An Introduction to Tuscany – The Rural Heart of Italy

Tuscany is one of the most beautiful regions in the world. With its stunning rolling hillsides, richly carpeted with beautiful undulating grasslands; the fields of glorious sunflowers languishing under the Tuscany sun amid clear blue skies; the wonderful Apuan Alps with their breathtaking scenery and a superb stretch of coastland lying next the Tyrrhenian Sea, Tuscany is an open invitation to anyone to come and explore this fantastic region of Italy.

Some of the best wines in the world come from Tuscany including the famous Chianti. The wonderful climate and the quality soil are absolutely perfect for cultivating red grapes.

The scenery in the Chiati region is to die for and you will find some of the prettiest small towns and villages dotted across the landscape. You can do the renowned Chianti Road drive. It is a beautiful journey through this dazzlingly beautiful region. It seems like every road leads to a vineyard. You will enjoy some great wine tasting along the way, stopping off in some of the most beautiful little villages where you can sample some Bruchetta, the local toasted bread, steeped with the fabulous local olive oil and seasoned with garlic and tomato, and of course, a glass of Chianti,

If you like quality wine and you want to combine it with stunning views and a slice of historic Italy, visit Montalcino a medieval walled town high in the hills near Sienna. The town is a delight, with its little cobblestone streets and occasional views of the surrounding rolling hills glimpsed at the end of tiny alleyways that meander across town. The town is home of Brunello di Montalcino one of the very top quality Italian wnes

No trip to Tuscany would of course be complete without seeing Florence, the cradle of the renaissance. It’s the regular paradise of renaissance Italy, with its beautiful museums, splendid palaces, and wonderful churches, and a dazzling showcase to some of the architectural genius of Michael Angelo. Some of the world’s greatest art treasures are housed here, including works by the legendary Leonardo Da Vinci. The famous Ponto Vecchio Bridge across the river Arno is a sight once seen, never to be forgotten.

Here’s a snippet of some other places to see and things to do:

The Poppi Zoo Park is in the Casentino Valley near the town of Poppi in the province of Arezzo. It is not far from Florence. It’s a great day of for the family and gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Europe’s animal population.

The Grotta Del Vento (The Wind Cave)
Situated beneath the Apuan Alps, this geological wonder is part of a series of underground caverns and has some marvelous stalactites on view.

The Bargello Museum
To be found in Florence, this museum has some great Michael Angelo marble sculptures, Bronzes by Giambologna, and many famous pieces by Donatello, considered by many to be the best sculptor of all time.

The Gothic Cathedral at Siena
This cathedral is a storehouse of art treasures. It has a unique marble pavement which just has to be seen, and the most beautifully crafted interior.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Everybody knows about the Leaning Tower, and no trip to Tuscany would be complete without going to see it for yourself.

The countryside
But you will miss the very best of Tuscany if you don’t get out and explore the exquisite countryside. There are some truly wonderful small towns to visit nestling in the surrounding hills and mountains. But if you are going to hire a car, and drive yourself, please allow plenty of time. Most of the roads are single track and wind up and down, and in and around the hills, but you will be treated to some of the most staggering scenery. So, don’t rush, simply relax and enjoy, but be sure to put the small medieval town of San Gimignano on your list, it is absolutely gorgeous.

The countryside boasts an amazing landscape with nature parks, natural thermal spas, and some fabulous beaches.

Public transport in Italy is pretty good. The train service is excellent and quite cheap; it’s a great way to travel between the major towns and cities. But if you want to get to some of the sights in the hills and mountains, you’ll either have to drive yourself or you could use the local bus services. They’re also very good, but just be a little careful about the timing. They don’t run so often!