Top 5 Must Do’s In Tuscany
Tuscany encompasses a large and diverse area of Italy, so it can be confusing where to start when you are planning your trip. Here we have listed a few must do’s and tips for Tuscany to help kick-start your ideal holiday.
Attend a master class on Tuscan wines
It’s not easy to disentangle in the Italian ampelography and wine denominations. So, when visiting an important wine region such as Tuscany, it can be useful to be prepared before embarking on a winery tour. This makes a master class the perfect first activity when staying in Tuscany, allowing you to start to unravel the indigenous grape names and how they are used and mixed in the development of wines. Of course, your class will also include a practical element where you can learn to smell and taste wines and what to look out for. Read our blog on taking a wine master class here.
Food shopping at a local food market with a hands-on cooking class
Tuscany is dotted with local open-air food markets; each small village has a weekly market and the city of Florence has several of them. You won’t find any prepackaged foods and antiseptic counters, but friendly vendors and colourful, delicious vegetables, fruits, cheeses and every kind of meat.
Discover the best produce while shopping at a local food market with a chef (or a home cook) who will then put you to work in a typical Tuscan kitchen as you immerse yourself in the local recipes.
The most typical dishes that you could learn include; Ribollita, a bread soup made with cannellini beans and kale; Pappa con Il Pomodoro, made with stale bread, tomato puree and olive oil; Panzanella, a salad with stale bread soaked in water and squeezed dry, red onions, tomatoes, olive oil, cucumbers and basil. These dishes are rich in flavor and reflect the origin of Tuscan humble gastronomy.
Pecorino cheese farm visit
Visiting a Pecorino cheese farm is always exciting, because it gives you the chance to meet the people involved in the process, see the product transformation (from the field to the table), and experience the final product as you enjoy tasting the salty and wild herb notes that only Pecorino cheese can give (of course paired with local cold cuts and excellent local wines).
The town of Pienza is famous all over the world as the “ideal city of the Renaissance”, the creation of the great humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini who later became Pope Pius II, and also for a masterpiece of taste – the Pecorino cheese.
The exceptional taste of this cheese is due to an unique combination: the clayey soils of the pastures, whose scented herbs give the milk a peculiar taste of chestnut, laurel and herbaceous, and the local sheep milk that is produced in a very different way compared to other kinds of ewe’s milk cheeses.
Participate in an alabaster workshop in Volterra
Have you ever heard of “alabaster skin”? It refers to skin tone that is pure white and translucent, similar to the alabaster – a white rock made by calcite and gypsum, much easier to work than marble and perfect for carving small sculptures, ornamental vases and richly detailed ornamental motifs.
The ancient Etruscan city of Volterra, southwest of Florence, is the center for alabaster craftsmanship thanks to a nearby quarry of Castellina Marittima. Volterra, “Velathri” the Etruscan name of the town, is a charming city particularly renowned for its urban layout that reminds us of its origins. Here some capable artisans work in their shop and, by appointment, they enjoy explaining and demonstrating the sculpting technique of alabaster.
This experience is quite unique and allows you to admire the entire process, from stone to the finished product, and is a great souvenir of the Tuscan region.
Discover Tuscany in winter
Tuscany is a very popular destination thanks to its diverse aspects; as cradle of the Renaissance, food and wine paradise, and iconic landscapes. For this reason, from May to September, some places can be a bit overcrowded. Deciding to visit Tuscany in winter or in early spring time could be a great option to beat the crowds. Restaurants are open for all year round for the locals, as are museums and the local food markets, which will be crowded as usual, Italians love to buy local food!