Tuscany (Toscana) is a charmed land. Unrivaled as the cradle of art, Toscana, where the Renaissance first began, is a region of ancient splendor and modern charm. From the largest cities to the smallest hamlets and most remote villages, you will find ancient chapels, hilltop castles, a hidden palace -- perhaps an ancient city nestled in the mountains. Each place has a treasure to show you -- a fresco in a church, a piazza that has retained its original character, celebrated museums filled with masterpieces, monumental cathedrals and palaces, massive walls and fortresses –each a testament to Toscana’s artistic majesty, exquisite architecture and natural beauty.
It is here that visitors from around the world have come since the golden age of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Medicis. And it is here where the purest form of the Italian language, derived from the Tuscan dialect of native sons Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, was born – a tribute to the importance of their literary works. Still spoken in the area between Siena and Arezzo, even visitors with limited knowledge of the language can often hear the difference.
Toscana is an adventure into the timeless beauty of both the past and present. Walk down the narrow, medieval streets of Siena, lined with ancient residential palaces, stop in its impressive Gothic cathedral or experience one of its annual festivals! This well-preserved medieval city is home to the Civic Museum where the Histories of Alexander III are kept, the Museum of the Opera Metropolitana and the Pinacoteca Nazionale. And then there’s Pisa, an ancient Roman naval base and home to the famed leaning tower and the Museum of the Sinopie, where the preparatory drawings for the frescoes are held. These and smaller towns like Lucca, Volterra, and Montepulciano contain some of Italy’s most famous landmarks, museums and artistic treasures.
The city of Florence, (Firenze) is a world to discover on its own! Streets of remarkable shopping, delightful restaurants and priceless art are only the beginning. The hub of the Renaissance and one of the world’s most architecturally beautiful cities, Firenze is home to countless museums and galleries filled with centuries-old well preserved masterpieces -- the Galleria degli Uffizi, which holds one of the most important collection of paintings in the world, the Gallery of Palazzo Pitti, with Tiziano and Raffaello’s masterpieces, the Opera del Duomo with Michelangelo’s famous “Pietà”. There is also the Museum of the Bargello, St. Mark’s Museum, the Academy, Gallery and the Ethnologic Museum Stibbert, and ageless beauty in other forms at the Museum of the Costume and the Museum of the Carriages, at the Giardino di Boboli, home to beautiful Italian gardens.
Visit Arezzo for jewelry, antiques and to experience the excitement of the annual medieval Palios -- bareback horse races. The fiercely competitive contests between local teams are accompanied by large processions and a host of celebratory festivities. Come to one of its enormous antique markets held the first weekend of each month on the Piazza Grande. Or take a scenic drive through the hills of Tuscany to the quaint town of San Gimignano, heart of Toscana’s pastoral countryside and known as the "town of the fine towers" for the thirteen 700-year-old ramparts which still stand! Here you’ll discover the typical flora of Toscana—the vine, olive, and cypress -- a tree sacred to the Etruscans.
Like an island in the heart of Tuscany and just south of Siena, is Montalcino -- famous for its "brunello" wine -- one of the best and most sought after wines of Italy. The extraordinary wines from this area have put Italian wines on the world's map! Achieving recognition and worldwide popularity, wines from this serene town in the hills are as coveted by wine enthusiasts as are those from Tuscana’s Chianti region.
A tapestry of classical beauty and romantic places, Tuscan cities, towns and villages capture the senses in sight, sound and motion! From the beautiful hilly landscapes, often covered in grape vines and olive groves or a bevy of sunflowers, to the teaming towers, the architectural masterpieces and extraordinary art, to the elegant boutiques of designer fashions, the animated sounds of the Carnevale and the peel of church bells ringing, the art of living in Toscana is itself a fine art.