Saturday, July 17, 2010

Traveling Around Tuscany- A Treat with A Twist!

Driving around Tuscany was a delight. The towns were near each other, the roads were clearly marked and each town had some special character and charm to discover. Here are four more of them:

Pisa is in western Tuscany and is know throughout the world for the Leaning Tower. Of course, there is so much more there than the world renown landmark. It has many historical buildings and manages to maintain its medieval appearance. It is also known for its excellent university which was established in 1343.

Terme is a popular destination for thermal spa tourism. The link will give you information about hot springs all over Italy. The bottom picture is from Terme.

Arezzo offers many artistic elements and original characteristics to visitors. There is an Antique Furniture Exhibition the first weekend of the month. There are also splendid landscapes around the area as well as Etruscan remains and architectural and pictorial works of different periods. Second photo from bottom is a scene from Arezzo.

One of my favorites, however, was Pitigliano, a very small town in the southern part of Tuscany. The Jewish Quarter of Pitigliano was settled by Jews in the 16th century when the town became a haven for Jews escaping the enclosed ghettos of cities like Siena and Florence. Even when the Jewish Quarter was enclosed in 1622, relationships still continued between Jews and non-Jews, and it was known as the liveliest Jewish ghetto in Italy. When Jews were emancipated in the mid-19th century, the ghetto population was about 500, accounting for a third of Pitigliano's population. Many of them left for cities, though, and by WWII none were left.

The parts of the ancient Jewish Quarter open to visitors includes a small museum, the restored synagogue from 1598 which was done beautifully, ritual baths, dye works, the kosher butchering area and bread ovens. It was quite a surprise to see a synagogue in a small hill town and a kosher bakery, even though it was not working!! Second photo from the top is the restored synagogue and top photo is one of the streets in Pitigliano. It's a wonderful town to visit- all the usual elements, with a surprise twist! Actually, the kosher bakery is the central window on the left.

Next post will include some of the art I created, inspired by this trip into Tuscany, a magnificent and multi-sensory environment!! Of course, the colors and sensory experiences of Italy are in my mind's eye forever and will always be there influencing me in some way.

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