Goldsmithing in Florence

June 23, 2018  |  Culture and Art, Florence, Tuscany  |  Comments Off on Goldsmithing in Florence
Goldsmith worksops on the Ponte Vecchio Florence

Goldsmith worksops on the Ponte Vecchio Florence

Goldsmithing in Florence was first practiced in monasteries and abbeys during the middle age, with the production of sacred objects such as reliquaries, crosses, chalices…

The Republic of Florence introduced its own currency in 1252, the Gold Florin, gaining a significant role in the whole Europe. This led to the development of a successful goldsmithing that culminated during the Renaissance, when it was common for painters and sculptors to start their apprentices in jewelry workshops. Still to day the art of goldsmithing is very dynamic in Florence, in particular on Ponte Vecchio.

One of the first extraordinary example of the art of goldsmithing in Florence is the Treasure that was commissioned in 1366. It was assigned to a range of participants and famous goldsmiths, such as Leonardo di ser Giovanni, Michele di Monte, Tommaso Ghiberti, Matteo di Giovanni, Bernardo Cennini, Antonio del Pollaiolo e Andrea del Verrocchio, worked on the creation of this masterpiece, that required more than 100 years of work. 400 kg of silver and 1050 enabled plates. Today, this unique goldsmithing example is preserved, inside a showcase, in the Treasury Room of the Opera Duomo Museum.

Goldsmith's masterpiece The Treasure Museo del Opera del Duomo Florence

Goldsmith’s masterpiece The Treasure Museo del Opera del Duomo Florence

Later on, during the 15th and 16th century, many of the sculptors, artists and architects of the Renaissance often had their initial training in goldsmith studios. Brunelleschi, Donatello, Ghiberti, Botticelli and Verocchio (Leonardo da Vinci’s master) are just a handful of the many who began as goldsmiths before creating the Renaissance’s greatest buildings and most memorable sculptures and paintings. In 1565, Benvenuto Cellini, the sculptor of the “Perseus and the head of Medusa” on Piazza della Signoria, wrote his autobiography, in which he describes techniques, tools and materials used at that time, a book still used by many jewelry artisans today.

Benvenuto Cellini Perseus and Medusa Florence

Benvenuto Cellini Perseus and Medusa Florence

At the end of the 16th century Under Gran Duke Francesco 1er, the goldsmithing workshops were opened in the Uffizzi, but it is in 1593 that his successor Ferdinando 1er ordered the Ponte Vecchio to be entirely devoted to gold shops and laboratories In the 19th century a little fountain with the bust of Benvenuto Cellini by the sculptor Raffaello Romanelli was placed on the terrace in the middle of the bridge. Still today, Italy, and Tuscany is one of the top designers and producers of fine gold jewelry in the world.

Staying in Palazzo Larderel, you will be able to discover and admire the past and current talented artisan goldsmiths in Florence.

The gardens of Villa le Barone in Tuscany: Fragrances, sounds, flavors, views

June 9, 2018  |  Chianti Holidays, Hotel, Tuscany  |  Comments Off on The gardens of Villa le Barone in Tuscany: Fragrances, sounds, flavors, views

Villa le Barone’s gardens: stupendous views on Chianti hills and fragrant roses

 The gardens of Villa le Barone in Chianti Tuscany, are full of perfumes that will enchant your nose, whatever the season. The other senses are also solicited: the sight with the views on the wonderful landscapes of the Chianti hills, the hearing with the bird’s songs and the bells of the nearby church (but they stop during the night!), the taste with all the flavors of the Tuscan cuisine.

There are of course the roses, blooming in all seasons, the honeysuckles, which climb here and there and exhale their delicate perfume, the different odorous jasmine, and you will certainly particularly enjoy the large, deep green foliage and profuse white and very fragrant flowers of the poet jasmine. You will love the scent of verbena leaves by crumpling them between your fingers! At the end of June the lilies are in full bloom, and their fragrance make the garden a delight!
And of course there are all the scents of aromatic plants that perfume the Tuscan cuisine and that you can enjoy in our restaurant! Rosemary, basil, tarragon, different species of thyme, sage (do you know there are more than 100 different species of sage?) are widely used by our Tuscan cooks. We have also created in one of the gardens an angle where you can discover about a hundred aromatic herbs. Near the “Fattoria”, there is a massive lavender, where butterflies come to flit.

Villa le Barone’s gardens: fragrant lilies

And what views, whether of the pool, tennis or gardens! Your eyes will be captivated by the enchanting vistas on the Chianti hills, with their vineyards and olive groves. What’s better than to be soothed by the sound of water, to hear the birds and the sound of the bells of the neighboring church San Leolino while having a light lunch on the terrace under the centennials chestnuts?

Come and experience the scents of Villa le Barone’s gardens, come and admire its unique views, come and taste the wines of Chianti and Tuscan cuisine, come and listen to the song of birds! Come and relax in this privileged environment!

Greve in Chianti

May 4, 2018  |  Chianti Holidays, Tuscany  |  Comments Off on Greve in Chianti

Greve in Chianti, in the province of Florence, is the small town that opens the door to this beautiful region that is Chianti. Located at the crossroads of Via Chiantigiana between Florence and Siena and the road to the Val d’Arno, it was in the Middle Ages an active exchange center.

It has kept charm and traditions, and is a member of the “cittaslow” network of cities where living is good! Panzano in Chianti, in the heart of the vineyards that produce the famous “Chianti Classico” is part of the municipality of Greve.

Greve in Chianti is still a very active city today with its typical market held every Saturday: fruits and vegetables, cheeses, but also clothes, table linen, and many other products! This is where locals meet and share the latest news! The square is triangular, slightly in descent. It is bordered on the sides by arches to protect from the sun, with pretty craft shops, great cold cuts and grocery stores with the famous Tuscan hams and local cheeses, and of course some restaurants! At the top of the square is the Santa Croce church, built in the 19th century on the site of an old oratory, but which has retained some beautiful 15th century paintings. At the bottom of the square, in the widest part, a contemporary statue has been installed in front of the town hall. In the middle of the square, stands the statue of Giovanni Verrazzano, a navigator born in Greve in Chianti in 1485, the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada, and to enter the Hudson Bay. The bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island in New York is named after him.

Chianti Classico vineyards Panzano in Chianti/Greve In Chianti

Greve in Chianti is one of the cities that have joined the “cittaslow” movement, a network of cities that respect tradition, authenticity of products and good food … It is the host of many festivals and events and in particular in April a large flea market , in May the festival of flowers, in July the Daniel Ferro Vocal Program, in September the Wine Festival … Greve in Chianti is one of the 9 municipalities on which the “Chianti Classico” which can carry the famous logo of the “Black Rooster” is produced.

And all around Greve in Chianti, you find unique landscapes, with magnificent views on the Tuscan hills, on vineyards, and on medieval hamlets
The small village of Panzano in Chianti is located on the territory of the municipality of Greve, where Villa le Barone, is located. Life is good at Villa le Barone, in the Chianti hills, and we serve traditional “slow food”!

Renewable energy, geothermal energy

April 13, 2018  |  Tuscany  |  Comments Off on Renewable energy, geothermal energy

Geothermal springs in Sasso PisanoTuscany in roman maps

Do you know that geothermal energy supplies almost 30% of the electricity consumed in Tuscany? And do you know that this source of energy is renewable and emits very little CO2 (a greenhouse gas leading to climate change), when power stations transform it into electricity? If you stay in Villa le Barone or in Vecchienna, you will be able to discover the sources of geothermal energy in Tuscany!

The geothermal zones around Larderello, Monterotondo Marittimo, Sasso Pisano and Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina are to be visited: you will discover new landscapes, with lagoons, fumaroles, small geysers, warm waters. You can also visit the very interesting museum in the village of Larderello, which tells the history of geothermal energy since Antiquity.

Evidence of geothermal activity dates back to the Greco-Etruscan-Roman era, and Etruscan and Roman baths have been found in Sasso Pisano, where Vecchienna is located. They appear on a Roman military map of the 3rd century. Baths and hot springs in the region were also used in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The industrial use of hot springs began in the early 19th century under the leadership of François de Larderel, a Frenchman who developed techniques for extracting boric acid from geothermal fumes. This product was once used as a food preservative. It is also François de Larderel who gave his name to the small city of “Larderello”, as he was the young entrepreneur to develop the region. Later in 1904 Prince Ginori Conti used the pressure of geothermal vapors for the first time to make electricity.

Museum in Larderello: geothermal energy produces electricity

The first power station was then built in 1913. This whole story is described in the very didactic museum of Larderello. Tuscany is certainly the cradle of the use of geothermal energy, but it is also exploited in many other parts of the world. A book recently published by Raffaele Cataldi and Mario César Suàrez Arriaga tells the long relationship between humanity and geothermal energy in the world.

If you stay in Vecchienna, our farm in Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, you can discover geothermal energy, fumaroles, geysers, you can also visit the Museum of Larderello and swim in the hot springs of Sasso Pisano. And Larderello is only 1h30 from Villa le Barone.

Panzano in Chianti, a charming medieval Tuscan village

March 31, 2018  |  Chianti Holidays, Culture and Art, Tuscany  |  Comments Off on Panzano in Chianti, a charming medieval Tuscan village

Panzano in Chianti: San Leolino church viewed from Villa le Barone

Panzano in Chianti, a charming Tuscan medieval village located exactly between Florence and Siena, must be discovered, with its churches, its vineyards and cellars, its market, its typical shops, its festivals, its craftsmen, its protected environment and the beauty of its landscapes. Panzano is located in the heart of the “Chianti Classico”, with famous producers of these wines known around the world.

Coming from Florence, after crossing Greve in Chianti, the road to Panzano rises slowly in the countryside, offering beautiful perspectives on the Chianti hills, olive groves and vineyards … and then it’s the arrival on the main square, Piazza Bucciarelli, with its shops, restaurants, bar, florist, fountain … Every Sunday the market takes place on this square. This is where one can find fruits and vegetables, cheeses, roast chicken, kitchenware… Every first Sunday of the month, the market (then called “aprilante”) is enriched by the presence of artisans who offer their products. The small street, to the right of the square, lined with old houses, rises towards the center of Panzano, the castle and towards the church of Santa Maria Assunta, completely rebuilt in the 19th century on the site of the old medieval church. On the left of the square, a small street, with the indication Barone, rises slowly, bordered on the left by the houses painted in white and red stripes where the famous butcher Dario Cecchini operates. You can enter the butcher shop, drink a glass of Chianti and take part in the friendly atmosphere of the shop.

Continuing along this street, you can see Mr Papini’s shop on the right, where you will find seeds, bedding plants, fertilizers … and everything for the garden. The cave of Ali Baba! Continue straight, turn right towards Hotel Villa le Barone at one kilometer. You can enter and discover the beautiful gardens! Continue a little further, you find an oratory and following the dirt road on the right, the beautiful Romanesque church Pieve di San Leolino, to which a porch was added in the 16th century. Do not miss the magnificent tabernacles of Andrea Della Robbia, and the paintings of the 16th century. Feel also free to push the door on the right after the baptismal font leading to the adjacent small cloister. What a charm! If you go back on the SS 222 road and continue towards Siena, on the right you will find the indication of the Oratory of Sant’ Eufrosino, with the spring near which the Saint who evangelized the Chianti lived.

Panzano in Chianti: Dario Cecchini’s butcher shop

Festivals and events are numerous in Panzano in Chianti, and in particular the feast of the “Buona stagione” on April 25, that of the “Colombina” at Easter, the wine festival “Vino al Vino” in September…. Moreover, Panzano is located in the heart of the “Chianti Classico” region, where wines known worldwide are produced. You can visit many cellars and enjoy delicious wine tastings: Le Fonti, Molino di Grace, Fontodi and Castello di Rampolla … to name only a few.

One cannot be tired of admiring the protected environment and the wonderful landscapes that surround this charming typical medieval Tuscan village, Panzano in Chianti.