Tuscany Tour Guide

I wanted to highlight some places in the Tuscan region that tourists should visit that are “off the beaten path.” Here are just a few:
Tarot Garden
Nikkie de Saint Phalle created the Tarot Garden tirelessly working towards her passion from 1979 – 1996. She created a tarot garden depicting the 22 tarot cards in an old stone quarry in Maremma. She even lived in one of her creations while building others. The 22 figures consist of sculptures, architecture, and monuments. Phalle directed a team of artists to create these remarkable figures of concrete, mosaics, and ceramics. Some of the larger figures include The Empress, The Magician, and The High Priest. The monumental sculptures were made from welded steel bars. Phalle’s idea of a monumental sculpture park was influenced by Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona.
One of the most impressive sculptures of the garden was The Empress which represents a sphinx. The Empress is the great goddess. Phalle and her husband Jean Tinguely even lived in this monument while building others. Phalle also used The Empress for meetings and coffee breaks with her crew. Phalle describes her as the “Queen of the sky. Mother. Whore. Emotion. Sacred magic and civilization.
Maremma and Bolgheri
Maremma is one of the most visited tourist areas of the Tuscan area bordered by the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian Seas. Many different vineyards are found in Maremma making some of the finest wines known world-wide. Bolgheri is located in Northen Maremma which produces Bordeaux wine varieties such as Cabernets, Merlot, and Petit Verdot which thrive in high temperatures. Bolgheri also grows Rhone grapes such as Syrah.
Marble quarries of Carrara
Carrara is located in a commune in the Tuscan region in a the Province of Massa and Carrara. Carrara is noted for it’s white and grey-ish marble. Carrara marble has been used for many centuries. It dates back to it’s use in The Pantheon and Trajan’s Column in Rome. The Carrara marble is exported all around the world. The marble is extracted from the mountainsides of the Apuan Alps. Due to excessive mining, the marble from this area poses a risk of almost being extinct.
Marble in Carrarra began over 200 million years ago when skeletal remains of shellfish and other creatures formed limestone sediment on the deep sea floor. As continents began to shift and collide, mountains formed and created white marble. The marble was bought to the surface of the Apuan Alps.
Another Tuscan city is Viareggio, which located in northern Tuscany on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is also known as Versilia and is the second largest city in the Province of Lucca. Viareggio is home to the Carnival of Viareggio which features large paper-mache floats. Carnival of Viareggio is considered one of the most important carnival celebrations in Europe. This carnival dates back 1873 and often features floats dedicated to current political satire. The carnival takes place in the weeks before Easter. The craftsmen build their famous floats in Cittadella del Carnivale all year long. From the very beginning, the carnival was dedicated to politics. In 1873, a wealthy man organized a parade of floats with flowers. Local citizen protested the parade by wearing masks showing their refusal to pay higher taxes for the carnival.
These are just a few suggestions for your Tuscan tour guide. Enjoy! Ciao!

Rome Tour Guide

Rome, Italy is an iconic city with great historical events and locations. Rome is home to many ancient artifacts, culture, architecture, and engineering. All Rome tourists have to visit The Colosseum. The Colosseum was originally known as The Great Flavian Amphitheater. It was home to gladiatorial fights, contests between men and wild animals, and races. It got it’s nickname from a reference to a large statue of Emperor Nero that stood nearby, which was also called The Colosseum. It began by Emperor Vespasian and was completed in ten years in 80 A.D. under Emperor Titus. It stands 187 feet high, has a circumference of 1,729 feet, and seated 50,000 people. The Colosseum consists of two Greek semicircular theatres joined together. The exterior is decorated by Greek columns and statues of the gods in the arches of the two upper floors. The interior included a wooden floor covering a hypogeum, an underground structure of tunnels and cages still visible today. The hypogeum was used to house prisoners, gladiators, and wild animals before fights.
Another iconic structure of Rome is The Pantheon. The Pantheon was built in 27 B.C. by Marcus Vipsanius as a temple to all the gods. Vipsanius was a close advisor to Augustus. In 124 A.D., it was rebuilt and converted to a church under Emperor Hadrian after a fire. The Pantheon was the largest dome of the ancient world measuring 141 feet in both height and diameter. With an opening in the center of the dome, The Pantheon ranks as one of the world’s largest unreinforced concrete domes.
Another Roman site with such great history is Trevi Fountain. Trevi Fountain is considered the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. The fountain marks an aqueduct supplying water to Rome. According to ancient tales, in 19 B.C. with the help of a virgin, she located the source of pure water where Trevi Fountain was later built. This particular scene of the virgin finding the water source is depicted in the fountain’s façade. A tradition of coin tossing in the basin began. The myth claims if one tosses a coin, they will return to Rome. With an estimated daily intake 3,000 euros, a subsidized market for the needy was created with the funds.
The Vatican and The Sistine Chapel prove to be other historical Roman structures. Vatican City State is one of the smallest city states in the world with an approximate area of 110 acres and a population of just 800 people. It was created in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty. Many historical buildings are located in Vatican City such as St Peter’s Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, and The Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel has become one of the best known chapels in the Apostolic Palace, which is the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It was decorated by artists such as Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturricchio, and many others.
These are some of the structures all Roman tourists absolutely have to visit. Check out my next blog to see some places “off the beaten path” in the Tuscan region.