Florence, Pisa, Tuscany



By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: We've heard Florence Italy is very expensive. Although we'll be spending a couple of days there we are also interested in visiting Pisa. Are there day trips from Florence you can recommend to us? We will be flying to Rome in late May where we have a car rental booked for us.

A: While Florence is breathtaking, the tourist crowds in spring can be daunting. For a breath of fresh Tuscan air, you might wish to consider an alternative launch pad for your day tripping. Valdera is a new undiscovered frontier of Tuscany wedged between Florence and Pisa with towns like Volterra and Siena nearby.

A hotbed of Etruscan artifacts, this region boasts medieval villages, ancient churches, belltowers and the rolling hills of Tuscany filled with groves of olive and chestnut trees along with the familiar pencil thin cypress trees.

In roughly 45 km radius from Florence, you can visit a plethora of art cities. Enroute the SGC FI-PI-LI towards Pisa, San Marco Hotels has two properties owned by the Nocchi family.

The Grand Hotel San Marco is situated in the medieval town of Casciana Terme about 27 kms from Pisa. This luxurious 84-roomed property includes a spa facility, an outdoor pool, a spa bath not to mention sumptuous views of the Tuscan countryside.

Another property, 4 kms from Casciana Terme is Villa San Marco, an intimate 20-roomed villa that recently was refurbished in an ancient church dating from 855AD. There is a stunning fresco by the painter Maurizio Magretti inside the church, which still continues to hold weddings.

While in Pisa, you will be able to visit a couple of rare art exhibitions currently on view. "Light and Shadow: Caravaggio Style and Naturalism in Tuscan Painting during the 17 Century" showcases rare work from Tuscan naturalists dating from 1620 until the Baroque period and runs until June 12.

"Cimbue in Pisa: Pisan Painting during 13th century from Giunta to Giotto" is a rare exhibition that will showcase for the first time all precious icons preserved in churches around the Pisan territory including special collections on loan from museums around the world. More than 100 art works including paintings, sculptures and ceramics will be on display. Organizers report this will be a rare glimpse into the finest art created in Pisa during the 13th century.

Until June 15th, The San Marco Hotels is offering a special 7-night package that includes accommodation, breakfast, admission to the two exhibitions and other side attractions.

Prices are very reasonable and range from $320 Euros to $625 Euros per person.

For reservations, email them at coptur@cascianaterme.com or call +39 0587 646258 and for more info on the hotels log onto www.sanmarcohotels.it.

For other travel related information on Pisa, visit the Pisa Tourist Board online at www.pisa.turismo.toscana.it or italiantourism.com.


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