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Italy has always fascinated me. I studied Classical Civilisation and Ancient History at university. And it was the Roman culture and history that intrigued me the most. Yet until Mr H and I went to Florence in 2006, my only time in Italy had been a brief journey through the Mont Blanc Tunnel when I was a child. But from the moment that Mr H and I stepped foot in Florence, I fell in love with the city, Tuscany and Italy. I long to go back there.
We haven’t been abroad since 2012, the year before Little Miss H was born. I would LOVE to have a holiday abroad. Given the choice of location, I would definitely choose to visit Italy. And if we were to go on a holiday in Italy, it would be amazing if we could all stay in an Italian mansion for a week.
If we stayed in a large villa then we could ask my parents and my brothers and their families to come too. I know that the children would love this. Staying in an Italian mansion would allow us all to enjoy time as a family without feeling like we’re living in each other’s pockets. Also, with lots of babysitters on hand, hopefully Mr H and I would be able to do some sightseeing as a couple.
Of course, Mr H and I would love to go back to Tuscany again. There is so much to see and do there. And when we went to Florence we barely scratched the surface. If we were to go back then these are the 7 things that I would want to do in Tuscany.
7 Things To Do In Tuscany
1. Palazzo Pitti, Florence
As I mentioned above, Mr H and I went to Florence in 2006 and we adored the city. Mr H was, at the time, quite interested in the Renaissance world, and its art in particular. We had a lovely time staying in the hills on the outskirts of the city and walking into the centre each day.
While there we managed to take in most of the sites including the Duomo, Ufizi, Medici Chapel, San Lorenzo and Ponte Vecchio. But we didn’t explore much south of the Arno. In particular, we would have loved to have spent some time in the Palazzo Pitti. A former home to the Medici, it is now the largest museum complex in Florence and plays host to a fine art collection including works by Raphael, Titian and Rubens. If we ever have a chance to go back to Florence it’ll be top of our list, maybe followed by a stroll in the nearby Boboli Gardens.
2. Basilica of San Francesco, Arezzo
On the subject of Renaissance art, the Basilica of San Francesco dedicated to St Francis would also be high on our list. The frescos, painted by Pierro della Francesca in the mid-15th century, are some of the most famous of their era and are renowned for their composition and symmetry. Arezzo is also known for its Piazza Grande and city walls, so while there we could take those in too.
3. Bistecca alla Fiorentina
All that site-seeing sounds like hungry work… and I love a steak. For a number of years when Mr H was a vegetarian, wherever our food came out in a restaurant the waiter would almost always put Mr H’s meal (let’s say a mushroom risotto) down in front of me and my steak in front of him (casual sexism alert). Anyway, Florence is famous for its T-bone steaks. Usually aged between 15 and 21 days (that’s a lot longer than a steak you’d buy in the supermarket) it is cooked for just a few minutes on each side at a high temperature – leaving it charred on the outside and rare in the middle. Yum.
4. Walking the Brunello Trail
Mr H and I used to love going for long walks. But now we have two small children, going for long walks doesn’t happen often. Hopefully, the Grandparents will babysit so we could go for a leisurely (or not so leisurely) stroll. Tuscany has got some amazing walks, many of which can be completed in about a day, which would be perfect for us. The Brunello Trail runs through some of the world’s most famous vineyards and ends in the walled town of Montalcino, a perfect location to rest weary feet and relax with a glass of Brunello di Montalcino.
The historic centre of Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is renowned as Italy’s loveliest medieval city. Sitting on three hills, its many sites include the Siena Catherdral, the Piaza del Campo (an unusual shell-shaped town square) and the Palazzo Salimbeni. The city is known for its beautiful scenery, museums, food and wine. It sounds perfect.
6. Hill Towns
Tuscany is known for its hill towns and none more so than San Gimignano, sometimes called the medieval Manhattan. It has everything you would expect from a Tuscan town – stone towers, narrow streets, gorgeous countryside and countless vineyards. Monteriggioni and Volterra are some other hill towns that would be on our list to visit.
7. Prehistoric Park
Most of my list includes things it’d be nice to do as a couple with Mr H. But there’s plenty for families to do in Tuscany too. Given how much Little Miss H enjoyed the Howletts Animals of the Ice Age exhibition, then the Prehistoric Park at Peccioli near Pisa would be first on our list for a family holiday. It has lifelike models of dinosaurs, a volcano, cavemen and lots of fossils. Plenty to keep the little ones entertained.
It sounds like a wonderful holiday. Ahhhh, I can but dream!
And of course, my wishlist for Italy isn’t just limited to Tuscany. I would also love to visit the Italian Lakes. Especially since reading this fabulous post from Mammaprada about which is the most beautiful Italian Lake of them all.
Have you ever been to Tuscany? What would you recommend to do when visiting there?
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