The Best of Tuscany: What to Expect
Experience a region like no other as you tour the spectacular towns of Tuscany and sample the delicacies of its cuisine
If you’re planning to join a Tuscany tour get ready for an indulgent and multi-sensory experience that will be sure to wow both body and mind. Experience exquisite food and wine in the magnificent surrounds of the hilltop towns of Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni, all the while surrounded by history and architectural wonder.
One of the greatest charms of Tuscany, this medieval city is steeped in fame and elegance, frequented even by the likes of James Bond in Quantum of Solace. Book a place on one of our Tuscany tours that fall during the time of the famous Palio run, held twice very summer in Siena’s central piazza, Il Campo. This is a truly unique event.
Situated near Siena is the magnificent walled castle town of Monteriggioni. Built by the Sienese during the early thirteenth century, the castle gained enough of a reputation to be mentioned by Dante in his Divine Comedy and the structure and the surrounding village have remained remarkably intact since. Schedule the Tuscany tour with us that will cover the town’s beautiful medieval festival. Held every July, the streets are filled with craftsmen, cavaliers and individuals celebrating in period costume while an array of dances, live performances, acrobats and storytellers all come together to create a fittingly lively and chaotic tribute to medieval life.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Gimignano likely has one of the most interesting histories of any location you will ever visit, one which boldly manifests itself in the very architecture of the city. Notable for the tall towers that characterise its skyline, these medieval skyscrapers were the product of a long lasting competitive drive amongst San Gimignano’s leading families to continuously outdo each other with lavish demonstrations of wealth, designed to impress both local inhabitants and pilgrims travelling through from France on their journey towards Rome. Don’t miss the chance to sample some of the town’s products as well, including saffron and the local white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
While all Italian food can be celebrated, the unique flavours and delicacies of Tuscany deserve their own introduction. Making the most of fresh, simple ingredients, Tuscan cuisine is notable for dishes that are wholesome and rich in flavour while remaining refreshingly straightforward. For some of the best and most authentic opportunities to experience Tuscan cuisine, let us take you to the indoor food market of San Lorenzo at Nerbone. Meanwhile, if you’re in the mood for a steak, you can’t get much better than Dario Cecchini in Panzano in Chianti – remember to order rare to enjoy the special Tuscan cut, bistecca alla fiorentina, at its very best.
Note that all meals are accompanied by a white, plain, unsalted loaf (a tradition that has continued since the 16th century when a tax on salt changed bread making behaviour). While initially relatively flavourless, the bread is enhanced by a variety of ingredients such as fettunta or crostini di fegatini and becomes a fantastic means to soak up any leftover juices from your main dish. Alternatively, enjoy with one of Tuscany’s four main types of olive oil – the Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino or Pendolino.
While sampling Tuscany’s historic towns and mouthwatering cuisine, you should consider rounding off your experience with one of our organised trips to one of the region’s famous vineyards. The Chianti Classico and surrounding areas just south of Florence offer a plentiful selection of flavours and styles to wet your palette. If you’re still in an exploratory mood, some smaller but equally rich offerings can be found around the small hamlet of Montalcino or, further east, in the Vino Nobile region.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rose Magers is an Australian-born Italophile and the founder of ArtViva. With an international reputation for excellence and creativity, ArtViva are at the forefront of escorted day tours in Italy. Rose has indulged her own passion for history and the arts by designing an innovative range of exceptional small group Tuscany tour experiences, from hiking and biking through the Tuscan countryside to unforgettable villa visits.