Monday, May 21, 2012

La Vita è Bella in Toscana

Tuscany (Toscana) in the Northwestern region of Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. That’s perhaps the reason why my husband and I've had our doubts about visiting Tuscany for awhile. However, considering that it is possibly the greatest repository of art in the world, and home to world class wine and cuisine, we could no longer resist the temptation of visiting these beautiful parts of Italy.
Devil's Bridge (ponte del diavolo) in Lucca
Being there in early September, the weather was absolutely superb … so much so that it was hard to believe that only 9 hours North in Frankfurt (Germany) where we’d lived, we'd already begun experiencing winter rains. And on the contrary to my previous visits in Italy, during this trip, we had met and experienced some genuinely wonderful locals who showed us genuine Italian culture and hospitality.

The key to having such positive experience this time around was that we stayed away from big cities like Florence. Instead, we stayed mostly in little villages and overnighted in farmhouses and small B&Bs, which as we’d learned in France, is really essential to experiencing the local culture.

Our favorite memory of the trip was our first evening when we’d stayed in a little farmhouse just outside Verona. We’d arrived just as the owner and his friends were finishing up dinner. Not only did the owner offer to prepare another meal for us but also invited us to have wine and cheese with them afterwards. We were up till wee hours of the night having conversations over culture, politics, and wine, which I’d learned were three favorite subjects in Italy … although not necessarily in that order. It was as if we were all old friends sitting out in the porch of a lovely farmhouse in Tuscan countryside sharing conversation and laughs over fine bottles of Valpolicella … an absolutely perfect moment!

The next day, the owner of the inn had even arranged for us to visit a local vineyard for wine tasting, which turned out be quite an event. The locals in Tuscany really take pride in their wine, and the owner of the vineyard gave us an extensive tour and lesson on wine production, as well as tasting.

... and its beautiful landscape

Recommended cities/towns: Verona, Siena, Pienza, Montepulciano, Orvieto, Todi, Assisi, Perugia, Cortona, Arezzo, Volterra, San Gimignano, Lucca, Viareggio, Volterra

Recommended hotels: La Caminella B&B (San Pietro in Cariano), Hotel Corona (Lucca), Meuble Il Riccio (Montepulciano), Palazzo Bruchi (Siena)


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