Tuscany offers a rich combination of culture, historic cities, antiquities, agreeable climate and friendly locals it encapsulates everything that is beautiful about Italy. Its cities such as Lucca, Pisa, Siena and Florence offer magnificent gothic, Romanesque and renaissance buildings and works of art. Tuscany has also been home to some of Italy's most talented artists and writers, such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Dante. It is this rich mixture of art and history that defines Tuscany and sets it apart from its counterparts.
Something that you will find is that the regional landscape is very diverse, from the rolling hills and vineyards of the Chianti region around Siena to the rugged coastline around Argentario and the Apuan Mountains in the north.
"Chiantishire" the stretch between Florence and Siena still houses some of Tuscanys most charming villages such as Castellina, Radda in Chianti and Gaiole. Slightly further to the West of Siena are some of Tuscanys best-preserved medieval towns, such as Sam Gimignano and Colle di Val D'elsa.
For those loving the mountains, the rugged area to the north of Lucca, called the Garfagnana, is a treat. This area offers pretty stone villages perched on hilltops, especially in and around the towns of Bagni di Lucca and Barga.
What to do?
This is a region that is drenched in culture, so expect an array of festivals, especially in the summer months that range from simple flag waving village affairs to the world famous horse racing Palio in Siena and the Viareggio carnival.
Shopping is a favourite pastime in Italy and Tuscany offers great style and quality, especially in fashion, leather and also home design and furniture as well as antiques. For clothes shopping, Florence is second to none with fantastic boutiques and out-of-town designer outlets. Arezzo houses the largest outdoor antiques fair in its square and you can also find outdoor antique fairs in Lucca and other towns.
Italy is not known for its Golf but for Golf lovers, Tuscany really does steal the march with courses around Florence, Montecatini Terme, Punta Ala, Tirrenia and Orbetello amongst others. Other activities of interest include sailing and diving (especially along the more southern coastline around Argentario), horse riding and fishing.
Where to stay?
With such a popular region, you will be spoilt for choice in terms of accommodation. The picture-perfect renovated farmhouse is the most popular choice of accommodation nessled into the rolling countryside and there are also larger rustic properties converted into quaint apartments with shared pools for smaller groups.
How to get there?
Pisa airport is the main International Airport in Tuscany and there is also Amerigo Vespucci airport in Florence. Bologna and Geniva airports are also within easy reach.
What to eat?
An unmistakable ingredient in Tuscan life is its cuisine; good traditional food using fresh ingredients and is full of flavour. Tuscan vegetable soup is delicious as is the famous Florentine steak. Expect to see plenty of wild game on the menu and lovely rice dishes served with a mixture of meat and chicken. The region also produces some of the most famous wines in Italy, with Chianti being the most famous and Brunello di Montalcino being considered to be the best.
The region offers a landscape that has the most lasting charm. It has an abundance of medieval towns that are second to none and a sheer beauty that it difficult to rival. A simple walk becomes a joy in these surroundings and you are faced with hundreds of years of civilisation. Strolling through medieval streets, you will fall upon endless art and architecture that is second to none.
For those simply wishing to relax, the beaches are lovely and most countryside properties have a swimming pool, perfect for lazy days to soak up the beautiful surroundings. The combination of coastline, mountains, countryside and beautiful towns and cities such as Florence, Siena, Cortona, Lucca, Montepulciano (and we could go on) is truly hard to match.