Enjoying the Quiet Delights of Tuscany
Posted: Nov 20, 2014
The idea of renting one of the villas in Tuscany might not immediately sound like a radical idea for your summer holidays. However, when you stop to consider how much fun, excitement, adventure, culture, nature and art is packed into this wonderful region of Italy, you'll realise just how much bang for your buck you can get.
The Grand Tour
Villas in Tuscany have long been popular with visitors from other parts of Europe and around the world. It’s possible to have an interesting debate about when it all started. Taking a villa in this beautiful part of Italy was considered to be an essential part of the 18th century ‘Grand Tour’ so beloved by generations of wealthy aristocrats and some business people. It was considered to be an essential part of a "gentleman’s education".
That tradition carried on well through much of the earlier 19th century and even continued during periods when Europe and the various Italian states were consumed by one war or another. The position changed somewhat in the latter 19th and earlier 20th century, but by the 1950s, tourism to Italy was very much back on the agenda. In fact, it’s often overlooked that mass tourism began in Italy long before it started in Spain or Greece.
So, if Tuscany has been a favourite destination of travellers for centuries, does that mean that there is relatively little for you to discover there?
Full of surprises
Well, no, it certainly doesn’t! Obviously, if you have never been there before, the many traditional wonders of this area are just waiting for you to discover. The major Tuscan towns like Florence, Siena, Pisa, Arezzo and Lucca are all world-famous centres of art, architecture and culture. Their attractions are simply incomparable and to borrow from Samuel Johnson, if you’re tired of cities like these then you’re "tired of life"!
Yet this part of Italy is more than just about ancient buildings and great works of art. It is also all about experiencing the very best of the Italian lifestyle, which is why places such as Chianti, with its wine, and Pienza, with its cheese, are important – because the region also has some of the best cuisine you’ll find anywhere in the world. You'll even come across magnificent restaurants in small towns way off the normal tourist trails – and fabulous food is the norm rather than the exception.
It’s also possible to stay in villas in Tuscany right off the beaten track and find tiny hilltop villages that have hardly changed in centuries. Just spending a few hours sitting and watching the world go by is an experience not to be missed.
A cultured choice
Could you find somewhere for your holiday that’s faster-paced, more in your face and with constant entertainment to dazzle your sense? Yes, you could - with little or no effort at all. On the other hand, if you enjoy subtle sophistication and the chance to discover a landscape that is both full of ancient wonder and new surprises, then a stay in one of the villas in Tuscany might be for you.
Jonathan Magoni is Senior Manager of Cottages to Castles, a family owned company specialising in high quality holiday villas, apartments and cottages in Italy. For spectacular villas in Tuscany or accommodation in the Italian lakes, ski resorts or city centres, we offer only the very best. Discover Italy at your own pace and without time restrictions in our hand picked villas and cottages.
Writer and Online Marketing Manager in London.