To indulge in the ultimate pleasures of life, you need to start your journey in Italy. Yes, the entire country of Italy is marvelous but you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere should be Tuscany. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and when you see the astounding landscape, discover its culture and traditions, and savour the symphony of flavours of the delectable foods, you too will fall in love with Tuscany like many who have visited the region before you!
This region of Italy, located along the west coast on the Tyrrhenian Sea, is home to about 3.8 million residents spread out across an area of about 23,000 square kilometres. Also known famously for its capital, Florence, Tuscany is equally famous for its fine wines, especially Chianti, the flavour of the sangiovese reds of Brunello di Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano and one of the oldest wines in all of Italy, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Cities other than Florence that are famous in their own right that are located in the Tuscan region are Siena, a medieval city located about 70 kilometres north of Florence; Lucca, with a history dating back to the Etruscan and Ancient Roman times with Ancient architecture that is a privilege to see; the 11th century made town of Arezzo and of course the city of Pisa, known famously for its Leaning Tower. These are just some of the gorgeous cities in Tuscany that attract the millions of tourists annually.
There is no doubt that once in Tuscany you will head over to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. Not going here would be like taking a trip to France and not heading over to see the Eiffel Tower! So, start with the attractions you know. In Florence you will see Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David, at the Galleria dell’ Accademia delle Bella Arti. Also in Florence you can find the best collection and most important pieces of Renaissance art at the Uffizi Gallery. Here you will be surrounded by the works of Da Vinci, Giotto, Botticelli and Michelangelo.
For a glimpse of some more of Da Vinci’s masterful works, you’ll have to find your way to the city of Vinci and then to the medieval Castello Guidi where you will be rewarded with the sight of the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum. With so much rich history from Ancient Roman times to modern day, there is no question that you should spend a fair amount of time hopping from place to place to see the museums and galleries.
Olive oil is also as famous and common a produce as is the wine. The extra virgin olive oils from this region are made up of the robust flavour of Moraiolo olives, Leccino olives with its mild sweet flavour, and Frantoio olives with their more fruity taste.
Look into the Wine Road “Terre di Arezzo” (Strada del Vino Arezzo) that should take you about 200 kilometres through the Tuscan countryside that will not only help you to discover the wineries but also restaurants and farm houses. Taste wines and foods en route. Taste the numerous cheeses too as cheese is also a staple produce of Tuscany too. The Casentino Valley, just 50 kilometres away from Florence is a wonderful quiet valley region where you will discover authentic flavours of Tuscany. It is not a very well-known or often travelled to place so you might need some help finding it, but the people are very open and welcoming to visitors This “tasting” tour – the Strada dei Sapori Casentino will introduce you to Casentino Pecorino cheese with its herbs and floral aromas, mountainside grown chestnuts, and the versatile Red Cetica potatoes, also used to make other delicious offerings like gnocchi and potato tortelli.
There is much to be discovered in Bella Tuscany, and this is just a taste of it all.