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Museo Leonardiano di Vinci - Anyone been there? Is it worth it? or these 4 villas Villa Medicea La Petraia; Villa di Castello; villa di Careggi. Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano? We have 2 wks in Tuscany.

Museo Leonardiano di Vinci - Anyone been there? Is it worth it? or these 4 villas Villa Medicea La Petraia; Villa di Castello; villa di Careggi. Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano? We have 2 wks in Tuscany.

Old Nov 27th, 2006, 11:38 AM
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Museo Leonardiano di Vinci - Anyone been there? Is it worth it? or these 4 villas Villa Medicea La Petraia; Villa di Castello; villa di Careggi. Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano? We have 2 wks in Tuscany.

Your opinions.
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Old Nov 27th, 2006, 01:20 PM
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I am not sure about your motivation in visiting these villas but if their gardens are of interest and is an itinerary topic for you, I can comment on two and can tip you to others.

Villa della Petraia and Villa di Castello are linked by via Castello and can be visited in sequence and on one ticket.
Castello is probably more historically significant as a High Renaissance protype garden design, but is less interesting and less intact. The parterres stretching up the hill are a mere remnant of their past glory.
Petraia, besides having a more pleasing layout and features such as the fish tank terrace with a great staircase over leading to the upper terrace with its wonderful simple fountain in the middle of the parterre which terminates with a delightful outbuilding on the wall, also offers a tour of the interior. The skylit (if I remember) courtyard frescoes are well preserved and bombastic in their honouring of the Grand Duke and his supposed achievements.

I can't comment on the other two villas but I will take a chance that villa/garden design is a theme and suggest at least one other in the area around Florence.
That would be Villa Gamberaia near Settignano which I think is the queen of the Tuscan gardens. The villa itself is either not or rarely accessible (wish it was, my experience was 1998) but the garden is a compact tour de force of Italian garden design. The water parterres from the nineteenth century are unique and are set off beautifully by the hedges and topiary exedra at the termination of the main axis.
The adjacent long walk has compartments leading off including the nymphaeum at the end and the tufa encrusted grotto overlooked by the lemon garden with its romantic orangery building. The low walls on the edge of the property overlook beautiful olive groves on the hill and in the distance a spectacular view of Florence. The marble dogs that alternate on piers on those low walls are memorable; if I could only have one of them for my own garden.

Since you state in another post that your base is Lucca (a favorite of ours) I could mention that the area around Lucca is home to at least four more villas and gardens worth a visit. We got around to them in a long day which included a fabulous drive through the mountains on the way to I think Garzoni. In any case I'll note them and if you are interested I could comment more.
Villa Reale at Marlia is the best with an array of garden zones, styles and features, Villa Garzoni the most over the top and Baroque, and Villa Torrigiani and Villa Mansi are also worth a look.

Again assuming your interest, a very useful and indispensible (if it were updated) book is "The Garden Lover's Guide to Italy" by Penelope Hobhouse and published as part of a series by the Princeton Architectural Press in 1998. I understand that some info, probably related to access and times, is now outdated.
The web would no doubt now be a good supplement. For that matter http://www.gardenvisit.com/m/garden-...dexs/Italy.htm
and http://grandigiardini.it/2005/eng/main_eng.htm would be a start.
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Old Dec 5th, 2006, 03:24 AM
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normanoromano: Thank you so much for you informative reply. I saw pictures of the Villa Gamberaia (you mentioned) and that looks lovely. Will go for that one. Also says villa by appt. Yea! yes, I am interested in your thoughts on the ones in Lucca you mention. Which one or 2 are the best to see? And then maybe we could just see the Petraia one you mention as better then Castello, or should we not see Petraia as perhaps the ones in Lucca are more fabulous. We love to see lovely villas/gardens. We not experts just love beauty. We like to see a little of everything but of course there is so much so perhaps you could narrow it down to say 2 or 3 youd recommend. Thank you kindly.
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Old Dec 5th, 2006, 03:27 AM
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normanoromano: And what are your thought on the Bobli gardens? I mean should we see? How is that in comparison to any of those you mention?
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Old Dec 5th, 2006, 06:55 PM
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I just read yr other thread re the Tuscan part of yr journey.
I myself am of the slow travel persuasion. I just spent a month in Rome with only 2 trips out of town (if you don't count Via Appia on a Sunday). Thus I can very much relate to your seven nights in Venice; we did the same in October 1998 and there we left a lot of sites on the table as we just wandered at whim.
But this Tuscany thing! I am going to take into account yr precise but intense itinerary for "Tuscany" while based up way up in Lucca (and with all that driving). And with most of the biggies to be visited in Florence in apparently only two days. Does that include the out of town villas?
Therefore I am going to go for the bottom line. If by chance I've got it wrong and you have more time, I'll go the next step. But the "A" list would be:
Around Florence, Villa Gamberaia http://www.villagamberaia.com/ - greatest beauty per square foot. We took the bus and had a bit of an adventure, but if you are driving (in Florence, yikes!) then you could fit in Petraia but I'd also consider instead visiting Fiesole and if you can find a way to visit Villa Medici there (it may be private still and only open to 'scholars' or somesuch), then that would be a rare highlight.
In Florence, you are at Boboli if you are at Pitti but it's is best as a view of Florence at leisure on a Sunday rather than as a great garden. Worth a look but it is big and I don't know how much you are trying to fit in in that day. In retrospect, I would have visited the galleries rather than the garden in the half day that we spent there. OTOH if you have the time, take a hike up the hill. The view of the surrounding hills and villa scene from the top garden was worthy.
If you have time, I suppose that Petraia is OK, you also get the villa which is nice, and the garden is reasonably interesting. Not the A list. Maybe B+.

At Lucca, if nothing else, Villa Reale at Marlia. http://www.lucca.info/villa_reale_di_marlia_en.htm It's also close to town.
I think Garzoni would be the second choice but it is a bit away and a little quirky and actually sort of touristy in its splaying on the hill such that I'd possibly skip it , spend more time at Villa Reale and then bicycle around the walls of Lucca instead. Garzoni B-.

My comments are based on what seems like an ambitous and highly structured itinerary that you are pursuing and actually after re-reading that thread, I still can't get a clear sense of what yr decisions are or will be. I think I am saying that you might have to reveal a little more before I or anyone could make overly fine distinctions.
That said, I saw much (not enough) of Florence and those mentioned villas in our seven nights there, and four villas and Lucca in two nights and the rest of a lot of Tuscany from four nights near Sienna and four near Cortona (which included a daytrip to Villa Lante and Bormarzio near Viterbo). I would do it all again in twice the time. At least.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 02:19 AM
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We have 1 week in Venice (historical house in Venice - sorta near San Marco), then 2 weeks in Tuscany (all based out of our villa in Lucca). Perhaps that helps. I am just putting together an itinerary, so nothing is set in stone..just gathering information and I find your replies most useful and informative. So, with that in mind maybe that helps with your guideance. We have as many days in Florence as we'd like. At the moment I only have Uffizi and Accademia on one day and the Bobli Gardens & Pitti on another with lunch for each of those days. Does that sound okay for those 2 days? Knowing we have to full weeks? How would you group what with what to make a day here or there? I wanted to see as much in the areas surrounding us. We go fairly quickly too, both fit etc. Also, is it sort of unreasonable to think of going to Cinque Terre? Someone said need to spend the night. Of course, I was just hoping to go over early spend day then drive back since we have such a nice place to stay...but yes in Lucca...not central..more North..but I liked the place. BTW Italy trip #2 we will do Rome,& outlying areas and hopefully Capri...again have 3 wks. Hopefully this helps you with replying. I really appreciate your help. We also love great food and don't mind paying the money. At this point, I have reserv for "La Mora" in Lucca, "L'Enferno" just outside of Florence (highly recommend by owner of a villa we rented this yr in Napa CA) and a homemade Italian meal at a winery in Chianti hills through the "Accidental Tourist Tour Co" called Sunset Dinner Stroll. If you are familiar. Any help I appreciate. Oh, yes will definitely do: "Villa Gamberaia" (Florence) & "Villa Medici at Fiesole" and "Villa Reale at Marlia (Lucca)". Could we do Medici & Gamberaia together in one day you think? And should we even do "Villa Castello"? I know you didn't care much for "Villa Petraia" or scrap those two & just see the three and leave time for other things? - Candace
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 05:49 AM
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Poggia a Caiano was fascinating to me, particularly the interior murals on the walls and ceilings. There is also a bird sanctuary there. If you go, you may also want to go to Artemino, the Medici hunting lodge, not terribly far away, although Artemino may be in use, as I understand it's rented out for banquets now.

BC
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 05:55 AM
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Is the di Vinci museum the one in Vinci?
We stopped in Vinci on one of our trips and went to the museum and Leonardo's house. Interesting,but not earth shattering. The town is a nice hill town and overall the sidetrip was okay. I probably would not recommend if this is your first trip.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 09:08 AM
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Yes, di Vinci museum says it is in di vinci so then I won't bother with visiting there. And if I go to Villa Poggia a Caiano, I will check out the lodge you are referring to.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 09:12 AM
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My family and I enjoyed the museum in Vinci. The town itself is beautiful.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 09:24 AM
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Can't answer all yr questions but this is what I have I do know:
Villa Medici: Pleased to see that it is more accessable but requires a (written?) reservation. Details here http://people.umass.edu/jfa/latour/2005/JLy/index.html
and some history here http://www.gardenvisit.com/ge/medic1.htm
The real significance of Villa Medici is its history as the first Renaissance Garden and its prototypical connection of house and garden architecture and the fit of both to the hill with carefully arranged terraces. Not having seen it except from outside its walls in a wonderful walk around the town, I am not sure but think that the view would also be spectacular. A list.
Fiesole makes a nice day, the Roman ampitheatre and Etruscan museum are worthwhile and you might even squeeze Gamberaia into a long day. If just the villas, one day for both would be fine. If you are driving, it is not too far to Petraia/Castello. They are worth it if you have the time and love villas/history.

I thought the advise given about Cinqueterre on other thread seemed sound.

I love Lucca and would go back ( the walls, La Buca di Sant'Antonio, Piazza Anfiteatro, San Michelle, Torre Guinigi) but we chose to relocate when we drove around Tuscany and looked at hilltowns and such.
My favorites were San Gimignano (there is reason why it can be overrun by tourists), Pienza, Montepulciano (1 day together), Monte San Savino, Cortona and would have liked more of Siena and Montalcino. We saw and missed many others.
Finally my thoughts on trip planning and itineraries: it is good to plan, to study, to dream and to anticipate but when actually travelling to know enough to improvise the day or days in response to circumstance, surprise and discovery, mood or energy, and sometimes just whim.
In the end the greatest memories are made of these and cannot match the the preplanned images and sometimes those memories are made of the ordinary and the mundane and the unique and cannot be found in guides or other's experiences. If you must, program in plenty of nothing ; there is so much of the richness of Italy in that. For example:

I was the Navigator, we had been out visiting the villas around Lucca and were entering the walls to drive to our parking spot near our hotel (Piccolo Hotel Puccini) on the other side of this mostly pedestrian town. I said turn left, she turned right and I just threw up my hands and said yr on yr own! We fruitlessly circled through the maze of the streets, it was approaching sunset, and we finally got coralled in a little lane with no way out. I had to renounce my testosterone and get out and ask some young guys how to get to our parking lot (ouch!). They smirked at my dilemma and one of them pointed around the corner to the very pedestrian only main shopping street Via Fillungo which was now in full passagiata with what seemed like the whole town wall to wall. We can't drive down there, I protested. You have no choice he grinned. So in our brand new and newly released and curiosity inspiring A series rental Mercedes and its what seemed like glass cockpit, we very slowly rolled the three or four blocks down through all the crowds, babystrollers, nonnas and gawking car enthusiasts, parting them like sheep on a Sardinian mountain road. Just smile I said.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 09:38 AM
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Thank you....I sort of wanted "earth shattering". If you have only certain amount of time I want to do the Grade "A" sites.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 10:44 AM
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I understand but some of the jewels of Italy are quite understated.
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 02:22 AM
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normanoromano:
Thank you SO much for your informative & quaint reply yesterday. Is it possible to get your email? You can email me at [email protected] then I can reply. I have to get to gym/work but I'm thinking of some additional comments, questions, etc. LOVED the ending of your reply with the comment about the parting of the Italian Sea in your mercedes. ;-)
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 03:46 PM
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Gargiulo:
Not a good idea to post an email address on a forum like this if you don't want it harvested by agencies (or web crawling thingies) that sell it to spam operations.

In general, I prefer to keep my comments within this forum if you don't mind. But thanx for your kind words and enthusiasm.
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Old Dec 8th, 2006, 02:24 AM
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Certainly. I thought I saw that done on this site before. I'm sorry perhaps it was another one I viewed. No worries. You know, I got a rental car but I was wondering when you got yours did you get a GPS? Also do recommend a certain lot, just outside of city center to park as I have heard you do NOT want to go into city limits with a rental car. Also, do you think we shouldn't pick up our rental car at the airport if it is such a hassle to get out of town? Now I am a bit concerned ..based on other posting I have read. I know that it will be better outside of town. We had a rental car in France..and yes I know in Europe, in general, they are pretty fast and furious drivers. ;-) And oh about Cinque terra..Someone replied to me it was like 2.5 hrs..but I pulled it up on that michelein site and it said just 1.5 hrs. Seems to me we could just drive over and come back to sleep at our villa. Do you think that is feasible? Oh and what do you think of couple (SAN GIMIGNANO/Volterra/Pienza) together..someone elsewhere said Volterra was wonderful ? You been there? And yes, I have at least one free day at the villa between each day out..so although Im a schedule driven person...I put ample "free days" in between.
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Old Dec 8th, 2006, 02:25 AM
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oh oops....I meant to say in Florence normanoromano....the first paragraph above refers to being in Florence.
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Old Dec 8th, 2006, 04:12 AM
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Great info! Thanks to all. Bookmarking
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Old Dec 8th, 2006, 06:56 AM
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My travelling in this territory was in 1998 a little before GPS. I sat in the navigators seat with sometimes three maps at three scales on my lap.
I would avoid Florence driving at all costs. Our pickup and returns were in town and were plotted like military actions and were full of fear and adrenalin.

Don't know anything about Cinqueterre,
my reference was to the expertise of others in yr other thread.

San Gimignano and Volterra are proximate enough. We intended to go there on same day while staying near Siena, but had a leisurely lunch in SG while the October rains poured and ran out of day.
Pienza is far to the southeast and should be seen in at best a day with Montepulciano. I think another poster made reference to extreme driving times (given yr base in Lucca) in the other thread; this is one of those examples.

I used Michelin 430 Italia Centro for large scale planning and navigation and bought more detailed maps all over Tuscany for local travel.

One final note about yr Tuscan itinerary planning: we travelled in October when the daylight hours were waning. If your travel period is closer to the summer solstice, then you have more time to drive around. But you will still have to contend with not only the heat but the daily rhythm of Italian life which is likely still traditional in the smaller towns. That means that little is open between say noonish to one and three or four. Churches and shops in particular, those things you have come to see. In some cases even villas if I recall. That if anything else guides how much you can do in a day unless wandering around a nearly deserted town (our few hours in Pienza for example) listening to the families share lunch up in their apartments is enough of a reward for all that travelling and rushing about.
I think you can always get more out of less in Italy because everything is so much.
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 02:28 PM
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Hi... for informations about Vinci, i suggest the website

http://www.cityofvinci.com
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