It comes as no surprise to anyone who has heard of the country of Italy that the country boasts quality wines and breathtaking landscapes that can be found no where else in the world, and the best vino and most beautiful sights in the entire country can be found in the warm and romantic region of Tuscany, Italy’s western coastal region. If you’re looking for the perfect romantic trip this summer, then Tuscany has everything you need to make it memorable!
Originally an Etruscan settlement and a source of conflict between Florence and Siena in the Middle Ages, Montepulciano has become one of the most influential wine regions in Italy. Because of this conflict, the architectural styles of Montepulciano are an eclectic mix of Gothic and Italian Renaissance, which makes for an intriguing stroll around the town. Montepulciano has also had some run-ins with Hollywood; for example, in the second film of the Twilight series, the Piazza Grande, the highest point in the town, was used to shoot a scene of a bustling crowd. The Piazza Grande is also home to the Palazzo Comunale, the town hall built in the 13th century and remodeled in the 15th, and has some of the most spectacular views of the entire city. The town prides itself on being pedestrian-friendly, with plenty of stalls offering samples from all the different local vineyards. As a proud wine region, Montepulciano produces two signature red wines, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the Rosso di Montepulciano, both medium bodied wines with prominent fruit notes.
A beautiful city full of history and mystery, Chiusi lies in the Val di Chiani region of Tuscany and is famous for the archeological and historic structures from the city’s Etruscan period that can be found there. One of the original Twelve Cities of the Etruscan League, it was conquered by the Gauls in 391 BCE, followed by the Romans. Remnants of this history remain in the city today, including museums, cathedrals, and an expansive underground labyrinth. The National Archeological Museum contains artifacts from the city’s Etruscan past, including urns and sarcophagi on display for visitors. If you’d like to see more of the historical Romanesque architecture, then be sure to visit Tuscany’s oldest cathedral in Chiusi, built in the 6th century. Or for a more immersive experience, you’ll want to visit The Labyrinth of Porsenna, Etruscan tunnels that run under the city, most likely for water drainage. Built in the 5th-6th centuries, the Labyrinth was part of a monument to King Porsenna, an Etruscan king with a long-standing vendetta against the Romans.
It’s difficult to find an area that isn’t beautiful in Tuscany, but if there’s one that exemplifies Tuscany’s natural splendor, it is Val d’Orcia. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, Val d’Orcia is a gorgeous region of sloping hills in warm greens and browns, illuminated by the Tuscan sun. The gentle waves of hills are occasionally broken by homes or small towns, such as the town of Pienza, known for its high quality of Pecorino cheese (a cheese made from sheep’s milk that pairs well with wine from nearby Montepulciano). Some hills are nestled with abbeys and palaces, including the Palazzo Piccolomini which was once the home of the Pope. The natural beauty of the valley inspired Renaissance painters who valued the serenity of nature, and continues to influence modern photographers and artists with its tranquil beauty.
As stated above, Pienza has a strong cheese-making tradition in the city and specializes in their own special Pecorino cheese, Pecorino di Pienza. Originally a small and sleepy town named Corsignano, Enea Silvio Piccolomini (who would eventually become Pope Pius II) decided to renovate the town in magnificent Renaissance architecture. Pope Pius was a Renaissance Humanist who was born into an exiled family from Siena, and after became Pope started the renovation of the town. The city is famous for its quaint atmosphere, historic architecture, and compact size that makes strolling the streets easy and enjoyable. The city does get crowded on the weekends, so the best time to visit would be in the middle of the week when crowd is quite a bit thinner.
To learn more about Tuscany, visit Foreign Independent Tours online at www.fittours.com.