Tuscany – a region in the center of Italy, as if entirely woven of beauty: emerald hills, lost in a distant purple haze, towns with tiled roofs, generous vineyards – it seems that time has stopped here. And only a lazy artist did not respond to the unique shades of the Tuscan sky. Perhaps it was the colors of the local clouds and hills that inspired the masters of the Renaissance, which originated in this part of Italy? This spring, we went on a trip to Tuscany to personally check whether it really is so beautiful, and at the same time to experience the famous Stendhal syndrome.
The landscapes of Tuscany, repeatedly appearing on the pages of Total Escape, haunted us for a long time. Well, there are no such colors in reality, and the cities are too similar to the scenery for the film! The only way to find out the truth was to see everything with our own eyes – and now we are flying to the homeland of Chianti, the Renaissance and the most incredible sky.
Driving down the serpentine country roads is the best way to see Tuscany in all its glory. By the way, many roads laid by the Romans are still in excellent condition.
The best way to travel in Tuscany is to take a car and, while enjoying the views, drive along the country roads that mesh the hills. Plus, there are so many small towns in Tuscany that you want to look into – as a result, every day we moved from one city to another, staying overnight in hotels that turned out to be as colorful as the landscape here.
But first things first. Rome is behind us and we are finally driving between the Tuscan hills. What can I say – the colors of the local landscapes are really amazing: green grasses are buried in a smoky lilac haze, bright yellow fields flash against the background of a turquoise sky, and the orange setting sun is slowly sinking in the purple twilight … And also peace and quiet – they are almost physically palpable! But we have the first goal: of course, this is Florence.
Florence. Back to Renaissance
They say there is a special term – Stendhal Syndrome (or Florentine Syndrome), describing the culture shock from the abundance of natural and architectural beauty, as well as art objects – it occurs in those who first come to this city. We also felt dizziness and palpitations from all this beauty around!
You need to walk around Florence – for a long time, thoughtfully: this is the only way to feel it fully. It looks like a revived textbook on art history – here the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, and there, around the bend, is the Michelangelo statue of David, and here, in the Basilica of Santa Croce, Dante, Galileo and Michelangelo himself rest … And, of course, the symbol of the city is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in the equally famous Duomo square.
Three days in Florence flew by like an instant. During this time, we learned that the best view of the city is from Piazza Michelangelo on the hill; sniffed the perfume of Catherine de Medici in a pharmacy that has been operating since the 13th century; watched the works of Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci in the Uffizi Gallery, and finally, completely conquered, dined at a local restaurant, where they tasted the famous “Fiorentina” – a Florentine steak, which, as conceived by the Mayor of Florence, is planned to be included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Medieval bricks and leaning tower
In addition to Florence, our plan included three more Tuscan must see – Pisa, Siena and Lucca. The last two are picturesque towns in which the ancient spirit and architecture have been fully preserved. Walking along the streets of these cities in the evening (without crowds of tourists) is a complete immersion in the era and atmosphere of the Middle Ages and the popular TV series “Game of Thrones”.
For example, in Siena there is a huge number of medieval brick buildings: standing in the central square of Campo, you get the feeling that time has literally turned back. In search of a better view, we climb the 14th century Manja Tower – from here the city looks like a sea of red tiles. But most of all, Siena Cathedral is striking – a Gothic building faced with snow-white marble: it seems lacy!
From Siena we go to Pisa – to look at the very leaning tower. And it’s worth looking at it: the whole ensemble is made so perfectly that the buildings look unreal, as if the master decorators had created them from paper or plastic for filming a film.
A life hack for those who do not like to wade through the crowds of tourists: it is best to go for walks in the evenings, when the streets are completely deserted, or at dawn.
We get from Pisa to Lucca in just half an hour: a cozy old town with excellent restaurants. By the way, all Tuscan restaurants offer dishes with truffles, which is what we use.
Val d’Orcia. The magic of color
If it seems to you that the photos of Tuscany have been processed in Photoshop, then, having driven through the Val d’Orcia valley, we tell you with confidence that in reality everything here looks exactly like that. Everyone who wants to enjoy the beauty of the Tuscan landscapes drives along this picturesque valley: green hills here alternate with velvet grass fields, and among them are scattered lonely houses with tiled roofs and paved roads framed by cypress trees. Well, having been here, you can say with a clear conscience – it’s not for nothing that the artists loved Tuscany so much. Bellissima!
Where to stay in Tuscany
Le Fontanelle Hotel
A 5-star boutique resort that combines modern comfort with tranquil gardens and views of the Tuscan hills. A stone mansion nestled in the hills among gardens and vineyards – the epitome of true Tuscany. The hotel building has an incredible and very long history, living here you will definitely feel like an Italian patrician in your own domain. Built in the 13th century, it still retains a touch of antiquity, because the repairs were carried out as carefully as possible, preserving the details, and all the furniture and decor were hand-picked by the hostess.
The hotel’s gourmet restaurant, La Colonna, is run by renowned chef Daniel Canella, renowned for his original dishes that combine traditional recipes with a modern, innovative approach. On the outside of the Belvedere Terrace, guests can enjoy the flavors and flavors of authentic Italian cuisine while admiring the views of the Chianti hills that run away into the distance, while the local spa offers relaxing treatments. The Health Club includes a sauna, steam room, fitness and jacuzzi.
Villa La Massa
Not far from Floreznia, this historic villa is located right on the river bank, offering picturesque views of the river, the Tuscan hills and vineyards. The villa is surrounded by a garden with olive and lemon trees, filling the air with unique aromas, and in the summer heat it will be so pleasant to plunge into the cool water of the outdoor pool.
There are only 41 rooms in the villa, which will make you feel like you are in privacy. A fitness center, swimming pool, spa, tennis club and free bicycles for exploring the picturesque surroundings – you will not get bored here either, and Florence itself is only 20 minutes away. Another highlight of the hotel is that during the season it is here that you can hunt for truffles!