Tuscany

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Location

This prosperous economic region is mostly hilly and mountainous. There is much fertile soil, especially in the Arno River valley and in the Maremma, a coastal strip. The Apennines are in northern and eastern Tuscany; in the northwest are the Alpi Apuane, where the famous Carrara marble is quarried; and there are also mountains in the south, where iron, magnesium, and quicksilver are produced. In addition, borax is produced in the Maremma, and iron is mined on Elba Island. Along the northern coast, which is low and sandy, are fine pine woods. Farm products of the region include cereals, olives, tobacco, and grapes; sheep, goats, and hogs are widely raised. The wine produced in the Chianti district near Siena is world famous; try some while you are here.
The region is also well-known for its artisans, especially those in Florence, and tourism is an important industry.

Most beautiful in May, September and October these are the best months for escaping the heat and the crowds and to enjoy the colorful of spring and autumn where days are still warm and there’s plenty of sunshine to enjoy.
Tuscany is largely rural and the landscape of cypresses, olive groves and vineyards are renowned throughout the world, for centuries.

 

Attractions

To get the most of your first stay in tuscany visit the renaissance town of Florence, Siena, with its wonderful landscape of cypress trees and olive groves, Lucca’s fabulous Villas, not least medieval Arezzo and Cortona.

Lucca and this part of Tuscany has a completely different appearance to the classic Tuscan landscape. In the Serchio valley and Garfagnana, you can find majestic mountains of marble and rochthat loom over the valley bottom along the river Serchio. Roads wind their way and unexpectedly open out into sunny areas with small ancient villages, settled on green hills that reflect in lakes with magic images.
Art and culture are of considerable importance in the territory near Lucca. The capital of the province is actually a unique example that has perfectly preserved its city walls and it has maintained its characteristics since roman times up today.

Arezzo is set in the south-east of Tuscany, in the middle of four marvellous valleys which radiate off from the town: the “Val Tiberina”, “Casentino “, “Valdarno” and “Valdichiana”.  The yearly Antique Furniture Exhibition that takes place at the very beginning of September is very well known. Apart from Valtiberina with its works of art, pastures and woodland, the area also offers splendid landscapes where you can find famous monastic settlements, completely surrounded by century-old trees and numerous romanesque parishes.

Siena is where every town, village or hamlet contains history and art treasures. It begins in the north with the incomparable scenic beauty of the Chianti lands, with their patchwork of wines and olive trees standing out in orderly rows against the hills. Alongside the province the land dries up into the characteristic scenery of the white”crete” (clay hills).

Florence
The city is of Florence is one of Italy’s most atmospheric, retaining a strong resemblance to the small late-medieval centre that contributed so much to the cultural and political development of Europe.
Visit the striking buildings, formidable galleries and treasure-crammed churches.
For eye-watering attractions you won’t need to venture far from Florence’s medieval core, a Renaissance wonderland containing the graceful span of Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo’s skyscraping dome, the gilded splendour of Basilica di San Lorenzo and the well-hung Uffizi gallery.
Florence is not entirely devoted to art, it’s essential to view the city’s gardens, bridges and half-hidden corners, and still more vital to join the Florentines, in their pursuit of outdoor pleasures, whether it’s window-shopping in Via dei Tornabuoni or sipping drinks in the city’s elegant, old-world cafés. Florence is unforgettable.

How to get there

BY AIR;

There are 2 airports in Tuscany: In Pisa and In Florence.

Pisa is the main airport in Tuscany.

The Florence Airport, Amerigo Vespucci, is the closest to the city but it is not as big as the above mentioned airport.

BY ROAD;    

Once you hit the road, remember that Italians drive defensively, with one eye on the road and the other on the cars and mopeds around them. Kids on mopeds can and will do just about anything, so don’t let the unexpected surprise you.

BY RAIL;

Traveling to and within Italy by train is not a bad option. Train travel is a great way to enter Italy from within Europe. A rail ticket over a long or short distance will normally be cheaper than a coach fare, and the journey will be quicker.

BY SEA;

Ferries connect Italy with Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, Malta, Albania, Egypt and Spain

BY BUS/COACH;
Good coach services run between cities and towns and there are also good local bus services. A major Italian company that operates throughout the country is called: SITA S.p.a.

 

Festivals

A summer visit is likely to coincide with one of the cultural festivals, the Estate Fiesolana or the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Together they run from May through August, with concerts, opera and ballet – often performed outdoors in an historic setting – creating an unforgettable experience

 

Eating  Dining  Shopping

There are all types of restaurants in Florence. Many are specifically aimed at tourists and have prominently displayed fixed-price (but mediocre) menus. To ensure a memorable meal, eat where the Italians eat.
For a simple lunch, try a slice of fresh-baked pizza to go or a quick snack in a vinaio or fiaschetteria, traditional wine bars.
Food markets are particularly tempting. Tuscan food is simple and excellent, with plenty of soups, superb pork dishes, grilled meats and vegetables. Bean dishes are especially popular (Tuscans are fondly nicknamed mangiafagioli, or “bean-eaters”).
The most famous wine is Chianti, but look for Brunello di Montalcino, a superb red from Tuscany. No meal is complete without a bottle of Chianti!

 

History

The fall of the Roman Empire saw a flurry of barbarian invasions. It wasn’t until the Longobard (6th to 8th centuries) dominance and duchy (with Lucca as capital) that things began to settle again. The invasions weren’t as bad in Tuscany as they were in other parts of Italy, this fact doubtlessly leading to the relative pre-eminence of Tuscan cities during the Middle Ages.

The struggle between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire – between Bishops and feudal rulers – also saw the involvement of the wealthy merchants and traders of the major cities. They were either Guelphs (siding with the Pope) or Ghibellines (siding with the Emperor – the most famous Ghibelline being Frederick Barbarossa), but whatever their allegiance, these key figures became increasingly wealthy and independent. This trend was the starting point for the formation of the Tuscan Communes, with their impressive craftsmanship and trading prowess that rapidly led to great wealth and influence.

Tuscany was particularly hard hit during the Second World War; the front line was at one time formed by the Arno River, and later there was the so-called Gothic Line. Florence, Pisa and Livorno were very badly damaged by intensive bombing, and the region took a very active role in the Resistance, as it did with the vigorous post-war reconstruction.

 

Useful telephone numbers

Emergency Number (Police) – 112
Airport Information; (Pisa International airport) Tel; (0)50 849 111

Train station: Trenitalia Call Center 89 20 21

Tourist Office: +39 55 212245

Holiday rents online:

National Transport Line

24 hour medical service 118


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