Tuscany is a trove of historical treasures unique globally: it is full of cities of art and small picturesque villages with an immense cultural heritage. It is also extraordinary for its enchanting views made of the rural countryside and rolling hills. To all this are added its magnificent islands and splendid coasts, its protected parks and, last but not least, its cuisine, simple and with genuine flavours, and its wines, among the best in the world: the reasons to visit Tuscany they are very many.
WHAT TO SEE
TWhat not to miss during a trip to Tuscany? To begin with these 10 locations: 1. Florence: cradle of the Italian language and the Renaissance, is a real open-air museum that houses works of inestimable value 2. Siena: one of the fascinating medieval cities in Italy, it is known all over the world for its historic Palio 3. Pisa: with its treasures of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, it is an unmissable stop on tour through the art cities of Tuscany 4. San Gimignano: with its high towers and suggestive alleys, it is a small jewel that keeps the medieval atmosphere intact 5. Val d'Orcia: wide and characterized by sinuous slopes dotted with cypresses and vineyards, it is the ideal place to immerse yourself in beauty 6. Chianti: among small villages and solitary abbeys, the Chianti hills are an invitation to relax and indulge in good food and good wine 7. Maremma: between the wild countryside, spas, beaches, and Etruscan testimonies, the Maremma offers significant points of interest 8. Garfagnana: close to the Apuan Alps, between medieval fortresses and characteristic villages, it is the greenest and most unspoiled area of Tuscany 9. Gulf of Baratti: on the coastal stretch between Livorno and Grosseto, surrounded by a pine forest of uncontaminated nature, it preserves wonderful beaches 10. Elba Island: enchanting beaches and crystal clear sea, together with the other islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, it is a must for sea lovers A trip to Tuscany allows you to see monuments and places of inestimable value. The symbolic sites of Florence: Brunelleschi's Dome, Giotto's Bell Tower, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio. The famous Leaning Tower, in the city of Pisa, and the scenic Piazza del Campo, in the centre of Siena, where the famous Palio di Siena every year, takes place, which attracts tourists from all over the world. Not far from Siena, there are some of the most characteristic places of the region: the ancient village of Monteriggioni, on the top of a hill, surrounded by medieval walls, and, in Chiusdino, the Abbey of San Galgano, a hermitage in a ruin that keeps a mysterious sword in the stone.
WHAT TO DO
Tuscany offers endless entertainment opportunities for every taste and every need: it knows how to please those who want a relaxed holiday, but also those who want a stay dedicated to the sport, outdoor activities, or those who want to follow paths of taste.
You can practice many activities in nature: from the Apuan Alps to the Maremma Park, from Garfagnana to Casentino; go trekking along paths for both experts and beginners. Those who love hiking can retrace the pilgrims’ journey to Rome along the Via Francigena, among monasteries, panoramic views, and picturesque villages. Those looking for something different can try their hand at the geological paths of the Archaeological-Mining Park of San Silvestro, or go in the footsteps of the quarrymen along the Marble Path in the Apuan Alps.
If you love cycling, you have plenty of choices: there are many itineraries suitable for racing bikes and mountain bikes along roads with little traffic that wind through spectacular landscapes. Those looking for an experience out of the ordinary can opt for a balloon flight over the Val D’Orcia, or gradually discover Tuscany, aboard old steam trains with tours in Mugello, Val D’Orcia, and Garfagnana, or take tours on a Vespa or aboard an exclusive Ferrari.
On the sea, there is no shortage of opportunities to indulge in water sports: along the Tuscan Coast, you can go sailing, diving, or surfing; It is also possible to go rafting along the Arno and along the Serchia river, in the province of Lucca, while the more adventurous can embark on exciting hydrospeed descents along the Lima river, on the Pistoia Apennines, and in Bagni di Lucca, in the Garfagnana. Tuscany is a region much loved by golfers too: green enthusiasts find exciting courses in the countryside, near Florence, Prato, Pisa, and Montecatini, and on the Coast, in Punta Ala, in Maremma, on the Argentario, and in Versilia.
Those looking for relaxation and well-being can choose one of the many spas in Tuscany: such as Saturnia, in Maremma, where there is a renowned spa park and the Cascate del Mulino, outdoor thermal waters that flow naturally warm in a beautiful landscape; Montecatini, historic resort of thermal tourism, but also Rapolano, Sorano, Chianciano, San Casciano dei Bagni and the natural baths of Bagni San Filippo.
Tuscany is the destination par excellence for all lovers of food and good wine. Follow the Wine Roads’ gastronomic routes, which wind throughout the region, from the Florentine Hills to Chianti passing through the Etruscan Coast. Along the way, you can stop at wineries and farmhouses where you can enjoy tastings and tastings. Everywhere in the region, it is also possible to discover the tasty Tuscan cuisine and its traditional recipes by participating in courses and cooking classes.
Do you love the nightlife? You can choose the famous clubs and discos of Versilia, from Forte dei Marmi to Viareggio, and places such as Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano, in the Argentario. A fundamental stop for those who love shopping in Florence and Siena’s boutiques, and the various fashion outlets and luxury brands in Tuscany – such as The Mall Luxury Outlet, the Barberino Designer Outlet, and the Valdichiana Outlet Village – and the numerous craft shops in the region. You can buy entirely handmade products, such as Florentine leather, alabaster objects from Volterra, Casentino wool, ceramics from Montelupo Fiorentino, and glass artefacts from Colle Val d’Elsa.
As for the calendar of events, the unmissable appointments during the year are:
– those with the famous historical re-enactment of the Palio di Siena (every year on July 2 and August 16)
– the Viareggio Carnival with its favourite allegorical floats of paper-mâché
– the Eroica, a non-competitive cycling event with vintage racing bicycles held in Chianti on the first Sunday of October
– the Scoppio del Carro, a widespread tradition that is renewed every year on Easter Sunday in Florence
– Lucca Comics & Games, an international fair dedicated to comics, takes place between October and November
– in Arezzo twice a year (in June and September), the Giostra del Saracino takes place, an equestrian tournament of medieval origin
– every first weekend of the month, Piazza Grande and the historic centre’s streets host the Arezzo Antiques Fair, the most ancient and great of Italy.
WHAT TO EAT
Tuscany boasts a robust culinary tradition of simple recipes and genuine flavours with many different specialities from area to area: every corner of Tuscany is a gastronomic surprise!
A typical traditional Tuscan meal will begin with an appetizer of black croutons, or Tuscan bread, without salt, spread with a paté based on chicken livers, anchovies, and capers. Those who like salami will appreciate a platter of local cured meats, such as Finocchiona, a typical Sienese sausage flavoured with wild fennel, lard from Colonnata. Pork lard specialities from the Apuan Alps, salami and Tuscan ham, or even with Pecorino di Pienza, perhaps paired with pears and walnuts or a fig jam.
The offer of first Tuscany courses is extensive: the Pici (large handmade spaghetti typical of southern Tuscany) is always very popular with cheese and pepper or garlic. Pappardelle with wild boar sauce, a robust and tasty traditional dish from the Maremma. Typical of the Florence area are the Ribollita, a delicious soup made with stale bread, vegetables, legumes, and the Pappa al Pomodoro, a low dish prepared with stale Tuscan bread, tomatoes, and herbs.
The choice of second courses is also rich. Symbol of Tuscan cuisine par excellence is the Florentine steak, a succulent veal or Scottona meat – possibly Chianina meat, a bovine breed typical of the Val di Chiana – to be cooked on the grill or grilled. A historical Tuscan dish is instead the Peposo dell’ Impruneta, a beef stew cooked for a long time in Chianti wine and flavoured with pepper, characteristic of the Florence area. Those who prefer fish will undoubtedly appreciate the Cacciucco, a local dish from the Coast between Livorno and Viareggio: a soup prepared with different qualities of fish, shellfish, Molluscs, and tomato sauce placed on slices of toasted bread. Do not be fooled by the Chianti tuna: despite the name, it is an ancient Tuscan recipe based on pork, herbs, and olive oil (it is not fish, but it is still an exquisite dish).
A typically Tuscan meal ends beautifully with one of the many desserts of the region: for example, with the classic Cantucci, biscuits with almonds to be dipped in Vin Santo, a local fortified wine, or with Castagnaccio, a flavoured chestnut flour cake from walnuts, pine nuts, raisins, and rosemary; or again with the panforte, originally from Siena, based on almonds and candied fruit, or its spicy variant, enriched with cocoa powder, candied melon, and pepper: the peppered pan.
For a quick meal or a snack, there is no shortage of specialities in Tuscany. The most famous Tuscan street food is the Lampredotto, or bovine entrails, the traditional Florentine sandwich’s main ingredient. The sandwich with Porchetta is well-known and is eaten with bread, or focaccia or flatbread. Everywhere in Tuscany, you will find the Scagliozzi, pieces of fried polenta, the chickpea cake, which has different names depending on the area. It is called “Cecina” in Pisa and only “cake” in Livorno). The Brigidini are aniseed puff pastry originating from Pistoia but spread throughout the region.
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