I make no secret of the fact that I adore Italy. Having lived in gorgeous Sicily for three years, I can honestly say I felt so at home and alive out there that I crave any visit I can make back to such a beautiful country. I did learn to speak Italian whilst living there and sometimes even now, almost five years after leaving, I still find myself sometimes thinking in Italian and when I’m really tired will often shout “Basta” at Alyssa which means that’s enough! I have not been back to Italy since Alyssa was born but it is definitely somewhere I want to take her when she is older. One thing I’d love to do is get a rental villa in Tuscany and explore the region as it’s one I’ve not been to. So, I thought I’d do some research on the best things to do whilst visiting beautiful Tuscany, Italy…
One of the most prominent things to stand out about Tuscany, is the miles and miles of roaming, glorious countryside. The best way to explore it to the fullest would be to enjoy a scenic drive. One such suggested drive is that from Siena to Grosseto and back again which can be managed in a day. The trip takes you from beautiful Siena to the sea and takes you through some of southern Tuscany’s most beautiful areas including the wine town of Montalcino.
All of Tuscany
It is such a huge region you’d be surprised what come’s under Tuscany and will definitely need at least a week to take a look at it all. As I said before, it includes Siena but also Pisa, Lucca, Arezzo, Chianti and of course Montalcino to name but a few and each of these holds it’s own treasures.
Obviously, one of the most famous would be The Leaning Tower of Pisa which is definitely high up on my list of things to see. I really want to take one of those cleverly posed photographs where it looks like it is falling on you or you are trying to push it back up yourself!
Siena is described as a gorgeously unique and proud Medieval city with a layout of winding lanes around the open shell-shaped space of the Piazza (like town square) del Campo. One of the things I loved about living where I did in Sicily was the fact it was like stepping back in time. Men still sat in there chairs outside their houses or in the Piazza whilst the women were hanging washing off balconies and we walked down cobbled streets. Italy is steeped in tradition and Siena is a perfect location to experience that.
Lucca is said to be a really great place if you just want to lay back and unwind for a few days as it’s all beautiful piazzas and al-fresco restaurants. Or if you like walking then just to the north is the green Garfagnana Valley which is full of villas and gardens to explore.
Full to the Brim
One of the biggest appeals for me to returning to visit Italy is of course the food and wine. Tuscany, in particular Montalcino, is a huge provider of wines to the world so it really would be rude not to spend some time sampling them… either by eating and drinking in as many different places as possible or booking a tour and tasting at one of the many beautiful vineyards and perhaps purchasing a few samples to bring home!
Now, I quite regularly make “Authentic Italian Pizza” from scratch in the way I was taught when I lived in Italy and the whole family love it and enjoy when I turn our kitchen into a pizzeria. However, as much as I love it, there is absolutely no comparison to the food of Italy which is honestly some of the best cuisine in the world. I am very fortunate that this week I shall actually be attending an Italian Culinary day with some famous chefs, Giovanni and Fabiola, from Tuscany who will be showing me how to make pasta as well as one of their signature sweet pastry dishes.
Shockingly, when I lived in Italy I actually lost A LOT of weight despite the fact I ate pizza out at least twice a week and lived opposite a bakery. I think the reason for this is that everything is so fresh and delicious, I stopped snacking completely and the Mediterranean diet really suited my lifestyle and it is something I am desperate to enjoy once again.
Sun, Sea and Sand
Obviously, the weather in Italy most of the year (from March/April until October) is absolutely gorgeous and something that a lot of tourists go to Italy for is the beaches and Tuscany is no different though it is not necessarily the first place that comes to mind when you think of Italian beaches despite the fact that it has almost 250 miles of coastline.
As with a lot of places, some parts are your standard holiday beach where there are rows and rows of deck chairs and towels, squeals of delight from the sea and smelling of sun tan lotion and cocktails. However, there are actually places of interest to explore as well such as the sand dunes of Migliarino-San Rossore which are in fact a nature reserve or the much quieter southern Maremma which has beautiful beaches, unspoiled scenery and lots of good places to eat – if you like fish and seafood this would be a good place to go!
I could go on for a lot longer on all the things I’d like to do in Tuscany – cultural visits to all sorts of monuments, amphitheatres and churches as well as probably draw up a menu of all the different foods I want to try and beaches I want to lie on. However, I will stop here and leave you with thoughts of gorgeous Tuscany rolling through your mind. Have you been to Tuscany? If so, is there anything else I should add to my list of must dos?! If not, is it somewhere you’d like to go?
*This is a collaborative post.