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Toscana (Tuscany)

http://www.touritalynow.com/italy_information/italy_information_regions/images/italia_regions_toscana.jpg Major Cities:

Firenze (Florence)
Siena
Pisa



Toscana

One of the most visited regions of Italy, and a premiere twenty-first century vacation destination, breathtaking Tuscany offers beauty and excitement for everyone. There are vibrant cities packed with breathtaking art and architecture, idyllic countryside that produces grapes and olives in abundance, and delicious regional cooking to make your mouth water.

Tuscany is bordered on one side by the Tyrrhenian Sea and on the other by the Apennine Mountains. It’s neighboring regions are Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, and Lazio. The climate is mild on the coast, with rainy winters and dry, hot summers.

Florence

Florence Skyline

The beautiful Duomo tops Florence’s skyline.

Florence is the capital and the undisputed centerpiece of Tuscany; it’s also one of the most visited cities in Italy, and with good reason! Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is synonymous with world-shaking works of art. In almost every corner of the old city there’s a building, church, piazza, or museum that warrants an extended stay.

Walking around Florence it often feels impossible to soak up the overwhelming scope of the art that surrounds you. The Uffizi Gallery alone is worth a whole afternoon. And the Duomo is an unparalleled structure even now. When you’re standing before its bright colored marble try to imagine the bold statement it made in defiance of architectural design when Brunelleschi unveiled it in 1436.

Join the locals for an evening stroll along the scenic River Arno and the charming Ponte Vecchio. Drop back into Florence’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where there’s always another beautiful square, elegant palace, art gallery, museum, stunning church, or garden to discover.

Shoppers will rest content among the many shop-heavy streets, but those serious about their clothes and accessories will want to head to the Via Tornabuoni where Gucci, Ferragamo, Bulgari, and Cavalli reign. And after you’ve walked all day it’s time to join the Florentines in one of the many restaurants for a bistecca alla fiorentina, or a big, grilled steak usually served quite pink in the middle.

Piazza del Campo

Siena’s shell-shaped Piazza del Campo

Siena

Siena is another World Heritage Site and another of the country’s most visited cities! With an interesting medieval history and important Gothic architecture, visitors have more than one reason to stay the night here instead of day tripping through. The magnificent Duomo is a visually captivating with its elaborate Romanesque and Gothic architecture and black-and-white marbled exterior. The spacious Piazza del Campo is more than just a vibrant town square as it fills up twice a year for the Palio, a thrilling horse race with medieval roots.

Pisa

No visit to Tuscany would be complete without a stop in Pisa. This Tuscan city is known worldwide for its much-photographed Leaning Tower, originally the bell tower of the city’s cathedral. But the city offers other fine places to visit, such as the harmonious Piazza dei Miracoli with its cathedral, tower, and baptistry. There is also a number of museums, palaces, and gardens in the centro storico to keep you busy.

The Countryside and Hilltowns

While the Tuscan cities attract lots of visitors, many who tour Tuscany like to spread out through the rural areas of the region. Agriturismi are small farms that often produce their own wines and cheeses and double as retreats for city dwellers.

These agriturismi can range from beautiful villas complete with swimming pools to more modest and rustic dwellings that, of course, have all the modern amenities. Visitors can participate in cooking classes, take winery tours, enjoy wine tasting, ride bikes through Tuscany’s undulating countryside, or simply relax and enjoy the spectacular views.

San Gimignano

The towering skyline of San Gimignano

If you’ve imagined yourself settling in for a cosy stay in an Italian hilltown there are enough beautiful options in Tuscany to make your head spin! A few well-known hilltowns are San Gimignano—one of the most visited small towns in all of Italy—and Cortona, where the film and book Under the Tuscan Sun was set. These small towns have taken the spotlight for very good reasons: they’ll give you an unforgettable and picturesque glimpse into Italian small-town life.

There are so many other small hilltowns more than worthy of mention. Montepulciano and Montalcino are best known for their wines, Vino Nobile and Brunello respectively. The town of Lucca is also a lovely stopover during any Italian vacation, and its more unknown status means you can enjoy the charming streets in relative peace. To be honest, almost every Tuscan town is worth a visit, whether you seek culture or solace, and once you start looking, you’ll realize it’s difficult to choose just one. Maybe you’ll have to spend your whole Italian vacation in Tuscany!

www.regione.toscana.it