The countryside, the artistic heritage and important cities, above all Florence, all make Tuscany an undisputed leading player in the panorama of global tourism. UNESCO has recognized many of the region’s creations as worthy of World Heritage status.
World famous Florence, cradle of its culture, is a veritable open air museum housing the Duomo with its bell tower designed by Giotto, Santa Maria Novella, and the Uffizi Galleries. Another extraordinary destination is Siena with its medieval center and Piazza del Campo, scene of the world famous Palio. Then there is Pisa, with its famous leaning tower in the Piazza dei Miracoli.
San Gimignano, a medieval town and World Heritage site noted for its towers and house towers, stands out among the smaller towns in the region. There are numerous other aspects to the region, but a particular mention must be made of the Val d’Orcia, a site protected by UNESCO for the beauty of its countryside and the panoramas that inspired Renaissance artists.
The regional cuisine’s origins are from the world of peasants: bread, spelt, legumes, and vegetables. Classic antipastas include crostini with a blend of chicken liver and spleen, panzanella, and sausages, including fennel sausage. The first course is often a soup or broth, such as the celebrated ribollita, or a bean minestrone, farro, i pici soup, Sienese style spaghettis, pappardelle with a hare sauce. Main courses include fish, with fish chowder especially widespread, together with mullet and dried cod alla livornese. For meats, Florentine beefsteak reigns supreme, but other common meat dishes are chicken faraona, pork and game. Traditional desserts are castagnaccio (chestnut cake), buccellato and cantucci.
The wines are excellent: from Chianti to Montepulciano to Brunello di Montalcino, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, to Vin Santo, a sweet dessert wine perfect with cantucci.