This enormous palace is one of Florence's largest architectural monuments. The original palazzo was built for the Pitti family in 1457, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and built by his pupil Luca Fancelli. The original construction consisted of only the middle cube of the present building. In 1549, the property was sold to the Medicis and became the primary residence of the grand ducal family. The palace was then enlarged and altered; from 1560, Bartolomeo Ammannati designed and added the grandiose courtyard and two lateral wings.
Today, the Pitti Palace houses some of the most important museums in Florence: on the first floor is the Palatine Gallery, containing a broad collection 16th and 17th century paintings (including works by Raphael), and the Royal Apartments, containing furnishings from a remodeling done in the 19th century.
On the ground floor and mezzanine is the Treasury of the Grand Dukes (formerly known as the the Silver Museum or Museo degli Argenti) displaying a vast collection of Medici household treasures, from table silverware to precious stone vases, rock crystals and precious jewelry.
The Gallery of Modern Art is on the top floor, holding a collection of mostly Tuscan 19th and 20th century paintings.
A city like Florence, well known for its amazing art collections, monumental architecture and rich historic past can sometimes have you forget about the natural beauty that abounds in the form of well maintained gardens and parks. And then, when you do think about them, it is places like Boboli Gardens, the colorful iris and rose gardens, and even the Botanical Garden in the city center that come to mind first.
The magical silence and stunning architecture in the Bardini Gardens seem to get lost in the crowd of places to visit while in Florence.
Virtually unknown, and many times almost deserted, this 4 hectare garden was recently restored to part of its original glory and is now slowly being rediscovered by the locals and guests to the city of Florence. First time visitors to the Renaissance city just might not have time to fit it into their already full itinerary; however, those who are coming back to Florence again should really find time to walk the grounds. In an hour you can stroll the entire garden easily and calmly, and that is what this garden deserves: time for a short stroll that will sooth your soul.
The Villa Medicea at Castello just a few kilometers from Florence's historical center is an ancient complex which boasts an elegant villa and a splendid Italian garden, second only to the Boboli Gardens in Florence.
The villa reached the height of its splendor with Cosimo I dei Medici, Florence's new Duke, who turned it into a magnificent residence to celebrate the greatness of the Medici family. He ordered Giorgio Vasari to restore the villa and Niccolò Tribolo to project the Italian garden.
The villa presents a simple and geometric design with two floors and Renaissance windows. It was built around a courtyard of the 16th century with Tuscan lodges and pillars. Within the building, we find only one original fresco left from this time: the Annunciation by Raffaellino del Garbo. On the first floor, there is a large hall with frescos representing landscapes painted in the 1800th century, the Sala degli Armadi, the Sala delle Pale and a chapel.
The Villa is not accessible to the public since it has been the home of the prestigious Crusca Academy since 1583, a school dedicated to the study of the Italian language. You can, however, visit the splendid gardens without paying!
Just a few kilometres from the hubbub of tourists visiting Pisa and its splendid piazza dei Miracoli, there’s an island of nature that sits silently and far away from the changes of urbanization. We’re talking about the Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli Nature Park, a protected site that includes wet areas, marshes, sand dunes and the large Lake Massaciuccoli, once an ancient salt water lagoon.
The San Rossore Estate is the most important environment in the park: hugged by the Serchio to the north and the Arno to the south, the area conceals dense pine groves and woodlands of deciduous trees from the old-growth forest. The estate’s accessible itineraries zigzags through dunes and tombolos, marshes and woods that hide a wealth of fauna and flora.
The Botanical Garden of the University of Bologna is one of the oldest in Italy. It was founded in 1568 on the initiative of Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605). After several transfers found its permanent home in Via Irnerio, in the heart of the University area.
The Parco dei Mostri (Park of Monsters) of Bomarzo, a large park with gardens, buildings and fantastic sculptures, is a fun and different excursion, one that also inspired Salvador Dalì; meanwhile, the ancient village of Montecalvello develops around a castle where the famous Balthus, a contemporary painter, lived for thirty years.
The Parks of Nervi are an important historical/nature complex formed from the combination of several gardens that once belonged to private villas: Villa Gropallo, Villa Saluzzo Serra, and Villa Grimaldi Fassio. Today, these villas belong to the City of Genoa and have been transformed into museums.
Villa Borghese of Rome is one of the largest urban parks in Europe. The State acquired the gardens from the Borghese family in 1901 and opened them to the public on 12 July 1903.
What differentiates Villa Borghese from other large parks such as Hyde Park or Central Park is the perfect combination between nature and Roman art. Villa Borghese is home to interesting architectural elements, sculptures, monuments and fountains created at different times by famous artists.
If you have enough time in Rome, travel with children or are looking for a little relaxation, the Villa Borghese is a mandatory stop in your itinerary. If you want to tour the Villa Borghese and take advantage of the time to do some exercise, it is possible to rent rollerblades, bicycles and other forms of transportation at the main gates.
Red Island (Crveni otok), one of the most renowned tourist locations in Rovinj. Actually, it consists of two artificially connected islands: St. Andrew’s Island (Otok Sv. Andrije) and Maškin Island (Otok Maškin).
Red Island is a fifteen-minute sail away from the town center. Taxi boats arrive from and depart for Red Island every hour, from a small pier on the main town square, and from Delfin pier. The sail to the island is very pleasant, passing by Katarina Island, Lona and Zlatni rt bays that will surely enchant you with their beauty.
Dense Mediterranean underbrush and old coniferous forest are predominant on the island, and there are cultivated flower parks with paths near the hotels and annexes. In 2002, Red Island was hit by a heavy storm, almost entirely destroying the 100-year-old pine forest, which has been providing shade and shelter from summer heats for numerous tourists. The biggest damage was caused on Maškin Island. A lot has been done towards cleaning and renovating the island since last year so that you could enjoy its beauty and intimacy again.
You can find a really large number of beaches on the island. They are mainly stony beaches with typical coves covered with pebbles. The most frequented beaches are the ones situated on the south side of St. Andrews Island, near the hotel and the annexe. Numerous services are offered nearby, namely: a restaurant, a pool, miniature golf courses, a diver centre and others. A small part of the shore near the little port has been covered with gravel, making it suitable for children and seniors.
Brijuni Islands are situated near the city of Pula and represent the only National Park in Istria County. They were declared as National Park in 1983. With its 14 islands, 743,30 ha of area and water surface of 2652 ha (total area of 3395,00 ha), they represent the most indented and interesting islands in Istria. By arriving at Brijuni Islands and walking on its gentle paths, one can immediately notice why they deserved almost mythical status with its pleasant and mild climate. There is an important archaeological site on these islands in the northern Adriatic, and there is a rich cultural ancestry of the islands from the earliest to modern times.
The forest park Punta Corrente (Golden Cape) is one of the most important natural attractions of Rovinj. At the end of the nineteenth century, Georg Hütterott bought four Rovinj islands (St. Andrew, Maskin, Sturag and San Giovanni) and began cleaning up an area of about 90 hectares on the Golden Cape to build a spa. His premature death interrupted the realization of this ambitious project, but his vision remained and contributed to the development of tourism in this area.
The uniqueness of Punta Corrente has been recognized in 1961 and declared a nature park.
Golden Cape is ideal for various sporting activities such as running, cycling, gymnastics. The old quarry has been transformed into a paradise for lovers of free climbing. The park is perfect for a leisurely stroll. The whole area is closed to traffic from motor vehicles.
The beaches of Punta Corrente are worth a visit. As in the rest of the coast, there are rocky capes and pebble bays suitable for children. In several places along the coast there are beach bars where you can refresh.
Eight kilometres south of Rovinj on an area of about 20 hectares in the rainy periods and two hectares in periods of drought, near the sea and the bays Cisterna and Gustinja, it is located the only ornithological reserve in Istria, the "Special ornithological reserve Palud - Palù" whose trademark is the Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus).
Palud was a freshwater swamp that the Austro-Hungarian army connected to the sea in 1906 by digging a channel with the hope that the increased salinity of water would stop the development of mosquito larvae and thus prevent malaria. They didn't manage to suppress malaria but as a result of the mixing of fresh and saltwater in the swamp, mullets and eels, fish that prefer brackish water, found their habitat.
Near the road Rovinj-pula, about 2 kilometres far from the centre of the City of Rovinj, in the locality of Monfiorenzo, is situated the quarry phantasy, a geological park of remarkable beauty and importance. According to the expert opinion of numerous scientists, it is one of the most significant natural monuments in the world in the perspective of the karst phenomenon. The lime-stone of the quarry phantasy, like the open book pages, illustrate the history of the evolution of the terrestrial crust.
Various layers give evidence of the existence of the fossilized meadows consisting of sea-weeds, which, blended with lime-stone silt, were drifted on the shore by strong currents during the last 130 million years.
The quarry phantasy will reveal to a more careful visitor a considerably big number of furrows made of black and white dolomiti layers. Furthermore, there are fissures formed by tightening and exsiccation of the silt that had been squeezed into the previously created sediment.
The lower part of these stony layers was formed below the sea level, while the upper part is the result of the high-tide.
Culture and nature promenade across beauty, innovation and Como's treasures. A path through Villa Olmo, Villa del Grumello and Villa Sucota where art initiatives grow. A place to meet and "breathe" culture for citizens and tourists.
One of the public buildings in Varese that is well worth a visit is Palazzo Estense, which was the summer and autumn residence and court of Francesco III d'Este, the Duke of Modena and Lord of Varese. It was built to the designs of the architect Bianchi in the second half of the eighteenth century. The “Salone Estense” (Estense Hall) with its large fireplace made from multicoloured marble is quite stunning. Palazzo Estense is now the Town Hall.
Behind the palace are the Estensi Gardens, one of the most charming public parks in Italy, which were built in the same style as the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace, in Vienna, and finished in 1787.
Located right in the centre of Opatija, St. James’ Park is a recognisable landmark of the town. The well-manicured green lawns and the harmony of colourful flowers make a perfect setting next to the Church of St. James.
The park is distinguished by its neo-baroque fountain with sculptures of Helios and Selene (the god of the Sun and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology), a work by the sculptor Hans Rathausky. The park stretches down to the sea where the Juraj Šporer Art Pavilion is located – the venue of many artistic events and exhibitions.
Visit the Villa Angiolina, a former summer residence and today the seat of the Croatian Museum of Tourism. The museum hosts various exhibitions, workshops and projects that will explain to you why Opatija was a favourite destination for many historical figures.
This is the building that certainly marked the beginning of the tourist epoch in the history of Opatija. Pending its building in 1844. (actually a reconstruction of an older building owned by baron Haller von Hallerxtein); Opatija was a relatively large settlement with about 120 houses, clustered mainly around plots further away from the sea coast and chiefly oriented towards fishing and seafaring. With the arrival of Iginio Scarpa, a patrician from Rijeka, and building of his summer house Angiolina (named after Scarpa’s then already deceased wife, originating from the Sartori family), Opatija opened her doors to a whole line of guests and passengers, among whom it is noteworthy to mention the Austrian empress Mary Ann, the botanist Heinrich Noë, the croatian ban Josip Jelačić and others who in their enthusiasm for the local vegetation and climate spread the fame about Opatija and thus prepared the ground for the future health resort.
Isolino Virginia is one of the oldest pile-dwelling settlements in the Alps and was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2011 as part of a serial property known as the “Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps”. The tiny islet is home to a LIPU (the Italian Society for the Protection of Birds) sanctuary that acts as a stopover for many species of migrating birds, and attracts many visitors as there is so much to see and do. As the area around Lake Varese has a long tradition of marvellous cuisine it also has many traditional restaurants and eateries serving local produce, and Isolino Virginia is no exception – a meal at the islet’s restaurant is a memorable experience. Tourists come to admire Lake Varese’s wonderful sights and culture and small boats ferry them to and from the islet from different points of the lake depending on the time of day.
Mlaka Park, also known as Giardino Pubblico, is one of the oldest and most beautiful parks in Rijeka. It was designed in 1874 by Filibert Bazarig, PhD as indicated be based on the proposals of Rijeka’s mayor at the time, Giovanni Ciotta as a kind of frontier between the city centre and the western suburbs as well as the announcement of the historical centre for those arriving from that direction into the centre.
Originally a spacious park irrigated by natural resources, it was once a favourite popular meeting point, although today it occupies a smaller area due to the construction of buildings that have been constructed around it in its surroundings over time. In spite of its reduced size, this park located close to the train station is still a pleasant place for relaxation and walking.
Those who take a stroll through the gardens will be able to discover all the essential components of a Japanese garden: a pond, islands, a waterfall, lanterns, bridges, a tea house and a Zen garden. This green oasis is a rich mix of Japanese tradition and Mediterranean touches, the result of close collaboration between gardeners from Monaco and Japan. The bamboo hedges, tiles (Awaji Island), stone lanterns, and the woods used in the various structures (gate, tea house, etc.) were all imported from Japan, while the plants, all Mediterranean (pine, olive and pomegranate trees), were pruned and looked after by Mr Beppu for three years to give them a Japanese appearance.
Apart from Mlaka Park, Nikola Host’s Park is one of the oldest in Rijeka. It was created in the 19th century as a botanical garden close to Villa Androch when it was owned by Archduke Joseph, a great lover and connoisseur of the art of gardening. Located on the rocky terrain and stretching over several levels, the park, with its sculptures, fountains and exotic plants brought by the archduke from around the world, has assumed the appearance of an English garden. This appearance has partly faded away over time. The park was named after the Austrian botanist who participated in its creation. Today Villa Androch houses the State Archives.
Fontvieille Park encircles the Big Top, providing the district with an urban landscaped park that is much appreciated by families. It features Mediterranean plants such as olive, pine and cypress trees alongside more exotic species like Strelitzias, Stenocarpus and Araucarias.
Spread over an area of approximately 15,000 m2, the Exotic Garden is home to a thousand cacti and other succulent plants with stems or hypertrophic leaves which store water. Originally from the planet’s main semi-arid regions, these plants still produce plenty of flowers. The principal flowering seasons are winter (January–February) for South African succulents such as Aloe and Crassula, and spring and summer for cacti, a family native to the American continent.
The enormous trees which line the paths of the Exotic Garden illustrate the age of the collection which served as the basis for the creation of the garden at the instigation of Prince Albert I. Opened to the public in February 1933, and supplemented in the 1960s by a botanical centre and specialist tree nursery, the garden is one of the Principalities most visited tourist attractions.
At the base of the cliff on which the Exotic Garden is situated (called “the observatory” due to the long-standing presence of a small astronomical observatory), at an altitude of 100 metres, there is a subterranean chamber equipped to receive visitors. The limestone rock, carved out by water containing carbon dioxide, is studded with caverns adorned with geological formations bearing evocative names: stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, columns, soda straws...
Expert guided tours of the cave are included in the entry ticket for the Exotic Garden. The tour travels from a depth of 98 metres to a depth of 40 metres (around 300 steps). The chamber plunges down almost to sea level and is regularly explored by local cavers.
The presence of prehistoric humans in the region of the cave is confirmed by the bones of the animals that they ate. These remains also illustrate the climate variations that have taken place over the last 250,000 years.
The city’s original site, the Castle Hill (Parc De La Colline Du Chateau) once boasted a reputedly impregnable citadel that was entirely dismantled by the soldiers of the French King Louis XIV in 1706.
Truly a maze of greenery that has become popular for its cool undergrowth and surprising waterfall, this wonderful place for strolling offers a wonderful viewpoint over Baie des Anges, Old Nice and the Port (orientation table). Spectacular lighting at night.
Kornati National Park covers the major part of the Kornati water area and was proclaimed a national park in 1980 due to its exceptional landscape beauty, interesting geomorphology, well-indented coastline and a rich marine ecosystem.
The Kornati Archipelago encompasses an area of about 320 km2. This most indented island ecosystem in the Adriatic Sea has 89 islands, islets and cliffs. It was named after the largest island of Kornati. Because of its uninhabitedness and wildness, intact nature and outstanding beauty, the Kornati are appealing to many tourists and important for the development of excursions, sports and nautical tourism.
The National Park covers - including land and marine areas - 20,180 ha, with a coastal development of 180 kilometers. La Maddalena, mother island and capital of the homonymous Archipelago, is the Park gateway. It is the one and only inhabited island, except for the village of Stagnali in Caprera Island and the settlements of Santa Maria.
It offers many activities and exhibitions on Nature all year long, with - some twenty theme gardens display 2,500 plant species. A lake, where a hundred birds - ducks, pelicans, black swans - live together in peace and in which are reflected the white marble façades of the Asian Arts Museum designed by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Also one of the largest greenhouses in Europe: the ‘Green Diamond’, that takes visitors through 6 different tropical climates to discover several thousand rare plant species, including tree ferns, an orchid collection... and many more plants. And you can see crocodiles, iguanas and exotic birds. A family of Varis lemurs are currently delighting visitors.
At the tip of Cap d'Antibes, on a superb plot of 11 hectares, you will find the villa Eilenroc. This exceptional residence symbolizes the luxury and voluptuousness of the Belle Epoque. It was built in 1867 following plans by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris and Monte Carlo opera houses.
The Park Exflora is the most recent Antibes garden. The 12 acres of land are composed of an olive grove and different types of Mediterranean plants. Fountains, jets and ponds form a “water path” 500 metres long. Along the alley leading to the sea, many rose bushes are planted, as a reminder of the famous rose productions of Antibes.
The Mont Avic natural park was established in 1989 to preserve the resources ofthe high valley of Torrente Chalamy (Champdepraz); in 2003, a part of the great valley of Dondena was also included in the protected area, reaching up as far as the mountain ridges of the Val Soana and the Valle di Cogne.
Mediterranean Monastery Garden of St. Lawrence was restored and opened in 2007, after being forgotten for a hundred years. It is an integral part of the St. Lawrence Monastery and was restored according to the project of architect Dragutin Kiš.
It is the only garden of its kind in Croatia. In the center of the garden, there is a water source, surrounded by medicinal and spicy Mediterranean herbs.
The area was proclaimed national park in 1985. The National Park includes one or more preserved or insignificantly altered ecosystems. By the submergence of the riverbed, the Krka River is about 72.5 kilometers long and has its source at the foot of the Dinara mountain. With seven travertine waterfalls and a total fall of 224 meters, the Krka is a natural and karst phenomenon. The beauty of Skradinski buk, the longest travertine barrier on the Krka River and one of the most famous beauties of Croatia, is particularly remarkable