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Tuscany Travel Notes

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Tuscany is the most popular region of Italy for tourists. It contains the great art cities of Florence, Lucca and Siena. The countryside is dotted with perfectly preserved hilltowns, wineries and excellent restaurants. The famous Chianti wine region is in Tuscany, between Florence and Siena. The towns of Montepulciano, Pienza and Montalcino in the Crete area south of Siena are now almost as popular with visitors as the Chianti area.

There are mountains in the north, the Mediterranean coast to the west and the Maremma to the south. If you go to Italy, you will want to see some of Tuscany. It is a good place to experience the Italian countryside.

On these pages, we have listed a few of our favorite things to do in Tuscany. Your guidebooks will have even more information - we have only listed a few things. (But your guide books may not tell you exactly when you can hear the monks chanting at Sant'Antimo - we tell you that!) And don't forget to read our Trip Reports for Tuscany.

"...it is only by going off track that you get to know the country. See the little towns -
Gubbio, Pienza, Cortona, San Gemignano, Monteriano." *
- - E.M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread, 1920 - -

Contents

Tuscany - East

A Perfect Day in Arezzo: Voted one of the best places to live in Italy, Arezzo is a classy, trendy, alive, hip, and wealthy-feeling town located southeast of Florence.

Sotto La Pieve - Adorable Shop in Arezzo: Great store in Arezzo for wine and food products.

Tuscany - Florence

Vasari Corridor - Paradise Gained: How to book and what you see on the tour of this unique art gallery.

Off the Beaten Path - Ten Things To Do in Florence: Favorite art, shops and restaurants.

Florence Shopping Notes: Shopping in Florence.

Florence - The San Frediano District: Things to do, restaurants, shops in this Oltrarno district.

4 Ways to Obtain Museum Passes and Tickets in Florence: Discusses Uffizi Membership, buying tickets at the museum, advance purchase, and Polo Museale.

A Special Friend in Florence: Church of San Miniato Al Monte: Reflections on this church, how to get there, vesper schedule (Gregorian chants).

33 Years Of Amazing Shoes In The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum: Description of the museum, where it is, operating schedule.

Tuscany - Pisa

Pisa, More than the Leaning Tower!: Travel guide for the city of Pisa.

Tuscany - Northern

Barga and Garfagnana: The Other Tuscany, north of Lucca.

Things to Do In and Around Lucca: Lucca in northern Tuscany.

Lucca: A Superb Base for Exploring Tuscany: Benefits of staying in Lucca as well as some suggestions for easy day trips from the city.

Tuscany - Central, the Chianti and Siena

The Siena Palio and it's Contrade: Everything you wanted to know about the Siena Palio.

One-Day Tour of Siena: Two of the major gems of Siena can be visited in one day - the Palazzo Pubblico and the Duomo - along with a fine meal and a farewell gelato.

How to Have the Perfect Day in Siena: If you have a chance to visit Siena, take it. It is a perfect medieval whole, with majestic towers looking out over the fields and vines of rural Tuscany in undulating splendor all around.

Things to Do In and Around the Chianti: Touring the Chianti area.

Tuscany - Southern Tuscany (Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino)

Montepulciano Travel Guide: A guide to this large hilltop town including, how to get there, parking, things to do, culturual activities, restaurants, local wineries and more.

Montalcino, a Charming Hilltown in Southern Tuscany: Exploring Montalcino, basing yourself there for a Tuscany trip, day trip to Montalcino.

Montalcino Travel Guide: A guide to this charming town, restaurants, shops, sights.

Wagon Wheels in Southern Tuscany - Planning Your Days: How to plan your week of travel when based near Montalcino.

Southern Tuscany Guide: Day trips from Montalcino, guide to the surrounding area.

Southern Tuscany Drive: One day drive through the Val d'Orcia in southern Tuscany.

Cypress Lined Roads: Where to find those famous roads in Tuscany.

Monte Oliveto: An abbey near Pienza with a beautiful fresco cycle.

Sant'Antimo Abbey: A church near Montalcino where you can hear monks chanting at certain times during the day.

La Foce Gardens: The gardens designed and planted by Iris Origo, near Pienza.

Hot Springs in Tuscany: Natural outdoor hot springs and hot springs spas in southern Tuscany.

Monte Cetona Drive: A day trip drive around Monte Cetona.

Monte Amiata Drive: A day trip drive around Monte Amiata.

Cetona: All about the town of Cetona in southern Tuscany.

Things to Do In and Around Cetona: Great photos of the Chiusi market.

Tuscany - Further South (Pitigliano etc. near the Lazio border)

Pitigliano, Sovana, Sorano: Etruscan towns in southern Tuscany.

Etruscan Pathways: Ancient Etruscan paths carved into the rock near Pitigliano.

Tuscany - Coastal Area

Coastal Towns of the Val di Cornia: Populonia Alta, Baratti, Piombino, and San Vincenzo on the Tuscan coast.

Maremma: A few notes about this area in southwest Tuscany.

Tuscany - General Travel Notes

Tuscany Markets: A few notes about the weekly markets you will find in towns throughout Tuscany.

Villas and Gardens in Tuscany: Lists of villas and gardens from the book of the same name.

Ceramics Shops in Florence and Tuscany: Great list of shops for ceramics and other artwork in Tuscany.

Wineries We Visited in Tuscany: List of wineries and some notes about them.

Food, Farm and Kitchen Shops List: Some of my favorite food related shops in Tuscany.

Tuscany Postcards

A Day Trip to the Tarot Garden: A day on the southern Tuscany coast visiting the beach, Capalbio, the Tarot Garden, and Grosseto.

Cooking in Florence - Our Day with Diva: Taking a cooking class at Divina Cucina.

Related Travel Stories

Tuscan Traveler

Cashmere in Chianti: From TuscanTraveler, a visit to a farm with cashmere goats and Bolognese puppies near Radda in Chianti.

Iris Blooms in Florence: May 2 to 20 is when the 48th International Iris Competition takes place and Florence becomes once again the world capital of the iris.

Cook with the Divas in Florence: The three "diva" cooking teachers in Florence: Judy Witts Francini, Sharon Oddson, and Benedetta Vitali.

Weekends in a Tuscan Butcher Shop: The famous butcher shop in the heart of the Chianti region - L'Antica Macelleria Cecchini, the butcher shop of Dario Cecchini in Panzano.

Those Other Museums in Florence: Four museums to visit when you want to escape the crowds, noise and heat of Florence.

Walking in the Footsteps of the Duke: The Vasari Corridor in Florence - walk in the footsteps of Renaissance nobility.

Calcio Storico: A Florentine Football Game: Football as it has been played for over five hundred years with Italian passion, blood, sweat, tradition and pageantry.

Antique Silk: The Luxury of Going Slowly: Florentine silk fabric workshop in the San Frediano district of Florence.

Mind's Eye in Italy

Outdoor Cafes in Florence: The Search for the perfect Mojito: Between May and November, Florence opens its doors and sets up outside with gusto. The tables and chairs come out, the umbrellas go up and life is good.

Picnics in Florence, Where to Find the Tastiest Treats, Where to Eat Them: On a glorious spring, summer or fall day, the Florence visitor can become a part of la vita bella by lunching oudoors on great tidbits while in the midst of the city.

Florence, A Bus With a View: Many visitors to Florence prefer to hoof it from one glorious site to the next, not an impossible goal given the compactness of the centro, where every block seems to present an opportunity for awe. However, there is a case to be made for ATAF, the city bus system.

Ginda's Umbria, and Beyond

Ancient Baths - Renewed Spirits: A trip to the natural hot springs in Bagno Vignoni in Tuscany.

* About the quote: Monteriano is a fictional town, Gubbio is in Umbria (and this section is about Tuscany), and Pienza, Cortona and San Gimignano are no longer "off track", but I like this quote!

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