Tuscany Area Guide
Tuscany is central Italy's largest region, located on Italy's west coast, it borders the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Ligurian coast, the Apennine Mountains and the regions of Umbria, Emilia-Romagna and Lazio. Tuscany includes a range of coastlines, coves, valleys, hills and mountains. The rich soils produce world famous wines and the Alpi Apuane of the northwest are home to the renowned Carrara marble quarry. Tuscany is seen as the essence of Italy in many ways; an idyll of olive groves, vineyards, ancient hill-towns and frescoed churches. The national language evolved from the Tuscan dialect; a supremacy ensured by the Florentine Dante Alighieri (who wrote the Divine Comedy in the vernacular of his birthplace). The Renaissance, which played so large a role in forming the culture, not just of Italy but of Europe, is associated more strongly with this part of the country than with anywhere else.
The regional capital, Florence, was the hot-bed of the Renaissance, and its rich history is evident today in every brick and stone. Siena is renowned for its almost perfectly preserved Medieval centre. While its scallop-shaped Piazza del Campo is arguably the most beautiful public space in all of Italy. There is a rich list of architecturally beautiful and internationally renowned cities and towns to explore, many of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as Pienza and San Gimignano. The Val d’Orcia, extending from the hills of Siena to Monte Amiata was listed by UNESCO in 2004 and is characterised by carefully cultivated hills punctuated with picturesque towns and villages such as San Quirico d’Orcia and Montalcino. It is a landscape which has become familiar through its depiction in art from Renaissance paintings to modern photographs. Other beautiful spots include Cortona, adopted home of the author Frances Mayes; the stunning Maremma area, its coastline lined with umbrella pines.
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