60 Second Geography – Livorno, Tuscany, Umbria

  

Goethe once observed that Tuscany “looks like Italy should.” Fortunately, little has changed in the two centuries since the German poet was himself a tourist in Tuscany. The Tyrrhenian port of Livorno was founded in the 15th century. It is the gateway to Italy’s Tuscan region and to many spectacular sights; including the extraordinary Leaning Tower of Pisa, the charming medieval village of Lucca, the lovely hill town of San Gimignano and the timeless city of Florence.

No place is as imbued with such grace, dignity, serenity and history as is Florence. This city’s wealth of architectural and artistic treasures includes works by Raphael, da Vinci, Botticelli and Michelangelo. Truly Florence, cradle of the Italian Renaissance, is one of the world’s most enticing cities.

  • Ponte Vecchio. Florence’s most famous bridge spans the Arno River and is praised for its engineering. Built by the ancient Etruscans, the Ponte Vecchio is Florence’s only bridge to survive World War II. Today, it is a bustling pedestrian bridge of shops and home to the gold and silver guilds.
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa. This famous leaning Campanile or Bell Tower has drawn visitors for centuries. Now inclined 14 feet to one side due to the settling of the subsoil, engineers have been hard at work shoring it up to prevent any further leaning. The top of the tower is said to be where Galileo conducted his famous gravitational experiments.
  • Uffizi Gallery. This popular museum houses the masterpieces by Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, and Botticelli, as well as a smaller replica of the David. Michaelangelo’s original David can be found at the Galleria dell ‘Accademia.
  • San Gimignano rises on a hill dominating the Elsa Valley known for its towers. It began its life as a town in the 10th century taking its name from the Holy Bishop of Modena, St. Gimignano, who is said to have saved the village from the barbarian hordes. In 1348 San Gimignano’s population was drastically reduced by the Black Death Plague. The construction of the towers dates back to the 11th and 13th centuries. The architecture of the city was influenced by Pisa, Siena and Florence.

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