Rolling green hills covered with scenic vineyards and lofty cypress trees, elegant cities basked in Renaissance splendour and food so glorious it will melt your heart – this is Italy at its finest.
Tuscany covers an area of almost 23,000 square kilometres in central Italy and is bordered by the Apennine Mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Praised for its fabulous wines, priceless art and spectacular countryside, it is the most well-known of the 20 Italian regions and one of Europe’s most enchanting travel destinations.
Florence, the graceful Tuscan capital, is home to an overwhelming amount of Renaissance art and its fashion scene is equally important, with an abundance of top designer boutiques and luxury fashion houses based here. Siena, with its winding narrow streets, gorgeous medieval piazza and awe-inspiring Gothic cathedral, looks like a huge open-air museum, and the handsome walled town of Lucca has some of the best food in the area.
Tuscany is not just about great cities though. As a region replete with medieval hilltop villages, miraculously preserved ancient castles and some of the world’s most prestigious wineries, it appeals to anyone who appreciates the finer things in life. The soul-stirring landscapes of the Tuscan countryside will delight hopeless romantics and outdoor adventure enthusiasts alike. Its enchanting villages will seduce art devotees, culture vultures and history buffs with magnificent architecture and churches that hold masterpieces by the world’s finest painters and sculptors. Epicureans and wine connoisseurs will fall in love with the area’s fabulous varietals and unique farm-to-table way of eating, while discerning visitors will be thoroughly impressed with the luxury villas in Tuscany.
Nestled between Florence and Siena, the Chianti region is best known for its excellent red wine, but with its miles of scenic trails and castle routes, it is also an adventure playground for hiking aficionados. The same can be said for Val d’Orcia in the south of Siena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its idyllic rural scenery and atmospheric wine villages of Montepulciano and Montalcino.
“In Tuscany, a region celebrated for its rich gastronomic variety and award-winning wines, food lovers won’t have to look far for an exceptional meal.”
Patrons are treated like royalty at Enoteca Pinchiorri, Tuscany’s only establishment with three Michelin stars. With a remarkable wine cellar of over 100,000 bottles, the restaurant serves Tuscan cuisine with a French influence in a classical, elegant atmosphere.
www.enotecapinchiorri.it/ / +39 055 242757
Trattoria Toscana, Italy’s one and only Alain Ducasse restaurant, can be found at Tenuta La Badiola country estate, within the lush countryside of Maremma. The Michelin-starred eatery specialises in reinterpreted classic Tuscan recipes and it also offers a selection of bespoke cooking courses.
www.trattoria-toscana.it/ / +39 0564 944322
Food at Arnolfo, a Michelin two-starred restaurant in Colle Val D’Elsa, is a feast for the eyes and the palate. Sicilian chef Gaetano Trovato combines time-honoured traditions with avant-garde techniques to transform the freshest local produce and ingredients into spectacular culinary creations.
www.arnolfo.com / +39 0577 920 549
Bracali is situated in Massa Marittima, a quaint hill town in southern Tuscany. The restaurant has two Michelin stars and serves up some of the region’s most elegant and original dishes along with premium wines in a refined, timeless setting.
www.ristorante.mondobracali.it/ / +39 0566 902 318
“Tuscany isn't particularly well-known for its nightlife, but it makes up for this by offering a tremendous selection of cafes and wine bars to enjoy a relaxing drink. After all, this is the land of ‘dolce far niente’ - the sweetness of doing nothing.”
Founded in 1815, the historic Caffè Giacosa in Florence is now owned by famous designer Roberto Cavalli, whose flagship store sits just around the corner. Aimed at an elite clientele, the hip venue also functions as a gift shop and serves decadent cappuccinos and herbal infusions along with wines, cocktails and delicious pastries.
www.caffegiacosa.it / +39 055 277 6328
La Bottega del Nobile
Located in Montepulciano, La Bottega del Nobile is one of the best restaurant-wine bars in Tuscany. Its cellar houses more than 300 types of wines, 60 of which are available for tasting every day. You will find everything from Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
www.vinonobile.eu / +39 0578 757016
A popular hangout for fashion-conscious Florentines, Yab, which also houses a restaurant and an exclusive VIP lounge, has a sleek decor and an exclusive vibe. Located in the historical center of Florence, close to Piazza della Repubblica, it is widely regarded as one of the most glamorous dance clubs in Tuscany.
www.yab.it / +39 055 215 160
Birrificio San Quirico
Beer isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Tuscany, but the area’s craft brewing industry has never been more exciting. From all the 30 microbreweries in the region, the tiny Birrificio San Quirico is perhaps the most charming. Its two high-quality beers are made exclusively with grain from the Val d’Orcia.
www.birrificiosanquirico.it/ / +39 0577 89 81 93
“As the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’, Tuscany has no equal when it comes to art, but its cultural treasures go far beyond the world-class museums and galleries of Florence.”
Galleria degli Uffizi
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is one of the world’s most prestigious museums and an absolute must for any true art lover. In addition to its fabulous collection of Italian Renaissance art, it also houses magnificent Greek and Roman sculptures as well as a number of International Gothic works. Among the highlights are the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo, Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael and Venus of Urbino by Titian. It is recommended to make reservations well in advance.
www.uffizi.firenze.it / +39 055 294883
Duomo di Siena
A masterpiece of Romanesque-Gothic architecture, Siena’s cathedral definitely stands out. Its stunning interior is clad in black and white marble and decorated with works by the greatest sculptors and painters, including Donatello and Michelangelo. The pièce de résistance, however, is its astounding inlaid marble mosaic floor which consists of 14,000 square feet of intricate panels, depicting biblical scenes by more than 40 Sienese artists.
www.operaduomo.siena.it / +39 0577 286300
“From exciting adventures and cultural pursuits to fabulous sightseeing and unrivalled shopping, Tuscany has enough amazing activities to fill your entire holiday.”
The Food & Wine Academy of Florence offers a variety of cooking classes, from pizza and pasta making to learning the secret of Italian gelato. They also provide six-hour wine tours of Chianti that include visits to distinguished wineries, wine tastings and traditional Tuscan meals.
Private Guided Tours
Explore Florence with a guided walking tour around the city’s marvellous historic centre and its notable monuments, including the illustrious Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and the sculpture-lined Piazza della Signoria. There are a variety of tours both private and in groups with professional guides, historians and art experts.