If moving to Tuscany is not feasible, visiting Tuscany will have to suffice, because fall in love with this part of Italy you will—if there is an atom of a romantic in you.
1 Iconic Landscapes
The quintessentially ‘Italian’ landscapes are the Tuscany landscapes. They comprise gentle rolling hills, fields of sunflowers and vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see. Small hamlets, lone houses and churches dot the fields and the cypress tree-lined narrow country roads lead to the quaint hilltop towns.
Tuscany is where the pastoral and urban landscapes meet to form the perfect blend—and they are a photographer’s dream.
By the way, the best places to see these landscapes are in the Chianti region (between Florence and Siena)—and for the best shots pick a summer or spring time, blessed with the great weather of the central Apennine Peninsula. Warm afternoon light will bring out the best colours and shadows.
2 History, Art & Design
Tuscany is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and home to dozens of museums filled with the world’s most precious art.
At the forefront of them is the Uffizi in Florence, as one of the most revered museums in the world. Originally built to house administrative and judiciary offices of the city, the gallery is filled with masterpieces by great Italian heavyweight artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael and Botticelli, and many others.
But in Tuscany, you can simply pop into any of the many churches, monasteries, town hall buildings and towers and palazzos and discover splendid art and historical treasures. Not only that—Italy is well known for its cutting-edge modern design and there are many design museums in the region (such as the Piaggio Museum, the home of the Vespa scooter).
3 The Leaning Tower of Pisa
As one of the most famous towers in Italy, it’s a must-see—provided that you are able to ignore the sight of people posing in the clichéd postures that simulate ‘holding’ of the tower… Well, it’s actually kind of fun to watch, and who can blame them anyway?
One of the most-visited spots in Tuscany, it’s a jaw-dropping sight. The tower looks like it could fall at any minute—but you can climb, all the same, winding up the spiral staircase. It gives a real feel for the odd angle of the tower (the views from the top are fabulous too).
4 Siena and the idyllic hilltop towns
Siena is one of Italy’s best medieval city experiences. It’s a town frozen in an architectural time warp.
With most of the streets free from cars, the streets of Siena are made for strolling: getting lost in its winding alleyways is a pleasure. Window shop, dodge Italians whizzing around on scooters, gaze at the charming buildings and finally find the Piazza del Campo, where you can sit down, relax, and people watch while sipping a glass of wine or a coffee.
But Tuscany is dotted with other hilltop medieval towns. They may not be as famous as Siena but are all eminently charming with their inexpensive villa holiday living and breathtaking views of the Tuscan landscapes.
5 Fabulous Food
We can tell you from experience: all this awesome sightseeing, visiting museums, piazzas, and otherwise experiencing the architectural and artistic heritage of Tuscany makes one hungry.
Sun-bathed trattorias are the ideal places to experience the Tuscan way of life—in this country eating out is a real event. Alternatively, just grab a slice of pizza!
How could it be otherwise? A gelato parlour seems to be on every corner, gourmet pasta or quick pizza shops on every street—and there are plenty of restaurants that offer vintage Chianti, boar prosciutto, extra virgin olive oil and panforte!
The genius of Tuscany’s world-famous cuisine lies in the simplicity of ingredients and recipes. A homemade egg pasta in hare sauce, free-range meats grilled over wood coals, or beans simmered in earthenware pots… we don’t wish for anything more. Actually, maybe one thing: we’ll have one more glass of that Chianti, please.
Photos by Laskowski & Zadros, © TravelPlusStyle.com