In a country fabled for its beauty and culture, the Italian region of Tuscany stands out: think gentle rolling countryside, fertile orchards, olive groves and vineyards – as well as the famous renaissance cities of Florence and Pisa. Karma Borgo di Colleoli nestles in the heart of Tuscany, equidistant from these two iconic cities and within easy reach of some of the region’s lesser known treasures both old and new…
Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel in Semifonte
Any renaissance enthusiast worth their salt will have visited Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence’s Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral. But did you know it has a smaller sibling in the countryside? Five times smaller than its famous counterpart, this memorial chapel on a hill above the tiny village of Petrognano is breathtaking nonetheless – both for the 16th century building itself and for the spectacular views it commands of serried rows of Sangiovese vines rolling across the Elsa Valley.
The Silversmiths of l’Argento Firenze
Italy is known for its world class craftsmanship – and these silversmiths are no exception. From Formula One trophies to intricately worked jewellery and tableware, this family of master craftsmen use time-honoured techniques to make artful objects. You can watch these Florentine Artisans working their magic in their workshop, before heading to their glittering showroom to see the finished products.
Badia a Passignano Abbey
This abbey is one of Tuscany’s most ancient and historic sites, thought to date back as far as 395 AD. It once guarded the road between Greve and San Donato and none other than Galileo is believed to have taught at the abbey – presumably before his claims that the Earth was round were declared heretical! These days, the abbey is home to a small community of Vallambrosan monks. You can visit a church, topiary garden, refectory, kitchen and cloistered courtyard whilst the abbey features an important fresco of the Last Supper by the brothers Ghirlandaio.
Chianti Astronomical Observatory
Standing sentinel at 450m above sea level, the Osservatorio Astronnomico is a new observatory where guests can spend a fascinating evening star gazing. Thanks to its location deep in the Tuscan countryside, there is very little light pollution and you’ll get to see celestial bodies such as the moon and Jupiter in breathtaking detail through the Observatory’s telescopes. The centre also records seismic activity in the region, another fascinating aspect of this unique site.
I would love to visit the Chianti observatory.. Maybe I can swing it as a cheeky birthday gift.. who knows it just might happen !!