Whether it’s the wine, the Italian food, the rolling hillsides or the famous sites that most attract tourists to Tuscany, a few days in the center of Italy and one may never want to leave.
Most people know Tuscany, Italy, for Michelangelo’s sculpture of David in Florence or the leaning Tower of Pisa. Many saw the movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun”. But step into a Tuscan hill town and much more awaits: maybe a wine festival, a scenic stroll down an old stone street, the best gelato or espresso ever tasted, or a pizza unlike one you’ve ever had before.
How to Get There
Tuscany is best seen by rental car or tourist bus during an Italy vacation. Travelers typically fly into Rome, Florence, Milan or Venice, then add a side trip to Tuscany. A day or two will do; but to truly explore the area and the food and wine produced here, plan for several days’ stay.
When to Go
May, June, September and October are the most popular times of year to visit. Airfare and hotel prices are often cheaper in April and November, and travelers will have fewer crowds to deal with. In August, a local holiday month, bigger cities will be quiet but beach cities will be jammed.
Many travelers dream of the idea of a Tuscany holiday. While villa and farmhouse stays are possible year-round, prices may be higher for airfare and accommodations.
Where to Stay
Chianti grapes and olive trees cover the hillsides, from Florence in the north to Siena to the south. Along the way, luxury villas, farmhouses (agriturismo), bed and breakfasts, hotels and apartments greet travelers either desiring to indulge or to stay for cheap. With a farmhouse stay, it’s often possible to taste the olive oil or wine grown on site.
In Florence (Firenze), don’t miss Michelangelo’s David at Accademia, and famous Italian paintings in the Uffizi Gallery. Take a day trip to see the famous leaning Tower of Pisa and the quaint town of Lucca nearby. Siena, San Gimignano and Assisi are more popular stops along the scenic and winding roads of Tuscany.
Bring your appetite and indulge in: gelato, espresso, olive oil, wine as affordable as soda, Florentine steak or a shot of limoncello. Don’t forget about the endless types of pasta. In Italy, the pasta course comes first, followed by a meat course. Did you know: The Olive Garden restaurant chain in the United States runs a culinary institute in Tuscany. There, many of its chefs learn the secrets of authentic Italian cooking. Italians proudly produce many kinds of wine in Tuscany, from chianti, to Sangiovese, Super Tuscan and many bottles from Montepulciano.