The variety of things to see in the Italian Region of
Tuscany and its art cities is virtually without limit. Add to that a
rich history, a pleasant climate, the friendly Tuscan people and very
reasonable prices for food and accommodation, and you will see why
knowledgeable commentators are referring to "Tuscany, Europe's top budget tourist destination".
To make the most of your visit to Tuscany, it's definitely worthwhile to
consider spending part or all of your vacation staying at an agriturismo,
meaning an active farm (usually a winery and/or olive oil producer) that
offers accommodation for tourists. This is the way to get to know rural
life in Tuscany and the people who live in the country. You can make
daily excursions into the towns to visit the museums and go shopping,
and then return back to you country home to relax by the pool. In
addition, value for money really favours agriturismi over hotels
unless there is some special facility that you like or need that is
available only from a hotel. More
about agriturismi in Tuscany.
If you would like to understand more about exactly how Tuscan
civilisation (and thereby, ultimately, European civilisation) came to take
the form it has, it's worthwhile to see more than the beautiful
paintings hanging in the galleries of Florence, Sienna and Pisa. For one
thing, it can be argued that sculpture led the way into the Renaissance
Springtime of the Renaissance). But further away from pure
art, “the happy convergence” of painting, architecture and gardening around the
concept of the Tuscan villa
tells us a lot about what led to our concept of civilised life. With
that in mind, if at all possible, try to visit at least one Tuscan
formal garden while you're here. More
about Tuscan gardens and here are a couple
of excellent videos on classic Tuscan gardens.
Tuscany is synonymous with good food and wine. Food is in fact a very
important part of Tuscan culture - the culture of all of Italy, in fact
- and regional culinary variations are huge in this country. In
addition, as elsewhere in the world over the past 25 years, there has
been a great revival of traditional cooking in Tuscany. Not just
reviving dishes from the past, but developing new variations, always
with a strong emphasis on fresh raw materials of precisely known origin.
This is what lies behind the slow
food movement that had its beginnings in Italy. Take the
opportunity during your stay in Tuscany to try some of the Tuscan
culinary specialities in a leisurely manner. You can have fast
food at home - try some slow food in Tuscany! Restaurant
prices have remained flat in Tuscany for years and represent
excellent value for money.
As you explore the Tuscan countryside, doing some wine tasting, dining
at a country restaurant, talking with the owners of your agriturismo,
you'll find the Tuscan people to be extremely welcoming to visitors from
other places. You'll also find that Tuscany itself is subdivided into
innumerable smaller geographical units of which the natives are
extremely proud. This is sometimes referred to as campanilismo,
the intense identification with, love of and pride in ones own town or village (or even ones own
quartiere, part of a city) - everything within sight of the
local campanile, the bell tower. Chiantigiani
love Chianti, no doubt about that, but their true love is their own
village. Take some time to talk - you'll learn a lot.
Tuscan pensioners - waiting to talk to you. Don't be shy!