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Tuscany Information

Landscape

When most Americans think of visiting Italy, they think of Tuscany. Toscano, the Italian word, evokes images of tall cypress trees lining a path to a palazzo … stone towers outlined against the horizon … golden hillsides decorated with rows of vines or dots of olive trees. Tuscany is, indeed, as beautiful as a picture postcard. And with so many famous locations within this lovely region –Florence, Siena, Lucca, Montepulciano, the decision about where to stay can seem confusing.

However, once you learn about the different regions within Tuscany, you can more easily decide where you prefer to be. So read the following introduction to the region, then e-mail or call us with your inquiry. The properties you’ll see displayed on this website are just a few from our large catalog selection. Please view the online catalog or e-mail us with your inquiry. We’re glad to help with your selection.

The different areas within Tuscany are often referred to by the large city nearest. Thus the most significant areas are those near Lucca, near Florence, near Siena or near Montepulciano. They are presented here from north to south. Although there is coastline in Tuscany, the areas most unique and stirring are the inland areas. See all properties in this region.

 

Lucca

Located in the northwest, Lucca is a beautiful walled city. Having avoided the intense attention of international tourists that can afflict Florence, Lucca has a very Italian feeling. Its center is pedestrian only, and thus there is a peaceful feeling to this graceful town. It has narrow cobblestoned streets, Romanesque churches and buildings dating from the 12th century. Being the birthplace of Puccini, the town offers many concerts year round.

Surrounded by lushly forested hills and a fertile plain to the south, this city has a verdant setting. The homes we represent are in the hills to the north and the south – most with outstanding views.

There is a lot to see and do in the Lucca area. There are palaces with ornate gardens to visit in the surrounding hills. Pisa with its tower is closeby. Montecatini Terme is an elegant old world spa where one can take the waters. A visit to the marble quarries at Carrara is another special event.

From Lucca there is easy access to the sea at Viarreggio and then north to the Ligurian coast. Here there are broad, sandy beaches. Continuing north past Genova, one reaches Cinque Terre, the 5 perched villages on the coast. This is a wonderful day’s visit where one can hike from one tiny village to the next—or take a boat or the little train! From the Lucca area, it is also easy to get to Florence. You can park at the train or bus station and take public transportation for a day’s visit. Lastly, you can also drive south to the Chianti area and Siena--- an hour and a half. Lucca area is a lovely base for a Tuscan vacation.

Food & Wine

The food in Lucca has recently been described in the New York Times as some of the best in Tuscany. Lucca is particularly famous for its fine olive oil that contributes to its reputation for fine food. And of course, its access to the sea means it is among the few Tuscan areas with a strong emphasis on seafood restaurants.

Sports & Recreation

Just north of Lucca is the Garfagnano a vast heavily forested reserve with steep mountains, narrow valleys and ancient villages to explore. There are designated hiking trails in this area. Along the coast the beaches are broad and sandy, and the sea waters are calm. In Lucca itself, running or biking around the ramparts is a popular activity. Taking an evening passagiata, or strolling around the ramparts is also enjoyed by all.

 

Florence

If you want to spend more than one day in Florence, it is best to rent one of our lovely apartments in the center of this beautiful city. You can stay here without a car and enjoy the city to its fullest. Visit the regional page for Florence for more details. There are rentals in the countryside outside Florence. However, our selection here is more limited as it is important to be in quiet areas with lovely views and not near highways or built-up suburbs.

 

Siena area

Siena is an elegant gothic city in the center of Tuscany. Its main piazza is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. It is tempting to visit Siena for more than just one day, for its wonders are considerable. Thus staying within a reasonable driving distance allows one this opportunity. The Palio in Siena is a world-famous horse race that takes place twice a year in July and August and is celebrated with medieval pageantry for days before and after. If you’re fortunate enough to be nearby during those days, it is worth a special trip to the city.

This landscape around Siena is the “classic” image of rolling hills, cypress trees and vineyards. It is beautiful.

Chianti

Just to the north of Siena is the Chianti area where one can visit any of the charming, small Chianti villages. These villages give their name to the famous wine. Prices for rentals tend to be a bit higher here due to the cachet of its location. The Chianti area offers easy driving access to Florence. So this is a good location for those who wish to make a day trip to the city of art. And due west of Siena is San Gimignano, a city famous for its medieval towers.

South of Siena

Here there are more lovely villages, also a fine location for a rental. These villages are not quite so famous, and thus perhaps offer a better value in price. This area is farther from Florence, although one could drive into Siena and take the train. This southern area gives access to the famous Montepulciano and Montalcino areas that are described next in this material. And from here you can even drive to Arezzo or even Umbria.

Food & Wine

The Siena area has classic Tuscan cuisine which relies primarily on fine meats and poulty, fresh pasta, simple sauces, and excellent produce all prepared simply to allow the flavors to shine. The wines are, of course, a specialty. Any of the houses in this area can count on a fine selection of restaurants nearby.

Sports & Recreation

There are designated hiking trails from one Chianti village to the next. Due to the many small roads with limited traffic, this is a great area for biking. However, this is also a hilly region, and some villages can be many kilometers from the next. Thus this is more suited for the serious biker.

 

Montepulciano

This region is southeast of Siena and extends to the border with Umbria. It is another strikingly beautiful landscape with the classic Tuscan setting: crisscrossing hills covered with fields of olive trees, vines, wheat or grazing meadows for cattle and sheep. The views are wonderful. There are many charming villages to visit, each a 15-minute drive from the next. Although I’ve referred to this area as “Montepulciano” there are, in fact, many special villages to visit. Being located in or near any of them is a fine location. Here are a few.

Montepulciano is a beautiful little hilltop Renaissance town with cobblestoned streets. Montalcino, another lovely town, is famous for its Brunello wine that is currently one of the most famous and expensive in Italy! Pienza was created by Pope Pius II in the 15th century to be his ideal city. And the list continues with other charming villages.

Food & Wine

This area is famous for its wine, the vino nobile (ruby red) wine made from the San Giovese grape. And with wonderful wines to taste, there are always delicious meals to accompany them. A local specialty is a fresh pasta called pinci or pici and is available in most restaurants and shops.

Sports & Recreation

Many of the villages have naturally occurring thermal springs. Thus there is a great selection of thermal pools and spas offering treatments. There are marked hiking trails all around. The area is excellent for biking due to the many quiet, gravel-topped roads and also because there are so many villages close to each other. Due to the hills, though, biking is best for the experienced.

See all properties in this region.

Call or email us. We look forward to helping you plan your trip!

 
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