Tuscany: san filippo

What to do


Arguably one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of Tuscany, Chianti features rolling green hills covered with vineyards and olive groves with attractive ancient stone villages dotting the landscape.

The Chianti landscapes are so breathtaking that they inspire many photographs which go on to become postcards and calendars that are distributed throughout the world.

Here you will find a large selection of things to see and do. There are medieval villages to discover and castles and walled towns to explore.

Visit Greve, known for is fabulous piazza, or take a trip to Panzano, a large town rich in history. For a deeper look into the past, enter the Archaeological Museum of Chianti Senese in Castellina or stop by the Commenda of San Eufrosino, a 14th century church transformed into a wine bar.

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Often described as an open-air museum, Florence offers some of the world’s finest architecture in the form of palaces and piazzas as well as statues from some of the best known artists in history.

Wander through some of the oldest streets in the city until you reach the Arno River, cross over the Ponte Vecchio and discover the newest area of Florence – the Oltarno.

Make sure you set some time aside to see the vast and varied art collection housed in the Pitti Palace, before hitting the shops. Here you will find all sorts of stores from luxury boutiques, to craftsmen shops, from antique stores to food markets.

When you grow weary of museums and monuments, head outdoors and spend some time at the Boboli Gardens. Alternatively, climb the hill to see the church of San Miniato al Monte and experience an enchanting view of the whole of Florence.

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Ponte Vecchio

During your stay, don’t forget to take a trip to Ponte Vecchio – the oldest bridge in Tuscany which has survived many floods and even a war

One of the most interesting aspects of Ponte Vecchio is that each side is lined with shops, just like it was in 1345 when the bridge was built.Rather than the blacksmith, butcher and grocery stores which originally populated the bridge, it is now ruled by jewellers, leather shops, art dealers and souvenir sellers.

In addition to the shops, the bridge also attracts various street musicians and portrait painters.In recent years, the bridge has seen a rather endearing custom. Couples have adopted the tradition of attaching padlocks along the length of the bridge, as a demonstration of their eternal love.​

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Tuscany is home to many museums with masterpieces by the greatest artists of all time – from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to Botticelli, Giotto and Donatello.

Be sure to visit the Uffizi Gallery – one of the world’s top art museums. It houses some of the most important works of the Renaissance, including pieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Boticelli and Michelangelo.

The Accademia Gallery is home to the most famous sculpture in the world – Michelangelo’s ‘David’. Once inside, you’ll see all of his unfinished and powerful ‘Prisoners’, as well as many other famous works.

Don’t miss out of the Pitti Palace – the location of many important painting and sculpture collections, as well as many works of art, porcelain, silver and period costumes. The palace is surrounded by the incredibly beautiful Boboli Gardens – the perfect place to take an afternoon stroll. ​ ​​​

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If you adore shopping and saving at the same time, head to one of the many outlets in Tuscany to grab yourself some designer clothing at cheap prices.

The Mall is the most famous shopping outlet in Tuscany and specialises in famous fashion designer brands. Here you will find the streets lined with Gucci, Ferragamo, Cavalli, Armani, and Valentino. You will also find numerous international brands, such as Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Stella McCartney and Yves Saint Laurent.

The variety of names available at the Barberino Designer Outlet makes it a must. Here you will find over 100 shops selling the best brands of everything from clothing to cosmetics, from electrical appliances to chocolate and shoes. With every name you can think of, this outlet has something for all tastes.

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​​Leave your car and map at home if you’re planning on visiting Siena. Tuscany’s pocket-sized provincial city is made for getting lost in and the streets are made for exploring by foot.

This UNESCO treasure was the first town in Europe to banish cars from its main streets, resulting in air as crisp as white Chianti and the streets empty of traffic bar the odd Vespa.

Siena is a city firmly rooted in its past – there are countless galleries and museums in which to learn about its glorious gothic history – and tradition remains strong. Yet it is still just as wonderful today.

Wander past faded stone facades strung with washing, hams dangling in dappled light and holes in the wall dispensing slivers of pecorino and olive ascolane. Alternatively, spend a day learning how to make papa al pomodoro just like Mama.

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San Galgano

​​San Galgano is most famous because it is believed to be the origin of the myth of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

It is said that in the 12th century, a nobleman called Galgano Guidotti plunged his sword into a stone after seeing a vision of the Archangel Michael who told him he must change his ways.

The myth describes how the stone parted cleanly for the sword and only the hilt and two inches of the blade was left visible – resembling the shape of a cross. Plunging the sword into the stone was his way of renouncing his life of arrogance, lust and violence to become a hermit.

This actual sword is preserved at the abbey of San Galgano which was constructed in honour of Galgano Guidotti.

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Deep in the Tuscan countryside lies the remote gem of Vinci. This hilltop village offers a magnificent castle, a great museum, and intriguing narrow alleyways all in the beautiful surroundings which inspired the master Leonardo da Vinci.

The best way to appreciate everything this town has to offer is by foot, so leave your car on the outskirts and get ready to explore. The Vitruvian man is the first to welcome you to the town, standing tall above the steep valley below.

Further into the city you will find The Ship’s Castle which houses the marvellous Leonardiano museum.

There is something wonderful to be found around every corner in this town. Delightful restaurants, cafes and gift shops line Vinci’s main street, offering all sorts of unique gifts and treats. Be sure to try the extra virgin olive oil and the Chianti Putto Montalbano – the local wine.

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Pisa is known throughout the world for its famous Leaning Tower, but there is much more to the region than the striking landmark.

It is brimming with wonderful historical monuments and buildings which date back hundreds of years, and much of the city has held on to its medieval appearance.

Towards the north-western side of Pisa, there is an immense green lawn on which you will find four imposing buildings of gleaming white marble. These structures are the breathtaking Duomo cathedral built almost 1,000 years ago, the Leaning Tower, the circular Battistero – the largest baptistery in Italy and the Camposanto – one of the most hauntingly beautiful cemeteries in the world.

There are also two museums worth visiting during your stay. The Museo dell’Opera packed with interesting sculptures and the Museo delle Sinopie, full of original sketches created in plaster.​

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San Gimignano

​San Gimignano, a small walled village between Florence and Siena, is known for its fantastic medieval architecture and impressive towers which loom over the surrounding buildings to create an incredible view of the city from the surrounding valley​.

At the height of its glory, San Gimignano had 72 tower-houses where the wealthy and powerful families enjoyed their lavish lifestyles. Even though only 14 of the towers remain today the town still holds onto its feudal atmosphere and regal appearance.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, San Gimignano will provide you with the opportunity to step back in time as you explore the diminutive town, whilst enjoying the local products including virgin olive oil, saffron and the famous white wine – Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

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Stroll around the narrow winding streets, absolutely brimming with history and character, which make this charming city such a delightful place to be.

Take a trip to Via delle Volte where you can wander through a fascinating tunnel lined with shops and restaurants.

In the centre, you will find Castellina’s main street, Via Ferruccio, with many shops, cafes, restaurants and magnificent palaces to visit, such as the Palazzo Banciardi and Palazzo Squarcialupi.

The Palazzo Squarcialupi now houses a wine shop which has been selling Chianti’s finest wines for over a century. Make sure you visit and try a glass to savour all the flavours of Castellina.

Don’t forget to pass by the Church of San Salvatore, where you will find a priceless fresco by Lorenzo Bicci depicting the Virgin Mary.

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This charming little terracotta village is most famous for being the inspiration and childhood home of Carlo Lorenzini – the author of Pinocchio. It is rather unique in that is it split into two halves which spill down a wooded hill in a waterfall of cottages.

One of the most popular attractions is the famous baroque garden, which was designed in the 17th century style of squares, zigzags and circles. It is rich in statues, grottoes and fountains with a huge waterfall at its highest point.

Another beautiful part of Collodi which must be seen is Fairytale Road. This area owes its name to the original art which is scattered along the route, creating the fairytale atmosphere of Pinocchio’s fable.

For an even more magical adventure, visit the Butterfly House in Villa Garzoni. Here butterflies fly freely through gardens laden with exotic plants, flowers and trees.

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Up until the late 1960s, Monteriggioni was a sleepy village surrounded by large green fields where the farmers would tend to their crops and the shepherds would take care of their flocks.

Today, this medieval walled town is home to some of the best preserved buildings in the whole of Italy, attracting tourists, architects, medieval historians and archaeologists. From a distance, the town appears to float above the valley at night due to the walls and towers being lit from below.

Wander through the meandering streets where you’ll find many wine shops, tasting rooms, restaurants and cafes. If you find yourself still in Monteriggioni as the sun is beginning to set, then you are in luck. The small town is much more evocative at this time of day. Relax in a beautiful courtyard while you sip a glass of Chianti, marvelling at the beautiful vineyards.

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Il Duomo

Il Duomo is one of the most enduring symbols of Italy and dominates the Tuscan skyline, towering over Florence.

The third largest cathedral in the world, the Duomo is topped with a gigantic cupola which can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.

The inside of the Duomo is equally spectacular, with marble floors and yawning aisles shaped to appear like a gigantic cross laid onto the ground. The intimidating arches rise over 20m into the air, looming over the artistic endeavours located inside.

The Donatello-designed stained glass window depicting the coronation of the Virgin and the tomb of Antonio D’Orso can be found here, alongside many other stained glass works from premier Italian artists of their time.

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A stroll around Greve is the best way to explore the city, which is surrounded by delightful villages with quaint stone houses and cobbled streets.

You will find numerous castles in the area which were originally defensive bastions. Today, they are elegant residences and lavish estates.

During your visit, pop into the Museo di arte Sacra situated in the convent of San Franceso. Here you can marvel at grand collections of paintings, sculptures, vestments and liturgical furnishings which span centuries.

Make sure you stop by the piazza, which used to be the setting for a large market over 100 years ago. Today, it is peppered with quaint cafes, the perfect place to savour quality wines from the Chianti area.

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The small town of Volterra offers a rich array of ruins, art works and architecture from various historical periods. Its pristine streets and large piazzas are deserted, apart from the odd cafe or local shop.

One of the oldest sights to see here are the remaining Etruscan walls which seem to stretch on for miles. These walls were built in the fourth century, when the town’s population was more than twice that it is today.

The Etruscan walls mark the perimeter of the Parco Archeologico Enrico Fiumi – a picturesque landscaped garden which occupies the highest point in the area. Here you will find the remains for two Etruscan temples, as well as a museum – the Via Don Minzoni.

At the end of the park you will see the Piazza Martiri della Libertà – the best place to view the Cecina Valley. Unlike the rolling green hills which surround Siena, here you will find an undulating plain blanketed in gold.

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Lucca and Assisi

Guarded by imposing walls which date back to the 16th century, Lucca is one of Italy’s finest medieval treasures. The centre is unspoilt and is sprinkled with beautiful palazzos, imposing towers and a large number of splendid churches

The surrounding hills produce some excellent wines and arguably the finest olive oil in the whole world, whilst the beaches and nightlife are just a short trip away.

Assisi is best known for being the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi – the patron saint of Italy. During your visit, be sure to see the Basilica di San Franceso, which guards the sacred relics of Francis and beautiful frescoes portraying his life. Also worth visiting are the town’s impressive Roman ruins, winding medieval streets and sacred shrines.​

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Wine tasting

Delve into the sparkling world of Tuscan wines and discover millennia old gastronomic traditions, unspoiled countryside and luxurious medieval settings on a wine tasting tour

The land of wines par excellence, Tuscany is jewelled with magnificent medieval castles, historic villas, vineyards and farmhouses begging to be explored – all set in idyllic landscapes which will delight every visitor.

Enjoy the finest wines Tuscany has to offer on one of the many wine tasting tours offered in the region. Learn more about the ancient process of wine making whilst visiting astonishing medieval castles and seeing the private cellars where it is stored.

Enjoy a traditional Tuscan lunch consisting of a selection of cheeses, hams and salamis to compliment your wine, before purchasing some of your favourites of the day.​

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Enjoy a leisurely cycle that takes you through vineyards as you glide along pastures of green fields and olive groves. Ascend to ancient villages perched atop rolling hills and marvel at the breathtaking vistas.

Rent a bike and discover the Tuscan countryside on your own, or alternatively join a group to enjoy a guided tour which incorporates many additional aspects of Tuscany.

Visit impressive medieval fortresses before passing through romantic Estruscan villages to view Renaissance masterpieces. You may encounter some challenging hills during your journey, but your hard work will be well rewarded with delicious Tuscan treats.

Be sure to try freshly-rolled pici pasta, pecorino cheese and local extra-virgin olive oil, all accompanied with the finest wines the region has to offer.

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Cooking Courses

Learn how to cook traditional Tuscany dishes from the locals on one of the many cooking classes available in the region. From selecting only the freshest produce, to making the perfect pasta from scratch, learn the skills and techniques which have been passed down for generations.

Some cooking classes are held on gorgeous wine-producing estates where you will have the opportunity to select the finest ingredients straight from the garden. Professional chefs will then guide you in preparing traditional Italian and Tuscan dishes.

Other cooking classes begin with a trip to an authentic Tuscan market, guided by an experienced Tuscan resident. After selecting the best ingredients, you will return to her house where you will learn how to prepare everything from pizza to pasta, vegetables to game and marmalade to cake.

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Antique Markets

Pistoia is home to a bustling market which winds through dozens of streets surrounding the magnificent square. Amongst the many antiques, you’ll also find a mixture of modern kitchen utensils, scrumptious local cheese and spicy salamis.

Specialising in antique books and linens, the Prato market is a must for anyone interested in fine literature and quality material.

The Arezzo market resembles an outdoor antique furniture museum and is definitely the best furniture flea market in Tuscany. Whilst you’re there, don’t forget to visit the nearby church of San Francesco to see Piero della Francesa’s magnificent frescos.

Held in front of the Teatro Tenda is the famous straw market – an annual gathering which offers locals the chance to sell their family’s heirlooms. Here you will find everything from 16th century oil paintings found in attics, to 18th century chairs which don’t match the previous owner’s new decor.

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Offering the absolute latest in holistic treatments and spa experiences, Castello del Nero boasts the region’s only destination spa designed by global spa specialist ESPA. Club Paradiso members staying at San Filippo are entitled to a 20% discount on all treatments at this luxury spa.

Lie back and relax as specialised ESPA treatments care for your every need – from advanced facials, hot stone therapy, essential body massages and envelopments.

After a relaxing day at the spa, enjoy a fantastic meal at the La Torre Gourmet Restaurant – the perfect way to end your day. Located in what were once the stables, this restaurant offers the perfect setting for a heavenly Tuscan food and wine experience.

Club Paradiso members are invited to enjoy an exclusive menu put together by one of the restaurant’s top chefs​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.

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