Spend an idyllic vacation in Tuscany, as you discover the glorious towns of Siena, Florence, Cortona and San Gimignano. Enjoy the sun, the verdant hills covered in vineyards, the wines and the amazing food. Stay in a lovingly restored luxury Tuscan villa in the Chianti hills, attend a private Tuscan cooking class and spend your days marveling at countless art treasures, perfect vistas and the unique magic of Tuscany.
The glorious cities of Siena, Florence, Pisa, San Gimignano, Volterra; the sea, the sun, the hills; the vineyards, the wine and the food are some of the elements that create the unique magic of Tuscany. Rich in history and beauty, Tuscany is a fascinating land, where old stone farmhouses stand surrounded by sunbaked vineyards and olive trees, where green hills stretch to the horizon and the century-old cypresses, majestic and benevolent, dominate the landscape. Many towns and villages are little changed from the medieval times. They not only look the way they did centuries ago, but they also live their lives to the slow rhythm measured by the seasons and saints' feast days. Political rivalries that led to bloody battles in previous centuries have given way to soccer rivalries.
Florence, the capital city of the Tuscan region and birthplace of the Renaissance, is located on the banks of the river Arno. It is a lovely mid-sized city known for its stunning architecture, intriguing history, beautiful scenery, and superb cuisine and wine. Since the Middle Ages, Florence has been a dominant historic and cultural area, but its people remain humble and genuine. Though it has contributed greatly to the artistic development of Europe, the city retains a small-town, pleasant atmosphere.
Florence, the city of Dante, Giotto, Galileo, Botticelli straddles the River Arno in northern Tuscany. Olive and cypress-clad hills rise up to the south and north, looking like background landscapes that Uccello or Gozzoli might have painted. The city which is both the birthplace and the showplace of the Italian Renaissance, is a priceless art and architecture sanctuary which contains a profusion of treasures, from Brunelleschi's great cathedral dome to Botticelli's Primavera and the Birth of Venus at the Uffizi and Michelangelo's David in the Galleria dell'Accademia.
Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), an outstanding painter, sculptor and architect is recognized as the first genius of art in the Italian Renaissance. Giotto lived and worked at a time when people's minds and talents were first being freed from the shackles of medieval restraint. He painted mostly the traditional religious subjects, but he gave these subjects an earthly, full-blooded life and force.
Dining with the Stars
The easygoing Italian way of life that visitors find so alluring and desirable, la dolce vita, is indisputably linked to the Italians' instinctive knowledge of how to drink and eat well. Just as the ancient Etruscans introduced cypress trees to the Tuscan landscape, their influence on the regional food, especially in the use of fresh herbs, still lingers after more than three millennia.