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 Beauty 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.
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. Regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Florence’s piazzas, palaces, and parks display the architecture and art that set the city apart from everyplace else on earth.
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. Florence, both the birthplace and the showplace of the Italian Renaissance, is a priceless art and architecture sanctuary which contains a profusion of glories, 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. Florence is the Western world's greatest work of art, both in terms of what it is and what it houses.
Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), was a painter, sculptor, and architect who is recognized one of the first geniuses of the Italian Renaissance. While he continued artistic tradition and painted mostly the traditional religious images, he gave his subjects an earthly, full-blooded life and force that had not been seen before. The 16th-century biographer Giorgio Vasari says of him "...He made a decisive break with the ...Byzantine style, and brought to life the great art of painting as we know it today, introducing the technique of drawing accurately from life, which had been neglected for more than two hundred years."
Visitors to Italy soon discover that a major part of the easygoing Italian way of life, or la dolce vita, is eating fine cuisine and drinking delicious wine. Both are focal points of Italian life. After 3,000 years, the influence of the ancient Etruscans continues in Florence in the use of fresh herbs and savory cooking. Tuscan food is simple and savory, with rich bread-based soups, crisp vegetable dishes, and flavorful meats sprinkled with aromatic spices such as sage and rosemary. Florentine bread may be grilled and drizzled with fresh-pressed olive oil (crostini), or spread with pâté (crostini di fegatini), or rubbed with garlic and topped with fresh, fragrant tomatoes (bruschetta).