It really is simple, no matter what you do you will fall in love with Tuscany. If you find yourself in the great Italian countryside chances are you made your way here either for the love of nature or for the love of Italian food, either ways Tuscany is the place to be. Divided into many provinces the Tuscan region is rich in culture, history and heritage, but for an ordinary traveler like me who is neither a historian nor an artist Tuscany is a sanctuary (full of delicious food).
When my husband and I decided to take a trip to Italy, Florence was obviously on the list, but since we wanted to sample some authentic food and not just follow some advisory websites suggesting restaurants, we had to visit the country. We chose a small village in Chianti and booked a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in an authentic medieval village in the hills (yes the village was built with stone, unreal).
We found ourselves in Palazzo Malaspinna, an Italian home where breakfast included homemade marmalade or sponge cakes and delicious biscotti just lying around all day to be devoured! The village called San Donato in Poggio housed 50 families or so, all of whom knew each other for generations, and came together every weekend at the local pizzeria or the village square to entertain each other. Now one may think why I would spend a fancy Italian vacation looking at how locals mingle while I could be shopping in Milan. Perhaps because taking a vacation for some of us is not about living it up, sometimes it’s about slowing down and reflecting. If you are one such person, a village in Tuscany is where you need to head to.
So what else can one do in the Italian country side? I would recommend travel with a driving license and rent a car. Europe may be expensive with car rentals, so if you have the right spirit, rent a scooter. Drive up and down the winding paths and try the bruschetta, cheese platters and lemonchello from local vineyards and definitely some panacotta. The place is marked with old castles turned into olive farms and vineyards, and you will find the hosts more than happy to welcome you in and sample some of Chiantis finest produce.
If you are a coffee lover, I need not tell you, you are in heaven. If you fancy desserts, you just found your way to paradise (but if you like chicken toppings on your pizza, best not to waste any time in Italy, you simply won’t find any of that) for the Italian take their coffee and food far too seriously (as it should be). Another way to fall straight in love with Tuscany is Italian music. You may not know what the fat lady sings, but you will know she is right. She just sounds so right especially on a drive down the hills of Tuscany.
Words for the wise however, if you are in Tusacny or any corner of Italy in the summer, pack lots of mosquito repellent. There is something about those Italian mosquitoes which is really unforgiving.
Do not look for luxury in Tuscany, look for simplicity, look for authenticity, look to taking long walks, look to breathing fresh air, don’t take long naps, look at the sunrise, look at the sunset. If you are fast tracking through Italy as I was these two or three days will make you want to give everything up (it made me give up going to Vienna and stay back to learn Italian cooking, but more on that later) and just find yourself. Don’t be surprised if suddenly you want to give up your current career and become a blogger (sounds familiar) just let Tuscany work its magic on you and do not resist. Submit and fall in love.