Nov09

Outlets in Tuscany

Not just outlets. Who doesn’t like shopping? Whare five minutes from the SmArt Hotel Bartolini; here you can buy the bust fashions in Italian and Tuscan style. Exploring Pistoia you will find many shops to buy mementoes of your Italian experience.

The most famous brands and an attentive welcome to all your needs will help you choose the best buys.

The main Outlet stores in Tuscany are near to Montecatini; the SmArt Hotel Bartolini can be your starting point to have fun shopping in Tuscan outlets.

The Mall, for example, is just one hour by car and is a luxury outlet centre designed to offer the visitor excellent quality at extremely good prices.

The Barberino Designer Outlet is very near the motorway exit of the A1 at Barberino di Mugello, easily reached within one hour by car from the SmArt Hotel Bartolini. Here, there are more than 100 shops of the best brands that sell practically everything, from clothes to cosmetics and electric goods.

Fashion Valley, which opened in 2011, is a little further away and offers over 20 boutiques with international and Italian designer clothes such as Versace, Ermanno Scervino, Trussardi, Hermes, Chopard, Pomellato and many others.

There are many branches of Dolce and Gabbana, Fendi, Roberto Cavalli and Prada Space, all easily reached from the SmArt Hotel Bartolini.

Nov09




Events in Tuscany

Here are the main events in Tuscany that take place each year in cities around Montecatini Terme. Staying in comfort at the SmArt Hotel Bartolini you can easily enjoy any of these events and avoid the stress of staying where the events are held.

In Tuscany, there is, in fact, a long tradition of exhibitions and festivals, such as the Palio in Siena, the most important event in that city’s calendar, which takes place each year, already in its sixth century.

Below you’ll find a short list of the events that are easy to visit while staying in comfort at the SmArt Hotel Bartolini in Montecatini Terme.

Carnival in Viareggio – Viareggio

In the week before Ash Wednesday, in many places in Tuscany, there are carnival parades before the period of Lent. One of the most famous in Italy takes place in Viareggio, with a parade of large allegorical floats with enormous papier mache puppets, fireworks and people in costumes and masks along the seafront of the town.

Maggio Musicale Fiorentino – Florence

The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Florentine Musical May) is a prestigious artistic show organized in Florence. It is an annual festival of opera, concerts, ballet and theatre founded in 1933 through the initiatives of its patron Luigi Ridolfi Vay da Verrazzano and the conductor Vittorio Gui, with contributions from his fascist successor as the Federal of Florence, Alessandro Pavolini. It is usually held from the end of April until the beginning of July. Since 1986, the Director of the Orchestra of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino has been Zubin Mehta, who in 2006 became its honorary director for life. The dance company of Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is called MaggioDanza and is one of the principle dance groups in Italy.

Historic Florentin Football – Florence

The old game of Florentine football, also known as ‘football in costume’, has its roots in ancient times: in fact, in latin it was called florentinum harpastum. It is a team game with an inflated ball, and is considered by many to be the father of modern-day football, even though it reminds one more of rugby. The four teams competing for victory represent the four quarters of the ancient city: Santa Croce (blue), Santo Spirito (white), Santa Maria Novella (red) and San Giovanni (green). The prize is a calf, from the prestigious Chianina breed, famous in Tuscany.

Pistoia Blues Festival – Pistoia

The Pistoia Blues Festival has taken place every year since 1980 in the month of July and is organized by the Associazione Blues In and the Pistoia Council, in collaboration with the region of Tuscany. The festival usually takes place over three evenings. Over the years, many artists have participated, principally blues musicians, but also rock and roll, soul and jazz artists, among whom are: Chuck Berry (1989), Frank Zappa, Jimmy Page, Buddy Guy, Pat Metheny, Jeff Healey, Carlos Santana, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Van Morrison, Albert King, Bob Dylan (1996), Lou Reed, Joe Cocker, David Bowie (1997), Robert Plant, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors (2011), Brian Auger, Skunk Anansie and many others, including Italians Zucchero, Franco Battiato and Enzo Avitabile.

The Bear Game – Pistoia

La Giostra dell’orso is a modern revival of the ancient Berber horse race which was held in the city of Pistoia up until the 13th century every July 25th, the day of the patron saint of the city, Saint Jacob. The actual horse race is preceded by celebrations of its patron saint and various shows that bring the city to life.

Lucca Summer Festival – Lucca

The Lucca Summer Festival is a musical show which has been held in Lucca in the month of July since 1998. Framed by the city of Lucca, within its splendid city walls, the concerts take place in the various city squares — Piazza Napoleone, Piazza San Martino and Piazza dell’Anfiteatro — giving a magical feeling to each show.

 Festival Puccini – Torre del Lago

 At the Puccini Festival one can enjoy the great stars of opera, under the direction of world-renowned orchestra directors, and admire extraordinary productions of the Puccini repertoire from Madam Butterfly, Turandot, La Bohème, Tosca and Manon Lescaut. The Grand Open Air Theatre which seats 3400 and is dedicated to Maestro Puccini, opens onto the atmospheric Lake Massaciuccoli and is surrounded by charming parkland with sculptures of the great contemporary sculptors such as Pietro Cascella, Jean-Michel Folon e Kan Yasuda.

 Lucca Comics & Games – Lucca

 Lucca Comics & Games is an exhibition dedicated to comics, animation and games (role playing games, and board and card games), video games and fantasy and science fiction games, that takes place in Lucca in Tuscany, from the last days of October to early November. It is considered one of the most important Italian exhibitions of its type, the second in Europe and third in the world, after the Comiket in Tokyo and the International Festival in France.

Nov09

Museums, Sport and Nature

If you want to discover museums, sport or the outdoors can a good starting point is Montecatini Terme and the SmArt Hotel Bartolini.

Montecatini Terme is, in fact, the ideal place to dedicate time to your health, body, and sports without worrying about time or the hurry of daily life.

From tennis to golf, on the beautiful golf course at Golf Montecatini La Pievaccia, from jogging in the spa parks to the various trekking expeditions along Tuscan paths, from a relaxing cycle ride on the flat to a challenge in the hills and mountains, all of this is possible.

Montecatini Terme is a famous city for sport, a centre for exhibitions and championships. It hosted the World Cycling Championship 2013, and is the site for training and competition for both professional and amateur teams in various sports; everything is here for athletes and their companions.

Montecatini, the Valdinievole and the hills around Pistoia have always been the crossroads for pilgrims, merchants, travelers going to Florence or Bologna, Rome or France, the centre of Italy or the German-speaking countries.

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Today, walking, cycling, horse-back riding along green paths allows you to see this land in a pleasantly slow and healthy way.

In Valdinievole the Valeriana hikes in the hills of the Pesciatina take you through scenic medieval hill-top villages as far as the hills of Monsummano Alto; then the country of Leonardo Da Vinci along the ridge of Montalbano, routes along the river of Pescia and finally, the unique setting of the plains of the Oasi Naturale del Padule di Fucecchio (The Natural Oasis of the Fucecchio Marshes) are an opportunity for anyone who wants to discover Nature. The countryside here is varied and each season has its own colours, smells and tastes.

The hills of Pistoia, reachable from Pistoia or Marliana, Montecatini Terme or Massa e Cozzile, offers a variety of sports and gastronomic opportunites, with medieval villages and museums, all included in the tourist network called Ecomuseo. Immersed in the green of spring and summer and the white of winter snow, the Tuscan mountains, with the famous ski resort of Abetone, is just one hour away.

A healthy spirit means a healthy mind.

For this reason it is possible to visit the Valdinievole discovering many small museums and minor works of art and culture that are intriguing and unique.

The museum network of the Valdinievole connects the sites of the region in a thematic itinerary that allows a variety of views of the region.

Recently, MoCA, the Montecatini Contemporary Art gallery was inaugurated in the old Post Office of the City Hall. MoCA hosts paintings of great value, starting with Joan Mirò’s ‘Woman wrapped in a flight of birds’ and Petro Annigoni’s ‘Life’.

There are countless possibilities for visits around the Valdinievole, Montecatini and the Pistoia area and the guests at the SmArt Hotel Bartolini will be helped in choosing museums, sports facilities and countryside spots by our professional team.

Nov09

Pistoia

Pistoia, a city of Roman origin, is a real treasure chest for art lovers, and those who enjoy the more authentic traditions of Tuscany.

The town centre has many churches, cloisters, palaces and monuments dating from Medieval times, which revolve around the Duomo square, considered one of the most beautiful Italian squares thanks to its Baptistry of Saint John, Cathedral of Saint Zeno, the Palace of the Bishops and the bell tower called Catilina.

In Pistoia you can discover the history connected to the old Hospital which welcomed the pilgrims who were on their way to Rome along the Via Francigena: a fascinating underground route is open to tourists.

Pistoia is not only a city of the Middle Ages, built on the cult around the reliquary of Saint Josef of Compostela; it is also home to contemporary artists who have left visible traces of their works of art. The extraordinary figure of Marino Marini and also Iorio Vivarelli are emblamatic. And then there is the beautiful Fabroni Palace, museum of contemporary visual arts, and the works of art that adorn the city.

Around Pistoia, you find medieval villages, churches and castle forts, in addition to one of the world’s most important collections of land art, the Fattoria di Celle.

A visit to Pistoia Zoo, one of the loveliest zoos in Italy, is recommended and not just for children.

Music lovers can’t miss the celebrated Blues Festival that takes place in the Piazza del Duomo, and each summer features stars of the caliber of John Mayall, BB King and Bob Dylan. In July, those who prefer Tuscan traditions can follow the Giostra Dell’Orso (The Bear Game) which recreates the glories of a medieval tournament in costume.

A visit to Pistoia is unmissable for whoever wants to experience authentic Tuscany.

Nov09

Valdinievole

The countryside and castles of the Valdinievole are found in the very heart of Tuscany, between Pistoia and Lucca, and for centuries was a cross-road of culture, exchange and meetings.

From Montecatini Terme, lifting your gaze towards the amphitheatre of hills that surround the town, you can discover something of the history of this area. Old fortifications, the narrow … of the houses in a medieval village, the bell tower of a church, stand between the olive trees of the hills of the Valdinievole.

The ten old ‘castles’ that surround Pescia, one of the larger historic towns of the Valdinievole, make up the ‘Svizzera pesciatina’ or Swiss Pescia. Pietrabuona, Fibbialla, Aramo, San Quirico, Castelvecchio, Sorana, Stiappa, Pontito and Vellano are ancient hill-top villages that remind one of a fairy-tale world.

These old villages, enclosed by their ancient walls, once surveyed the boundaries of the states of Lucca and Florence. The castles can still be visited if you follow their traces from the past in the narrow climbing streets, the old stone walls and ancient paths under chestnut trees, that connect the villages in the tranquil countryside of the Valdinievole.

During a visit of the Valdinievole you will find old villages such as Uzzano, Stignano, Buggiano Castello, Massa, Cozzile, Monsummano Alto, Montevettolini, Larciano Castello as far as Serravalle.

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The Valdinievole is the land of Pinocchio, the most famous puppet in the world. In fact, the mother of Carlo Lorenzini, the author of Pinocchio, is born here, in Collodi, part of Pescia, where the humble family lived and worked. At Collodi, one can visit the Pinocchio Park, a beautiful garden where nature and sculpture bring the fairy story to life. Nearby is the Garzoni Garden, a marriage of gardens, flowers and water, and the attractive Butterfly House.

Parco di Pinocchio a Collodi

Another place worth a visit is the Santuario della Madonna del Buon Consiglio which houses a cycle of frescoes painted by Pietro Annigoni and his pupils, from 1967. The frescoes feature several biblical themes, such as ‘The Prophet Isaia and Geremia’, ‘The Deposition and Resurrection of Christ’, ‘The Last Supper’, and ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’.

The Valdinievole is, therefore, a place where one can immerse oneself in the discovery of Tuscany.

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