by Michelle Jackson
Few places conjure up beauty with such authenticity as Tuscany. Even the word Tuscany implies a magical place that will whisk you to an untouchable world. Original home of the Eutruscans, Tuscany stretches from the Apennine Mountains to the west coast of Italy weaving through the beautiful cities of Florence, Siena and Pisa.
Here you will find all the ingredients to fill the senses in abundance, with art for the eyes, food for the lips and wine for the soul. For many it is the epitome of the perfect Italian holiday destination.
Max has been leading Travel Department tour groups in Tuscany since 2006.
Now that Covid vaccinations have begun to take place, very soon the world will be opening again for some well-deserved travel experiences. Donegal Daily have partnered with Travel Department to inspire you to visit Tuscany, the heart of authentic Italy.
We also have the exciting news that Travel Department are delighted to offer readers of Donegal Daily, Donegal Woman and Donegal Sport Hub an exclusive extra discount of €50pp* on any new 2022 Italy holidays of 7 nights or more by using the code: VP-DONEGAL50. Click here to browse and book.
From the stunning Lakes of Garda, Como and Maggiore in the north to the beautiful scenery of Sicily in the south and taking in the rich cultural heritage and beautiful surroundings in between, there really is something for everyone in Italy.
Travel with Confidence
Before we start, the wonderful team over at Travel Department know how important flexibility is to you now. So, from July 1st to September 30th, 2021, any new bookings made for travel in 2021 can be changed for free or you can swap your deposit for a voucher that has no expiry date. This flexibility is valid right up to when your balance is due. Rest assured you can book with confidence today and give yourself something to look forward to. More information here.
The rebirth of Europe flourished across this region from the 14th century. With Florence at its epicentre, the best of the Italian Renaissance can be savoured slowly in a relaxing fashion once you know how to avoid the crowds and beat the queues with skilled guides that know every inch of this region’s capital. For centuries powerful families such as the Medicis competed to build the most spectacular architecture and create the most beautiful artworks in this stunning city. They harvested the finest craftsmen and brains, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sandro Boticcelli and Michelangelo Buonarotti who carved the heart of Florence during their tenure leaving Italy as one of the richest places in the world to enjoy art.
With so much choice to see and do in Tuscany, Florence is where art lovers can absorb works such as Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo, and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus as they hang on the walls of the Uffizi Gallery. The imposing figure of Michelangelo’s David can be viewed in the Galleria dell ’Accademia but an equally impressive copy resides at the Piazza Vecchio. The Duomo is just one of the many great buildings to savour in Florence. The Basilica di Santa Croce and too many churches to mention will be on your doorstep on a trip to Florence making your day a walk-through a living Museum. Crossing the serpentine River Arno, The Ponte Vecchio, built in 1354 and once packed with butchers’ shops, will leave you trapped in time with wonderful jewellery shops to buy souvenirs.
For your guided holiday in Tuscany, your base in Montecatini is perched perfectly between Florence and Pisa. It has the additional benefits of being the largest Thermal Spa town in Italy, with spring waters offering medicinal healing. A full day can be spent at leisure enjoying the chic boutiques and suave town centre which courts Ferrari lovers. During the Belle Epoque of the 1800’s the town boasted such musical guests as Verdi, Puccini and Strauss. The sculptures you will see dotted everywhere pay homage to the waters which flow through this scenic town.
A golden voyage through Tuscany must include Siena, which has an authentic style of its own with the remarkable sloped square and signature Torre del Mangia in the Piazza del Campo. Here wealthy Florentine families branched out to invest in a new style to rival Florence. Twice yearly the town explodes in a procession of colour with the spectacle of the Palio di Siena, a festival which concludes with a horse race between competing regions of the city held in the Piazza del Campo. The Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta is one of the most outstanding examples of Romanesque-Gothic architecture in Europe. Probably the best way to enjoy Siena is to wander slowly and soak up the charm and atmosphere of this medieval town with a gelato in hand.
Tuscany, like so much of Italy, is host to delicious cuisine and home to some of the world’s most celebrated extra virgin olive oil. Expect to find bread in many local dishes such as the Lampredotto sandwich which is comprised of the fourth stomach of the cow cooked in broth, which may not sound appetizing but is the Florentine signature dish and symbol of their love of offal. Panzanella is a hearty salad dripping in olive oil, tomatoes cucumbers and onions, making resourceful use of day-old bread.
From Siena visit the World Unesco Heritage town of San Gimignano, famous for its fine towers. Do not leave without tasting the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, crafted from the grapes born from these hills. A drive to any of the towns in Tuscany is a joy of its own with natural beauty where nature has designed its own artistic palate. Patterns are formed in the rows of olive groves and finely tended vineyards that produce the Chianti which this region is famous for. The landscape is dotted with so many historic castles that it is little wonder they crop up on the labels of the Chianti wines. The purest of pleasures is soaking in the beautiful rolling hills and the elegant cypress trees while sipping on a glass of wine.
The Renaissance may be prescribed to history but in Tuscany it is very much living and the treasury of this golden era of man’s achievement is just waiting to be explored, drank and feasted upon.
With 25 years’ experience perfecting tours to 100 destinations worldwide, Travel Department’s escorted holidays typically include flights, accommodation, transfers and guided tours. They carefully plan your trip, so you experience the best holiday highlights accompanied by a friendly local guide. With Travel Department you see more!