Italy is our neighboring country, so it goes without saying, I should know much about it. But I don’t. I haven’t even started exploring it until I turned nineteen. By that time I’ve seen Paris, London, Madrid, New York City yet have not ventured beyond the first few small towns across the Italian border. And those towns looked just like ours, so I didn’t get the fascination everyone else had with Italy. Until June 1999 when I went exploring Tuscany and Umbria with a friend of mine.
We enjoyed the amazingly enchanting Florence, smaller yet equally inviting San Gimignano, watched the preparations for the Palio in Sienna and got lost in the small villages of Umbria. It was such a perfect trip, we did it again a few years later with our partners. I will remember that trip mostly by the tasty food we got to enjoy and obscene amounts of ice cream I consumed in the four days we were there.
What got me thinking about Tuscany, well, what else but a new book I got to read. I’ll be writing a review as soon as I finish, but in the meantime I wanted to remind you why you should plan a trip to visit too. You already know how picture perfect this region of Italy is and it’s all true; rolling hills, field of poppy flowers, cypress trees lining up the countryside roads leading up to beautiful villas, cobble -stone town squares with narrow streets and ancient buildings… What you want to do is stop at every olive tree you see, every turn you make and take photos of sun shining and illuminating the scenery.
Trust me you will start thinking about abandoning your stressful life to come down here and enjoy the breathtaking images in front of you and indulge in all the food you can take. If you are not already, you will definitely start drinking coffee, I did, only to discover nobody makes coffee as good as the Italians and nobody drinks it faster. You will still want hundreds of ice cream flavors to chose from and you will expect pasta and olive oil to taste as it did when you had it here. Then you will realize there is nothing like Tuscany.
So, get here. Explore, do all the touristy things like going to Florence and visiting the gallery Uffizi – it’s worth it, because of the great art pieces it hosts, like Boticelli’s The birth of Venus, walk the famous Ponte Vecchio and Piazza Duomo with the Cathedral and Baptistery. On my first trip to Florence we camped at this amazing campsite next to the Piazza Michelangelo overlooking the whole Florence with the river Arno. Try it.
Drive through the Chianti region and buy a bottle of their famous Chianti wine and finish the day with a visit to to the main square in Sienna. Picturesque San Gimignano is a tourist trap but still a must, as the World Heritage site and with striking medieval towers earning it the nickname of Medieval Manhattan. Pisa known worldwide by the leaning tower didn’t impress me much, but you’ll probably want to see it, too. There is more: Vinci – the birthplace of the genius Leonardo da Vinci, small villages Montepulciano, Montalcino, Pienza, San Quirico D’Orcia. Actually I think anywhere you go, you will be dreaming about it, weeks after you’ll be back.
It might be best to also plan to get lost in Tuscany for a few days.