Tuscany, the amazing region that lies in central Italy.
Tuscany is the stunningly beautiful region in central Italy. Its capital, Florence, is home to some of the world’s most recognizable Renaissance art and architecture, including Michelangelo’s "David" statue, Botticelli’s works in the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo basilica. Its diverse natural landscape encompasses the rugged Apennine Mountains, the island of Elba’s beaches on the Tyrrhenian Sea and Chianti’s olive groves and vineyards.
We always do 2 full days of excursions. We have so many options but as an idea we could have a day to Sienna. Siena is a city where the architecture soars, as do the souls of many of its visitors. Effectively a giant, open-air museum celebrating the Gothic, Siena has spiritual and secular monuments that have retained both their medieval forms and their extraordinary art collections, providing the visitor with plenty to marvel at. The city's historic contrade (districts) are marvellous too, being as close-knit and colourful today as they were in the 17th century, when their world-famous horse race, the Palio, was inaugurated. And within each contrada lies vibrant streets populated with artisanal boutiques, sweet-smelling pasticcerie (pastry shops) and tempting restaurants. It's a feast for the senses and an essential stop on every Tuscan itinerary.
For a second trip we might find ourselves in the stunning town of San Gimignano, a true jewel in this region of Tuscany. As you crest the nearby hills, the 14 towers of the walled town of San Gimignano rise up like a medieval Manhattan. Originally an Etruscan village, the settlement was named after the bishop of Modena, San Gimignano, who is said to have saved the city from Attila the Hun. It became a comune (local government) in 1199, prospering in part because of its location on the Via Francigena. Building a tower taller than their neighbours' (there were originally 72) became a popular way for prominent families to flaunt their power and wealth. In 1348 plague wiped out much of the population and weakened the local economy, leading to the town's submission to Florence in 1353. Today, not even the plague would deter the summer visitors, who are lured by a palpable sense of history, an intact medieval streetscapes and the enchanting rural setting.
This is a region everyone should visit at some time and we have a lovely villa from which to enjoy its bounty.
One of our Farmhouse villas sits overlooking the region of Chianti, possibly one of the most beautiful regions in Italy. The vineyards in this picturesque part of Tuscany produce the grapes used in namesake Chianti and Chianti Classico: world-famous reds sold under the Gallo Nero (Black Cockerel/Rooster) trademark. It's a landscape where you'll encounter historic olive groves, honey-coloured stone farmhouses, dense forests, graceful Romanesque pievi (rural churches), handsome Renaissance villas and imposing stone castles built in the Middle Ages by Florentine and Sienese warlords.
Though now part of the province of Siena, the southern section of Chianti (Chianti Senese) was once the stronghold of the Lega del Chianti, a military and administrative alliance within the city-state of Florence that comprised Castellina, Gaiole and Radda. Chianti’s northern part sits in the province of Florence (Chianti Fiorentino) another beautiful city in the region