11th February, 2021
Discover city and rural life in beautiful Tuscany
Think of Tuscany and you picture gentle rolling hills, cypress-lined alleyways, beautiful morning mists, timeless mountain paths and glorious coast of soft and dunes. But, of course, Tuscany is more than just its scenery – here you’ll find a host of fascinating cities such as Florence, Lucca, Pisa and Siena. Choose a holiday in Tuscany and you can enjoy the best of both worlds, as well as delicious authentic cuisine.
Tuscan slow food
Formed in 1986, the Slow Food movement is an alternative to fast food and celebrates local produce and authentic regional cuisine. In Tuscany this movement is particularly strong and its manifesto is to preserve gastronomical rarities such as zeri lamb, biroldo della garfagnana sausage, testaroli pancakes, Obetello fish eggs, sorana bean dishes and marocca di casola bread.
I love the simplicity, the ingredients, the culture, the history and the seasonality of Italian cuisine. In Italy people do not travel. They cook the way grandma did, using fresh ingredients and what is available in season.
Anne Burrell, American TV Chef
For a taste of authentic rural life, Gavinana is a little gem of a mountain town tucked away from the well-trodden tourist trail. Set 820 metres up in the Pistoia Apennines, it’s in an area favoured by hikers and walkers keen to explore the forested slopes and rural villages. While Gavinana may be a small town, it’s full of charming Tuscan character, and also close enough to the classic art centres of Florence, Lucca and Siena – with their numerous museums, galleries, cafes and restaurants.
A wonderful week in Gavinana, we couldn’t have wished for a nicer hotel, very friendly staff and excellent food. It is such a beautiful area with many walks, and also world-famous places to visit.
We had one tour to Vinci – very interesting and worthwhile, but were quite happy to explore the immediate surroundings.
Anne from Watford, who stayed at the Hotel Franceschi
One of the most popular seaside resorts on the Etruscan Coast is Bibbona Marina, a pleasant Tuscan resort which grew up around an 18th-century fort and has beautiful blue flag beaches, rolling sand dunes and pinewoods of juniper.
And from here, when you’re not relaxing on the beach and enjoying the sunshine, you can explore the medieval hamlets of Bolgheri and Castagneto. Both are utterly charming with castles, churches and winding cobbled streets. The region of Bolgheri and Castagneto is ringed by vineyards and it is famous for its award-winning wine which has been dubbed ‘Super Tuscan’.
The historic port of Piombino is also close by, which has a rich and fascinating history worth exploring, with a maze of streets leading up from the sea to the 13th-century castle. You can also take the ferry to the Island of Elba, Italy’s third largest island and famously the place to which Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in 1814 after his forced abdication.
As Tuscany’s largest seaside town, Viareggio has a long sandy coast, attractive pine forests and grand art nouveau architecture. It is most famous for its Carnival, one of Italy’s most spectacular events, which takes places between February and March when impressive floats are paraded along the seafront. The town has many places of interest such as Villa Paolina, a Liberty-style villa commissioned by Napoleon’s sister in 1822, and Piazza Shelley, named after the English poet who drowned just along the coast. This is an ideal destination if you want to get out and explore as there are easy public transport links to Pisa, Lucca and Florence.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.
The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.
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