Month: August 2016

Where to eat the best Fiorentina Steak: in Valdichiana

The Chianina is a breed of cattle that is born and grows mainly in the Chiana Valley, the area from which it takes its name. We know that even in ancient times this region hosted large cattles, since then the breed has developed, and today we can see these white beasts, of considerable size.

Breeders were once used to have the Chianina the stables, as treasures to be guarded. In fact, the Chianina beast is not well suited to the work, his vocation is primarily the reproduction and meat production. Today it is easy to see them outdoors but always close to the stables, where they always have a shelter for the night.

In Chiana Valley as well you can find specialized butchers who prepare the best cuts of meat. These are the closest to La Lisa:

  • Macelleria Neri – Bettolle
  • Consorzio Agrario di Bettolle – Bettolle
  • Macelleria Cruscanti Lino – Foiano della Chiana
  • Azienda Agricola Fierli – Foiano della Chiana
  • Antica Lavorazione Carni – Cesa

You can cook your piece of meat directly on the grill of our barbecue. To cook a perfect Fiorentina Steak just keep the piece of meat on the grill only 4/5 minutes on each side, then add oil and salt if desired.

Or you can sit comfortably at the tables of Steak Festivals, which animate the evenings in Chiana Valley between August and September.

  • In mid-August you can not miss the appointment with the Steak Festival in Cortona.
  • In late August / early September the Festival of Steak is in Pieve al Toppo.

If you want to warm a winter evening, nothing better than a Florentine Steak eaten in the taverns here in Foiano della Chiana. You can pair the steak with a good red wine, and here in our area we are plenty of choiches: Sirah in Cortona, Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti and Super Tuscan!


Saint Francis itinerary in the heart of Italy

We all learned something about the life of St. Francis, is a figure that by his example will always be a companion of our lives. So why not visit the Franciscan places and experience first hand the thrill of being in those places that inspired the Saint?

We know that Francis was born in Assisi in the twelfth century by a family of wealthy merchants of fabrics, and like all young people of high society he dreamed of becoming a knight. It was at the Battle of Collestrada, between Assisi and Perugia, that Francis was captured and made prisoner in Perugia, but during this period of hardship, he fell ill and this disease compromised the future career as a knight.

Meanwhile, Francis felt that something had to change, and he went closer to the condition of the poor. During a pilgrimage to Rome he approached a leper and the kiss he gave to him marks the turning point of Francis life.

Once back at home Francis showed the first signs of change, oddities in the eyes of medieval society in Assisi. To finance the small church of San Damiano he decided to sell the fabrics of his father, sending him into a rage. In fact his father, tired of these odd attitudes, decided to denounce Francis. But he could do nothing before the obstinacy of his son, who came up to undress in front of the Bishop of Assisi, as a sign of renunciation of earthly goods.

He moved to Gubbio to live in the leper colony and be close to the needy. Just in Gubbio there was the episode of the wolf that Francis was able to calm, causing the great astonishment of the crowd.

The first part of his preaching took place between Gubbio and Assisi, but soon also spread in Tuscany and the strength of his message came to Rome, where the pope could not but approve this new emerging order. Indeed, Francis was one of the most important figure inside the church that in those centuries was shaken by the winds of the storm: in Assisi’s Basilica you can admire Giotto’s frescoes that narrate the life of St. Francis, and among them also a fresco depicting the saint holding up the Church of St. John Lateran, then papal seat.

The first monasteries grew around Foligno and in the area of Assisi (Porziuncola, Rivotorto), but the order quickly expanded, so much that Francis, when he returned from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, had to deal with the first quarrels among the companions.

Visiting the places where Jesus lived was for Francis an inspiration: here in Greccio he performed the representation of the birth of Jesus. In this town you can now visit the International Museum of the Nativity.

In the last part of his life, Francis will seek the sole company of nature, and the one of just few friends. He chosed to live as hermit in places like La Verna, where even today the construction of the sanctuary is integrated with the surrounding nature. At La Verna Francis received the stigmata, as a sign of his conformation to Christ.

Francis continued to walk between Tuscany and Umbria: he stopped at Celle di Cortona, and there he dictated the famous Testament, its recommendations to the newborn and already problematic Franciscan order.

Marked by illness and hardship, Francis died at the dear Porziuncola, October 3 of 1226. And Italy October 3 each year celebrates the birth in heaven of his patron: St. Francis of Assisi.

The places mentioned
  • Assisi (1 hour and 15 minutes drive from La Lisa), in particular the Basilica of San Francesco, San Damiano, St. Clare (where the Crucifix of San Damiano) the Porziuncola and Rivotorto;
  • Countryside near Gubbio (1 hour and a half drive from La Lisa) and former St. Lazarus Hospital;
  • The places of stay in Rome (2 hours and a half drive from La Lisa) were: St. John Lateran, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, San Francesco a Ripa (Trastevere);
  • Greccio (2 hours drive from La Lisa) and the International Museum of the Nativity. During Christmas Holidays it takes place the commemoration of the first Nativity representation.
  • The sanctuary of La Verna (1 hour and a half drive from La Lisa);
  • The Hermitage of Le Celle in Cortona (40 minutes drive from La Lisa).

10 experiences to do in Tuscany for a sports guy / girl

1. By foot on the Via Francigena

The road that used to connect Rome and Canterbury comes into Tuscany from “Passo della Cisa”, after crossing Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna. It first passes along the coast, then it bends to Lucca, before heading to the province of Siena: San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Siena and San Quirico. Radicofani is the ultimate Tuscan town before leaving the witness to Lazio and arrive in the town of Acquapendente.

2. Not only horse riding

Tuscany is full of riding schools and roads where to ride, but if you want to see something in particular you need to attend one of the many equestrian events, organized by the Arezzo Equestrian Centre. Every year there’s the championships of dressage, jumping competitions and young horse riding.

3. Cycling on the Sentiero della Bonifica (easy) or on L’Eroica (difficult)

The Sentiero della Bonifica runs through the Val di Chiana from Arezzo to Chiusi. It’s 60 kilometers path surrounded by nature and accompanied by curious engineering works. It is an easy, flat route, suitable for all ages.
For the more adventurous there is Eroica: 209 km route that runs through much of the province of Siena and choose the charming whitewashed streets. There are strenuous uphill, but rewarded by the beauty of the landscapes that open up in front of the street. Of course you can choose to ride only for a stretch of the entire route, and complete it comfortably in stages.

4. Trekking in Casentino Forest Park

The National Park of Casentino Forests was set up in the 90’s, after being kept for many years by the Camaldolese monks. Today you can visit it with the help of an App that you can download on your smartphone and it will guide you to all the paths of the park, giving you guidance on shelters and visitor centers.

5. Skydiving

To the adrenaline lovers we propose a dive over the town of Arezzo with Skydive Etruria. Perform tandem jumps, organize courses and even championships.

6. Sailing, Windsurfing and kytesurf on Lake Trasimeno

The lake is often driven by moderate winds and therefore it is easy to practice these sports. It is also possible to move both along the lake shore, in front of the picturesque villages, and towards the three islands that dot the lake. There are yacht clubs in almost all villages bordering the lake, you find them definitely in Castiglione del Lago, Tuoro and Passignano.

7. Diving Elba Island

The richness of the waters of this island is truly amazing and many are the diving centers. There is a protected biological area in the area of Scoglietto, not far from Portoferraio and you can poke around a wreck in Marciana Marina area.

8. Rafting on Arno river

The Arno river, during its long journey, pass through many different landscapes. There are several associations that invite us to rethink the river landscape from a different perspective: right on the river! On the basis of more or less calm waters, they offer rafting activities, kayak or SUP (stand up paddle).

9. Golf

The Golf Club Valdichiana (9 holes) is only 6 km from La Lisa, but you can reach many other golf courses, of which Tuscany is disseminated. In the province of Arezzo there is the Golf Club Casentino (soon will have 18 holes), the Bagnaia Golf Club (18 holes) in the province of Siena, the Castelfafi Golf Club (27 holes) near Florence and golf clubs located along the Tyrrhenian coast as that in Tirrenia (18 hole), Punta Ala (18 holes) and the Golf Club Pelagone (18 holes) in Gavorrano.

10. Hunting

In many reserves Faunistic- hunting or agritourism-hunting. In Tuscany there is a large amount of wild pigs, hoofed animals, pheasants and ducks.

Spiritual journey in Tuscany

1. On the mountain of La Verna, where almost a thousand years ago St. Francis received the stigmata, now stands one of the most important shrines of Christianity: the Franciscan sanctuary of La Verna. The structure is perfectly integrated with the surrounding nature in a typical forms of Franciscan sanctuaries.

2. Camaldoli is one of the oldest monasteries in Europe. It is located in the Apennines, immersed in ancient forests. You can visit the monastery, pharmacy, but also the hermitage, located a few kilometers away. Here the monks live a hermit’s life, in small cells surrounded by nature.

3. Monte Oliveto Maggiore is immersed in the Crete Senesi landscape. It is the mother house of the Olivetan monks (a branch of the Benedictines), who are also skilled winemakers.

4. The hermitage of Le Celle in Cortona belongs to a kind Franciscan community at the time of the Saint of Assisi. A river separates the monastery from the access road, as if to mark the boundary between the secular life and the hermit.

5. In the Abbey of St. Antimo, under the hill of Montalcino, have settled some Olivetan monks. The monks every day, pray the liturgy of the hours singing Gregorian chants.

Chasing Caravaggio from Rome and Tuscany

Caravaggio dies in Porto Ercole the 18th of July 1610, when he had finally reach Tuscany, he feels like he can now redeem the wild life that has so far characterized his person.

In this free land, that looked so full of promises for the future, Caravaggio left some of his greatest masterpieces. In Florence we can find:

  • Galleria degli Uffizi – BaccoMedusa, the Isaac sacrifice.
  • Palazzo Pitti – Rest in Egypt, Sleepy Amorino.
  • In Porto Ercole there is a memorial stone and an ark which seems to contain some of the same Caravaggio’s bones.

Staying at La Lisa, you can do a daily excursion to Rome (2,5 hours by car or by train) and visit Caravaggio’s places:

  • Galleria Borghese – Sick Bacchus, Boy with a fruit basket, Virgin Mary with the Baby and St. Anne, St. JeromeDavid with Goliath’s head, a St. John the Baptist.
  • Galleria Doria Pamphilij – a Penitent Magdalene, two different views of St. John the Baptist.
  • Galleria Nazionale di Arte Antica – Narciso, St. Francis, Judith and Holofernes.
  • San Luigi dei Francesi – St. Matthew Vocation, St. Matthew and the Angel and the Passion of St. Matthew.
  • Santa Maria del Popolo – St. Peter crucifixion and St.Paul conversion.
  • Sant’Agostino – Pilgrims’ Madonna.

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