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Holiday, Vacation & Tour

 

A Tuscan State Of Mind

Sometimes traveling isn't just about going to a destination; it's a state of mind. Physically, I've been trapped in South Carolina for seven months now while mentally I try and put myself back in my favorite European places. One of my very favorites is the Tuscany region of Italy. While the city in South Carolina is a blistering desert of concrete, Tuscany radiates a rejuvenating warmth that washes over you like the rolling green of the hills.

Since I'm currently unable ...

Italy, Tuscany, Europe, travel, Tuscan, travel writing, European travel, Holiday, Vacation & Tour, siesta

Sometimes traveling isn't just about going to a destination; it's a state of mind. Physically, I've been trapped in South Carolina for seven months now while mentally I try and put myself back in my favorite European places. One of my very favorites is the Tuscany region of Italy. While the city in South Carolina is a blistering desert of concrete, Tuscany radiates a rejuvenating warmth that washes over you like the rolling green of the hills.

Since I'm currently unable to experience the area in person, I can only do what I can to substitute the experience. CDs full of pictures taken during my travels bring back stifled laughs and fond memories. The coffee table books I've collected over the years are so full of intense color and vivid landscape scenes that it makes my ache even worse. I even read "Under the Tuscan Sun" this week (which isn’t done justice by the movie). Mayes is such a descriptive writer. She does such a perfect job bringing the area to life and I believe, deserves much credit for putting Cortona on the map. Her book stirs memories of my one day in this little town – hot chocolate and pastries at a little café in the morning, gelato under a patio umbrella in the pouring rain, and linen shopping after the sun triumphed over the stubborn clouds. It almost makes me forget that my 'gelato' is now Eddy's or something from Dairy Queen.

I also try to substitute with cooking – of course, I'm far from the authentic cuisine I once savored in the local family-owned restaurants. Tortellini al forno, penne al'arabiatta, even plain old spaghetti marinara is a work of art in Tuscany. I throw basil around like it's going out of style, get all giddy when I find a sweet gorgonzola or pecorino cheese at the grocery store, and keep Verdi on full volume while I create my own personal Italy in the kitchen. Fortunately, I've been able to bring back the very best extra virgin olive oil in the entire country – La Macchia.

The green, aromatic oil tastes so fresh and so light that you taste what you are meant to taste – the fruit of the olive tree – and not something reminiscent to wheel bearing grease. So even if my bruschetta is made from imported North Carolina tomatoes, South Carolina french bread, parmesan from Kraft, and dried basil from a lousy little plastic jar (out of fresh basil again…), I still have my beautiful drizzling Tuscan olive oil.

Italians also understand and appreciate the concept of 'breaks' (and not the 15 minute kind). Time doesn't rule a Tuscan's day, rather it revolves around life at the moment. I rush from one end of my current hometown to the other, running errands and trying to make it to appointments on time – in Italy, being late is 'normale.' And when it gets to lunchtime, there's no rushing through the meal and then jumping back into a schedule. Between the shining sun at its zenith and a full stomach that's pulling you into a food coma, the day calls for a siesta. This ingenious concept not only refreshes the body but it literally pulls your mind into another world. Why fret about the next two hours when everyone else's life has also come to a relaxing standstill?

Daydream, watch the tall grasses blow in the wind, or drink a cappuccino among friends with a vineyard as a backdrop. Until the notion of a daily siesta takes hold in America, I attempt to create my own with plastic patio furniture and a Coca-Cola …that is, until the phone starts to ring with endless telemarketers anxious to sell me siding or refinance my mortgage.

There are just some places that feed your soul and remain in your heart no matter where you go. The rise and fall of the graceful hills, the glittery silver-green leaves of the olive trees, the way the aged bricks glow in the last rays of the evening sun all call me back for more. In the meantime, though, I'll remain in a Tuscan state of mind.

 

An Introduction To Tuscany Italy

Tuscany, Italy is the place that movies are filmed and fantasies run wild. Perhaps it is the cities of Florence, Pisa, or Livorno that invoke feelings of culture, art, or arouse the senses to the smells and taste of the Chianti region. The fact is that Tuscany is home to some of the most famous tourist destinations in Italy. It is here that budding artists come to learn from the masters. It is here that the world of fashion takes it cues. And it is in Tuscany that romantics r...

tuscany italy,

Tuscany, Italy is the place that movies are filmed and fantasies run wild. Perhaps it is the cities of Florence, Pisa, or Livorno that invoke feelings of culture, art, or arouse the senses to the smells and taste of the Chianti region. The fact is that Tuscany is home to some of the most famous tourist destinations in Italy. It is here that budding artists come to learn from the masters. It is here that the world of fashion takes it cues. And it is in Tuscany that romantics rekindle the flame and celebrate their love.

The Cities of Tuscany

Florence is perhaps one of the most famous cities in the area known as Tuscany. The Uffizi museum after all is home to such masterpieces as “The Birth of Venus.” Originally built to house the Tuscan administrative offices, the top floor now houses masterpieces by Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio. Each visitor to Florence must also stop in and gaze at Michelangelo’s “David,” on display at the oldest art academy, the Galleria dell’Accademia. The Ponte Vecchio is a landmark that literally translated means “old bridge.” It was built in the 1300s and has withstood floods and wars in order to continue to hawk some of the world’s most wonderful 18 and 24k gold products and leather goods.

Chianti is known for its wines which are famous around the world. Tourists to Tuscany can enjoy the world’s finest wines while enjoying the picturesque countryside.

Siena, also located in the Chianti region houses a gothic cathedral and paintings by medieval masters, Duccio and Simone Martini. The Renaissance and Etruscan history are evident in each landmark of the region.

Piza is best known for the Leaning Tower whose construction began in the 12th century, but starting sinking into the ground after only 3 stories were completed. It stood this way for 90 years and was finally completed by the son of Andreo Pisano, Tommano Simone and Giovanni de Simone almost 200 years after it was started.

Hillsides and Waysides

Part of the beauty and mystique of Tuscany is its countryside. The rolling hills that slope down to the coast are dotted with vineyards and villas. There are working farms and Holiday, Vacation & Tour villas suitable for the most adventurous tourists or those who demand first class accommodations. Tuscany car rentals allow tourists to explore each tiny village at their own pace and on their own schedule.

The Heart of Commerce

Emerging as a real business centre, Tuscany is home to thriving businesses in the furniture, leather, fashion, and manufacturing industries. These businesses keep the region in the 21st century while the people and culture keep one foot in the past.

If romance, tradition and culture are your idea of an ideal Holiday, Vacation & Tour, then Tuscany is for you. On the other hand if shopping and the face pace of a thriving city are your style then you will also find it in the Tuscany region of Italy.

 

Tuscany Tours For Any Budget

It can be a tough decision trying to figure out whether you should plan your own Tuscany Holiday, Vacation & Tour or book your travel on a planned group tour. There are benefits to each, but in order to hit all of the highlights in a relatively short time, you can’t go wrong with one of the exclusive Tuscany tours.

Where You’re Likely to Visit

A week long tour of Tuscany is likely to explore both the cities and the countryside. That is because Tuscany is well known for both. Many tou...

tuscany tours, holiday, travel

It can be a tough decision trying to figure out whether you should plan your own Tuscany Holiday, Vacation & Tour or book your travel on a planned group tour. There are benefits to each, but in order to hit all of the highlights in a relatively short time, you can’t go wrong with one of the exclusive Tuscany tours.

Where You’re Likely to Visit

A week long tour of Tuscany is likely to explore both the cities and the countryside. That is because Tuscany is well known for both. Many tourists focus their sightseeing to the city because it is easy to get around without renting a car and everything is close to your hotel. They may be timid about driving in a foreign country and getting lost.

Well, there is no worrying about where you’ll go and how to get there when you are part of a tour. Your tour guides and drivers know their way around both the city and the country.

A tour of Tuscany must include visits to the Art museums. Italy is known for its Renaissance art work including the masterpieces of Michelangelo. The city of Siena is home to medieval castles and gothic cathedrals. Many tours opt to stay a few nights in most of these major cities since there is so much to see and do in each.

Wine tasting and Tuscany just seem to go together. That is why a tour of Tuscany is sure to include a visit to the wine country of the Chianti countryside. It is here, after all that the nobility of a time gone by made their summer homes, no doubt to relish in the harvest.

How To Get There and Where to Stay

Tuscany tours may or may not include airfare. That is an important part of figuring out what you can afford. In planning your Tuscany tour, you will most likely be flying into Florence or Rome. You will want to leave plenty of time for air transfers and delays. This may mean getting to Italy a day early and getting a hotel near your departure point for the first night separate of the tour.

Once the tour begins you will most likely travel in air conditioned busses or vans depending on the size of your tour. These will take you to your first destination where you can unpack at your hotel and freshen up before starting the sightseeing part of the tour.

Many people don’t like the rigid schedule of a tour, but today’s tours are more flexible. You will be staying for at least two nights in most locations and free time is built in. If you don’t want to visit a particular site, you can opt out.

Mealtimes may not be as flexible since they are generally scheduled around other stops on your tour. Most tours include breakfast and one main meal including wine at lunch and dinner.

The biggest advantage to Tuscany tours is that you will have no worries about seeing what is really important to see. Your guides will also know the ins and outs of each spot and surely reveal some hidden treasures you may not discover on your own.

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