In the last month, our writers have been busy producing inspiring travel content for clients old and new. Among the new were holiday home rental agency Tuscany Escapes, who offer various villas, palatial pads, away-from-it-all retreats and family-friendly residences in the lovely rolling hills of Italy’s Tuscany region.
Tuscany is one of those places that we never tire of visiting or writing about. So when we were asked to put together a destination overview for Tuscany Escapes, we jumped at the opportunity. Our expert travel writers got to work writing travel copy about the region’s culture, landscapes, cuisines and top attractions. The copy gives a brief taster of Tuscan history and geography, as well as explaining how best reach the region, before delving into the most popular holiday locations. Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano and Chianti are all covered.
If you are planning a holiday of any kind – from family getaway to wine escape to city break – Tuscany is worth serious consideration. To find out more about the much-loved Italian holiday destination, read the excerpt below.
Tuscany is the kind of place travellers return to again and again. One more time is never enough. After attempting to take in Florence’s countless galleries and Siena’s Gothic delights, there are still legions of other alluring Tuscan towns, hilltop hamlets, coastal villages and rural estates to be explored and experienced, each with their own unique identity and flavour and yet perfectly at harmony with the idyllic Tuscan landscape.
Then there are the region’s other two great pleasures: food and wine. In Tuscany, vines are lavished with the kind of love and attention normally reserved for a new lover, olives and tomatoes are painstakingly plucked by hand, and pasta is lovingly made from scratch; the results on the dinner table are inimitable.
What’s more, the Tuscan people know a thing or two about the good life. Lunches are long, relaxed affairs, evening walks are slow and leisurely, and afternoon naps are perfectly acceptable. Combine that laid-back Tuscan lifestyle with exquisite art, gorgeous scenery, compelling history and irresistible food and wine, and you’ll begin to see just how much Tuscany deserves the lashings of praise it receives.
Few cities can rival Florence’s cultural treasures. Its art and architecture are dazzling. Not only is it home to a bewildering number of world-famous masterpieces, among them Michelangelo’s ‘David’ (in the Accademia), Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ (in the Uffizi Gallery) and Ghiberti’s ‘Gates of Paradise’ (in Museo dell’Opera del Duomo), but the city is a work of art unto itself. A stroll around the attractive streets reveals architectural marvels including Brunelleschi’s instantly recognisable Duomo, the marble Baptistery, the medieval Ponte Vecchio bridge and the towering Palazzo Vecchio, the one-time home of the Medici dukes.
Yet the cultural treasures don’t end with Renaissance heirlooms. Scratch beneath the surface of this compelling art city, and you’ll find some artworks from modern masters too. Museums including the Accademia Gallery and the Palazzo Vecchio often host temporary contemporary exhibits, as does the Strozzina gallery inside Palazzo Strozzi.
Trawling through Florence’s extensive treasure-filled galleries can be exhausting. Luckily, there are plenty of cafés and restaurants to sit down in for some respite, ranging from grand gourmet establishments to casual trattorias complete with red-chequered tablecloths. Gardens and city parks, such as the Boboli Gardens, Bardini Gardens, and Cascine Park, provide a leafy antidote to Florence’s dominant Renaissance sandstone.
July and August are probably the busiest months in Florence. Although the temperatures and crowds soar, the city is at its most lively, and there are frequent seasonal events and festivals. For a quieter experience of Florence’s Renaissance riches, try visiting in winter when temperatures plummet and museum queues diminish, saving you precious sightseeing time.
Siena is Tuscany’s second city. While it may have ultimately lost out to rival Florence in the battle for Tuscan power, it has managed to win the heart of many incoming tourists.
The city itself is a cluster of Gothic buildings enclosed neatly within the ancient city walls. Relatively easy-going in comparison to Florence, Siena manages to maintain an authentic and rather mellow Tuscan atmosphere. At its heart is Piazza del Campo, a 13th-century square that hosts the famed Palio, a bi-annual bareback horse race. The Campo is also a perfect place for an al fresco aperitivo in one of the café terraces that ring the square. At the south end is the 13th-century Palazzo Pubblico, a Gothic gem that houses the civic museum and its collection of notable frescoes. Behind it, the arresting Torre del Mangia soars up to 102 metres in height and offers incredible views of the sun-baked stone piazza below.
The town is built on three ridges, each full of curving streets and alleys filled with medieval buildings and museums, including the impressive late medieval and Renaissance collections of the Pinacoteca Nazionale museum, and the magnificent Cathedral of Siena, whose stunning original furnishings are kept in the nearby the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
This medieval jewel of a city has a plethora of religious, historical and art monuments and museums, as well as pockets of appealing parklands. After wearing out your feet pounding the medieval pavements, rest in one of the atmospheric taverns and trattorias. These serve up hearty Tuscan cuisine and wines from the nearby Chianti hills.
Want to find out about Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano and Chianti, or about the history of Florence? Read the full destination overview on the Tuscany Escapes website, where you can also check out the rentals up for offer. To see more examples of our travel writing, see the latest projects section of our site or follow us on Twitter.
Tuscany: rooftop view CC image courtesy of Dympna (Flickr); Florence skyline CC image courtesy of echiner1 (Flickr); Piazza del Campo, Siena CC image courtesy of Phillip Capper (Flickr)