Glittering Renaissance cities, medieval hilltop castles, and rolling valley vineyards
Tuscany is a north-western region stretching from the mountainous Liguria border down to the sun-warmed lakes of Umbria and Lazio. Poppy fields, medieval castle towns, pinstriped vineyards and Renaissance cities fulfil the postcard promise. Some of the best hotels retreat to the countryside, where gold-dipped villages burrow between swooping hills.
This is where you’ll find places like Pievescola and Castelnuovo Berardenga. These hamlets feature field-to-table menus, green-shuttered farm shops and country villa hotels. Add to that some of the most scenic roads in Italy, and the postcard gets even prettier.
These bike-friendly country roads lead to every other flavour of Tuscan town, from walled hilltop villages to towering cities like Siena, Florence and Pisa. It’s easy to get caught up in the grandeur of the squares and palaces of these open-air museums.
Wherever you stay, one thing’s for sure – you won’t go hungry. Tuscan food is simple and flavourful, and the cities offer creative takes on traditional fare. Wine connoisseurs should head for central Tuscany, where Chianti and Montepulciano vineyards cover the hills.
Pievescola might be small, but its luxury credentials are mighty. Renaissance villas double as designer hotels and the local restaurant features in the Michelin Guide.
The Tuscan countryside is your oyster from Castelnuovo Berardenga. This Sienese comune sprinkles historic hamlets over a hilly patchwork of sunflower fields and Chianti vineyards.
The best airports for Tuscany are Florence and Pisa. Direct flights from the UK take approximately two hours.
Tuscany is a mild-weathered place. Temperatures meander between 20°C and 25°C in the warmest months of July and August. July is also usually the driest month of the year. Autumn is light jacket weather (around 17°C in September), while spring is crisper – think 10°C to 15°C.
Tuscany has a calendar full of festivals. Museums and shops shut early on Easter weekend so that locals can join the processions and Passion Plays that pop up throughout the region. Spring also kicks off a long line-up of food events that last till autumn. September is harvest time, so that’s when wine festivals really get into their stride.
British citizens do not currently require a visa to visit Italy.
When you dine out in Italy, you will generally be charged a coperto (cover charge), which is for the bread, tablecloth, cutlery, etc. Tipping in Italy is not customary, but is always appreciated.
The official language of Italy is Italian. English is widely spoken too, so getting by is easy.