Tuscany is vastly regarded as one of the most cultural, artistic, and historic areas in Italy. In Tuscany there is no shortage of interesting, educational, and entertaining activities and areas. Complete with 7 World Heritage Sites, museums filled with priceless works of Italian Renaissance art and architecture, and some of the most authentic and delicious restaurants and wineries, Tuscany is the ideal place for anyone looking to delve deeper into Italian culture.
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Tuscany Region, Italy
Tuscany is an 8,900 square mile region located in Italy. Known for its traditions and history, Tuscany has much to offer its visitors through art, nature, and history. Spend a day (or more) in Florence, the capitol of the Tuscany region. Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence contains several places and buildings from different eras. The Historic Centre of Florence, named a UNESCO site in 1982, was built on the site of an Etruscan settlement. With over 600 years of artistic activity, the Historic Centre of Florence is enclosed in the remains of 14th century medieval walls. Take in an unparalleled selection of art pieces at the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most important Italian museums to date due to its collection of invaluable works. Here artists such as Leonardo da Vinici, Michaelangelo, and Boticelli are exhibited. The queue lines are sometimes quite long, for only small groups can enter the museum at a time, but the ever-accommodating Uffizi museum gives visitors the convenient opportunity to skip the line and purchase tickets ahead of time on the web.
Piazza del Duomo is one of the most visited cities in Europe, and also the heart of the the historic center of Florence. Many beautiful and important Gothic architectural structures can be marveled here on your Tuscany vacation. Traverse the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Structurally completed by Filippo Brunelleschi, a key figure in architecture, the Cathedreal of Santa Maria del Fiore was built as a basilica, with the entire layout forming a latin cross. Explore Giotto’s Campanile, a freestanding bell tower adjacent to the cathedral. One of the masterpieces of Florentine Gothic architecture because of its use of polychrome marble encrustations and rich sculptural decorations, it was designed by Giotti, another founding member of Italian Renaissance architecture.
Another popular destination to spend a day in whilst visiting Tuscany is Siena, where the Historic Centre of Siena is also named a UNESCO site. Local legend states the town was founded by Senius, son of Remus, who was one of the legendary founders of Rome. Each contrada (aka: ward) has its own distinctive identity as well as its own mascot and boundaries. The University of Siena’s campus is here, where yon stop and smell the literal roses in the, a botanical garden maintained by the University of Siena. Starting with growing herbs back in 1588, the botanical gardens collected uncommon plants and at one point claimed to have over 900 species. Now you can see three different greenhouses on your leisurely walk through the grounds.
One of Siena’s most popular offerings to guests and locals alike is the Palio di Siena: a traditional medieval horse race. The Palio di Siena takes place twice a year on July 2nd and August 16th, and runs its course around the Piazza del Campo, the city’s public space renown worldwide for its architectural integrity. Founded when bull fighting was outlawed, you can watch men on horses dressed to represent ten of the original city wards; the Palio di Siena is three laps around the Piazza del Campo, taking roughly 90 seconds or less and is followed by the Corteo Storico, a pageant that draws in visitors from around the world. After the event, enjoy a delicious meal at one of many local restaurants such as the Pizzaria Poppi, located right behind the Piazza del Campo, or Osteria Le Logge, which serves traditional Tuscan dishes with a twist and a relaxed environment. Once a shopfront, Osteria Le Logge is perfect for anyone looking for classic Siena charm and authentic cuisine. Wash it all down with a trip to Bar II Palio, situated perfectly in the city’s heart overlooking Piazza del Campo. Complete with an array of beer and wine selections, Bar II Palio is the way to spend an early evening basking in the beauty of Siena on the patio.
Pisa is another popular city in Tuscany to spend some time in, most famously known for The Leaning Tower of Pisa; the bell tower of the city’s cathedral who’s unintentional lean makes it something to marvel at. At 183.27 feet on the low side and 185.93 on the high side respectively, the Leaning Tower of Pisa draws visitors from everywhere for its tilt. After sitting in its shade, check out The National Museum of San Matteo, Pisa. Located on the northern banks of the river Arno, it houses collections of art from the early medieval period to the 16th century and is included in Europe’s most important medieval museums. View a collection of painted crosses from the 12th and 13th century that came from an array of historic ecclesiastical buildings from the likes of Berlinghiero Berlinghieri and Giunta di Capitino, who’s crucifixes initiated a new way of representing Christ in art. You can also examine 15th century sculptures removed from their respective churches for better preservation. Notably here you will find Tino di Camaino’s “Nativity,” and the “Madonna del Latte,” by the artist brothers Nino and
Andrea Pisano among other classic pieces of sculpture.
With Tuscany being full of rich culture, history, and art it is no surprise the cuisine is phenomenal. Spaghetteria Alle Bandierine, a popular local spot hidden away from the more tourist area, serving up more than just spaghetti. Osteria de Culegna is another local favorite, serving true Italian cuisine not suited for the masses. The owner designed the menu entirely herself, taking pride in her selections. Enjoy your meal on the terrace, basking in the allure of Pisa.
A trip to Tuscany is not complete without a trip to a winery. Castello di Nipozzano, once a castle built to defend Florence years ago, houses a wine cellar where the estates produced red wines are cask-aged. View the immaculately maintained vineyards, or sample some wine in the kitchen-turned-tasting room. It is said the likes of iconic Renaissance artists Donatello and Michelozzo Michelozzi were undoubtedly loyal to the wines produced at this winery. Ricasoli, the oldest winery in Tuscany and responsible for producing some of Tuscany’s finest wine. Opened by Barone Ricasoli, the creator of Chianti, the family to this day produces more than 3 million bottles of wine per year. Take a tour of the cellar and the magnificent grounds, finishing it off with a luscious wine tasting. Another notable winery in Tuscany is Teunta San Guido, known to be the birthplace of Sassicaia: one of Italy’s most desired wines, which was originally just made as the personal wine for the estate’s owner Mario Incisa della Rocchetta until its release to the public commercially in 1971.
A trip to Tuscany with Sceptre Vacations will fulfill your every Italian desire. With a vast selection of tours, trips, destinations, and accommodations Sceptre Vacations will give you the Tuscan vacation you have always dreamed of.
Enjoy an 8-, 9- or 10-night vacation to Tuscany where you’ll be immersed in the rare beauty of the Chianti countryside from your vantage point at Castello di Montegufoni, a 12th century castle in the Tuscan hillside.
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