Tuscany

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

Cities and countryside bathed in sunshine

In a nutshell…

The Tuscan landscape of olive groves, cypress trees, and grapevines is bathed in a golden pink light that seems to bring the regulars back to Chianti‐shire year after year. Not least Tony and Cherie Blair, who got engaged and may even have conceived their fourth child here!

As well as stunning landscapes, this is also the home of art and the land of romance and refinement. See Florence in all its Renaissance glory, the medieval towns of Siena and San Gimignano, and the leaning tower of Pisa.

Magnetic attractions

  • Duomo This breathtakingly beautiful cathedral in Florence has a pink, white and green marble facade and a dome that dominates the skyline. Climb to the top for a perfect view of the city below.
  • Academia Gallery This gallery in Florence contains Michaelangelo’s David. He’s worth seeing in the flesh at least once.
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa Scientists think they have found a way of halting the lean, so you’d best see it quickly before it’s upright ‐‐ or at least still standing!

Romantic rendezvous

  • Ponte Vecchio Take a moment on this famous 14th‐century bridge, lined with gold and silversmiths’ shops, to whisper a few sweet nothings in your lover’s ear.
  • San Gimignano This beautiful hilltop town has barely changed since medieval times, and its 14 surviving towers are a striking symbol of past power. A good place to watch the sun go down over the patchwork Tuscan countryside.
  • Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) This square in Pisa has the tower and the cathedral set in its lawns, and is considered one of the most beautiful in the world.
  • Grotta Giusta Spa Head to this thermal spa near Lucca for a dip in one of the steam baths, known as Paradise, Purgatory and Hell. Tip: choose Paradise!

Love bites and love potions

This land of sun‐dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and Chianti wine offers opportunities aplenty for eating in style. Try the Osteria Il Caminetto in Florence, which has a small vine‐covered terrace and is perfect for dining a deux. Cheaper and still romantic, buy a pizza slice to share near the Duomo and stroll to the Arno harbour.

If you’ve money to burn, travel to the town of Lucca to Il Buca di sant’ Antonio. This old coaching inn has been in business for over a century and has a Michelin star for its Tuscan food. In Pisa, head for the open‐air food market and buy delicious supplies for a picnic in the Campo dei Miracoli.

Propose here

Ask the immortal question on the banks of the River Arno in full view of the Ponte Vecchio bridge.

To get you in the mood

If you’re a Merchant‐Ivory kind of a person, A Room with a View offers a story of compelling romance against a backdrop of heart‐stopping Tuscan scenery. It’s revered as a rarity ‐‐ a screen adaptation that’s better than the original book. A stellar cast ‐‐ including Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliot and Rupert Graves ‐‐ act out EM Forster’s charming novel, set in beautiful Florence. For a more modern take on love and life among the trulli and masseria, try William Dean Howells’ superior romcom, Indian Summer. It’s as funny a read as it is touching.

Language of love

Buon anniversario = Happy anniversary

Ti amo = I love you

Auguri! = Congratulations!

Mi voui sposare? = Will you marry me?

Stags and hens

As a fomer stomping ground of the Italian aristocracy, Tuscany is not short on huge private villas which sleep up to 20 people. Usually they have swimming pools and so are perfect for chilling with large groups of friends.

And while you are in Chianti‐shire, it’d be foolish not to drive the Chianti trail from Florence to Siena, which links the famous wine‐soaked towns of Panzano, Greve, and Castellina.

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