The Village of Casale Marittimo
The territory of Casale Marittimo is rich of archaeological finds testifying its ancient origins, like the Etruscan necropolis and other sepulchres equipped by fine funerary dowries dating back to the same time so that testifying the presence of this rich civilization in the territory, who settled down in Casale Marittimo for its richness of water springs and minerals.
Il borgo medievale di Casale Marittimo Very interesting is also the ancient Church entitled to Saint Andrew, recently restored and transformed so to host the Municipal offices of Casale Marittimo. The stone-made facade shows its original features and, on the main portal, a bass-relief made by Alberto Sparapani, portraying “Saint Andrew”. The interior of the church shows a wooden roof covered by painted trusses and it rich of numerous frescoes painted by Stefano Ghezzani. Particularly interesting are also the Our Lady of the Graces Chapel and the Saint Sebastian Church. The first one was built in the XVIII-th century and it still saves today a copy of an original plate painted by some artist from Siena, whereas the Saint Sebastian Church was built on a pre- existing oratory and restored by using original materials coming from a Roman villa.
The Saint Sebastian Church still saves today a rare wooden sculpture by Giovanni Maria Tacci, dating back to the XVI-century and portraying a “Wounded Christ held by some Angels”, whereas some of the finest art works belonging to the ancient building are saved today in the “Museum of Holy Art of Volterra”, among them a painting portraying an “Our Lady with the Child between the Saints Sebastian and Rocco”.
The Etruscan Coast
The main area of the Etruscan Coast is in the central part of the coast and includes, apart the wonderful naturalistic oasis of Bolgheri, beautiful pine-woods along the coast of Cecina and Donoratico, the woody hills of Bibbona, Bolgheri and Monte Calvi – where you ma find the Mediterranean vegetation interspersed with chestnut trees.
The historical and cultural importance lies in the Medieval villages of Castagneto Carducci, Suverto e Campiglia Marittima, that still keep important traces of walls and stoned buildings. We have also evidences -thanks to some ancient ovens- that in the area of Monte Calvi there was a great activity of mineral extraction and working. Another centre of interest is the area of Piombino promontory. In the Northern part of the area there are many naturalistic and archaeological traces: the wonderful gulf of Baratti and the necropolis of Populonia, the ancient Polulonia, the only Etruscan town grown as a maritime commercial base and a centre of working of extract metal in the Isle of Elba.
Note also the several Naturalistic Parks, such as the Park of Rimigliano in S. Vincenzo. This strip of coast called Etruscan Coast is a unique chance to taste every piece that make Maremma a land sweet and bitter. The Etruscan Coast is an area where you may chose what to do in any season. For this reason, it is different. Here, throughout the year, it is holiday and desire to discover. In this part of Tuscany Sea, nature, art and history live harmoniously together.
You may find many “souls” here: first of all a “marine” soul that reflects the crystalline nature of its sea-waters -from intense blue to emerald green. Large and long shores, reefs that smell of saline and wind, sheltered by large pine-woods. This is a corner of Mediterranean still alive. Then the “nature” soul: a varied and rich environment that you may experience and discover numerous parks and protected areas, enjoying with care, botanic oasis, wildlife shelters, “home” of rare and protected species, a rich vegetation of big pine-woods and woods that hug the hills. Eventually, the “lazy and yellow-orange” soul of the country, with its smells, crossed by the Wine Road, where grown nobles vineyards and silver olive-trees, that make this land famous all over the world.
Finally, What about the gastronomy flavours in cooking? Warning: you really will experience the pleasure to search and discover unique tastes. Along the Etruscan Coast indeed you may get both the two souls of the Tuscan cooking: fish and meet, country and saline waters. Everything tightened in a centenary-chained hug, with strong traditions and fixed customs. Near the marine tradition there are also local restaurant typical for the cooking of wild boar and its hunting, with the flavour of local wines that the whole world is so interest in its origin and taste.
The Medieval Villages
Bolgheri is located on a little height at the end of the famous Cypresses Boulevard that stretches from San Guido. Woods, plenty of Mediterranean vegetation and a well-tilled plain, surround the village. Bolgheri is linked to Castagneto, – its borough – through “Via Bolgherese”, a wonderful boulevard become famous as the “Wine Road” for its production of rare wines. Through a mighty arch of a castle you will get into the old village. Indoors, among its ancient lanes and squares, little “shops” spring up. There you may buy the typical products of the area and taste the natural local speciality. Between 1838 and 1848 Giosuè Carducci lived in Bolgheri, chanted it in its lines and this village became known all over the world.
Castagneto Carducci is set on the top of a hill that overlooks the countryside and the near sea. This charming Medieval village springs up round the Castle of Della Gherardesca, built about during the year 1000. The village has paved lanes, natural terraces that view the sea and the countryside, pleasant square, ancient craftsman shop and typical small restaurants. Many historical evidences are worth of note such as the Praetorian Palace – now seat of the Municipality – S. Lorenzo and SS. Crucifix Churches (the latter because its woody crucifix of the XV century in the church). At the beginning this village was named Castagneto Marittimo. Then, in the early XX c., it turned its name into Castagneto Carducci in honour of the great poet Giosuè Carducci that spent there many years of his life. Giosuè Carducci’s house is now a museum full of evidences.
The Art Cities
Lonely on a hill (that has its boundless view from the Appennini up to the Tyrrhenian sea), stern and peaceful at once, this town has a particular glamour that is different from the others. Once you reach its threshold, you will be impressed by the mighty wall, both of the Medieval times and Etruscan ones, where there are many gates. The most famous of them is Porta dell’Arco Etrusco (the gate of Etruscan Arch). Indoors you will find remembrances of the severe town of Volterra during the Medieval times. All this is helpful for us to understand the charming of its beauty.
The 15 medieval towers (a reminder of the 72 towers that used to rise during the period of greatest splendor) announce from far away the town’s magnificence. The amazement continues after entering one of the town gates, which open in the double enclosed wall, and walking up the silent streets flanked with ancient buildings. The streets unexpectedly lead into three squares on the summit of the town, where the severe medieval buildings that surround them may be admired.
Pisa is set in a wide floodplain (4 m. above sea level) few kilometres far from the Tyrrhenian coast and it stretches in the two bank of the river Arno. Pisa is among the main cultural city of Italy. It keeps a rich artistic heritage with its original Medieval reworking of Islamic, Lombard and local influences. It is to note the wonderful Duomo and the leaning tower, a monument discussed and known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is a chief town of a province of Tuscany and an archiepiscopal see. Nowadays it is above all a university and research town.
Siena always attracts many tourists for its wonderful monuments and its numerous masterpieces to visit in its museums. Some great artists were born in Siena and among them it is to remind Duccio di Boninsegna and Nicola Pisano, who worked on the greatest masterpiece in Siena: the Duomo. In narrow and winding lanes, in museums and in the quarter oratorios you may hear Palio propitiatory chants that recall the ancient customs and modern allegories. In the evening, on the other side, the patter of soles on the desert paving contrasts to the peace of the green valleys surrounded by the walls by its ancient administrators, for centuries till today. In the town you may admire many masterpieces such as the Duomo, set in the Campo, Siena’s red-bricked main square and the wonderful landscape of Facciatone, the hall of Pellegrinaio in Santa Maria della Scala, the Piccolomini library, the prestigious Accademy Chigiana and the wide rooms in Fortezza Medicea, that hides the rarest wines in Siena, in Tuscany and in the peninsula.