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  • Countryscape Ancient towns, fertile slopes
  • Country life Pleasures for every palate

When mother Nature was handing out charm, she really piled the goodies up high when it came to this above-the-knee patch of Italy.

If the slopes dotted with cypress trees and olive groves don’t win your heart, the aromas and flavours of the flourishing farmlands will, via your stomach. Perfectly preserved Renaissance treasures in culture-packed ancient cities scream out for attention, while the quieter lure of Maremma, Italy’s Wild West, is characterised by beautiful coastline, hot springs and marshes once patrolled by cowboys. Don’t let Tuscany’s popularity with tourists fool you into thinking you can’t get away from it all here – sure, this beloved province will treat you to the gamut of holiday activities, but whether you feel like touring mediaeval hilltop villages, hitting the designer boutiques, or flopping on a lounger-for-two for poolside sun-kissed snoozing, Tuscany’s allure can be enjoyed at every pace.

Do go/Don’t go

Tuscany can be busy with tourists throughout the summer months, although once you’ve escaped to your retreat you won’t notice. The cities of Florence and Siena in particular are best enjoyed outside the peak summer season.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Pisa’s Galileo Galilei airport (www.pisa-airport.com) is the most convenient regional gateway, but Florence and Rome Fiumicino are options; a two-hour drive from either will get you into southern Tuscany. If you're a high-flier with your own jet, there is also a small airport in Siena (www.siena-airport.it).
  • Trains The main station in Florence is behind Piazza Santa Maria Novella; Florence acts as a hub for services to other Tuscan cities, including Siena and Pisa (www.trenitalia.com). Grosseto is on the main Rome-Genoa line and has frequent express services. Once in the Tuscan countryside, however, public transport is fairly limited.
  • Automobiles The cities are best explored on foot, but there’s nothing more fun than putting the top down and exploring the Tuscan countryside by convertible. Hire classic and vintage cars from CLM Viaggi (+39 0577 287415).
  • Taxis Your best bet is to ask your hotel to organise pick-ups and transfers for you, as you won’t be able to hail a taxi in the hills.