Tuscan art and architecture, Tuscan food and wine, the Tuscan people.

Rural Tuscany - Tuscan farmhouse near Semifonte and Barberino Val d'Elsa

Rural Tuscany - Tuscan farmhouse near Semifonte and Barberino Val d'Elsa

The variety of things to see in the Italian Region of Tuscany and its art cities is virtually without limit. Add to that a rich history, a pleasant climate, the friendly Tuscan people and very reasonable prices for food and accommodation, and you will see why knowledgeable commentators are referring to "Tuscany, Europe's top budget tourist destination".

To make the most of your visit to Tuscany, it's definitely worthwhile to consider spending part or all of your vacation staying at an agriturismo, meaning an active farm (usually a winery and/or olive oil producer) that offers accommodation for tourists. This is the way to get to know rural life in Tuscany and the people who live in the country. You can make daily excursions into the towns to visit the museums and go shopping, and then return back to you country home to relax by the pool. In addition, value for money really favours agriturismi over hotels unless there is some special facility that you like or need that is available only from a hotel. More about agriturismi in Tuscany.

If you would like to understand more about exactly how Tuscan civilisation (and thereby, ultimately, European civilisation) came to take the form it has, it's worthwhile to see more than the beautiful paintings hanging in the galleries of Florence, Sienna and Pisa. For one thing, it can be argued that sculpture led the way into the Renaissance (see The Springtime of the Renaissance). But further away from pure art, “the happy convergence” of painting, architecture and gardening around the concept of the Tuscan villa tells us a lot about what led to our concept of civilised life. With that in mind, if at all possible, try to visit at least one Tuscan formal garden while you're here. More about Tuscan gardens and here are a couple of excellent videos on classic Tuscan gardens

Tuscany is synonymous with good food and wine. Food is in fact a very important part of Tuscan culture - the culture of all of Italy, in fact - and regional culinary variations are huge in this country. In addition, as elsewhere in the world over the past 25 years, there has been a great revival of traditional cooking in Tuscany. Not just reviving dishes from the past, but developing new variations, always with a strong emphasis on fresh raw materials of precisely known origin. This is what lies behind the slow food movement that had its beginnings in Italy. Take the opportunity during your stay in Tuscany to try some of the Tuscan culinary specialities in a leisurely manner. You can have fast food at home - try some slow food in Tuscany! Restaurant prices have remained flat in Tuscany for years and represent excellent value for money.

As you explore the Tuscan countryside, doing some wine tasting, dining at a country restaurant, talking with the owners of your agriturismo, you'll find the Tuscan people to be extremely welcoming to visitors from other places. You'll also find that Tuscany itself is subdivided into innumerable smaller geographical units of which the natives are extremely proud. This is sometimes referred to as campanilismo, the intense identification with, love of and pride in ones own town or village (or even ones own quartiere, part of a city) - everything within sight of the local campanile, the bell tower. Chiantigiani love Chianti, no doubt about that, but their true love is their own village. Take some time to talk - you'll learn a lot.

tuscan pensioners

Tuscan pensioners - waiting to talk to you. Don't be shy!

Vacation accommodation in Tuscany

More Tuscany tourist information.

More about Chianti, Italy.

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Up-to-date news on what to see and where to stay in Tuscany.

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