Tuscany houses many museums with masterpieces by the greatest artists of all time, from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to Botticelli, Giotto and Donatello. 

Depending on your interests in history, art or sculpture - Tuscany has it all, spanning across time, styles and periods.

See reviews and photos of art museums in Tuscany

Below, a list of the top museums in Tuscany that you should not miss!

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
The Uffizi is one of the world's top museums, with some of the most important works from the Renaissance inside. Admire magnificent works of art and sculpture, from Botticelli's Birth of Venus and Spring to the only example of Michelangelo's painting on panel to splendid works by Raphael and Titian.

Civic Museums in San Gimignano.
Must-sees during your visit to San Gimignano are the Palazzo Comunale, Pinacoteca and Torre Grossa, the tallest tower in the city from which you can enjoy a unique 360° view over all of San Gimignano. If you have time, also visit the Archeological Museum where the second floor houses the Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery, a mix of the ancient past and more relatively recent past.

The Accademia in Florence.
The Accademia Gallery museum houses the David, Michelangelo's most famous sculpture. Gaze in admiration but don't forget to admire the other works by Michelangelo and other artists in the famous museum, including works by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Allori.

Siena's Cathedral - The Duomo in Siena.
Siena's Gothic cathedral is full of treasures, including its marble pavement, Piccolomini library frescoes and incredibly ornate interiors. We highly recommend a visit into this wonder of Siena's past!
Read also: Getting to Tuscany by train.
Duomo of San Gimignano.
No matter how short your visit in San Gimignano might be, you must visit the cathedral to admire the marvelous cycle of frescoes that recount stories from the New and Old Testaments painted by illustrious artists of the 14th-century Sienese school and the extraordinary Renaissance jewel, the Chapel of Santa Fina. Then head to the Museum of Sacred Art next door to admire the exquisite "Madonna of the Rose"
The Bargello Museum.
Primarily a sculpture museum, you'll be treated to early Michelangelo marbles and Giambolognabronzes and Cellini works then on to a room full of famous works by Donatello, considered by many the greatest sculptor since antiquity. The museum houses more than sculpture, it is definitely a museum worth exploring!

Pitti Palace & Boboli Gardens.
The Pitti Palace houses important collections of paintings and sculpture, works of art, porcelain, silver and period costumes. The rooms contain works by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and many others. The beautiful Boboli Gardens, grand example of Italian Renaissance gardens, are on the hill behind the palace.

First Sunday of the Month is a day of Art & Culture.
Get your fix of art, culture and history for free on the first Sunday of the month, when Italian State museums open their doors to everyone! Here's the list of State museums across all of Tuscany, to be used on those first Sundays as well as the rest of the month (with opening hours).
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    Michael the Archangel is mentioned five times in Holy Scripture, in particular, in the book of Daniel, he portrayed as the supreme ruler of the heavenly army and warrior against the enemies of the Church, whilst in the book of Revelation, Michael is prince of the angels faithful to God; he fights and defeats  the dragon (Satan) and the rebel angels.

    Thus, St. Michael is revered in the Christian tradition as a defender of the Christian people, very much a warrior; he challenges the enemies of the Church.

    The cult of the Archangel spread from the east and took root in the Mediterranean region particularly in Italy, where it arrived with the expansion of Christianity.
    Saint Michel
    The oldest and most famous place of veneration of Saint Michael in the west, is the Sanctuary of San Michele in Monte Sant’Angelo, which was erected on the promontory of Gargano in the fifth century.
    Read also: Getting to Tuscany by train.
    Very soon this sanctuary became an important centre for the spread of the veneration of Saint Michael in Europe and Italy and it came to represent the ideal model for all subsequent sanctuaries set up along the lines of that at Gargano: mountain summits, hills, high places and deep caves were regarded from earliest times as the most appropriate places for the veneration of angels and of Michael in particular.
    Saint Michel 2
    In 708 or 709, in France, on a promontory of the Normandy coast, a sanctuary was consecrated to the Angel under the title “Mont Saint-Michel au péril de la mer”, due to the phenomenon of high and low tides which made the surroundings quite dangerous.

    The Sacra is “of Saint Michael” because its birth, its growth, its history and its constituent parts all centre around the veneration of St. Michael which first came to the Susa Valley in the V or VI century. Its location on high ground, in a highly evocative setting is redolent of these two earlier establishments dedicated to the Archangel Michael on Gargano and in Normandy.
    Founded between 983 and 987 on the rocky spur of Mount Pirchiriano, it is at the midpoint of a pilgrimage route of over two thousand kilometres that connects a significant part of Western Europe from Mont Saint-Michel to Monte Sant’Angelo.
    This monument is a symbol of Piedmont Region and a place that inspired the writer Umberto Eco to conceive the best-seller  “Il nome della rosa” ( The name of the rose ) , the Sacra of San Michele is an ancient abbey built between 983 and 987 on the top of mount Pirchiriano, 40 km from Turin. From it’s towers you can admire Turin and a breathtaking view of the Val di Susa. Inside the main Church of the Sacra, dating from the twelfth century, are buried members of House of Savoy  (one of the oldest royal family in the world).
    Dedicated to the cult of the Archangel Michele, defender of the Christian people, the Sacra di San Michele fits inside a ruote of pilgrimage (long over 2000 km) wich runs from Saint-Michel ( France ) to Monte Sant’Angelo (Puglia).

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The Vatican Grottoes extend under part of the nave of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, three meters below the current floor, from the main altar (the so-called papal altar) to about one half of the nave; They form a real underground church that occupies the space between the current floor of the basilica and the ancient Constantinian basilica of the fourth century.

Those that are improperly called "caves" actually represent the gap between the old Constantinian basilica and the current one: walking in the "caves" as you walk in what was the basilica built by the emperor and lasted until the sixteenth century.
Read more: Mysteries And Wonders Of The Vatican Necropolis.
The plant of the Vatican grottoes, which branch into niches, corridors and side chapels, is that of a three-nave church (the so-called old caves) with chapels that house the tombs of the popes; the semicircular apse of the church, with chapels and funeral monuments, (the so-called new caves) has the ideal center of St. Peter's Chapel, which corresponds, above the caves, the papal altar and the dome of Michelangelo, and, in the necropolis underground, the tomb of the Apostle Peter, the first Pope of Rome.

The Vatican grottoes are a suggestive monumental complex for the so many historical memories. In addition to preserving the tombs of several popes, the caves are rich in works of art from the ancient basilica.

Among the most important works of art preserved in the Vatican grottoes we must certainly remember the tomb of Pope Boniface VIII, by Arnolfo di Cambio. Also important is the tomb of Cardinal berardo eroli by Giovanni Dalmatian and fragments of frescoes attributed to Pietro Cavallini.

The sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, and the tomb of Pope Sixtus IV in bronze (created by Antonio Pollaiolo in 1493) are preserved in the St. Peter's Treasury Chamber (access to the right aisle of the basilica above).









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The Vatican Necropolis lies under the Vatican City, at depths varying between 5–12 meters below Saint Peter's Basilica.

The Vatican sponsored archeological excavations under Saint Peter's in the years 1940–1949 which revealed parts of a necropolis dating to Imperial times.

The work was undertaken at the request of Pope Pius XI who wished to be buried as close as possible to Peter the Apostle.

It is also home to the Tomb of the Julii, which has been dated to the third or fourth century.

The necropolis was not originally one of the underground Catacombs of Rome, but an open air cemetery with tombs and mausolea.
Read more: Sacroprofano Splendor Of The Vatican Grottoes.






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Italy is home to three active volcanoes, all located in the south of the country.

Mount Vesuvius, in Naples, is the only active volcano on mainland Europe.

It is famous for the destruction of the Roman towns of Pompei and Herculaneum in 79 BC, an event described in great detail by Pliny the Younger.

Dormant volcanoes.

At least nine other volcanic centres have seen eruptions in historic times, including some submarine volcanoes (seamounts). In order of the most recent eruptions, they are:

Pantelleria, off the coast of Tunisia, probably last erupted around 1000 BC. There was a submarine eruption a few kilometres north-east of the island in 1891, which was probably related to the main volcano.

Vulcano, another of the Aeolian Islands, last erupted in 1888-1890.
The short-lived Isola Ferdinandea erupted a few kilometres north-west of Pantelleria in 1831 and rose to a maximum height of 63 metres, but was eroded back down to sea level by 1835. The summit is now a few metres below the surface. A swarm of small earthquakes centred on the seamount in 2002 was thought to indicate that magma was moving beneath the volcano, but no eruption occurred.

Vulcanello is a small volcano connected by an isthmus to the island of Vulcano, which erupted out of the sea in 183 BC and showed occasional activity thereafter until the 16th century.

Campi Flegrei, a huge caldera containing the western area of Naples, erupted in 1528, generating the small tuff cone named Monte Nuovo (new mountain).

Ischia, an island 20 kilometres west of Naples, last erupted in 1302.

Larderello, in southern Tuscany, last erupted in 1282 with a small phreatic eruption
Lipari, an island a couple of kilometres from Vulcano, has a volcano which last erupted in 729.

Vulsini (Bolsena volcano, Latera volcano, Montefiascone volcano), a caldera complex at the northern end of the Roman magmatic province (at the north of Cimini volcanic complex). Last erupted in 104 BC.

Monte Albano, a quiescent volcanic complex near Rome (south). The most recent eruptions produced Lake Nemi and Lake Albano. Last erupted in 5000 BC.

Sabatini (Bracciano volcano and Sacrofano volcano), a volcanic complex and caldera near Rome (north). Last erupted in 40,000 BC.

Cimini (Cimino volcano and Vico volcano), a volcanic complex and caldera at the north of Sabatini volcanic complex. Last erupted in 90,000 BC.
Italian volcanoes, volcanoes in italy, volcanic activity italy,  mount etna, mount vesuvius, stromboli,active, dormant, extinct volcanoes
The last eruption was in 1944. Vesuvius is considered to be the most dangerous volcano in the world as it could erupt at any time, threatening the lives of the three million people who live nearby.

Stromboli is one of the Aeolian Islands, situated off the north coast of Sicily, in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is 926 metres high and has been erupting almost constantly for the last 2,000 years.
Italian volcanoes, volcanoes in italy, volcanic activity italy,  mount etna, mount vesuvius, stromboli,active, dormant, extinct volcanoes
The spectacular explosions are visible many miles out to sea, leading to the Island being nicknamed 'The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean'.

Mount Etna is located on the eastern side of Sicily, between Messina and Catania. It is in an almost constant state of activity, and is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
Italian volcanoes, volcanoes in italy, volcanic activity italy,  mount etna, mount vesuvius, stromboli,active, dormant, extinct volcanoes
At over 3,000 metres high, it is the tallest, active volcano on the European continent. It covers an area of 1,190 square kilometres, making it the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy.

What are volcanoes?
The Earth is basically composed of four layers:
The 'Crust'
The 'Mantle'
The 'Outer Core'
The 'Inner Core'
Italian volcanoes, volcanoes in italy, volcanic activity italy,  mount etna, mount vesuvius, stromboli,active, dormant, extinct volcanoes
We live on the 'Outer Crust' which over the land is between 32km to 70km thick. Beneath the 'Outer Crust' is the 'Mantle' which is the deepest layer. The 'Mantle' is extremely hot, but most of the time it stays solid as the pressure inside the Earth is so great that it cannot melt.

However, when Tectonic Plates collide, as they do frequently south of Italy, in the area of the Eurasian and African Plates, one Plate is pushed under another and 'Magma' is formed, which can lead to a Volcanic Eruption.

Volcanoes are divided into three different categories according their behaviour. Firstly, volcanoes which have erupted over the last few years are defined as 'Active

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Leonardo da Vinci is the Shakespeare of art and engineering. Both creative titans died many centuries ago, but live so vibrantly in modern imaginations they feel like our contemporaries.

Getting into the hottest new Shakespeare production is a tricky business but this weekend, I finally watched Michael Fassbender in Macbeth. The text was too severely cropped,

I thought, but it’s a marvel that in our century, which thinks itself so new, Shakespeare’s dramas are still so damned hot. It’s the same with Leonardo – witness the National Gallery queues for his blockbuster show in 2011.

Combining Da Vinci’s flying machines and designs for death and destruction, this model show eerily connects humanity’s love of beauty and its thirst for war

Not one but two fascinating Leonardo exhibitions open in the UK this week. At the Science Museum in London, a spectacular survey of his inventions will reconstruct some of the flying machines, armoured cars, alarm clocks and hydraulic systems whose intricate, gorgeously drawn designs fill his notebooks. Meanwhile, at the Laing gallery in Newcastle, you can see some of his most powerful drawings, each one a masterpiece illuminating one of humanity’s finest minds.
So what have Leonardo and Shakespeare got that other Renaissance artists and writers have not? Why don’t we get similarly excited about Raphael or Edmund Spenser? The answer is that they are artists of the people. Neither went to university; both were in many ways self-taught, their capacious minds not limited by the elitist culture of Renaissance humanism. They embraced popular culture, popular ways of thought, and that speaks to our democratic age.

The Renaissance was an intellectual revolution kickstarted by scholars rediscovering the classic texts of ancient Greece and Rome. The wisdom of these pagan authors gave a licence to explore the human condition in a new and richer way. Leonardo had only partial access to that high culture. His main education was as an apprentice painter in 15th-century Florence. You needed to know enough stories from mythology to put them in your paintings, but there was no need to understand Latin or Greek. Yet, Leonardo taught himself everything he could find out around him – including Latin, but also so much more.

He watched builders and studied the mechanics of their cranes; talked to soldiers about the latest weapon designs; observed the way birds fly. This programme of self-guided learning started when he was young and continued all his life. Leonardo’s greatest artistic achievements are not his handful of surviving paintings, but the drawings and notes in which he explores the world. The notebooks showing the originals designs for the model machines on display at the Science Museum may seem like secret books of wisdom. They are not. They are something much more beautiful: the record of a lifelong quest for understanding.
Shakespeare, like Leonardo, sought out most of his knowledge by himself, from books he read; from conversations with peers such as Christopher Marlowe (who probably told him about Leonardo’s old mate Machiavelli); and above all from observing the world around him. He listened to the speech of the streets.

Shakespeare’s imagination is as democratic as Leonardo’s. And Leonardo, for his part, is as universal a character as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, whose uneasy and restless mind could almost be a portrait of his endlessly questioning genius: “What a piece of work is a man.”

Other cultural greats can seem remote but Leonardo and Shakespeare soar into the digital future on a wooden flying machine that won’t ever stop.

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1.- Italian Christmas Recipes: Spaghetti with chilli prawns, salami & gremolata breadcrumbs.
Italian Christmas Recipes: Spaghetti with chilli prawns, salami & gremolata breadcrumbs.
Ingredients. 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 thumb-sized red chillies, sliced and most seeds removed 3 garlic clove, chopped 1 tsp fennel seeds Fennel seeds 10 slices fennel salami Salami, chopped 140g cherry tomatoes, halved 400g spaghetti or bucatini pasta 300g large raw prawns Prawn, shells removed For the breadcrumbs. 2 slices
1kg frozen spinach
Spinach, defrosted
200g pack low-fat feta cheese
generous grating nutmeg
large handful olives
Bowl of olives, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp caper
Capers, rinsed
400g can chopped tomatoes
25g Parmesan
Parmesan, grated
Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E, folic acid, iron and zinc. Eat it raw in salads or add towards the end of cooking, to give the leaves just enough time to wilt and retain as much goodness as possible.
    Spinach & feta cannelloni
    1. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Put the lasagne sheets in a large bowl and cover with boiling water.
    2. Soak for 5 mins or prepare according to pack instructions.
    3. Meanwhile, squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach, then mix with the feta, nutmeg and some seasoning.
    4. Drain the pasta, then cut each sheet in half vertically.
    5. Spoon 4 tbsp of the filling along the centre of each half, then roll up to enclose.
    6. Place in a lightly oiled baking dish.   
    7. Mix the olives, capers and tomatoes together in a bowl, season, then spoon over the cannelloni.
    8. Sprinkle with parmesan, cover with foil, then bake for 20 mins.
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