A Mini-Guide for a Tuscany Vacation
A Tuscany vacation is an opportunity to relax into the picturesque countryside, rolling hills and at certain intervals step back into medieval times of an enchanting destination. Each hilltop town brings a feeling of serenity and yet still hidden among this peace is an unsurpassed luxury available to those who seek it out. Through this guide, let’s unveil the elite secrets of this region through experiencing its food and wine, luxury accommodations and private tours that are only available on a Tuscany Italy vacation.
The charm of your Tuscany trip will speak for itself when traveling to the many towns of the region. The most well-known, Siena, is surrounded in olive groves and the vineyards of Chianti. Set on three hills, the city is seemingly drawn together by winding alleyways and steep steps. At its heart are the cultural landmarks of the Piazza del Campo, the Duomo and the St Maria della Scala. Twice a year in procession of magnificent pageantry the Palio di Siena, a horse race, attracts spectators from around the world.
The medieval towers of San Gimignano are the most recognized aspect of this 14th century town. When at the peak of its decadence, 72 towers stood in tribute to the wealth of the families who lived there. Located near Siena, it was originally called “the City of Beautiful Towers.” Though it has an unforgettable skyline, its basilica The Collegiata, contains colorful frescoes from Taddeo di Bartolo, Benozzo Gozzoli and Domenico Ghirlandaio that should not be ignored.
In its origins, Castellina was once used as a stronghold for the Florentines during their wars with Siena. Set in the Chianti region, it is now an enchanting destination celebrated for its red wines and provides an opportunity to sample local vintages as part of Tuscany wine tours. Located between Florence and Siena, this ancient town has many wonderful sights including an imposing 14th-century Rocca (Fortress), a 16th-century San Salvatore church and the Viadelle Volte medieval arched passageway. Stepping a bit out of town, (and highlighted as part of Florence Italy attractions) the pre-Roman Etruscan burial tombs of Monte Calvario and the Necropolis of Poggino are historical relics worth viewing.
Built-upon a narrow ridge, Montepulciano is a walled town in the heart of the Vino Nobile wine growing area. The largest hill town in southern Tuscany, if you travel along the main road of Il Corso, you will reach the Piazza Grande (its highest point) and be able to admire the view below. A unique town located in the Val di Chiana, it is known for its impressive central square, Renaissance buildings and churches. If you have extra time, visit the 16th century Tempio di San Biagio, a Renaissance masterpiece which embodies the grace of an era.
The beauty and tranquility of the Italian countryside can only be enhanced when staying overnight in one of the 5 star hotels in Tuscany. If you are looking to holiday where history and art meet in exclusivity, then the Grand Hotel Continental is the right place for you. Known as the Palazzo Gori Pannilini, it was originally a wedding gift from Pope Alexander VII to his niece. The only luxury hotel in the center of Siena, this stunning 17th century hotel attracts the most elite of travelers.
Another luxury option is that of Borgo La Bagnaia Resort and Spa which brings the Tuscan countryside right to your door. Though a golf and spa retreat, it rests in an ancient medieval village and maintains its ties in local traditions. However, if you are looking for Tuscany luxury hotels a bit farther out in order experience more geography in the area, try the Borgo di Filetta. A Hamlet, this 12th century restored building is nestled in the Siena countryside and is for those who prefer an authentic feeling of local culture and tradition on their vacation.
Though there are many tours of Tuscany, there is no better way to experience the luxury of this region than in the private company of your own guide. Explore the Chianti countryside by car in a private tour that will take you to hilltop towns such as Greve and Castellina. A tour for those who love wine, you will visit local vineyards, sample their wines and taste local traditional foods. A spectacular tour, you will drive through forests, visit Panzano in Chianti to have lunch and see the medieval Hamlet of Badia di Passignano.
For the true wine connoisseur, a private tour of Brunello will take you through some of the most flavorful wine notes in the world. This area produces one of the most globally appreciated wine products and this exclusive tour gives you access to sample it firsthand. You will spend time in Montalcino, a sanctuary of Brunello wine produced from Sangiovese grapes. In complete leisure, you will taste local cuisine during lunch in town and then expand your journey into the Abbazia di Sant’Antimo Abbey. Overall, you will not only enjoy a direct tasting of Brunello di Montalcino and learn why it is known as the “Italian ambassador in the world of our wine-making reality” but also savor a selection of other prestigious wines while in true wine country.
Those who are seeking the ultimate “foodie” experience, a private cooking class at Badia di Coltibuono provide a unique chance to learn classical regional Italian cuisine. This three hour lesson gives a hands-on approach to preparing a multi-course menu from antipasti (starter) to dessert from the Coltibuono’s family kitchen. You will then delve into your creations from their private dining room while sampling a selection of world class wines produced at Badia a Coltibuono. As an added experience and to walk off the delicious Italian cuisine, you will get a private tour of the Abbey and the wine cellars. With this new knowledge in hand, you will be the envy of your friends at your next dinner party when by serving the local flavors of this region from the privacy of your home.
With this small peak behind the veil of Tuscany as your vacation destination, you begin to realize this guide can only be the beginning of what can be experienced while on travel in Italy. Alluring and unforgettable, Tuscany will captivate your heart with its medieval charms and extraordinary country side. So let Travel2Italy help customize your Tuscany vacation packages with the treasured luxuries available in this unique region. Once our expert consultants reveal the indulgences of this destination, you will appreciate its quaint towns, rolling hills, local wines and architecture in a brand new way.