Tuscany landscape seems perfectly designed to highlight the beauty
and fascination of its historical castles and all monuments stand up in time, against the hard sun in pure clarity.
Tuscany is a sea of rolling hills and the top of many of them are punctuated by little villages or stunning castles and fortresses. Almost all of the castles are located in a privileged position and if you are looking for the wow factor the postcard panorama that is offered is simply stunning.
From the Etruscans to the Romans to the Renaissance, Tuscany is possibly the greatest repository of art in the world, from extraordinary paintings and sculpture to frescoes and architectural masterpieces. Florence, Pisa, small towns with art museums. Arezzo, Cortona, San Gimignano and Lucca with San Martino Cathedral, are all striking.
But beyond art, the extraordinary countryside with gourmets and wine buffs, the mountain paths to cycle, the culture, all are good reasons to put a spell on you once here. Or, if you are with a yacht, then Elba will be a ‘must’ to see destination.
If by car, visit Certaldo, a hilltop town, peaceful, timeless and inviting, with two castles. Unlike many towns which are built around the main square, the limited space on the hilltop of Certaldo forced the town to grow along the main road, what is known today as Via Boccaccia. You will have the chance to cross folkloristic events, view the market, and stroll to the Palazzo Pretorio.
In the country of Tuscany, visit Montepulciano village and buy limoncello produced locally. Enjoy your coffee or Italian meal in breathtaking views – regrettably, I’d been once in a rainy spring during a trip by road to Viarregio. Piazza Grande is the heart of Montepulciano and the setting for its main events, including the barrel-racing Bravio delle Botti contest held in August every year and much more. A walk through Montepulciano is the best way to view the town and its beautiful landmarks as well as enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside covered by vineyards producing the famous Nobile!
Visit San Gimignano, a small walled village about halfway between Florence and Siena, famous for its fascinating medieval architecture and towers that rise above of all the other buildings offering an impressive view of the city from the surrounding valley. At the height of its glory, San Gimignano’s patrician families had built around 72 tower-houses as symbols of their wealth and power. Although only 14 have survived, San Gimignano still retains its feudal atmosphere and appearance.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, San Gimignano offers visitors the chance to step back in time while enjoying its local products including saffron and its white wine, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
You can’t miss Valdorcia, the absolute protagonist of Tuscany, well known to you from the card postals.
This area of Tuscany boasts of endless rolling hills covered with grain or sunflowers, a rich green valley which encompasses the Orcia river, from which the zone derives its name, and the vineyards for the renowned wines of Brunello and the newcomer on the market, the Val d’Orcia DOC. It is no wonder that this territory, which stretches along with the provinces of Siena and Grosseto, is protected as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Time seems to slow down for picturesque towns like Pienza, a real jewel known as the “Ideal City” and the beautiful Palazzo Piccolomini. Or the little town of Castiglion d’Orcia with its fortress. At the furthest southernmost point there is the hilltop town of Radicofani with its imposing castle tower or go west, towards the walled medieval city of Montalcino and the vineyards of Brunello. A must-see is the beautiful and suggestive Romanesque Abbey of Sant’ Antimo, one of the best examples of medieval monastic architecture.
After a day visiting museums, ancient abbeys, and castles, you can relax in one of the many thermal baths of the region, such as the ones in Bagno Vignoni or in Bagni di San Filippo.
Travel to Desert of Accona, full of traces of ancient cultures, small medieval towns, local festivals, and stunning landscapes. The local towns of Asciano, Buonconvento and Serre di Rapolano offer a taste of the local cultural flavor as well as delicious restaurants highlight the local culinary traditions. Heading southeast of Siena, the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore is one of the first stops followed by the thermal waters at Rapolano Terme and delicious flavor of white truffles in San Giovanni d’Asso. And taste your way through Tuscany exploring its more famous areas for cheese like that of Cortona, Barga, Pietrasanta, the Maremma, Casentino, Piena, Chianti, the Creti Senesi, and Lucardo. Practically everywhere!
If you head south don’t miss Argentario area, the land of Caravaggio. With two picturesque ports, Porto Ercole and Santo Stefano, a castle, a maritime museum and a protected land you can even see deers running, the area needs a couple of days to stay to explore.
Heading north to Florence, visit first Vaglia and Villa Demidoff. A public park that houses Appennino, a massive mountainous statue in Tuscany. The structure was erected in 1500 by Italian sculptor Giambologna to symbolize Italy’s rugged Appenine mountains. The statue is extremely lifelike and detailed, which has only given Appenino more character as time goes by. Despite its age, the statue remains in good shape and stands 35 feet in the air.
Florence is a whole chapter on her own. Famous for the immense political and economic power it wielded during the rule of the Medici Dynasty, Florence offered the world a stage for great artistic masters such as Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, and Galileo. However, Florence has its roots long before, when it rose and fell several times in the hands of the Romans, the Lombardic tribe and others. Each successive age brought new architecture, art, and creativity which are still evident in the streets, the many museums, churches, monuments and even the everyday life of this marvelous city.
I just remembered one of my fav movies (of course with Raoul Bova), Under the Tuscany’s sun; if you are a book lover you can read the book inspired this movie.
A nice directory to guide you in restaurants, to test Tuscan wines and buy local types of cheeses, what to see and more. https://www.discovertuscany.com
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