Tuscany should be visited all year round and the many small local realities give the region its continuing fascination. Our latest Tuscany travel articles below.
Starting from Lucca an adventurous food and wine traveller in Tuscany will make his way north along the Via Brennero (SS12) up the Serchio river valley. The Lucca plain soon gives way to the steep hills of the middle Serchio valley and then quite quickly to the full-grown mountains of the Garfagnana, the Alpi Apuane to the west and the Apennines to the east. Chestnut woods cover the slopes creating a cool, lush green landscape even in the middle of summer.
The woodland is broken here and there by terraced fields and vineyards and a surprising number of villages. Most are mediaeval in origin and retain their narrow cobbled streets and traditional houses built of stone with terracotta roofs. Every one is a gem, and a curious explorer could spend many happy months unearthing what is special in each. If you only have a few days, head straight to Barga.
Heather Jarman of Sapori & Saperi Gastronomic Adventures gives an inside view of the chestnut harvest in the Garfagnana zone of Tuscany near Lucca. I ran into Beppe in the village in early October and asked how the chestnuts were coming along and when he planned to light the metato (chestnut drying hut).
He shook his head forlornly. There hadn’t been any rain since the middle of June. The chestnuts weren’t dropping and the few that had were small and barely worth the bother of gathering.
Usually there are three fat chestnuts inside one prickly outer cover, but this year you were lucky if there was one medium-sized one. We needed rain right now. He might not light the metato at all.
The Elsa Valley around this famous Tuscan town is everyone's image of a wine producing region in Italy.
Cypress trees, vines and olive orchards form an impressive landscape which, of course, also gives us impressive wine and many cellars where to taste it. Everybody knows the idyllic landscape of the Chianti wine zone
The wine route of La Strada Medicea dei Vini di Carmignano is located in the province of Prato, west of the Autostrada del Sole between Florence and Rome and south of the autostrada connecting the Tuscan capital to the sea via Pistoia.
But if we tell you that this zone was first occupied by the Etruscans and later the Medici, then a reason to go there surely is.
The sweet rolling hills were always famed for the production of 'brillante Carmignano' wine, for its elegance, strong ruby red color and delicate, complex perfume.
The Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano) or the Prince’s Passage in Florence, links the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge to one the city's finest Renaissance palaces.
This passageway, located above the famed Uffizi museum, not only showcases beautiful and rare views of the city, but also contains over 1000 priceless paintings.
These include self- portraits of many famous artists, such as Rembrandt and Bernini.
Can you come up with a recipe for pollo al mattone (using a brick). Also I'd appreciate any "Italian chicken folklore", if there is such an area, or poultry facts, preferably amusing. For instance, I've always noticed that chickens in Italy are much skinnier than the American variety, especially around the breast.
The nucleus of the Jewish community in Florence dates from 1437 when the first banks opened in the Renaissance capital. Yet, it wasn't long before the former were subsequently confined to a ghetto located near present day Piazza della Repubblica.
Forbidden to join the regular trades guilds, the Jews were only allowed to participate in textiles or second hand trading. It took another four hundred years to 1848 for the ghetto to be opened up and the Jews allowed to live freely in the city.
Today, the Jewish community in Florence has about 800 members and is located in via Farini where there is a kindergarten, Talmud Torah afternoon school for children, youth organizations, rest home and center of Jewish culture.
Our suggestions making up a series of holiday or vacation ideas to keep children and young ones entertained in between your wine tasting cantina visits. in no particular order province by Tuscan province, read on.
Collodi, Parco di Pinocchio; All the classic characters from the story of Pinocchio by Carlo Lorenzini at the town of Collodi, which is also the pen name of the writer. Abetone, The nature Trail; The forest botanical Garden is situated in the high valley of Sestaione at 4000 feet above sea level and covers 3.5 acres. This woodland hosts a wide variety of tree and plant species as well as a stream and all the species of flora present in the mountains of Pistoia.
Prato, Castello dell'Imperatore or the 'Emperor's Castle'; ancient (XIII century), imposing castle built for Frederick II of Svevia.
The waters of the Serchio Valley plummet towards the Lucca Plain to remind you that this is a hilly zone of Tuscany. You can even ski in nearby Abetone. The towns seem to be hidden away around bends in the road and it is sometimes difficult to get your bearings. One landmark, however, is unmissable, the so called Devil's Bridge in the Media Valle del Serchio or mid Valley.
It is located near Borgo a Mozzano just 20km from Lucca, but its seems like 200 and a couple of centuries. The actual Ponte della Maddalena straddles the river with an incredible arch, commonly referred to as a 'donkey back'.
No doubt much local merchandise has been transprted across the river in such a way over the centuyries, but perhaps the first to use it may have been a local pig. The poor porker was used to exorcise the devil who had offered to help complete its construction in return for the soul of the first human who used it.