When I was in Florence, I found out about a series of free tours of Prato, a neighboring area in the region of Florence, which was aimed at promoting the area as an alternative sightseeing destination to the often-overcrowded Firenze. One of the places we went to was a cute hilltop estate called La Rocca di Montemurlo, in Montemurlo, Prato.
Our bus was too big to go up the steep roads to the estate, so the organizers actually partnered up with the commune’s emergency services (the misericordia) so we were driven up to the estate in ambulances. It was a bit of a slow process just because they had 2 ambulances that could only take a handful of people at a time, and there was a giant bus full of us. But I applauded their creativity and especially the community participation. Talk about team spirit!
This view ❤
This is the private villa at the top. We were given access to the garden, which was also really beautiful.
The stuff of fairytales
I want a mini private forest too
The estate was also hosting a wedding reception at the time, so this would also make for a great little wedding location!
To visit, check out if thatsprato.com is still offering the free tours
Palacio Real, Madrid, Spain. April 2014.
Outside, a bit austere, and almost fortress-like. Inside, very baroque and Versailles-inspired (like a lot of palaces in Europe).
But still (and this is just my personal beef with Spain) not very Spanish.
Inside, photos weren’t allowed in most parts (which is always a shame for people who like taking photos -.-), but they really don’t come close to Versailles, so I don’t worry too much about it hahaha
Read more about my frustrations with Spanish architecture here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Palau Güell, Barcelona, Spain. April 2014.
A Gaudi brainchild of a mansion built for Eusebi Güell, Palau Güell is one factory of strange. As a whole, I’m not sure I like it, exactly. Up close there are several details which I really like individually. But maybe maximalism just isn’t my style, because once you put everything together, I find it’s hard to focus on the small details, and some get lost in the shuffle of perhaps too much design.
Panzanello Winery, Panzano in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy. June 2015.
I realized that I didn’t really have a category for posts about vineyards and countrysides, chateaus, villas, etc., so I thought I’d put them together in an altogether new category, “estates“, because they’re not all museums, and they don’t always fit under monuments or architecture…so that’s the best that I could come up with so far. Might change it once I think of something better, but right now I’m drawing blanks, so it’ll have to do 😐
My friend and I joined a Chianti day tour via Smart Trip (terrible tour company though–disorganized and overbooked), and our first stop was in Panzano in Chianti where we visited the Panzanello Winery.
Château de Fontainebleau, France. January 2015.
Although not as glittering and well-kempt as the more famous Palace of Versailles, the Château de Fontainebleau has a somewhat haunting sort of charm. It might be because there are fewer people milling about, which actually allows you to stick around long enough to appreciate the rooms and everything, or maybe the semi shabby-chic state of the palace lends to it that sort of feeling of having come from some bygone era.
It’s kind of a photographer’s (or Instagrammer’s) dream, because look at all these tourist-free shots.