Take a moment to imagine strolling across rolling fields of vineyards as the smell of freshly pressed olives and sea salt drifts through the Mediterranean sun soaked air. Nearby a group of chattering locals is setting up a table covered in a white cloth adorned with local delicacies as the smell of fresh Italian cuisine joins the Symphony of your senses. This is Tuscany, a romantic dream, wrapped in Renaissance history and delicious culinary delights.
Located in the heart of Italy just over an hour North of Rome, the region of Tuscany, is synonymous with the images of romantic bygone golden era. It conjures to mind pictures of black and white era movie stars like Grace Kelly sipping on glasses of rich red wine, while they stroll across boundless grape covered fields.
The region also calls to the most discerning culinary traveller. Be it wine or food, the region is abounding with excellent choice, from famous vineyard areas like Chianti to Brunello di Montalcino you are spoiled for choice amongst the vineyards of Tuscany. While romance and wine may be what Tuscany is renowned for around the globe, it’s seat at the heart of Italian Renaissance also means that the history buff is truly spoilt for choice, from Florence to Siena the region is awash with culture. So climb aboard and let us give you a luxury taste of Tuscany.
There is nowhere better to begin a trip to Tuscany then in the region capital of Florence. This ageless city has been a pilgrimage for global tourism since the Renaissance, with its breathtaking architecture and vibrant local culture it’s is a city-stay worthy of a place on anyone’s bucket list. Connections to the city are easy, the local airport is serviced by an array of continental services or you can jump aboard a train from Rome and take in the scenic route through the golden countryside of central Italy.
When you first set foot in Florence you may find yourself overwhelmed by the abundance of sights and experiences. The top of your list if time is limited is the central area of the city that surrounds the iconic Duomo or the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. This marble dome cathedral is the beating heart of the city. Resplendent in green and white stone it is gorgeous to behold from the outside and breathtaking inside. The structure is over 600 hundred years old and stepping inside you can only imagine the awe the 15th centuries Florentines must have felt crossing the threshold. Inside the basilica is decorated in intricate mosaics atop enormous ceilings that draw the eye up to face the heavens.
A walk to the top of the building is well worth the small admission fee for the breathtaking view of the Duomo and Florence that awaits you. Around the cathedral are am abundance of shops, cafes and museums to take up your time. But try not to get stuck staring to long at the central marvels, much more awaits you around the city. From the famous Galleria dell’ Accademia that houses the original Michelangelo’s David to the daunting Palazzo Vecchio out the front of which the replica statue stands. Take some time to visit the old bridge in the city and try some of the best ice cream in Italy on the opposite city side, before continuing to the verdant Boboli Gardens that overlook the city.
If you hope on board a train in Florence it is only a short ride to the nearby city of Pisa, home of one of the most famous photo opportunities in Southern Europe. Made famous for the leaning tower which bears its name, Pisa is not just a stop over to take your own picture holding up their bending marble monolith, it also sports an amazing collection of historical buildings and sights that rival its sister city of Florence. In the central area where the Leaning Tower resides, you can also see the stunning Battistero, or baptistery. This 12th century intricate marble dome boasts one of the most unique experiences in the region, climb up to the upper gallery where you can hear one of the custodians demonstrate the buildings remarkable acoustics with a mesmerising chant that fills the space. This experience usually happens every half hour, but can change depending on the season.
Along the way to Pisa is the small town of Vinci, made famous by the prolific Italian painter and great Renaissance personalities, Leonardo da Vinci. This small town in the countryside is the place where the famous artist was born and amongst the cobbled streets you can find the Leonardo da Vinci museum which holds many of his great inventions, some of which he never even got to construct himself. This includes his famous flying machine!
South of Florence at the bottom edge of the Tuscan region, Siena is an often overlook and underrated destination in Italy. The ancient city seems like an open-air museum to travellers who stroll through the plazas and side streets with the towering gothic architecture making you feel as though you’ve stepped through a doorway into history. The central Piazza del Campo is the best place to get a feel for the city with a vibrant collection of shops and markets all overlooked by the famous Sienna tower, Torre del Mangia.
If you’ve heard of Tuscany then you’ve definitely heard of Tuscan wines, the region that spans from the West coast of Italy to the centre of the nation has hundreds of rolling vineyards creating world class wines served with outstanding food. From Brunello to Chianti and everywhere in between there is a depth of great places to visit, wineries to tour and foods to taste.
While the region is awash with choice for wineries to visit, a lot of the greats aren’t open to the public, but private tours can still get you access. Check out some of the great tours that we have on the FirstClass.com.au website and take the next step in your wine education.