Hello my dear readers,
How is your week so far?
And because last time we’ve discovered the grapes, today let’s dig into Toscana or Tuscany, one of the most important wine regions in the world.
Tuscany is best known for its famous red wines: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, that have made Tuscany one of the symbolic regions of Italian oenology.
The origins of viticulture in Tuscany date back to the Etruscan period, even though it started writing about Tuscany’s wines only in the Middle Ages, when wine became an essential product for trade: it dates back to 1282, the foundation of the Guild of the Art of Vinattieri.
The vineyard area of Tuscany is almost 60,000 hectares, for a production of more than 2 million hectoliters of wine.
The Tuscan viticulture is practiced mostly in hill areas, where the vine finds its preferred environment, allowing to obtain high quality wines both white and red, both of great structure and easier to drink.
Tuscany is certainly among the most beautiful regions of Italy. Thanks to the unforgettable landscapes, excellent wine and excellent typical food, Tuscany is visited every year by millions of people from all over the world.
Tuscany is one of the most visited Italian regions, appreciated for its cities of art, the small villages, the hills covered with vineyards from which you get some of the most famous wines in the world, villas and farmhouses located at the end of paths flanked by cypresses.
There are really many things to see in Tuscany and probably the most difficult part in planning a vacation in the region is precisely the choice of destinations and attractions to visit.
If you have a few days to get around Tuscany you will surely see many cities and areas, especially if you travel by car.
Florence is often called an “open-air museum” and indeed it is exactly like this: rich in art and history, which can be seen and admired even just walking through its streets, churches, palaces and monuments. Florence also hosts very famous museums, but art is everywhere.
If you are an art lover and want to see some of the most important masterpieces of our time by Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli, you can’t miss the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery where there is the original marble statue of David of Michelangelo.
Taking Florence as a starting point, you can easily reach both Pisa and Lucca.
In Pisa you can see the famous Piazza dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower.
Lucca is a small Venice without water, enclosed within mighty Renaissance walls that today have become a beautiful park. Here you could rent a bicycle to explore and admire Lucca from every angle, including the walls. Walking in the historic center of the city, be sure to visit the Duomo, the particular oval shape Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro and climb up to the top of the Guinigi tower, which you will immediately recognize from the trees placed on its top!
The area including Florence and Siena is the beautiful Chianti region, famous throughout the world for its excellent red wine. The area is characterized by hills covered with vineyards alternating with olive groves, traveling by car in this region is awesome.
If you have time, go to the Wine Museum where you will also have the chance to taste over 200 wine labels from the region, as well as see the agricultural equipment, and at this stage I guess you’ll need a driver 🙂
If in Florence you took a step back into the Renaissance, in Siena you will return to the Middle Ages. The city center is on various hills so expect some ups and downs, but the main attractions are quite close.
Start your walking tour in Piazza del Campo, famous for its particular shell shape and for the Palio di Siena, a horse race between the districts of the city that takes place twice every summer, on July 2nd and August 16th. The tower of Palazzo Comunale and the Torre del Mangia, offer a spectacular view of the square and the city!
Val D’Orcia is another area of Tuscany famous for its breathtaking landscapes and excellent red wines. Gentle hills, dotted with dark cypresses, red poppies and sunflowers make these landscapes a perfect postcard to send to friends and families. The Val d’Orcia offers much to see, from the medieval streets of Montepulciano to the smaller and more picturesque towns of Pienza, San Quirico D’Orcia and Montalcino.
The area is known throughout the world for its DOC wines Brunello di Montalcino and Montepulciano, making wine tasting here an excellent pastime.
Tuscany has a lot of beautiful places to see, so I suggest maybe you hit the road first and then you will find a lot of hotels, villas, farmhouses, B&Bs, apartments along the way that will suit all your needs.
The climate in Tuscany is generally very mild, although there may be more or less substantial differences depending on the different geographical areas. The coast and the plane areas tend to have warmer summers than the hilly and mountainous areas, although the coast in particular can enjoy the influence of the sea, which makes the temperatures a little cooler and more acceptable.
If the weather is your first consideration, the best months to visit Tuscany but which are also the most crowded and expensive are April, May, June, September and October. These months offer the convenience of high season with very pleasant and enjoyable weather. The days are mostly sunny, although there is also some rainy days.
The most difficult part of traveling to Tuscany during the summer is the scorching heat of July and August. In these months, temperatures can reach around 30 degrees or so. Despite this, there may be exceptions and long periods of drought that cause particularly hot periods.
Even in winter the sun cheers the days in Tuscany and the temperatures are quite mild, although at night they drop sharply, especially in the hill areas. The advice is to dress in layers, in order to be prepared to face the temperature changes between day and evening.
The coldest months are January and February. Temperatures approach 7 degrees Celsius along the coast and 3.5 / 5.5 degrees Celsius inland.
Therefore, the best times to visit Tuscany, are the quieter months from April to June and from September to October, when the weather is generally good, the prices are a little lower and above all there are fewer tourists to crowd the sites of major tourist attraction. This means less queues at the most important museums, which consequently will also be less crowded inside, and less long waiting times for eating at the most popular restaurants where it is always better to book in advance, the food is too good 🙂
Tuscan cuisine consists mostly of traditional dishes that have been prepared according to local traditions for many years.
The unsalted bread is an almost unique custom and shared only with neighboring Umbria. It seems to date back to the 12th century, when the rivalry between Pisa and Florence caused the price of salt to rise to exaggerated levels. In Tuscany the sacredness of bread is confirmed by the custom of not throwing it, but of using it even when it is stale in a variety of traditional recipes, such as panzanella, panata, ribollita, acquacotta, pappa al pomodoro, la fettunta, vegetable soup, farinata, black cabbage soup or pan co ‘santi.
Among the meat dishes stand the Florentine steak, beef meatloaf and veal stew. A peculiar characteristic of Tuscan cuisine is the use of white meats such as chickens and turkeys, but also geese, guinea fowl and pigeons. Also wild game dishes such as hare and wild boar, pheasant and porcupine are widespread. From pork are obtained cold cuts such as Tuscan salami, finocchiona, salted ham, Colonnata lard, sausages. Biroldo is aromatized, seasoned and diced pork blood. Fish dishes are widespread along the coast, with recipes such as eel alla fiorentina and stocafisso Livorno-style.
Few but characteristic cheeses, such as Tuscan pecorino, in particular that of Pienza, ricotta and raveggiolo as soft cheeses.
Desserts include panforte, ricciarelli, cavallucci, duke’s soup, cecco cake, migliacci, cantuccini di Prato.
My mouth is watering right now at all these delicacies
So I’ll just go and cook something 😉 and you out there, don’t forget to eat in style 😉
Also if you are a hopeless traveler like me, you may enjoy my previous posts and discover little by little our magnificent world.
- Discovering our world: Kolkata, India
- Discovering our world: Venice, Italy
- Discovering our world: Padua, Veneto, Italy
- Discovering our world: Gansu, China
- Discovering our world: Sicily, Italy
- Discovering our world: Genoa, Italy