When people dream of Italy, it is the rolling hills of the Val d’Orcia, the vineyards and olive groves of Chianti, and the sheer magnitude of Florentine art that fills their imaginations. Tuscany, more than any other region, captivates travelers, armchair and active alike. Each of Italy’s 20 regions is a jewel of its own, but Tuscany is the crown jewel.
Tuscany has been celebrated and fought over for centuries. Poets have written odes to it and foreigners have faced long and dangerous journeys just to get there. The Grand Tour brought wealthy Europeans to Tuscany to experience Florentine art. In more recent times, it became the dream of foreigners looking to live la dolce vita—thanks in large part to Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes.
Even the following highlights barely scratch the surface of all that it has to offer. The best thing to do is feel free to get lost—down a winding country road in Chianti, along the Arno in Florence, or on a cobblestone street in a hill town. Tuscany is full of surprises.