Tuscany Travel Guide

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The ancient City Walls that contain Arezzo

The ancient City Walls that contain Arezzo

Simon GP Geoghegan

Tuscany, Toscana in Italian, is the best known Italian province and the name alone evokes an image of sun, dolce vita and picturesque little towns.

This image is quite correct, actually. Tuscany deserves its reputation and is worth a visit both for those who just want a holiday to relax, read a book and sit in the sun as well as those going for the high brow culture. Furthermore the Tuscan region has delicious food and great wines, a combination that makes life very enjoyable under the Tuscan sun.

The Tuscan cities such as Florence, Pisa, Lucca, or Siena house many sights and all have an old historic town where you can wander around for hours.

Siena has a very interesting historic town, but is most famous for the "Palio", a medieval horse race where different parts of town all have a horse race through the historic centre of town.

Of course there is more to Tuscany than well-known tourist areas, Lunigiana is the northern-most and almost unknown area of Tuscany, squeezed between the costal region of Liguria and the Apuan Alps.  This is an area of high, rolling chestnut covered hills and mediaval villages such as Fivizzano and Fosdinovo where the travel writer Eric Newby once lived.

The Isle of Elba also has outstanding facilities for anyone on a summer holiday: hiking, going to the beach and visiting historical towns can all be done on the same day.


Tuscany by the Sea
Fall in Love with the Tuscan Coast.
This varying coastline takes on many identities, like the spirit of this beautiful land.
If you are thinking of long beaches stretching for miles and a place to relax in and live it up at the same time, you need to head for the dolce vita of Versilia.
This famous coastline, framed by the superb arch of the Apuan Alps, the legendary mountains of white marble is worthy of the cover of travel brochures.
And not far from the world famous Leaning Tower, long sweeps of sand open up, but that is not all.
There is the sea, sand, pine woods and the Natural Park of San Rossore.
The winning ingredient in this recipe is nature, but your holidays will be what triumphs.
Maybe your imagination will be sparked up by the bays on the Etruscan coast. Maybe it will be the untamed vegetation and the blue waters of the Tuscan islands with the cliffs plunging into the sea.
The colours of the sunset will take you out of this world, far away from the drab and monotonous
everyday life. You still have the chance.
Argentario, where the intense green of the unspoilt Maremma countryside fades into the crystal blue waters of the sea. Dive into the archaeological sites of Etruscan memories. Or do you prefer to find your berth in the exclusive fashionable ports?

The Mountains of Tuscany
Take an emotional and colourful trip into the Tuscan mountains, there are hundreds of things to do.
In the Apuan Alps you will ascend into marble cathedrals, but you will also discover the kingdom of Lunigiana, full of enchanted caves and castles. The dazzling white of the quarries on one side and the wild, green valley of Garfagnana on the other.
If you feel the call of spirituality, awaiting you are the sacred Casentino forests with their monasteries and hermitages along the way where nature is not the only thing to discover. While if you love the sound of the woods, you will be enthralled by the stage that is the Mugello, an aristocratic and timeless land.
You can be overcome by the triangular heights of Monte Amiata, so lonely, but at the same time full of roe and fallow deer, by mountains embraced in the world's most famous vineyards or by the wooded Abetone which transforms into pistes for ski lovers in the winter.
Go into the mountains and discover your emotions again. Colours, smells, sounds and tastes snatched away from city pollution. Pure feelings about to be forgotten, but still intact in the Tuscan mountains.
Waiting for you to explore are miles and miles of pathways for trekking, mountain biking, skiing, but also for pure contemplation and absolute rest.
In these natural surroundings there are emotions for all tastes, and challenges of all shapes and sizes.

Art in Tuscany
Very few places in the world can boast an artistic legacy with contents so deeply rooted in the territory and popular culture as Tuscany. We invite you to discover this elect land of art and civilisation which today continues to be a sought-after place of residence and source of inspiration for numerous Italian and foreign artists. The countless testimonies of art in Tuscany indeed narrate a story as articulated and complex as it is unique and unrepeatable, starting at the dawn of civilisation and continuing, without solution of continuity, up until present day.
For the visitor, a trip to Tuscany at the beginning of the Third Millennium holds much the same fascination that accompanied the travellers on the Grand Tour. The first-time visitor to the lands of Tuscany can not but be amazed by the natural symbiosis between landscape and culture, history and the expressive means of architecture and town-planning, the urban and rural dimension, and its patrimony of art, architecture, monuments and museums. A cradle of Italian civilisation and one of the greatest crucibles of modern European culture, is not only tied to the extraordinary elaboration of concepts and the original expression of forms and methods that left their mark in more than two millennia of history: it was itself a forge of an extraordinary artistic production that set pace and means on the continent. We need only recall the universal nature of the Renaissance which, starting in Florence and thanks to the versatility and genius of its extraordinary interpreters, spread and took root throughout Europe.
Tuscany as a workshop of artistic experiences, as a place of synthesis and rebirth on a universal level. A synthesis of art in this region begins with the cave dwellings of Cetona, the stele-statues of Lunigiana, the presence of ancient civilisations on Elba Island, and then continues with the Etruscan necropolises with tangible signs of a Roman past, the countless testimonies of the Middle Ages, the flowering of the Gothic, the explosion of the Renaissance, the opulence of the Baroque, the Macchiaioli, the flowery art nouveau style, termed Liberty, finally reaching the expressions and trends of contemporary art.

Spas in Tuscany
Feeling well. Feeling fit, in harmony with yourself. Spas of Tuscany is a full immersion, a voyage within yourself to recover your lost well-being.
This is the tourism of the new millennium, and Tuscany is the region of Italy with the greatest number of spas.
Think, for example, of the many springs with water rich in natural elements.
Think of the springs already known in the days of Emperor Augustus, or of those preferred by Matilda of Canossa, or of the first water where Saint Catherine of Siena used to bathe, or of the spas Pirandello and Verdi used to go to.
Natural resources, waters which find their way through the rocks drop by drop, and come out into the sunlight in spontaneous springs, natural swimming pools which you can dive into, in order to regenerate yourself and find a balance between body fitness and inner serenity.
Spas have now become the new temples of health in Tuscany, where the natural beauty of sites is rounded off by renovated tourist facilities, invigorating streams, caves and falls with warm water. Enchanting places where nature answers the need for health and well being.

The other Tuscany
Hills, cultivated fields, farms, parish churches, castles, medieval hamlets:
this is the suggestive scenario that unfolds for the visitor to the Tuscan inland.
From this page, you can start learning more about the Chianti and Maremma areas or take a trip in the world of rural tourism.

Parks and Nature
Rolling hills, chromatic extravaganzas in fields, rustic farmhouses. And cypress trees.
Thus the Tuscan landscape has conquered the world. And yet, the nature of Tuscany is more than this.
The surprise of snow-covered peaks, ponds and lagoons, Mediterranean underbrush that grows right out to the sea, woods and a countryside still marked by the millenarian practice of promiscuous cultivation.
Resolutely protected parks and reserves that are not oases in the desert but links in a network that covers all the environmental systems of the region: Apennines, hilly inland, wetlands, coast.
The system of protected natural areas of Tuscany includes, national parks, state and sea reserves, wetlands of international importance, regional parks, provincial parks, provincial reserves, protected natural areas of local interest.
In actuation of the Community "Habitat" directive (92/43/EEC), 120 sites have been identified and classified as having community importance (pSic) and 30 as areas of special protection (Zps), 15 of which correspond to pSics. These are joined by 15 sites of regional interest (Sir) and 7 sites of national interest (Sin).
The totality of these areas is an integrating part of the national ecological network and, in the Community perspective, of the Nature 2000 European Network.

Congress tourism
Tuscany has always been at the forefront in the organisation of congresses, conventions and conferences thanks to a widespread network of services throughout the region and the high level of professional competence of all of the people operating in the sector. It is the ideal place to meet, for important congresses, conventions, work meetings, workshops, conferences, educationals tours and incentive trips.
The following services are at your disposal to meet your needs: The Tuscan Convention Bureau which can give you all the information and the professional assistance you need to organize your event.
The Local Tourist Boards of Tuscany which can give you all the tourist information on the accommodation in the area as well as on public offices, historical palaces, theatres and any other place where you might want to organise your meeting.


Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at: http://www.tuscany-charming.it/en/places/tuscany.asp

Contributors

September 18, 2004 change by peted

February 22, 2006 change by giorgio

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