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Tuscany is arguably one of Italy's most popular regions. It's a masterpiece of rolling vineyards, elegant cypress trees, charming hilltop towns and a rich cultural heritage. Tuscany is mostly known for its countryside. Explore the abundance of picturesque vineyards in the Chianti region, sampling some of Italy's best wines as you go, or stop off at the Renaissance and medieval towns that are dotted throughout, rewarding visitors with stunning views over the rolling hills.
There is another side to this diverse region, though. Tuscany's coastline stretches for about 250 miles and offers sandy beaches backed by the Alpi Apuane Mountains. Resorts like Viarraggio and Forte dei Marmi are very popular in the summer, where you can enjoy long walks along the promenade. If you prefer to escape the crowds, Tuscany's Elba Island offers a relaxing retreat among stunning surroundings, with 150 beaches lapped by crystal-clear waters, quaint towns and endless pine forests.
Tuscany’s countryside is famous the world over, with vineyard-draped hills and roads edged with cypress trees. Look a bit closer, however, and you’ll find pockets of medieval culture. San Gimignano’s soaring towers are probably the most iconic of these, with several, like the Torre Grossa, offering unparalleled views from the rooftop terrace. For those wanting to keep their feet firmly on the ground, there are countless vineyards and wineries throughout Tuscany to tour, and numerous upscale spa towns (we recommend Montecatini Terme for its vintage funicular railway and grand Tettuccio thermal spa). Elsewhere in the region, highlights include postcard-pretty Siena, with its grand central piazza, and the walled city of Lucca.
The majority of international flights arrive into Pisa airport (PSA). Direct flights to Pisa are available from Belfast, Bristol, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, Manchester and Newcastle and take approximately 2 hours.
Tuscany is predominantly a summer destination, with the main tourist season generally running from April to October. Temperatures are at their hottest in July and August, this is also when Tuscany is at its busiest. However, Tuscany also enjoys a mild climate in spring and autumn with temperatures rarely going beneath 20 degrees which makes it perfect for visiting at the beginning or end of season too. The coast has wonderful sea breezes and the hilltop towns are much cooler than the lower countryside villages. The best time to visit is during the quieter season, from April to June and September to October when the weather is good, prices are a bit lower and there are fewer crowds. There are many festivals and events throughout the year in Tuscany and Easter and Christmas are always busy.
Tuscany is a food and wine lover’s haven; with the region dotted by vineyard after vineyard, there are plenty of famous local wines to sample, perfectly accompanied by cured meats, cheese, bread and locally produced olive oil. Well known varieties for those who prefer a red include the Chianti Classico and Montepulciano; for white, try wines from Cortona and San Gimignano.
Foodies looking to experience traditional Tuscan dishes should opt for ribollita – a filling soup made with bread and vegetables; or bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak) followed by cantucci biscuits dipped into a dessert wine.