When did you last experience the spirit of a newly visited place? It is about more than simply touring the regular attractions or partying with the locals. Proust once remarked, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. The spirit of a people, a place, can only be felt through experiencing as many nuances of their daily existence and cultural heritage as one can muster. At least, that’s how we see it. It could simply have macabre connotations. We’re just saying. You never know with these French intellectuals.
When it comes to Tuscany, and assuming that we’re in the right, you will have your work cut out for you. The region is interspersed with numerous must-see locations. You could rely on the transportation network to travel. Or you could rent any luxury Italian car for a few days and make the journey another factor in your learning curve. In this respect, companies like Lurento have your back.
Here are some select locations you simply must visit.
The capital of Tuscany and the Cradle of the Renaissance, Florence attracts an estimated 13 million tourists each year thanks to the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Michelangelo’s David and many other attractions. It is, however, the best place to start your expedition. Go sightseeing, and as soon as you feel you’ve had enough of the metropolitan Florence, sit in your chosen luxury car and head for the city limit. Each direction offers a new possibility.
Due east lies Arezzo. The city dates back to Etruscan times, and has had an interesting history since. As a result, it is an amalgamation of styles, hosting Ancient Roman, medieval and Renaissance era attractions, and is now famous for being the home of Renaissance art. The Arezzo Cathedral is the perfect example, being constructed for many centuries and by many famous artists, like Giorgio Vasari, who left a huge mark on the entire city. You can relax at the sloped Piazza Grande and enjoy the various architectural styles of the surrounding buildings, or, if you time your journey right, enjoy the Joust of the Saracens, a traditional bi-annual event where most of the town dresses up in period clothing and watches the jousting competition. Also, every first Sunday of the month vendors bring out antiques for sale at the Piazza, if you’re looking to buy Roman coins or old, ornate clocks.
Chianti wine region
If you were to head south, you would come across several notable locations. First, you would pass through the Chianti wine region, passing through an area with picturesque vineyards and olive groves and a myriad of quality local wines to taste and buy. Many of these are world famous, so this is definitely worth a stop. Be careful if you’re driving — Italy’s blood alcohol content limit is 0.5 — but passengers are welcome to enjoy themselves.
The city boasts a strong, preserved medieval heritage, and many tourists visit Siena to catch a glimpse of the atmosphere of a medieval Italian city. The historic centre is dominated by Il Campo, a central piazza where two horse races are being held twice every summer, known as the Palio. You might have seen it without knowing it — it was featured in a thrilling scene in Quantum of Solace.
Known as the city of beautiful towers, its cityscape was once dominated by 72 towers but now only 14 remain standing. Take a contemplative walk through its streets and take in the medieval art and architecture. An excellent preparation for your next stop.
San Miniato White truffles
One of Tuscany’s delicacies remains the white truffle, and in San Miniato you can both enjoy a guided tour of truffle hunting, both an educational affair and a relaxing walk in nature, and get a taste of traditional truffle-centered cuisine in one of San Miniato’s restaurants. There is also a white truffle fair, La Sagra Del Tartufo Bianco, for three weeks in November. And if you need a place to stay we recommend Haute Retreats, Sabrina will help you find unique and exclusive villa to rent.
We end the journey farther westwards with one of Italy’s most iconic attractions, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, La Torre Pendente, which you have probably been meaning to visit since childhood. It stands next to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, an 11th century white marble basilica and, a little bit farther west, the Baptistery, built between the 12th and 14th century, and depicting changes in style from Romanesque to Gothic as the construction went on. There are a number of other churches well worth your visit as well. Lastly, you should visit the Campo Santo, which, according to local legend, was built to house earth from the Golgotha, brought over during the Fourth Crusade. After the history, culture, wine and truffles, it feels appropriate to end the journey in a humbling way, contemplating this stunning piece of architecture and its impact on the Tuscan spirit over the ages.