Tuscany (Italian: Toscana)  is a region on Italy's west coast, on the Tyrrhenian sea. It is one of the most popular places to visit in a country that is itself one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. There are several reasons to visit Tuscany: some of the most important ones are seeing Renaissance art in Florence, eating Tuscan food and tasting the excellent local wines, and after all this enjoying a day at the beach in Viareggio.
Tuscany has two very diverse faces - the art cities such as Florence, Siena, Lucca and Pisa on one hand, and the countryside on the other. The small towns, villages, castles, villas and vineyards of Tuscany make a welcome change from the traffic and noise of some of the larger Tuscan cities.
International flights commonly come in to Milan or Rome, where one can rent a car and do the three-hour drive to Tuscany.
Florence and Pisa have important airports. Every major city has a railway station.
Pisa International Airport Galileo Galilei, located 1.5km (1 mile) south of Pisa city centre.
Florence Airport Amerigo Vespucci, Located four kilometers from the center of Florence.
Do note that Delta Airlines (US Carrier) now has a direct flight from New-York JFK to Pisa, offering a cheaper, alternative to flying into Florence.
Florence, Pisa and Grosseto are important rail destinations. Florence has two major rail stations, Santa Maria Novella (SMN) in the city center and Campo di Marte (CdM) a bit further away.
Connections from Florence to the rest of Italy by train are generally fast and frequent and EuroStar Italia services are available. Easy connections can be found to:
Cathedrals. Every Tuscan city has a cathedral (duomo), each one prettier than the other.
David, . Michelangelo's masterpiece is in the Galleria dell'Accademia delle Bella Arti in Florence. Copies in the same city on Piazza della Signoria and Piazzale Michelangelo.
Leaning tower. The instantly recognizable landmark is in Pisa on the square of miracles, Piazza dei miracoli.
Uffizi Gallery, . The best collection of Renaissance art in the world is in Florence.
Institute and Museum of History of Science, Florence, Piazza dei Giudici,1, . Located in Florence the museum contains 5000 items from the Medici collection of apparatus and scientific instruments and the Lorenese collection of instruments and didactic and experimental devices.
Leonardo Da Vinci Museum, Castello dei Conti Guidi, 50053 VINCI - FI - Italy (the Museum is open every day from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm.), ☎ +39-0571-56055, . Located in the medieval Castello Guidi (11-12 cen.), the Leonardo's Museum dominates the small city of Vinci. View Da Vinci's works, browse through the library, and more .
The National Park of the Tusco-Emilian Apennines: extends lengthwise for about 60 km from the high valleys of the mountain torrents of Parma and Baganza up to the Passo delle Forbici, opening up to include on the Tuscan side the calcareous massif of the Pania di Corfino, and in Emilia the chain of the Alps of Succiso, of Monte Cusna, the valley of the river Secchia and the isolated range of the Pietra di Bismantova.
The National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago: the Park was established in 1996 and it covers an area of over 18,000 hectares in addition to 40,000 hectares of sea. It is managed by an organization with the same name, that has its headquarters in Portoferraio (on Elba Island). The Park falls under the jurisdiction of the Province of Livorno and that of Grosseto.
The National Park of the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna: Following the Arno upstream you enter the district of Casentino surrounded by mountains to the north and the east. Here the National Park of the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna offers a uniquely moving and unforgettable experience: that of discovering one of the oldest forests in Europe.
The Maremma Regional Park: the Maremma Regional Park (Parco Regionale della Maremma), also known as Uccellina Park (Parco dell’Uccellina) covers a coastal area between Principina a Mare and Talamone near Grosseto, Magliano in Toscana and Orbetello, right up to the Livorno – Roma train line.
The Park of Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli: the Park of Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli was established in 1975 and covers 24,000 hectares between Pisa, Viareggio, San Giuliano Terme, Vecchiano and Massarossa. What makes this park so special is what lies around its borders: the Tirrenian Sea, Lake Massaciuccoli and the rivers Arno, Serchio, Canale dei Navicelli and Morto e Burlamacca.
The Montioni nature park: managed by the Municipale Administrations of Grosseto and Livorno. Park status from 1998. The park extends over 7000 hectares and rises to 300m at Poggio al Checco, its highest point. The territory has a large artistic and culture heritage, from ancient archeological finds to Etruscan and Roman remains which have been found under medieval constructions such as the Pievaccia, the ruins of Montioni Vecchio Castle and Montioni Thermal Baths.
The Livorno Hills Park: the Livorno Hills Park encompasses a vast area between the districts of Livorno, Collesalvetti and Rosignano Marittimo. It’s nickname is ‘the lost island’ due to the fact that this stretch of land was an island until it attached itself to the mainland thousands of years ago. The park has not only areas of outstanding natural beauty but also but has also been subject to interesting archeological, artistic and cultural discoveries.
The Archaeological Park of Poggibonsi: the visit starts with a short documentary film that illustrates the results of twelve years of excavation and the most important archaeological, architectonical and naturalistic aspects of the Poggio Imperiale site ...
The Parks of the Val di Cornia: the Parks of the Val di Cornia, in Tuscany, tell a thousand-year-old story which begins with the Etruscan people and bears witness to centuries of extraction and working on metals, proposing also splendid natural, coastal and hilly environments. The system includes 2 Archaeological Parks, Natural Parks, 3 Museums, 1 Documentation Centre, included in the area of the five municipalities at the extreme south of the province of Livorno, opposite the Island of Elba.
The Zoological Park of European Fauna in Poppi: this is the first and only park dedicated to European Fauna open in the municipality of Poppi (Arezzo).
The Pinocchio's Park: : Pinocchio’s Park is located in Collodi, lovely ancient village that has remained virtually unchanged since the last century. Its charming collection of houses, nestled among the hills, leads the way to Villa Garzoni and its lovely 19th century garden, often considered among the most beautiful in Europe.
Besides wandering in beautiful cities and looking at Renaissance art, there are many other things you can do in Tuscany. For example, you can learn to cook or just taste Tuscan food, do trekking, golf or go to a health spa.
Most of the important traditional wine producers are located along the axis formed by Florence and Siena. The most famous region is Chianti along with neighboring Montalcino and Montepulciano. The white wines are less famous than the reds, but as an exception the Vernaccia of San Gimignano is recognized as a DOCG wine. The Tuscan wine industry has evolved a lot during the last 30-40 years, and the result is what is called Super Tuscan wine, famously produced in Bolgheri but also in Maremma and many other parts of Tuscany.
Glass Bead Making Classes (Lampwork), ☎ 39 055 239 9182, . Learn how to make glass beads in the heart of Florence, Italy's artisan district, the Oltrarno. Beginner & intermediate bead making classes introduce students to both basic and advanced lampworking techniques and help pave the way towards finding your own artistic voice. Private and 2-person group classes available.
DOC, DOCG, IGT?
Tuscany boasts over 30 wines with a Denominazione di origine controllata certificate, some of which have also obtained the Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita certificate. The denominations witness to the strong dedication of the people of this land to vine-growing, and their deep knowledge of wine-making techniques. But some of the best Tuscan wines are labeled with the less strict Indicazione geografica tipica designation, often a sign of a more modern, "international" wine.
The question about what to drink in Tuscany is easy to answer. The region is famed for its wines, most notably the sangiovese reds Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the white Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Of these, Chianti can be anything from inexpensive, drinkable plonk to, when it comes to the best examples of Chianti Classico, a world class wine. The wines of Montalcino and Montepulciano are generally of a high standard, and in particular Brunello regularly receives lots of awards (something reflected on the price as well). If you are not prepared to pay a fortune for your wine but would still like something a bit nicer, both Montalcino and Montepulciano have the common man's version of their wines, Rosso di Montalcino and Rosso di Montepulciano.
Of these traditional wines perhaps only Brunello has the power to accompany a big Florentine steak, bistecca alla fiorentina. For something fleshier, you have to turn to the Super Tuscan wines. These commonly use cabernet sauvignon to complement or to completely replace the traditional grapes. Famous examples are Sassicaia and Tignanello.
Renting in Tuscany is a very popular way of staying in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. Many Italian owners have renovated palazzos, castles, farmhouses, villas and barns that are dotted around the beautiful rolling countryside. Years ago, many of the rental properties were of questionable quality—some were dark, kitchens were old fashioned, bathrooms often had a shower nozzle on the wall, the drain in the floor, no curtain and the toilet right alongside. Now the standard of renovation is quite high. A property, if fully renovated, will usually have newly tiled kitchens, bathrooms with shower stall, and brand-new appliances. Simple renovations will often have large rooms with little furniture in them. There will be one main room with a dining table alongside an open kitchen and one sofa (even if the house sleeps 6!). The kitchen will have a stove top and no oven, and no TV or telephone. More elegant properties will have sponge-painted walls, artwork, and beds with high-quality linens. Bathrooms can have ornate fixtures.
Italian owners are learning they can go online and promote their own property. Finding a property that is located in the situation you want and that offers all the amenities you desire depends on how detailed and open each owner is. Clearly each traveller needs to evaluate their own willingness to risk dealing with an unknown owner. In addition to working with an individual Italian owner through their own website, there are many agencies that represent Italian owners and offer a wide selection of villas to clients.