Tuscan Countryside

Tuscany landscape: the country besides art and history

Tuscany is recognized as one of the Italian regions with the richest cultural heritage.

First of all, thanks to the ruins of the Etruscan civilization that its territory hosts.

Secondly, as most of the Tuscan cities and towns have significant expressions of Gothic-Medieval or Renaissance architecture.

Finally, because the cities of Pisa and Florence, among all, are famous for the monuments, from Piazza dei Miracoli to the Cattedrale of Santa Maria del Fiore, and for the artistic works they conceal.

Sometimes the historical and artistic splendor that characterizes the region distracts attention from its other preciousnesses.

In particular, the territory of the region is among the most varied in its landscape.

We can find the Alps, the Apennines, several lakes, the coast and the verdant hill, covered by the best Italian vineyards.

Moreover, the region is particularly attractive for lovers of food and wine tourism.

On one side, because of the quality of Tuscan wine is recognized throughout the rest of the world which requires its continuous export.

On the other hand, since traditional food and flavors are equally famous as they are intertwined with the history of the region and are skilfully linked to the evocative atmospheres that the territory offers.

There are many opportunities and ways in which these other qualities of the territory can be appreciated.

Below we offer the best 10 unconventional ideas that allow you to fully understand the various experiences that nature, food and wine from Tuscany have to offer.

1. National Park of the Casentino Forests

Located between Florence and Arezzo, the Casentinesi Forest National Park is a timeless place, far from the pressures of contemporary society, which became a UNESCO heritage site in 2017.

The landscape is enjoyable especially in autumn, when the foliage is at its most splendid, and offers a mystical space where to meditate and feel in harmony with nature.

You can explore and admire the park, with its ponds and waterfalls, choosing among the many possible suggested itineraries, on foot or by bike, which allow you to delve ably into its woods.

Another interesting aspect of the Park is the biodiversity it protects.

The environment is, in fact, extremely dynamic and interesting from the point of view of wildlife and vegetation.

In particular, WebGis has estimated that the park’s forest heritage has 600 monumental trees.

Tuscan Countryside: National Park of the Casentino Forests

2. Nature train

Another idea that can escape the haste of the post-modern era is the Nature Train.

This particular old train leaves from the Terre di Siena and has a steam locomotive by which it moves at a speed (or rather slowness) that is quite unusual for us.

This allows us to appreciate from a new perspective the transition between villages, parish, vineyards and mountains, and to move with a reduced environmental impact.

The idea is part of a larger project that aims to raise awareness of the possibility of slow sustainable eco-tourism.

The calendar of appointments and the various journeys along the rails of a disused road is drawn up annually.

The proposed itineraries not only cross territories of rare beauty, but are often designed to lead us to the various places in the Val D’Orcia coinciding with important food and wine events that host them.

3. Taste the Vino Nobile in Montepulciano

Between Val D’Orcia and Val di Chiana we find Montepulciano, a town famous both for its thermal area and for the wine it produces, called Vino Nobile.

Going to Montepulciano, in addition to visiting the village, it is a must to explore its wine cellars and vineyards. The first ones are mainly underground and host pleasant tastings where you can participate freely.

The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG is produced from a vine variety called Sangiovese “Prugnolo Gentile” and has a garnet red color.

It undergoes an aging process of at least two years and has won numerous awards for its fresh, crisp and unique taste.

Tuscan Countryside: Montepulciano

4. Isola del Giglio and Isola Capraia

For lovers of the maritime landscape, the Tuscan Archipelago can offer extraordinary views.

In particular, the Island of Giglio and the Island of Capraia are probably the most suggestive of the 7 islands that make up the archipelago.

The first can be reached from Porto Santo Stefano, while the second from Livorno.

In these small land areas it is possible to rent a boat to explore its hidden corners, such as coves and cliffs, or to move from one island to another.

For example, taking a speedboat to Capraia you can admire the Old Port Beach and then move on to Baia Bricchetti.

Alternatively you can design curious  walking tours. In fact, the Archipelago also holds a natural park.

A particularly famous and romantic walk is organized on the Island of Giglio, where, in the middle of a pine forest, there is The Lighthouse Of Lovers.

Tuscan Countryside: Isola del Giglio

5. Visit the Valdichiana by bike

Inside the Valdichiana there are several panoramic streets that can be traveled by bike.

This idea is particularly intriguing for athletes, who in addition to wanting to discover Tuscan landscapes are interested in amplifying their experience and “gaining” the prospects that the region has to offer.

An interesting itinerary is the one that from Chiusi winds up to Sarteano.

In fact, this route offers a fascinating view of Lake Chiusi and, later, of the turquoise Lake Trasimeno.

The road, pleasantly windy, circulates among the knotty olive trees and the fragrant vines typical of the region.

For those who decide to undertake this adventure, a gem:

with a small detour you can visit the prehistoric site of Belverde which boasts a complex system of 25 caves.

Moreover, wonderful travertine blocks have formed within them over the millennia.

The route is not particularly difficult, but it is not completely flat, and for the most inexperienced it can be a fun challenge.

6. Food Festival

During your Tuscan tour it is highly recommended to go in search of some food festival.

Many and many are organized to celebrate individual types of foods or traditional dishes.

These festivals can be spread throughout the Tuscan territory and sometimes, given the size of the region, it is possible that more villages decide to celebrate the same product.

Among the main Tuscan gastronomic festivals to be held this autumn we suggest:

9-10 and 16-17 October; San Giovanni d’Asso

Market Exhibition of the White Truffle of the Crete Senesi

12-13 and 19-20 October; Bagnolo (Municipality of Santa Fiora)

Amiata mushroom festival

13.19 and 20 October; Vivo d’Orcia (Castiglione d’Orcia)

Mushroom Festival

18-19-20 and 25-26-27 October; Arcidosso

The Chestnut Festival

19 and 20 October 2019; Santa Fiora

Brown Festival of Santafiorese

October 27th; Campiglia d’Orcia (municipality of Castiglione d’Orcia)

Brown Festival

October 31st, November 3rd; Piancastagnaio

Il Crastatone

End of October (date to be defined); Castell’Azzara

Festive pumpkins

9-10, 16-17 and 23-24 November; San Miniato (Pisa area),

National White Truffle Market Exhibition

Tuscan Countryside: mushrooms

7. The Chianti Classico road

About 7,200 hectares of vineyards make Chianti Classico one of the most important wine types in Italy.

The wine is produced in the Chianti region, a land of ancient winemaking traditions, located between Florence, Siena and Arezzo.

The verdant hills enclose a spectacular landscape: the long rows of Sangiovese vines are surrounded by charming villages and parish churches.

Depending on the days you have available, you can organize a creative trip to discover the flavors and the cheerful towns that animate the area, where it is inevitable to participate in attractive tastings of the precious red.

Among the most important and characteristic villages we find Greve in Chianti, with its Wine Museum, Castellina, where there is a well-known archaeological museum, the fortified city of Barberino Tavarnelle, Gaiole and San Casciano Val di Pesa.

Moreover, the Chianti hills deserve to be explored also for the DOP Chianti Classico olive oil that is produced there.

This has a fruity flavor, flavored with raw artichoke, and has an aftertaste of cut grass.

8. Collect the chestnuts in the Mugello Valley

Located north of Florence, the Mugello Valley abounds in landscapes and views of rare harmony.

The territory is known above all for the cultivation of fruit chestnut groves, a typical product of the region.

Chestnuts are used here mainly for the production of the prized IGP marroni.

These can be eaten fresh or destined for the confectionery industry.

The peasants of the Mugello valley kindly call the chestnut trees ‘the bread tree’.

In fact, these have for a long time been the main way in which their families could receive the necessary sustenance throughout the year.

If you want to organize an excursion, a trip in the woods, out of the ordinary you can contact the Marrone del Mugello IGP Association to find out about where and when program this day.

The product is in fact part of the gastronomic tradition of the area and is therefore protected in its production and in its collection.

Tuscan Countryside: chestnut

9. Rapolano Terme

Rapolano is a unique and iconic Tuscan land, which is made up of several towns located in the clayey Crete Senesi. Its countryside is wooded and contains several thermal springs and arable land.

Moreover, Rapolano is an area of travertine stone that was formed over the years in the basins and waterfalls where limestone was present.

By planning your own tour of Tuscany, you can decide to visit one of the pools in this less known spa area.

There are two establishments:

1. Terme di San Giovanni; which present a singular geyser within them

2. Terme Antica Querciolaria

An added value to this stage lies in the therapeutic properties of which its thermal waters are full, that is why the springs have been used since Roman times.

10. Ride in the Val Cecina

For animal and adventure lovers, in Val Cecina, located in the central-western area of ​​Tuscany, it is possible to design splendid horseback riding itineraries immersed in nature.

For example, you can ride in the Guardistallo forest and head towards Poggio Gagliardo. Near this village the landscape suddenly and wonderfully turns into a series of vineyards.

At this point you can decide whether to visit a winery or continue towards Casale Marittimo, a small ancient gem part of the ‘wine road’

In particular, when setting out towards the latter it will be necessary to cross a forest of holm oaks, ash trees and downy oaks, and walk the Fosso delle Tane stream for a while.

This is just one of the routes offered in the area, full of stables, which has many other possible routes that can make the natural landscape of the area appreciated.

Tuscan Countryside: Val Cecina

Where to stay in Tuscany

If you want to plan a tour of Tuscany that allows you to experience the flavors and nature of the entire region in a creative way, you should stay in a central area, ideally in the surroundings of Florence.

With the exception of the Tuscan Archipelago, in fact, the Florentine countryside is a good starting point from which to move around to visit the various attractions offered and the countless other offers from the Tuscan territory.

The region, so precious and magnificently ancient, offers accommodations able to maintain the same atmosphere that tourists look for in small villages, to make their experience as seductive as possible.

In particular, the Castle of Volognano is an enchanting neo-gothic structure surrounded by walls. Staying in a similar place is an unmissable opportunity, because it completely reflects the essence of the region.

Furthermore the Castle is located in the outskirts of Florence and is surrounded by greenery, a true paradise for lovers of nature and outdoor adventures.

Related post:

The Top 15 Places to Go in Tuscany

The list of the top wineries in Tuscany region

Unforgettable experiences in Tuscany

This post is also available in: Italian

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