Holidays in Tuscany. Places, cities,
history: Chianti, Florence, Pisa, Siena
Lying on Italy's west coast on the Tyrrhenian Sea,
Tuscany is one of Italy's most popular destinations, and not without reason.
It was the starting point of the Renaissance and offers a beautiful hilly
landscape, often covered in grape vines, olive groves or sunflowers. It
also produces Italy's most famous wine, Chianti . The most popular
destinations in this region are Florence and Siena, both brimful with art
Regional culinary specialities include bistecca alla
fiorentina (thick t-bone steak), minestrone alla fiorentina (vegetable
soup) and Siena's panforte (rich fruit bread). Arguably Italy's finest
olive oil is produced here and liberally used in food. A common starter is
bruschetta , bread rubbed in garlic and dipped in olive oil. The region's
wines are amongst Italy's most well-known. These include Chianti ,
Vernacchia , Brunello di Montalcino , Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the
dessert wine Vin Santo .
The regional capital, Florence
(Firenze), boasts a wealth of Renaissance art and architecture. Visitors
flock from all over the world to see Michelangelo's David and the city's
magnificent Duomo, to name two of a plethora of attractions. The city's
allure does not, however, only lie in its artistic achievements but also in
the charm of its position: situated on the banks of the Arno River, at the
foot of wooded hills. Florence is host to many music festivals throughout
the year and an international film festival in December. The patron saint
of the city, St John the Baptist, is honoured on 24 June with a celebration
of spectacular fireworks.
The beautiful city of Siena has a number of monuments
and museums worth visiting, noteworthy of which is its black and white
marble cathedral built in the Romanesque and Gothic styles. It is also
famous for its annual medieval Palios , bareback horse races, which take
place on 2 July and 16 August. These are fiercely competitive contests
between the different local teams which are accompanied by large
processions and all sorts of other festivities.
Pisa was once a great maritime city and port, and its
claim to fame is its leaning tower. The tower, the Piazza del Duomo and the
Camposanto cemetery all survived intensive bombing during World War II.
Other towns worth a visit are Lucca , famous for its Renaissance city walls
and its churches; San Gimignano , whose towers dominate the Elsa valley in
which it is located and leading to its name: the 'city of fine towers'; and
Cortona , a medieval town providing excellent views of the Tuscan
Spas can be found at
Montecatini Terme and Chianciano Terme (located in the hills of the
The Tuscan Archipelago is made up of a group of
islands scattered between Tuscany and Corsica. Elba is the main island in
the group and was made famous as Napoleon's place of exile before his final
defeat at Waterloo. It is a mountainous, volcanic island with popular beach
resorts. Sailing and diving are among the many outdoor activities offered
on the island offers.