Posted by: ladybugtravels | December 15, 2010

Visiting Italy – Tuscany

Visitors travel to Tuscany for many reasons. Many come in search of fine art, others to explore the extraordinary countryside. Gourmets and wine buffs descend on Tuscany to enjoy the simple yet wonderful cuisine and wine. Walkers enjoy the mountain paths, cyclists the rolling hills, summer vacationers the sea coast and islands. Students come to learn the beautiful Italian language and culture.

There is a lot to see and do in Tuscany, the difficulty is really where to start. Certainly most should start with Florence, and continue on to Siena and Pisa (a tourist trap, but one worth the hassle). The cities of Arezzo, Cortona, San Gimignano and Lucca are all a very worthwhile use of your travel time. One of the beauties of the region is that it is dynamic and ever changing which begs one to return again and again.

•See the Masters in Florence museums. The Uffizi Gallery is a world famous art museum. Here you can feast your eyes on hundreds of paintings by Renaissance masters. Artists include Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Then head over to the Accademia where you’ll find Michelangelo’s statue of David – one of the most famous sculptures in the world.
•Go wine tasting in Chianti. Just about everyone has heard of Chianti wine, and now you can taste the red wine for yourself from the local vineyards in the region. Even if you’re not so keen on wine, it’s a gorgeous area to explore
•Stroll around Siena. Siena is a well known town dating from medieval times. One of its most popular piazzas is the Piazza del Campo where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy a glass of wine or cup of coffee and indulge in people watching. If you feel energetic, you can climb to the top of the bell tower for breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
•Visit Lucca. Lucca is a Tuscan town dating from 180BC. Founded by the Romans, there’s a 1900 year old amphitheater to explore and a sixteenth century brick wall that encloses the city center. If you are looking to work up a sweat, you can walk along the 2.5 mile long brick wall.
•Take a Tuscan cooking class. If you’d like to know how to make authentic Tuscan dishes, then why not take a cooking class in Tuscany? There are quite a few different cooking schools in the region that offer anything from one day courses to intense week long courses.
•Count the tower houses at San Gimignano. This town is 1,000 years old and is perched on a hill. Only 14 tower houses are left standing today which were a sign of wealth in ancient times. San Gimignano features churches and museums, as well as the Fortress of Montestaffoli.
•Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The town of Pisa is approximately 50 miles from Florence and is easily reached by train. In recent years the tower has been under renovations to shore up the lean. It is a bit of a tourist mecca, but still worth the trip.
•Explore the Maremma region. The Maremma region is located in south-western Tuscany. This region boasts hills, mountains and the ocean. You can indulge in pleasures such as eating simple Italian food and tasting the wines of this region. Or if you feel like taking a dip, the thermal baths of Saturnia have the cure for what ails you.
•Take an art class. Be inspired by the same landscapes as the Italian masters. Not only can you take a class in painting, but lessons in pottery, sculpture, drawing, ceramics and mosaics are also offered at the various art schools in the region.
•Explore Cortona. If you’ve read Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, then you may be familiar with Cortona. The Etruscans first lived here centuries ago and today it’s a town that offers visitors a feast of history and art. Ready for the food, art and wine of Tuscany? Contact Destinations Worldwide and get started planning your trip.

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