There are few regions of Italy with as much to offer as Tuscany and none that embody so perfectly everything we think of as quintessentially Italian. Home to Italy’s best wines, most iconic pasta dishes, best scenery and the birthplace of its most famous artists, Tuscany is Italy in a microcosm – the perfect region to visit on your Italy honeymoon.
For those interested in art and architecture you don’t get much better than the region capital of Florence. Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Boticelli, Giotto and the architect Brunelleschi were all born in Tuscany and much of their most famous works reside in Florence.
Central Tuscany is mecca for those in search of good wines, great home-cooked food, picturesque medieval hill towns, charming farmhouses and stunning scenery. A drive around the hills of the Val d’Orcia region is hard to beat and possibly the most romantic way to spend a honeymoon in Tuscany. Easily accessible from Rome on an organized tour or by rental car (although you’ll miss the wine then), it’s a great option for day trips.
Meanwhile, for those looking for sun and sand during their honeymoon in Italy, the Tuscan archipelago to the west boasts stunning islands such as Isola d’Elba. According to legend they were created when the diamonds fell from Venus’s tiara. Needless to say, they’re easy on the eyes. Michelangelo summed it up perfectly when he snuck into St. Peter’s Basilica one night. During the day he had overheard two people looking at his sculpture, The Pietà, recently finished for the Pope. One of the pair turned to the other and complimented this beautiful work by “Michelangelo of Rome”. Incensed, he crept in after dark with his chisel in hand. He mounted the statue and into the belt of the Virgin Mary he carved, “Michelangelo Buonarotti, from Florence, made this.”
And he was right – because there’s nowhere in the world quite like Tuscany.
- GET YOUR CULTURE FIX: For many visitors, Tuscany starts and ends with Florence. Perfect for those interested in art and architecture, Florence is home to Michelangelo’s ‘David’, an incredible life-like sculpture that will steal your breathe away; the Uffizi Gallery,which houses such works as Boticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’; and the city’scrowning glory, il Duomo. Translated literally, ‘The Dome’ is the major basilica of Florence, known worldwide for its huge, gravity-defying dome. Apart from its stunning location (all cobbled streets, pretty bridges and red brick roofs), Florence also boasts some of the country’s best fashion and leather and some of its most interesting food. You won’t get much more authentic thana traditional tripe sandwich ordered from a food cart in Florence, nor much more delicious than Florentine gelato. And that’s before we even get to the t-bone steak. Florence is well worth a few days in its own right, but if your Italy honeymoon is short, it’s possible to visit on a day trip from Rome.
- DRINK UP: Tuscany holds its most precious possessions close to its heart in the gentle hillsaround the Val d’Orcia and Chianti areas. The landscapes here are picture perfect with their pinprick Cyprus trees and rolling pearls of vineyards, changing from yellow to green to purple as the harvest season nears. But all of that is just a sideshow for the main event – the food and wine. For red wine lovers you just can’t beat a Brunello di Montalcino or a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, while white wine fans will find plenty to amuse them among the vineyards of Chianti.
- CHOW DOWN: The food in Italy varies wildly from region to region. It’s important to remember that Italy wasn’t a country until the 19th century. Until then it was a number of separate states with their own separate cuisine where people made do with the ingredients they had at hand. In southern areas like Sicily this meant mostly fish, in Naples pizza was king, in Venice traders brought spices from Asia – hence the claim that there’s really no such thing as Italian food. Visitors to Tuscany will be pleased to discover local cuisine close to what they had expected in central Tuscany – pastas with carefully-balanced sauces thick with meat or vegetables. There’s cheese too, lots of it. Pecorino (made from sheep’s milk) is among the best up here and is perfectly complimented by sweet balsamic glaze. Foodies flock to medieval hill towns of Tuscany such as Montepulciano or Pienzato shop for local produce. There they find a slow-cooking revolution taking place among Etruscan cellars filled with wine and tiny, family-owned shops piled high with wheel after wheel of cheese. It’s hardly surprising then how many visitors never leave.
- SEE THE COUNTRYSIDE: Whether you pedal through on bikes, take a guided tour in a van or explore on your own in a rented car, the Tuscan countryside is famous for its beauty with its rolling hills, vineyards and old-world towns. You could spend a romantic day just exploring, picnicking and enjoying the views!
Tips and Advice
- WHEN TO VISIT: Located towards the north of Italy, Tuscany has a much milder climate than much of the rest of the country. Throughout the hills of central Tuscany the temperature is much lower than south Italy and Rome, although it is cooler in winter too. The best time of year to visit is September, during the harvest season when the vines are full and the countryside is an explosion of color. Any time between May and October is pleasant.
- GETTING THERE: Tuscany is easily accessible from Rome although there are also airports in Florence and Pisa. Milan is a little further but also quite accessible by car or train.
- GETTING AROUND: With very little public transport outside of the major city lines (which areserviced by bus and train), rental car or organized tours are the easiest ways to navigate Tuscany.
- LANGUAGE: As in all of Italy, the local language is Italian but many Italians (particularly those of the younger generation) speak some English.
- CLIMATE: Located in the hills, Tuscany gets mostly mild temperatures. Winter can be cold with frequent rain, however, summer is mild and mostly sunny.
- CURRENCY: Tuscany, like all of Italy, accepts only the euro.
- ELECTRICITY: 220V