Destination of the Week: Tuscany
Picture rolling hills, olive groves, sunflowers swaying in the breeze, medieval hilltop towns and the beauty of Renaissance art and you’ll come close to the impossibly romantic destination of Tuscany.
As if the sensational scenery isn’t enough, the local obsession with food and wine makes every traveller’s foodie dreams come true, with just one delectable bite of Tuscan cuisine. One of the most enjoyable pastimes in Tuscany, is to sit in a bustling piazza in Sienna or Florence and simply eat, drink, people watch and be merry! But for those of you with adventure in mind, there’s an abundance of things to do.
What to do
With so many amazing experiences on offer in Tuscany, it’s hard to know where to start! It goes without saying that Florence tops most visitor’s lists, as the first port of call to see Michael Angelo’s David, eat delicious gelato and walk across the Ponte Vecchio. Visit Pisa to discover the Leaning Tower of Pisa and stroll through the charming streets, then explore Sienna and marvel at the gorgeous frescos on the Duomo.
Wine lovers must dive into the heart of wine country and visit the exquisite town of Montalcino. Another village on the ‘must see’ list is the spectacular San Gimignano. Wilderness lovers should head to Chianti for densely wooded hills, porcupines and postcard pretty wine towns. If you’re a fan of the film, ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’, explore the scenic town of Cortona and drive through the magnificent countryside.
For a seaside feel, discover the resort of Forte dei Marmi to stroll along the promenade and perch on a beach lounger for a relaxing day. To make the most of the wine and olive groves Tuscany is so famous for, visit the fortified city of Lucca and spend some time simply indulging in the local pleasure of eating alfresco.
Where to Stay
Tuscan villa anyone? It’s hard to beat the blissful dream of staying in a restored, yet charmingly rustic villa in the hills of Tuscany. If you’d rather be in amongst the action of a town though, you’ll find an abundance of hotels, bed and breakfasts and apartments to suit every taste and budget.
Villa Sassolini (£££)
For those incredible views over the majestic Tuscan countryside, Villa Sassolini is the perfect haven as a base to explore the region. Gaze at the wild Chianti hills from gorgeously decorated rooms and take a dip in the outdoor pool before having a sundowner on the panoramic terrace.
Palazzo Guadagni Hotel (££)
A Renaissance Palace overlooking lively square in the heart Florence, the Palazzo Guadagni Hotel is a mere 5 minutes’ walk from the Ponte Vecchio. You’ll get to enjoy a rooftop bar and garden, antique furniture throughout and charming frescoes.
Wow Florence Hostel (£)
You simply can’t be without a terrace in Florence to admire the incredible beauty of the city, and this great value hostel has exactly that. The rooms are colourful, there’s Wi Fi, a communal lounge, a kitchen, vending machines and helpful reception staff.
What to eat
Dining out in Tuscany is an endless delight you’ll never be able to get enough of. Whether you’re sampling fresh, local produce in the Tuscan hills, eating at a gourmet restaurant in Florence or having antipasto in a bustling town square, the culinary scene is sure to delight even the most cynical foodie.
La Cucina Garga (£££)
You’ll probably need a reservation to get into this Florence favourite, but it will definitely be worth it. Enjoy the modern art covered walls while you tuck into Antipasto and Fresh Fettucine With Orange and Lemon Zest, Mint, Parmigiano in a Cream Brandy Sauce.
Trattoria Mario (££)
A favourite with locals and tourists alike, Trattoria Mario, in Florence, is one of the best places to sample simple but utterly delicious Florentine food. Try some zucchini ravioli and enjoy the atmosphere only Italian’s can give to a favoured restaurant.
Mercato Centrale (£)
The Mercato Centrale is basically a food court made fabulous simply because it’s in Florence. Here, you’ll find everything you want, from burgers, to steaks, pizzas, pastries and gelato for great value prices.
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