Exploring Tuscany. . . the culture, delicious food, and unforgettable scenery

I could feel my excitement growing as the train slowed to a stop in Chiusi, our gateway to exploring the Tuscany region of Italy. We had just spent a few hours on a very comfortable Italian train originating from Venice so we were ready to begin our Tuscany adventure. There is no place on earth like Tuscany. Beautiful medieval towns, rolling hill landscapes, art, delicious food, and some of the best wine in the world. We were anxious to get going on our adventure.

My wife, Nancy, and I first visited Italy several years ago and enjoyed our travels so much we decided to visit one of our favorite destinations once again. This trip instead of traveling through Tuscany in several short overnight stays, we decided to establish a home base for multiple days. This strategy allowed us a little more down time to enjoy the area, making short drives to the quaint Tuscan hill-towns nearby. Chusi, Italy proved to be a convenient train stop as well as a great little city to rent a car near our first Tuscany destination.

Our home base for the first 7 days was the Agriturismo La Bruciata just 2 km from Montepulciano, Italy. An agriturismo is really a farmhouse B&B that rents out rooms to travelers. These rural B&B’s are typically well off the beaten path and provide a unique experience to Tuscany visitors. La Bruciata is a family farm that grows vegetables, a variety of fruits, grapes, and olives. They make their own jams, wine, olive oil, and limoncello which we thoroughly enjoyed during our stay. Our very capable and friendly hostess, Laura Duchini, is the 3rd generation of the 4 generations working the Agriturismo. The highlight of our week was a cooking class where Laura and her mother taught us to make Pici pasta, with all the Italian fixings for a spectacular meal. We almost felt like we were part of the family staying with Laura and her family.

During our week at La Burciata, we had many opportunities each day to visit uniquely different Tuscan towns nearby. We enjoyed each one, meeting the people, learning the history, and of course photographing the sights. In several of the Tuscan towns, you can’t pass up the opportunity to sample the world-class wines, including Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino. We enjoyed tasting the local variety everywhere we traveled. Here are a few highlights of our hill-town visits near La Burciata. . .

  • Cortona, Italy – is one of the oldest hill towns in Tuscany and is featured in Frances Mayes book Under the Tuscan Sun, later made into a movie. Its medieval streets are pleasant to wander, and you will always find friendly people and unique places to grab lunch or dinner.
  • Pienza, Italy – is a small town up on a crest surrounded by green rolling hills. Pienza’s Renaissance architecture was first built in the 1400’s by Pope Pius II who remodeled and renamed his birthplace town Pienza.
  • Monticchiello, Italy – a small ancient town very close to Pienza. You can actually see Pienza high on a hill from Monticchiello. We had a delightful lunch in the local museum, and Nancy was pleased with her purchase of an authentic apron from a local artisan.
  • San Quirico d’Orcia, Italy – is a comune (municipality) of about 2,500 people in the Province of Siena. The highlight of this little 12th century town is the Leonini Gardens. Designed around 1581 by its owner, Diomede Leoni, it is a classic Italian garden with finely manicured matrices of hedges.
  • Montefollonico, Italy – this small hamlet founded around the year 1000 is off the beaten tourist path. We felt like we had the town to ourselves along with the local artists.
  • Montalcino, Italy – is a hill town and comune in the province of Siena, Tuscany, best known for its Brunello di Montalcino
  • Montepulciano, Italy – is a large bustling community probably best known for the vino produced in the nearby countryside. The city is lined with tourist shops, wine shops as well as relics from an earlier time. We visited the Thursday Market Day near the bus station. We also enjoyed a historical tour of the Poliziano Winery nearby… tasting several wines made primarily with the local variety Sangiovese grape.

After an enjoyable week in La Bruciata, we traveled to a place we fell in love with during our last Italy adventure. Castellina in Chianti, in the heart of the Chianti Classico region near Siena. We just had to come back. Our one-bedroom apartment with great vineyard and sunset views was a great place to establish another “home base” and to unwind before we began our travels back home.

We spent most of our time exploring Castellina in Chianti and the vineyards nearby, but we did take one road trip to Panzano in Chianti. . . a charming Tuscan hilltop town located in the Chianti Classico wine zone. We visited on market day, and a biking event was taking place which made our visit even more fun. And the drive along the Strada del Vino (wine road) to Panzano is very scenic, passing through vineyards, olive groves, and forestry.

Our final stop on our 2019 Italy adventure before flying home. . .  Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, and is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. One of its most iconic sights in Florence is the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. The Galleria dell’Accademia Museum displays Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture. We toured the Duomo and Michelangelo’s David on our last Italian adventure, so on this visit we spent our time exploring the city, the food, and the wine. We especially enjoyed visiting the Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens), and the Piazzale Michelangelo where visitors delight in the panoramic views of the city.

  • Boboli Gardens – Florence, Italy
  • The Piazzale Michelangelo – Florence, Italy

Exploring the Tuscany region of Italy belongs on every traveler’s bucket list. Experiencing Italy’s unique people, history, scenery, food, and wine in the Tuscany region is surely to please everyone. And when you visit, make sure you photograph those special moments to relive when you get home.

Keep exploring… and may only the most remarkable memories and photos be yours.

Chuck

4 thoughts on “Exploring Tuscany. . . the culture, delicious food, and unforgettable scenery

  1. Hi Chuck, Mike and I did the same thing one year. We rented two places in Volterra and Castiglione della Pescaia, for two weeks each. So economical. We also explored many small towns in both areas. I enjoyed your images and blog.

    Sue

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