Fall in love with Tuscany

By Michael Manton , Friday 22 February 2013

Boasting a blend of delicious food, beautiful wine and the birth of Renaissance, Tuscany is classic Italy. The region’s most prized art and historical relics reside in the larger cities; while hilltop medieval towns offer comfortable, inexpensive villa holiday living and breathtaking views of rustic vineyards and olive groves.

Beautiful Tuscan countrysideBeautiful Tuscan countryside

Whether you come in search of pure relaxation and rural charm, or an experience packed with local culture and tradition - like everyone else, you are sure to fall in love with Tuscany.

Idyllic hill-top towns

Thanks to it famous towers, the walled, medieval town of San Gimignano is perhaps the most famous of Tuscany's hilltop towns. However, in summer the town can attract far more day-trippers that it can comfortably handle.

For a quieter, more traditional experience, visit neighbouring Volterra, described by D H Lawrence as "a sort of inland island," due to its sense of being somewhat cut off from the rest of the region. Like Cortona, it was a major Etruscan settlement, and the town's museum are stuffed with relics of that enigmatic civilisation.

Volterra offers a wealth of historical and artistic treasures as well as some wonderful architecture. These include two beautiful castles, a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, and a number of Etruscan sites.

Another gorgeous Tuscan hill-town is Montalcino, located within the province of Siena, which is characterised by typical, Tuscan stone buildings set among a maze of little streets and passages. It makes an excellent base from which to explore southern Tuscany and is also the source of one of Italy's finest wines, Brunello di Montalcino.

A feast for the senses

Speaking of wine, it's no secret that Tuscany is home to the very finest cuisine, it's genius lying in the simplicity of its ingredients and recipes... homemade ribbons of egg pasta in hare sauce, game or free-range meats grilled over wood coals, and beans simmered in earthenware pots. Accompany these with a Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or the aformentioned Brunello di Montalcino wine and you have the perfect meal.

Sun-drenched trattorias are the perfect place to soak up the Tuscan way of life, where eating out is a real event, while pizzerias, restaurants and village eateries serve only traditional cuisine to ensure the true flavour of Tuscany lands on every plate.

All Tuscan roads lead to Florence

More than just the capital of Tuscany, the birthplace of the Renaissance is one of the world's greatest cities.
Florence's iconic landmark, Brunelleschi's famed cathedral dome, dominates the cityscape, rising beside the Romanesque Baptistry with its marble-cladding and gilded bronze doors.

However, the city's real treasures lie in the interior of its palaces, churches, museums and galleries, where you can choose to experience first hand the sublime art created by geniuses such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Donatello and Botticelli.

Our top tips for visitors:

  • Visit Florence for the day – start at the wonderful Duomo that dominates the city’s skyline; take in Michelangelo’s famous Statue of David over lunch at the Piazza della Signoria and tour Italy’s greatest art gallery, the Uffizi.
  • Take a twilight walk along Florence’s ancient Ponte Vecchio bridge, lined with jewellery shops and famous for inspiring marriage proposals.
  • Explore the peaceful, narrow streets of charming Lucca with its Renaissance walls, Romanesque churches, Roman amphitheatre and delicatessens.
  • Take a boat trip from Piombino to Napoleon’s exile, the Isle of Elba, and enjoy the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. A cable car ride to the top of Monte Capanne offers magnificent views.
  • Visit a world famous attraction, the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
  • Visit one of many natural thermal baths across the region for a spa therapy treatment to enhance your wellbeing.

 

James Villas have over 2,500 villas available in over 50 destinations, including Tuscany. All Saga customers receive an exclusive discount of up to 10% on all villa holidays.

 

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