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Friday, May 23, 2008


Toscana (or Tuscany) is known largely for its fantastic landscape. It is a region of beauty, mountains that meet their end on the warm shores of Tyrrhenian Sea. All of Tuscany seems to be painted with a dusty, pastel palette; it comes as no surprise that artists have been drawn to the region for centuries. The Tuscan city of Florence (Firenze) was the place that legendary artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli, as well as writers like Macchiavelli and Dante, called home. Their work, and the work of several other renowned Italian painters, can be seen in Florence’s Galleria degli Uffizi, or the Uffizi Gallery. According to, the Uffizi palace was originally built, beginning in 1560, for government offices. Still, the Medici family, a family of great power in Tuscany at the time, reserved areas to store and display their impressive art collection. Today, the Galleria degli Uffizi is one of the most popular art museums in Italy.

Pisa, a city known more for its architecture than its art, is located about 60 miles west of Florence. Though the Torre Pendente (leaning tower) has become Pisa’s signifying symbol, there is so much more to the city to explore. Even in the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), the piazza where the Torre Pendente is located, are other beautiful and historic pieces of architecture including a Duomo, a Bapitstry, and a graveyard.

June is a very eventful month for Pisa and could provide an extremely interesting travel experience. On June 16th, tens of thousands of candles are lit and placed around the city’s palaces that line the Arno River, all in honor of Pisa’s patron saint, Ranieri, who is celebrated the following day.

Also in June, Pisans compete in the Regatta of Saint Ranieri, a race between four boats representing the four historic districts of Pisa, with rowers costumed in Medieval dress. On the last Sunday in June in Pisa, a historic battle (the battle of the bridge) is recreated into a sort of tug of war contest across a central Pisan bridge.

Aside from these two famous cities, Tuscany is full of wonder and beauty. For more information about Tuscany, visit

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