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Guide to Tuscany

Tuscany has a varied and different nature, from the civilised vineyards of Chianti to the wild and archaic valleys of Maremma. Use this page to read more about each area or to jump directly to a selection of properties.

A beautiful landscape...

Central Tuscany is the area between Siena and Florence, west of Chianti. It is where Susan and Alan Wrightson found their house when moving to Tuscany in 1974 (Timignano, Ref.1) and hence is still the area we know best and where we have most of our properties.

It is also, in our opinion, one of the most beautiful areas of Tuscany, with a soft and cultivated landscape, interspersed with large areas of forest A thousand years ago the main pilgrim route to Rome ran through the Elsa valley, through towns like San Gimignano, Colle val d’Elsa, and the delightfully named Poggibonsi. The pilgrims with their diverse cultures and traditions brought a cultural richness to the area that continues to this day. Central Tuscany is dotted with medieval hill towns, churches...

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Landscape

map of lucca and pisa

One of Tuscany's elegant capitals, Lucca is a patchwork of palazzi, towers and Romanesque facades. It is sheltered by thick Renaissance walls that were happily never used for defense and that now offer residents and visitors an exceptional place to stroll. Only half an hour from the Tyrrhenian Sea and the shores of Lake Massaciuccoli, it is one of Italy's medieval treasures, with an unspoilt centre graced with palaces, towers and over 60 churches.

Pisa, known to the World because of its famous leaning tower and Campo Santo, has very much to offer the traveller. Settled since at least 1000 BC. it was an important Etruscan town which expanded further under Roman rule. Pisa not only has the beautiful and extraordinary Campo Santo with the baptistery and leaning tower, it also has masses of stuff to visit - several churches and bridges over the Arno river.

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A magical city

Tuscany is like an exquisite woman: sensual, full of hidden surprises, endlessly tempting. It is an area adorned with all sorts of good things and, with its culture and refinement, Florence bejewels Tuscany, bringing its special beauty into full flower. Florence is also overlaid with extravagance: the visitor is easily overwhelmed with so many masterpieces in the galleries, so many wonderful buildings, so many splendid shops, so much noise and bustle...

You can venture forth to wander around the beautiful museums and galleries, shop at the exclusive boutiques or find a bargain in the street markets, drink in the history of the glorious Renaissance places, the famous Cathedrals and innumerable churches.

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Vineyards and olive groves!

Chianti is an area of about 300 square kilometres of pure Tuscany, right in the centre between Siena and Florence. Entirely hilly, it varies in aspect from the the severe and harsh to the sweet an soft, covered in serried rows of vines, green forests or stony meadowland with olive groves and sparse oak trees. The light is astounding - no view ever seems to be the same from one hour to the next.

The countryside is dotted with castles: some are still occupied by the noble families whose ancestors built them in the feudal middle ages; others - ruined, perhaps in battles centuries ago, and abandoned - still dominate their hilltops with proud arrogance. There are numerous hill towns and hamlets, villas and farmhouses, guarded by sentinel cypresses, by people who may make their living tending the vineyards, or by those who have retired to beautiful old houses.

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The medieval landscape of Tuscany

Although relatively small with 62.000 inhabitants, Siena is architecturally and artistically one of Italy's richest cities. There is something particularly enchanting about its planning; almost intact walls enclose narrow streets which climb up and down its hills and curve unexpectedly into lively piazzas. Despite its medieval austerity Siena has a softness all its own, perhaps due to the particular colour of its bricks made from the red-brown clay of the surrounding hills. Siena shows to perfection the dual nature of medieval times: the unreachable heavenliness of the Cathedral dwarfs humanity, while the civic planning is in perfect human scale. Never as crowded or as noisy as Florence, it has a relaxed, courteous atmosphere and you can walk around perfectly safely at midnight. During the day you can admire the museums and churches, overflowing with works by such masters as Duccio, the Lorenzetti brothers, Il Vecchietta, Simone Martini and Sassetta. Siena is very much a living city, and its proud inhabitants are artistic and musical.

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Rolling green hills

The Via Cassia running South of Siena towards Rome opens up a wonderful area of Tuscany, with the strong strange landscape evoking, just as well as the towns and individual buildings, a sense of the extraordinary political and art historical importance of this area.

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The green heart of Italy

Umbria is the green heart of Italy, a land of steeper valleys than it’s neighbour Tuscany, richly forested and dotted with historic towns and villages. Most of the properties we rent are close to Todi and Orvieto, while some are closer to Perugia, Città di Castello and just across the border from Arezzo.

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The Bay of Poets on the Italian Riviera

An area which poets such as Byron, Shelley and Keats visited and loved; the romantic, picturesque lure of the Bay of Poets still exerts its magic to-day. The pirate town of Portovenere forms part of the view across the sea. The Cinque Terre, five villages of tall, narrow, medieval houses coloured pink, ox-blood, ochre and blue, cling improbably to the cliffs. Even to-day, the best way of seeing the colours and lovely places along this enchanted coast line is by boat, and frequent boat services leave from Lerici, with its beautiful bay and splendid 13th C. castle.

Monte Argentario

One of the very best parts of the Tuscan coast, the almost circular rocky promontory of Monte Argentario has the look and feel of the island it once was. Sand drifts silted the channel centuries ago and formed two isthmuses connecting with the mainland at Orbetello. The Tombola di Feniglia, 6 km long and 1 km wide, has a lovely long sandy beach, backed by tall pines. The Headquarters of Italian WWF is nearby and the lagoons and promontory are home to many rare and lovely wild animals and birds including herons, pink Flamingos, Corsican Seagulls.

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The Italian Lakes

The main Italian Lakes are Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, all at the feet of the Alps, with beautiful views, elegant villas and islands to explore. All the lakes have warmer weather patterns than the surrounding mountains thanks to the warming influence of the large body of water.

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Mediterranean Sea to be discovered ...

The coast of the Riva dei Cedri area in Calabria is famous for its beaches and picturesque villages - Tropea has long been a summer destination for the rich Milanese, with white beaches and charming restaurants. Now some areas can be quite busy in the height of summer, but this is also when the sun is at its hottest. For a truly relaxing experience, visit this region out of season - May and June, September and October are wonderful - the weather is still warm and delightful, but you will have beaches, cafes, museums and views to yourself.

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