Tuscany - A True Feast For the Soul
If there's one region in the world almost guaranteed to soothe the soul and revive the spirit it's Tuscany. Holidays here are definitely far from the hustle and bustle of standard, busy package tours; it's a place where time appears to stop, where the sun shines almost constantly and the air scented with the fragrance of peace.
Here are five reasons this delightful Italian region is perfect for soothing the soul, recharging the batteries and realigning your bearings.
Google the words "Tuscany holidays" and check out the images that are conjured up on your screen. Doesn't the sun seem richer and more golden? It's the kind of sunlight that painters throughout the ages have been trying to capture on paper and canvas - an indefinable "light". Hours spent walking or hiking under the glow of this sunshine are just the cure for the kind of doldrums created from too many hours spent under fluorescent office lights. Just a few days under the Tuscan sun and you'll find yourself with a new vigour.
Soft Breezes, Fresh Air
Time doesn't just seem to slow down when you're in Tuscany - holidays here actually seem to turn it back! It's not just the cobblestoned paths and gently undulating hills, or the stone buildings, vineyards and timeless architecture, it's also the effect this kind of environment has on one. A few days of fresh air scented with olives, bergamot and freshly cut grass can do wonders for stress - you truly can breathe in the tangible sense of tranquillity that characterizes the region.
Everywhere you look, you'll see the proof of why artists throughout the centuries have gravitated to Tuscany. Holidays in Florence will obviously have an itinerary packed with trips to the famous museums and architectural wonders, but even in the smaller towns, art is always in evidence. Ancient churches, palazzos, galleries and town piazzas are filled with the masterpieces of countless well-known and obscure artists.
Food, Glorious Food
Naturally, one of the most obvious ways in which you'll receive nourishment here is through the fantastic food! From street stalls to Michelin-starred gourmet meals, the cuisine is characterised by fresh local produce - raised, harvested or caught by people who live by the earth and sea, and crafted by artisans who love what they do. Make sure you try as much of the wonderful food the region has to offer as possible. Perhaps you will sample some famous street food - the panino al lampredotto; it's like a slider, but made with cow stomach! If you're not that adventurous, you may prefer a porchetta sandwich or cecina made from flatbread. The sweet-toothed shouldn't miss out on a bomboloni - a delicious filled doughnut done the Tuscan way.
Wine, Wonderful Wine
Hiking through meandering country roads dotted with wineries will afford you the opportunity to sample some of the region's amazing and renowned wines. If the art, the views, the sunshine and the food haven't quite satisfied you, the wonderful wine will take care of the rest! Embark on one of the many wine tours to sample varieties of Chianti, Sangiovese or Brunello. For a huge choice, check out the region's most famous Tuscan Enoteca inside the Medici Fortress in Siena - it's a heady experience not to be missed.
If you're looking for an extraordinarily uplifting experience, a visit to this stunning part of Italy will leave you refreshed, revived, and ready to return next year!