Autumn in Tuscany
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21st Sep 2011
Tuscany is unique from the areas that surround it because of its spectacular landscape. With its hilly countryside, vineyards and fields filled with nature's bounty, its easy to understand why so many artists have been inspired here. Tuscany holds amazing museums for art lovers. A definite must-see is the amazing Uffizi Gallery, that holds some of the world’s most breathtaking art. You will fall in love with Bottecelli’s Birth of Venus and da Vinci’s Annunciation. You'll want to move in, but you can't.
In autumnal Tuscany there is a festival for everything. You want funghi? They got it. You want chestnuts? Try Cortona. Chocolate? Down in Perugia. Cheese, olives, grapes, twigs and figs? It's happening over there. There's Lucca, where every window and doorway is covered in candles and becomes a beacon that is spotted from far away during the Luminara di Santa Croce. For food and wine lovers there is the Grape Harvest Festival where wine producers dress up and build floats in dedication to the local grapes. The streets and squares fill up with stalls where local food is sold, and you can stuff yourself silly.
One of the most charming places in Tuscany is the area around the beautiful old walled city of Cortona. To get there, drive up a mountain from the valley below to a walled city complete with tumble-down farmhouses and tavernas sporting cuisina rustica - a special kind of menu featuring local game (boar, rabbit etc), with pastas, all earthy and hearty and delicious. Situated high atop the winding roads above the city gate, you can feel the chill of the wind bite your cheeks as you survey the landscape for miles around.
Maybe there is nowhere in the world where such delicacies are gathered in one place. You have amazing dishes like spaghetti primavera, prosciutto e melone, lasagnas, traditional pizzas and of course truffles! And more truffles. Truffles galore. Sniff out the best of those truffles at the San Miniato White Truffle Festival, help on weekends from mid-late November every year. Tucked in between Pisa and Florence, San Miniato is one of those heavenly little places you picture Julia Roberts and Julia Child waxing lyrically about to their friends over their 3rd glass of Montepulciano.
Speaking of Florence, traditional family restaurant in Florence is the Vini e Vecchi Sapori, which is a family run place with exceptional dishes at affordable prices. You feel like a part of the family here and if you come for second helpings the staff will remember your name. Be sure to make a reservation to this oasis of Italian cuisine. On your way, stop at the Prada and Gucci factory stores in Monteviarchi, where everything is 80% off and no one will ever know.
You can’t spend time in Tuscany without indulging in homemade gelato. At Gelateria di Piazza in San Gimignano you get homemade ice cream made with the best ingredients. You can try the traditional types of ice creams such as pistachio and stracciatella or be adventurous and try their ice cream made on a local red wine. Yum!
A magnificent base while in Tuscany is Villa Casa Paterna.