Tuscany’s natural landscapes are simply breath-taking. Larger in size than Wales, this region is a popular holiday destination yet the countryside allows escapism and tranquillity. The rolling green hills are scattered with vineyards, olive groves and tall thin cypress trees which have become Tuscany’s signature image. The countryside is great to enjoy by car, bicycle or even on foot. Fresh air, relaxation and natural beauty is the order of the day.
Italians are extremely proud of their architecture and Tuscany offers numerous examples. From small country villages to the larger cities of Florence and Siena, prime examples of medieval architecture can be found. Piazzas are the communal centre for festivals and celebrations, of which there are many! Statues and fountains show craftsmanship at its best and have impressively stood the test of time.
A honeypot for artists past and present. Some of the best-known artists of the Renaissance period came from Tuscany and have been an inspiration to millions. Beautifully painted cathedrals with their intricate ceiling paintings attract millions of visitors each year and Tuscany is home to many art galleries exhibiting fine art and sculptures. It’s easy to see why today’s artists visit this beautiful area to create their own masterpieces, the towns and countryside are a sight to behold.
Beautiful Florence has so much to offer and explore. Perhaps the most iconic landmark is the Duomo cathedral of Florence with its artwork and stained-glass windows set within its incredible and huge dome. The cathedral can be seen from miles around. Dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore (St Mary of the flower), it took two centuries for the cathedral to be deemed finished in 1436. It is possible to climb the interior of the dome which is no mean feat with over 450 steps to get to the top but the views of this magnificent city are well worth it. Many festivals and celebration happen both inside the cathedral and in the vast Piazza outside. The Uffizi Gallery is also well worth a visit. Priceless paintings by Botticelli and Michelangelo are exhibited here alongside numerous others which can be appreciated up close.
The Piazza de Miracoli, the square of miracles, is the place to head to with its huge and iconic cathedral and its unique bell tower – the leaning tower. The circular tower has been this way since its third story was built, it began leaning due to the tower sinking in to the soft ground on one side. It took over 100 years to build to its current 8 storeys as the building work kept getting stopped due to concerns over its angle. The tower leans around 4 degrees. It is possible to climb the tower and visitor numbers are carefully monitored. The leaning tower is one of the most photographed buildings with visitors positioning themselves as if to hold the tower up with their own outstretched arms.
Just south of Florence is a valley where they produce Chianti wine. The gentle, rolling hills are filled with vineyards and olive groves. Fertile soils and an ideal climate combine perfectly to create this huge wine producing area. Medieval castles, quaint village and pretty farmhouses are scattered all around with hidden gems waiting to be discovered. A visit to Castello di Brolio, Italy’s oldest wineries and a huge Chianti producer is a real treat. The imposing castle sits on top of a hill overlooking its numerous vineyards and olive groves. The Castello produces 2-3 million bottles of Chianti a year. Tours of the castle and the vineyards are well worth doing whilst on holiday in Tuscany. Cooking lessons, cellar tours and wine tasting are also popular.
Tuscany offers so many gastronomic delights for your holiday. Tuscan food is rustic and simple and uses the freshest seasonal produce. Many dishes originate from peasants who worked the farmland and required hearty, filling and delicious meals. Stews and soups are commonly found on menus with recipes handed down through generations. Pulses and beans are often used along with ripe and juicy tomatoes – a favourite local dish is a Tuscan stew made with borlotti beans with tomatoes, onions, garlic and sausage meat, – so simple, yet so flavoursome. Local olive oil plays a huge part in Tuscan cooking. Pecorino cheese originates from this area, a hard cheese which can be enjoyed on pasta or as a perfect accompaniment to local olives and tomatoes.
The climate in Tuscany is mild all-year-round but varies depending on the geography of the region. The coasts and valets have hotter summers than locations in the hills or mountains with a cooling breeze to combat the heat. Winters still offer pleasant days but the nights are cold, so warm layers are recommended.
If you are a British citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter Italy but you must have a valid passport. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy.
The currency in Tuscany is the Euro (EUR).
The main language spoken is Italian.