Secrets of Tuscany

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tuscany is the region most people envision when they think of Italy. The ochre-hued hills, red-roofed yellow stone buildings, sprawling museums full of Renaissance art: the idyllic wine-soaked countryside is the dream vacation of many an office-bound person.

Some of the most famous places in Tuscany, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, for example, may get crowded with tourists. The lawns of Pisa get overrun with people reenacting the ubiquitous “push the Leaning Tower” pose seen in every photo set. But Tuscany has a hidden heart, full of the art, food, and villages you still imagine.

One of the secrets is to travel in the winter. In the summer, tourists pack the region in the shimmering heat, and although the vacation is still entrancing, the winter offers a completely different trip. The colder weather calms the heat and bustle, and reveals a surprisingly verdant Tuscany, brimming with wildlife.

Tuscany in summer is inimitable in its beauty, but the winter is when the region settles into its roots again.

The food, it is said, is better in the winter, as well. Olives are harvested in November and added to the oil, which gives it a spicier flavor. The animals eat grass instead of hay, and therefore the pecorino cheese is creamier. The winter brings about hunting season, so the meat is fresher.

Winter is also a time for “big” wines, full to bursting with flavor. It pairs perfectly with all the seasonal foods that ripen in the fall and winter. It’s definitely eating season there. Don’t miss cooking classes, so you can recreate the delicious dishes at home!

While you can skip the most infamous tourist places, there are certain places you should definitely visit. First, seeing Michelangelo’s statue of David is a sight that is worth seeing. Also, the Uffizi Gallery, home to exquisite Renaissance art, is a must-see. Il Duomo di Firenze, the Basilica in Florence, is a triumph of Gothic architecture and art, as is the Duomo of Siena. Don’t forget to visit the classics – they’re classics for a reason!

Of course, the best way to discover Tuscany and its secrets is to stay in Tuscany villas. In the summer, the gorgeous villas offer pools and outdoor seating, with lounges, a kitchen, and bedrooms. In the winter, they make cozy places to return to after a day of exploring. Whether you are traveling in a large group, or want to meet new people, a villa that sleeps up to 20 people is the right way to stay in Tuscany.

Discover the undiscovered, and savor the things that have stood the test of time. By branching out and trying something new in the popularity of Tuscany, you can have a vacation that is more than tourist-crowded ports and areas. 

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