Under the Tuscan Sun

Under the Tuscan Sun is an inspiring book by Frances Mayes, impregnated with love to Italy and a tremblingly written ode to Tuscany rendering the romanticism of hasteless Italian life. Tuscany itself, of course, should be felt rather than seen. Meadows, valleys, wine farms, works of art, savage scenery, emerald water, after all, the leaning tower of Pisa. Tuscany will embrace you and will hardly ever let you go.
Although, first things first, it is hard if not impossible to visit all sights worth of it at one arrival, unless you plan to follow the path taken by Frances Mayes and get a villa that will stretch your trip for many years. However, it is not needed to fall in love with this region. Among the main tourist attractions one can safely
call Florence, with its immense number of paintings by Da Vinci, Botticelli, Raphael, Caravaggio and other great artists, whose heritage is difficult to overestimate. As well as Pisa, where in addition to the tower of the same name it is worth to explore the whole “Square of Miracles” and walk along the Arno.

However, besides of these cities, seize the moment to visit medieval Arezzo, the birthplace of Modigliani Livorno and Siena, the first European city where cars were banned from entering the center (in 1966) with an incredibly beautiful cathedral.

The province of Massa Carrara deserves special mention, it’s a stunningly picturesque place and, in combination, the world’s largest center for the extraction of marble. It is the Carrara marble from which the most famous sculptures of the Renaissance were made, and is it even worth talking about how many buildings in Carrara are decorated with marble?

But the most interesting thing starts at the moment when you get into the car and just drive. Along the way, there are green meadows, they seem surprisingly familiar from the photographs that you definitely once saw, lonely villas guarded by slender cypresses and vineyards where you can taste the famous Chianti. If you choose one from the whole abundance of possible routes, then we advise you to visit the Val d’Orcia valley.

Besides, in Tuscany there are a plenty of thermal springs and resorts. Since we mentioned Val d’Orcia, on its territory there is the source of Bagno Vignoni, or rather, it is a small town where you can swim in an ancient Roman pool with a water temperature of about 50 degrees. If however, you want to combine the studying of the region and health promotion, the most suitable variant is Montecatini Terme In Montecatini being the largest in Italy and one of the first resorts in Europe, one can walk through the parks and its historical center, and the resort offers nine complexes consisting of various spa treatments. However, our personal favorite is Terme di Saturnia, where, in addition to the spring and hotels, there are natural pools and two small waterfalls. One of the waterfalls is called Cascate del Mulino and this is a real pearl of Tuscany, where else can you find a waterfall with thermal water being besides so beautiful?

Speaking of Tuscany, one cannot fail to mention the culinary delights and wines that are worth trying. Any Italian you meet will tell you with great pleasure what and where to try, advise what wine to drink it with and give some life advice, so do not hesitate to ask the people you meet or walk (or better drive) somewhere at random, stopping at nearby locations, most likely it will be insanely delicious there. What about dishes, you must try a Florentine steak, but keep in mind that one steak is enough for a company of four. You may also order lard from Kolonnata, it is abundantly sprinkled with spices and kept in marble containers, after which the lard acquires a very delicate taste and tender aroma. Truffle hunting is developed in Tuscany enough, the city of San Miniato near Pisa is generally considered the capital of the white truffle, so accordingly, it will not be difficult to taste the noble mushroom. But for all that Tuscan food is mostly peasant, people like to eat giblets and make pate from them, hunt game and serve it for dinner, and eat all this abundantly with bread, bread is even added to salads and soups. At the same time, this cuisine is as genious as simple. So just trust the locals and forgive yourself for all the culinary sins.

There is also a huge variety of wines, ranging from canteens and the well-known Chianti to the more rare and expensive Brunello. In general, it is worth choosing depending on the specific part of Tuscany that you are in, it is always better to try what they do in that particular region. If you want to deviate deviate a bit from Italian winemaking traditions, learn about Super Tuscan wines, at one time they made a real revolution among winemakers. The truth is that as fas as in the last century, in Tuscany the one who produces the most wine was considered the best winemaker, that is why the volumes were huge, but the quality suffered. The situation was changed, as is often the case, by a group of enthusiasts who turned a blind eye to the rules and started growing French grape varieties in the Bordeaux style, but on Italian soil. The result was to taste to Italians and the whole world, and wines repeatedly received high marks from critics.

It is impossible to tell about Tuscany entirely in one article. This is probably one of the best places in Europe where you can just drive at random and contemplate incredible views, meet friendly people who are not fed up with tourists and try to live like a carefree Italian at least for a short while. As it was written above, the Tuscany must be felt, preferably with a glass of red wine and in a warm company.