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The Ultimate Guide to Tuscany – by the travel experts who know

The medieval walled city of San Gimignano is famous for its towers, and its Gothic and Romanesque architecture.

The medieval walled city of San Gimignano is famous for its towers, and its Gothic and Romanesque architecture. Photo: Shutterstock

You could just visit Tuscany and wing it – after all, this region of Italy is famously beautiful and bursting with incredible food, wine and history.

But that’s also good reason not to wing it, and instead do some careful planning – or better yet, have someone else do it.

Narrowing down the thousands of experiences, dining options and accommodation choices to nothing but the very best is what Abercrombie & Kent Journey Designers do, on seven continents.

The company’s bespoke Tuscany itineraries are a case in point.

Painstakingly curated to ensure visitors wring every last drop out of their visit, each trip includes a healthy dose of all the essential Tuscan elements: Serene scenery, incredible food, amazing accommodation, fascinating history and oodles of art.

Here’s just a sample of how an Abercrombie & Kent Tuscany trip delivers a perfect blend of everything that matters.

The picturesque wine-producing region near Chianti. Photo: Shutterstock

Scenery

Take to the skies for a bird’s eye view over Chianti as the sun rises over the hills, medieval villages and vineyards of this wine-producing region, landing for a lavish breakfast of local produce with a glass of Prosecco.

Then get a closer look of what is regarded as the most beautiful part of Tuscany as your driver takes you on a tour of local villages with a lunch stop at a winery.

Head to the hilltop town of Cortona, location for the films Under the Tuscan Sun and Life is Beautiful, then pay a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Siena, built on three hills and regarded as Italy’s most exquisite medieval city.

Don’t miss: The Renaissance-era village of Pienza, a World Heritage Site and birthplace of Pope Pius II. This incredibly well-preserved living town was a location for Gladiator and The English Patient.

The Renaissance-era village of Pienza is the birthplace of Pope Pius II. Photo: Shutterstock

Food and wine

Outside Monteriggioni, visit a local farm to immerse yourself in the best of Tuscan produce.

Here you’ll discover the intricate process of harvesting saffron, a prized spice worth as much as gold, then sample the farm’s honey, olive oil and Vernaccia, a white wine grape.

Watching the harvesting of saffron is possible outside Monteriggioni. Photo: Shutterstock

While in Cortona, have lunch at a local dairy farm before taking a private tour of renowned vineyards culminating in a wine tasting at Avignonesi winery, producer of Nobile di Montepulciano wine.

Don’t miss: A meal at the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere, set in an orangery and serving traditional Tuscan fare. The restaurant also offers Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun classes.

Cortona was used in location shots for the films Under the Tuscan Sun and Life is Beautiful. Photo: Shutterstock

Accommodation

Speaking of the Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere, a stay here will be a highlight of any Tuscan trip.

The 17th-century manor is located between Umbria and Tuscany and features 34 unique rooms and suites with interiors inspired by local artisans, sweeping views of olive groves and countryside and an outdoor pool.

Abercrombie & Kent’s Chianti hotel of choice is Borgo San Felice, which is an entire 8th-century medieval hamlet with chapel, pool, cellars, vineyard and two villas featuring a total of nine rooms.

In Florence, have your own Room With a View moment with a stay at the Hotel Helvetia & Bristol, a stop on European Grand Tours since 1885, recently renovated and extended with interiors by celebrated designer Anouska Hempel.

Don’t miss: The Hotel Helvetia & Bristol’s exquisite, and enormous, 540-square-metre spa simply has to be seen – and better yet, experienced – to be believed.

Florence is the capital of Tuscany, and perhaps the art capital of the world. Photo: Shutterstock

History

You’ll find yourself immersed in rich history wherever you are in Tuscany, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek out some highlights.

The hilltop walled town of San Gimignano is famous for its 14 towers, and its Gothic and Romanesque architecture. Combine a visit here with a stop in Monteriggioni and a walk along its circular ramparts, which have protected the city since the Middle Ages.

Don’t miss: Montepulciano is yet another fortified hilltop village but this one is brimming with Renaissance-style palaces and churches to explore.

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Siena is regarded as Italy’s most exquisite medieval city. Photo: Shutterstock

Art

Florence is the capital of Tuscany, and perhaps the art capital of the world.

Here, Abercrombie & Kent travellers can gain exclusive access to the little-known 13th-century Basilica of Santissima Annunziata with one of a small team of art restorers who, supported by Abercrombie & Kent, are working on the hidden Chapel of Giambologna, created by and named after the 6th-century sculptor of the same name.

Be sure to leave time to visit the Uffizi Gallery for its peerless Renaissance collection, as well as its pieces from the Medici family.

Don’t miss: Perhaps Florence’s most famous resident, Michelangelo’s David.

Abercrombie & Kent’s Tailor Made Tuscany itineraries include the 10-day Treasures of Tuscany and the Italian Riviera, the 9-day Rome to Venice: A Connoisseur’s Italy and the 10-day Umbria and Tuscany: Italy’s Green Heart trips, or the company’s Journey Designers can customise elements from each itinerary to suit. Visit abercrombiekent.com.au or call 1300 851 800.

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