For many visitors to Italy, Tuscany offers the quintessential vision of rolling vineyards, quaint hilltop towns, and cities overflowing with Renaissance art and architecture. The capital, Florence, is a glorious display of ornate palaces, sprawling piazzas and historic bridges, all topped by the iconic Duomo, while the equally-stunning cities of Siena and Pisa both boast their own architectural gems.But much of Tuscany’s charm lies in its rural towns and villages, where olive groves and vines cascade down hillsides and clusters of towers stand proudly above. While San Gimignano remains its most visited town, with its medieval brick walls and cobblestone streets, Montepulciano, Pienza and Volterra have managed to retain a more laid-back local character. The Tuscan countryside is also home to the Medici Villas and Gardens, built as opulent country palaces for this influential banking family, and the austere architecture of Monte Oliveto Maggiore’s Benedictine monastery, which lies to the south of Asciano.Tuscany is truly a destination to immerse yourself in the culinary culture of Italy, with superb restaurants, wine cellars and olive oil producers throughout the region. Whether cruising in a vintage fiat through the viticultural landscapes of Chianti or rolling up your sleeves during a Tuscan cooking class, food lovers will find their calling in this gastronomic paradise.

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