Simply Pure Beaty
Blessed with beauty, wine and an unparalleled artistic legacy, Tuscany is a region that largely lives up to its press. Its fabled rolling landscape has long been considered the embodiment of rural chic, a favourite of holidaying PMs and retired advertising executives, while its cities harbour a significant slice of the world’s Renaissance art. Florence, in itself, boasts more world-class art than many countries. Some people never venture beyond the region’s crowded capital but with some of Italy’s most striking Gothic architecture (Siena), the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Walls of Lucca all an easy trip away, to do so would be a waste.Stupendous art, soul-aching countryside, stirring wine and lip-smacking cuisine is what this enviable region, from where the Renaissance rippled out across Europe, is all about. From the Etruscan marvels at Fiesole, the della Francesca’s of Arezzo, the towers of San Gimignano to the markets of Pistoia, there are delights for even the most jaded Grand Tourers. Tuscany in English, Toscana in Italian, it specialises in being the best.
It was in Florence, the region’s leading lady, that Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and a bunch of other brilliant 14th to 16th-century Tuscan masters carved out art history. Brunelleschi’s dome did wonders to the course of architecture, while Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio penned parchments to plant the seeds for a unified Italian language. Be it Pisa’s famous Leaning Tower, Siena’s heart-stopping horse race or Florence’s David and bistecca all fiorentina steak, Tuscany is iconic in what it says about Italy.
But there is far more to this tourist-packed land of world-famous art and architecture. Take two steps back from centre stage and a kaleidoscope of slow-paced hill-top towns to lunch in, vineyards and olive groves to taste wine in, and fresh green Alpine pastures to amble oh-so-slowly over looms large. Be it savouring ancient Etruscan sites around Saturnia and Sovana submitting to a wine-fuelled medieval reverie at Arezzo’s Giostra del Saracino or island-hopping off the southern coast, you don’t need to jostle with the crowds to discover the best of the best.
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