Italy is also known as “Bel Paese”. With its works of art and monuments of an extremely high artistic value, it is well and truly an open-air museum, the source of unforgettable memories for all of those who visit it. There is such a lot to enjoy, from the most famous city of art and the numerous villages that are often not well know but beautiful, from the beaches to the countryside, from mountain regions to lake areas.
Visiting Italy means not only coming into contact with its past but also living the present with an infinite variety of cultures, dialects, food products, very similar and yet very different traditions, all with the same belonging to this beautiful and unique land.
There are many, too many reasons to visit Italy and it would be impossible to list them all. This country has a very long history, more than 3 thousand years: Italy is an open book, every corner, every city has a lot to tell and its past can be seen through its historical buildings, the monuments, art and why not, through its food. Geographically speaking, the climate and structure of Italy varies according to the regions: warmer in the South, colder in the North, its landscape is varied as it ranges from the lakes of the North, to the Apennines, the gentle hills of Tuscany to the coast, without forgetting the volcanoes that can be found in different parts of the peninsula.
Italy is a country to be discovered, on foot or by bicycle, stopping every now and again in one of the many holiday farms that can be found. Italian cooking is, in fact, one of the typical features of this land: refined, healthy and tasty, very much appreciated throughout the World. The Italian “dolce vita”, according to Fellini, takes in consideration all of these aspects: a trip to this land is a trip full of emotions, in the search for a truly priceless classical heritage on a European and international level.
Each region of Italy can be reached by plane: national and international flights land in the various regions. The Italian airline is Alitalia but many other foreign companies connect the main Italian cities with foreign countries such as Lufthansa, Air France operating in large cities such as Pisa, Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples and Palermo, to name but a few.
Another means of transport to reach Italy or to move around the country is the train: from Milan and Turin there are High Speed Trains, these are the two main cities from which you can easily reach almost all Italian regions. It is also possible to move around by bus or by car: the Italian motorway network is in excellent conditions even though it varies from one region to another. The main motorway is the A1 connecting Milan and Naples and therefore it is metaphorically called the “backbone of Italy”.
Tuscany is located in Central Italy and extends from the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian sea. It borders to the North West with Liguria, to the North with Emilia Romagna, to the East with Marche and Umbria and to the South with Lazio.
To the North and to the East of Tuscany it is surrounded by the Apennines, but the territory is mainly hilly. The highest peak of the region is Mount Prado (2,054 million), in the Tosco-Emiliano Apennines in Garfagnana on the borders with Emilia Romagna.
The name of the Region is very old and derives from the ethnonym used by the Latin to define the land inhabited by the Etruscans: “Etruria” subsequently transformed into “Tuscia” and then into “Toscana”.
The regional capital is Florence, the most populated city and also the main historical, political and artistic point: the other regional capitals of the province are: Arezzo, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena.
The Tourist offer
All of the artistic beauties of Tuscany do not only remind us of the glorious past of this region but the history and events that have made Tuscany the cradle of Italian civilization and culture. Florence, universally known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, enchants its visitors with the beauties of Renaissance architecture; Siena, the city of the Palio, whose historical centre, also considered by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, is a beautiful example of Medieval architecture. Then Pisa with its leaning tower, Lucca with its Sixteenth Century walls and Arezzo with its goldsmith tradition.
The Medieval hamlets control the hills, ancient fortified cities, small pearls of history that can still be seen now thanks to the care and passion with which they have been maintained over the years: the towers of San Gimignano, the surrounding wall of Monteriggioni, the tuff land of Volterra and the alabaster caves, just to mention but a few.
The landscape makes Tuscany an undisputed protagonist in the international tourist panorama. Argentario for example, the highest promontory of the Tuscan coast, protected by a WWF oasis thanks to its natural and fauna richness, including important colonies of birds.
In this region nature has many different facets, starting with the coast alternating between sandy beaches and rocky cliffs with steep promontories. Other characteristic landscapes include the medieval hamlets, towns full of history, castles and fortification systems, rural churches (the so-called “parish churches”) and suggestive abbeys, such as Sant’Antimo, can be found throughout the area and their profiles stand out in the landscapes f Crete Senesi, Vald’Orcia,Garfagnana, Chianti and Maremma.
There are many hot springs and spas: Montecatini, Saturnia, Montepulciano, Monsummano and Bagno Vignoni that, thanks to the spring water and the centres providing all treatments, offer relaxing holidays.
Finally, Unesco has recognized seven marvels of Tuscany as the World Heritage Site. They are the City Centre of Florence; Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa; the City Centre of San Gimignano; the City Centre of Siena; the City Centre of Pienza; Val d’Orcia, the Medici Villas.
Food and wine
The origins of regional cooking derive from farming and the working class, as can be seen in the basic ingredients used: bread, spelt, beans and vegetables. Typical starters include toast with a mixture of chicken and spleen liver, “panzanella” (made with stale bread, soaked and crumbled, red onion and basil, all seasoned with oil, vinegar and salt), cured meats including “finocchiona”, a special salami meat seasoned with fennel.
A typical first course includes soups and vegetable soups, including the famous Ribollita (a typical “peasant” dish deriving from the typical soup of stale bread and vegetables) or bean soup, spelt soup, “pici” (hand-made pasta similar to spaghetti but wider), pappardelle with hare sauce.
Second courses of fish include the famous Cacciucco (a typical fish soup from the area of Livorno, made with different kinds of fish, crustaceans and shellfish) together with red mullet and stockfish Livorno style. Second courses of meat include Florentine steak, strictly Chianina; chicken, guinea-fowl, pork and finally wild game are also highly demanded.
Typical deserts include “castagnaccio” (a typical cake made from chestnut flour from the Apennines), “buccellato” (a ring-shaped cake made from pastry and filled with dry figs, raisins, almonds, orange peel) and “cantucci” (biscuits with almonds).
Production of wine is excellent in terms of its varieties and quality: the most prestigious wines of Italy are produced here, from Chianti to Vino Nobile of Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Vernaccia di San Gimignano and many more, down to Vin Santo a sweet and fortified wine, perfect with cantucci biscuits.
Official tourism website – Tuscany Region www.turismo.intoscana.it
«It lies on the tip of a small promontory representing the last Southern spur of the Livorno Mounts, in a position that the eye dominates the entire coast, from Montenero, Livorno to the Argentaro promontory ».
(Physical-Historical Geographic Dictionary of Tuscany, Emanuele Repetti, 1841).
Castiglioncello (previously Castiglione Mondiglio) is a district of 3,800 inhabitants of the City of Rosignano Marittimo, in the province of Livorno.
Located in a very privileged position from a panoramic point of view, far from important communication roads, until modern times it was still unknown and uncontaminated, with its luxurious pine forests and its beautiful cliffs just before the Ligurian sea.
Once again a meeting point for culture combined with relaxation and fun, Castiglioncello became famous in the Sixties of the last century as a holiday destination for important film stars such as Alberto Sordi and Marcello Mastroianni. During that period it also hosted the very famous film set of Dini Risi, “Il Sorpasso” (The Easy Life) with Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant.
Still a destination for many tourists.
One of the most beautiful and suggestive Italian tourist locations, with illustrious historical traditions. A town of poor fishermen at the extreme margins of the Etruscan empire, it follows the fate of Volterra. Proof of this period and of the Etruscan power can be found in the elegant funerary urns in alabaster, dating back to the II century b.C, found in the necropolis of Castiglioncello.
Already the outpost of the Medici, who in the XVII century had a fortress built here on the promontory (recently renovated), it has been a very famous seaside area since the middle of the 19th century; furthermore, its sheltered coves and the thick Mediterranean maquis developed the picturesque current of the Macchiaioli, expressed through the works of Giovanni Fattori, Odoardo Borrani, Silvestro Lega, Telemaco Signorini, Giuseppe Abbati and many more who normally holidayed in Castiglioncello, often guests of the patron Diego Martelli and whose paintings often depict the built-up are and the surrounding hills.
In th main square, Piazza della Vittoria, immersed in greenery, the outline of Castello Pasquini can be seen, built at the end of the 1800’s by the baron Fausto Lazzaro Patrone, whose style influenced the architecture of the nearby railway station, opened in 1910 together with the stretch of railway Vada-Livorno that improved the route along the line Genoa-Rome. In the last few years the castle has become a reference point on a national level for important conventions on the topic of infants as well as the location of the traditional Festival of Dance and the Literary Award Castiglioncello-Costa degli Etruschi.
The luck of Castiglioncello as far as tourism is concerned, began in the second half of the 1800’s, when due to the mildness of the climate and the beauty of the landscape, Diego Martelli, an art critic and patron, came to live here. He constantly invited almost all painters (who subsequently became famous) here until the end of the century, as well as the Macchiaioli painters, creating a famous artistic period, the Scuola of Castiglioncello.
A destination chosen by illustrious individuals from the world of art, culture and entertainment, it is currently one of the most famous tourist areas, famous in Italy and abroad thanks to the beauty of its landscape, the quality and elegance of the services that it offers and the high value cultural and associative initiatives that it promotes.
In the last few years artistic production connected with the Macchiaioli has been enhanced, starting with research into contemporary and ethnic art trends. Since 1992 Castiglioncello has been awarded the Blu Flag several times by the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education).
Places of interest
- Castello Pasquini: it was built between 1889 and 1891 in a style similar to that of the Florentine buildings of the Middle Ages.
- Church of the Immaculate Conception: construction began in 1992 while the dome dates back to the years immediately after the Second World War, when the church was renovated following damage caused by the war.
- Church of Sant’Andrea: It rises on the rests of an oratory dating back to the XVII century. The current shape dates back to 1864.
- Torre di Castiglioncello: it also dates back to the XVII century and belonged to the sighting system of the Livorno coastline. It underwent several changes in the 1800’s.
- Villa Celestina: in rational style, it dates back to the Thirties..
- The National Archaeological Museum: created at the beginning of the X century, it was closed around 1972-1973. It was reopened in 2001.
- Monte Pelato (or Poggio Pelato): the highest mountain of the city with its numerous trekking route, the Mediterranean maquis, the remains of the magnesite mines and destination of the commemorative course of the Macchiaioli among beautiful views of the hills that “jump” into the sea.
According to the legend the Goddess Venus, the goddess of beauty, when emerging from the beautiful waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she dropped seven pearls from the chain that she was wearing and they fell in the sea, becoming the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago”.
The National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago covers an area of 17,694 hectares of land and 61,474 hectares of sea. It is the largest Marine Park in Europe and includes all of the main islands of the Tuscan Archipelago: Isola d’Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri and Gorgono and some smaller islands and rocks: Palmaiola and Cerboli, close to Elba, the Formiche di Grosseto to the North of Giglio, Scoglio d’Africa or Formiche di Montecristo, Formiche di Capraia, Palmaiola, Zanca. The islands of the archipelago belong to the provinces of Livorno and Grosseto and include eleven Municipalities.
An “unusual” archipelago, because every island is a reality of its own, with its own character that is different from the others and rich with a spectacular display of natural environments, vegetation, culture, history and art.
All of the islands also belong to the Pelagos Sanctuary thanks to the marine mammals, a protected marine area covering 90,000 sq.m., created thanks to an agreement between Italy, the Principality of Monaco and France.
Even if they are subject to a different regime of protection, the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago can all be visited.
The Marine Base of Cala de’ Medici
The tourist port of Marina Cala de’ Medici is an advanced structure located in a suggestive stretch of the Tuscan coastline, between Castiglioncello and Rosignano. It can be easily reached by plane, Pisa airport is just 44 km’s away and has good connections with the motorway, the A12/E80 exit for Rosignano is just a few kilometers away.
A corner breakwater in the internal quay protecting the Port and an open basin to the North outline the morphology of the infrastructure. 9 piers can be found on the water for mooring of pleasure boats for a total of 650 spaces for boats of between 8 and 36 metres.
The boatmen are always present and provide users with rapid assistance for mooring, 24 hours a day. There is also a guard service within the port, 24 hours day. Thirty two latest generation video cameras control accesses, passages and piers. At the start of the Port, on the inner breakwater dam there is a petrol pump guaranteeing the supply of unleaded petrol and diesel. On the quay there are small electrical and drinking and industrial water supplies (on the dam tour and three phase).
Together with high level port services, Cala de’Medici includes a lively Trade Centre of 3,000 sq.m. with a large variety of shops, restaurants, bars, specialized sailing agencies, a gym and a SPA, the Yacht Club promotes several regattas and sports events and the shipyard is specialized in every kind of job.
The Port Cala de’ Medici is a complex reality, within the local context, satisfying the requirements of diversified users: sea customers, the customers of the Hamlet, tourist and commercial operators and numerous visitors from the area.
One of the unusual objectives of Marina Cala de’ Medici is to transform the Marina into a ”port” that is always open to the surrounding area, a starting point to discover the Tuscan Archipelago, the Coast of the Etruscans, the Hinterland with its traditions, the historical-naturalistic attractions, the food and wine specialities and the excellence of local production, without forgetting the environment in which the sea works and boat spaces are found.
Furthermore, Cala de’ Medici always aiming at creating a system of close collections with economic and cultural realities of the area, enhancing the attractions of the tourist structures and the context in which they are located.
At the same time, the Marina organizes events with special attention to restaurants, environmental quality control management and the quality of training in a network of infrastructures for pleasure boats, offering innovative services to users and training new professionals in the fields belonging to sailing.