffizi Art Museum ("offices") is located at the corner of Piazza della Signoria,
  • Piazza Signoria with Palazzo Vecchio, Loggia di Lanzi and statues.
  • Palazzo Bargello concentrates on sculpture, containing many priceless works of art created by such sculptors as Donatello, Giambologna, and Michelangelo.
  • Accademia dell'Arte del Disegno (often simply called the Accademia) collection's highlights are Michelangelo's David and his unfinished Slaves.
  • Pitti Palace containing part of the Medici family's former private collection. In addition to the Medici collection the palace's galleries contain a large number of Renaissance works, including several by Raphael and Titian as well as a large collection of modern art, costumes, cattiages, and porcelain. Adjoining the Palace are the Boboli Gardens, elaborately landscaped and with many interesting sculptures.
  • The Santa Croce basilica, originally a Franciscan foundation, contains the monumental tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante (actually a cenotaph), and many other notables.
  • Other important basilicas and churches include Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo, Santo Spirito and the Orsanmichele, and the Tempio Maggiore Great Synagogue of Florence.

SIENA
Siena is a city south of Florence and it has a population of 60 000 inhabitants.
It's known by it's artistic value of medieval and renaissance period and Palio, the wild horse run at the Campo. It has also a vast amount of good restaurants and shopping possibilities.
The first document mentioning it dates from AD 70. The Roman origin accounts for the town's emblem - a she-wolf suckling the infants Romulus and Remus. 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. Other etymologies derive the name from the Etruscan family name "Saina", the Roman family name of the "Saenii", or the Latin word "senex" ("old") or the derived form "seneo", "to be old". Siena did not prosper under Roman rule. It was not sited near any major roads and therefore missed out on the resulting opportunities for trade. Its insular status meant that Christianity did not penetrate until the fourth century AD, and it was not until the Lombards invaded Siena and the surrounding territory that it knew prosperity. Their occupation and the fact that the old Roman roads of Aurelia and the Cassia passed through areas exposed to Byzantine raids, caused the roads between the Lombards' northern possessions and Rome to be re-routed through Siena. The inevitable consequence of this was that Siena prospered as a trading post, and the constant streams of pilgrims passing to and from Rome were to prove a valuable source of income in the centuries to come.
Siena prospered under the new arrangements, becoming a major centre of money lending and an important player in the wool trade. Siena's republic, struggling internally between nobles and the popular party, usually worked in political opposition, until September 4, 1260 the Sienese Ghibellines, supported by the forces of King Manfred of Sicily, defeated the Florentine Guelphs in the Battle of Montaperti, even the Sienese army of around 20,000 faced a much larger Florentine army of around 33,000.
Siena's university, founded in 1240 and famed for its faculties of law and medicine, is still among the most important Italian universities. Siena rivalled Florence in the arts through the 13th and 14th centuries: the important late medieval painter Duccio di Buoninsegna (1253-1319) was a Sienese, but worked across the peninsula, and the mural of "Good Government" by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Palazzo Pubblico, or town hall, is a magnificent example of late-Medieval/early Renaissance art as well as a representation of the utopia of urban society as conceived during that period. Siena was devastated by the Black Death of 1348, and also suffered from ill-fated financial enterprises.
Though in 1472 the Republic founded the Monte dei Paschi, a bank that is still active today and is the oldest surviving bank in the world.

Siena continued the battles against Florence: after defeated at the Battle of Marciano (August 1554), any hope of relief was lost. After 18 months of resistance, it surrendered to Florence on April 17, 1555, marking the end of the Republic of Siena. The new Spanish King Philip, owing huge sums to the Medici, ceded it (apart a series of coastal fortress annexed to the State of Presidi) to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, to which it belonged until the unification of Italy in the 19th century.

'My name is Duccio' ticket offers economic way to visit main attraction at Duomo area:
  • The Cathedral of Siena 'Duomo'; one of the great examples of Italian romanesque architecture. Its main fašade was completed in 1380.
  • Babtistery, crypta, La Facciata, Museo of Duomo are also included in the price.
  • The Piazza Del Campo
  • Torre del Mangia.
  • Palazzo Salimbeni
  • Church of San Domenico
  • Santuactry of Santa Caterina; incorporating the old house of St. Catherine of Siena. It houses the miraculous Crucifix (late 12th century) from which the saint received her stigmata, and a 15th century statue of St. Catherine
  • The city's gardens include the Orto Botanico dell'UniversitÓ di Siena, a botanical garden maintained by the University of Siena.
  • The Medicean Fortress houses the Enoteca Italiana and the Siena Jazz School, with courses and concerts all the year long and a major festival during the International Siena Jazz Masterclasses

San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometers outside the town. It was founded as a small village in the 3rd century BC by the Etruscans. Later it adopted the name of the bishop Saint Geminianus, who had defended it from Attila's Huns. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance era, it was a stopping point for Catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome and the Vatican, as it sits on the medieval Via Francigena. The city's development also was improved by the trade of agricultural products like almonds and saffron from the fertile neighbouring hills.

While in other cities, such as Bologna or Florence, most or all of their towers have been brought down due to wars, catastrophes, or urban renewal, San Gimignano has managed to conserve fourteen towers of varying height which have become its international symbol.
  • The Collegiata, formerly a cathedral, it's covered inside with beautiful frescoes.
  • Torre Grossa, 1311, which stands 54 meters high and it's possible to visit.
  • The heart of the town contains the four squares, Piazza della Cisterna, Piazza Duomo where the Collegiata is located, Piazza Pecori, and Piazza delle Erbe. The main streets are Via San Matteo and Via San Giovanni, which cross the city from north to south.

Saint Fina, known also as Seraphina and Serafina, was a thirteenth century Italian saint born in San Gimignano during 1238. Since Saint Fina died on March 12, 1253 her feast day became March 12. Her major shrine is in San Gimignano and the house said to be her home still stands in the town.

Other places to visit:
Arezzo
Cortona
Pienza
Monteriggioni
Certaldo
Montecatini Terme Alta Citta'

Golf Courses:
La Pavoniere,
Ugolin, Val di Pesa
Poggio de'Medici, Scarperia
Montecatini Golf, Monsummano Terme