Tuscany – it can evoke so many thoughts in just one word. One thinks of rolling Estrucan hills, tall cypress trees, and picturesque medieval towns and cities. Unequivocally the most beautiful wine region of the world. There is nowhere quite as stunning as the forested and vine laden hills of Chianti or the freshly tilled clay hills of the Val d’Orcia, with their cypress tree driveways and further afield Bolgheri in the Maremma with its unique maritime pines and stunning coastal views.
Tuscany is located in central Italy and extends from the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea. It has ten different provinces of which: Florence, Arezzo, Grosseto, Lucca, Pisa and Siena are of interest to us touristically and in wine. We are not going to try and rewrite was has been said a 1000 times. What we can tell you is our guides are top of the line, Working in the Uffizi, or fully involved in the wine business in Montalcino. Tuscany, covered in castles, medieval villages, so many sites of outstanding beauty, its tempting to try to do and see too much, with unparalleled art and history dating back to 750 BC with the Etruscans and so much to see it is a little daunting when planning a trip. The most visited part of this rich region is Florence and Siena, We like to give you an overview of both towns with our native guide Cristina.
Exceptional landscapes and wonderful foods and cooking experiences are all for the taking. We have have sourced really super food and culinary experiences: Florence, Chianti Montepulciano and Montalcino. Remember Bologna is only 1 hours train from Florence so that can really work and its heaven.
Florence, Duomo and Uffizi Gallery, statue of Michelangelo’s David, Piazzale Michelangelo and much more
Siena with its World famous Piazza del Campo which hosts the famous horse race the Palio di Siena
Val d’Orcia famous for its cypress trees, natural landscapes, medieval castles and ancient hamlets
Arezzo the most eastern central part of Tuscany is well worth a visit and we like to pair it with Cortona
Chiusi extraordinary necropolis and Porsenna’s Labyrinth and home of the National Archaeological Museum
Bolgheri in the Maremma amazing coastal views leading the pack with their international varietal blends
Think the Masseto and Messorio Merlot or the Cabernet Franc / Cab Sauvignon and the Bordeaux blends from Ornellaia
Get to grips with Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Noble di Montepulciano, all Sangiovese based but with totally different terroirs and winemaking methods
Castelnuovo Berardenga built in 1366 as a stronghold of Siena a perfect stop while visiting Southern Chianti
Cetona along the Val di Chiana is a delight and Valentino the designer has a home here
Lucca one of the jewels of Tuscany, we know a super spot for lunch and a look at the walls and gardens and Piazza dell’Anfiteatro
Ponte della Maddalena also called the Devil’s Bridge. It is one of the most photogenic spots of Tuscany
Monteriggioni, mentioned in the Inferno of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy a tiny medieval hamlet that provided the first line of defence for Siena from Florence
Populonia is one of the best-preserved Etruscan archaeological sites in Italy
Saturnia, Etruscan natural hot springs of Saturnia close to the wine zone of Morellino de Scanzano
Pienza is known as the perfectly designed town UNESCO World Heritage Site and “capital” of pecorino (sheeps) cheese
Pitigliano Sovana and Sorano are all towns built into the Tuffa rock making them impossible picturesque
How long do I need
We suggest a minimum of 4 days in wine and food and as for the rest, how long do you have? 3 nights makes sense in Florence and 4 nights south in Chianti or towards Siena. The normal entry point is Rome and it would be a shame not to enjoy Caput Mundi at the start or end of the tour. If you really want the whole overview of what is going on in Tuscan wine, we need you in wine country for 6 days with 2 in Florence or Siena or Rome. We could base you outside of Siena, in the foothills of Florence, or close to Bolgheri. The wonderful towns of Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Radda-in Chianti, Castellina-in-Chianti and all deserve a stay. Leisurely lunches are normally the order of the day as you are on holiday. Why would you want to rush around? Tuscany is world famous for a reason: come and discover it with us.
When to come
May to July and September to October are the busiest times, August works in Tuscany if you are ok with the heat, most people are on the coast. May is a glorious time to come and so is September, if you would like to miss the crowds then Late October through till April is ideal but we cannot make any guarantees on the weather.
The Wines of Tuscany
Tuscany’s dominant red grape variety is Sangiovese – there are over 180 presumed clones of Sangiovese according to Consorzio Marchio Storico Chianti Classico . If you really want to appreciate this wine, you are going to need five full days of wine touring and tasting to grasp the subtleties of each of the different sub-regions. These sub-regions each have their own micro-climates, and of course, the massive influence of the soil which changes sometimes meter by meter. Chianti the name is thought to come from the Etruscan civilisation. Its name comes from the Latin “Sanguis Jovis” meaning “Blood of Jupiter”.
Brunello di Montalcino, made from a Sangiovese clone (locally Brunello) and grown in areas surrounding the town of Montalcino, is among the most well known and interesting wines from the area, however its is austere when young and needs oak ageing to soften and tame these tannins and acids. Many other varieties have prospered and none more so than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in areas along the Tuscan coast. Whites are by no means secondary with some amazing examples of Vermentino and the Vernaccia of San Gimignano.
As there is so much to say about these wine regions we have created these two pages for those who would like to know about the wines in more depth and to know what is FIVI and why its important.
Food in the Tuscany region of Italy has been defined by its elegant simplicity for millennia. Tuscans tend to eat locally grown produce, pretty much the norm in Italy that is locally grown, The olive oil from this region is the most highly regarded in Italy, made up of Frantoio the major variety then Arbequina, Picual and many more. Rosemary and sage are the two most commonly used aromatic herbs, surprisingly saffron is also grown in this area of Italy with San Gimignano being the most famous. Tuscan dishes tend to be meat focused with the famous wild boar, Chianina cows are famous mainly from the Val Dorcia as are the Cinta Siense Pigs with their belt of white hair around their middle. White truffles are to be found in and around the hamlet of San Miniato north of Florence, unique as white truffles are only found in Piedmont.
Tuscany breads feature heavily. Pane toscano, served fresh, with olive oil on the side or with garlic before grilling
Pane toscano, is unsalted the only region in Italy, a tradition left over from onerous salt taxes
A popular Tuscan recipe using leftover bread is panzanella salad that everyone should try: imagine, Radicchio, Fennel, and Olive Panzanella
Zuppa di pane, or bread soup, and pappa al pomodoro are very typical examples of this technique
Ribollita, literally translated to “reboiled”, is another popular soup that features bread to give it a full bodied texture.
Pastas feature heavily such as hand rolled papperdelle and spaghetti often with wild boar or ragu
Cacio e Pepe, just “cheese and pepper”, pasta is a total comfort food and simple to make
Farro (Spelt) is used in soups or ground into flour for baking or making pasta
Corn polenta and rice are eaten but less so than in more northern provinces
Braised hare and duck with Sangiovese wine sauce
Assorted roasted meat called arrosto misto will often include pork, rabbit or different types of poultry and fowl
Cibreo, a famous Florentine chicken stew with chicken eggs
Bistecca alla fiorentina. This Florentine style steak comes from Chianina cattle and is a large T-bone or porterhouse cut
Wild boar, sausages or stewed for ragu & can also be served grilled or roasted
Along the coast, seafood is naturally more common with sea bream, mussels and clams, shrimp and squid all present
Cacciucco is a hearty soup made with fish and shellfish flavored with tomatoes, wine and chili peppers
Baccalà alla fiorentina, features salt cured cod, which is fried and then stewed with tomatoes, garlic and onions
Linguine and Clams, and Mussels in the Livorno style are a must try
Cantucci, Biscottini or Rcciarelli are different forms of hard cookies to pair with Vin Santo
Pandoro is a cake made with dried fruits and nuts with its origin being Siena
Chestnuts feature heavily and the flour is used for crepes and pine nut cakes
Honey (Miele) features heavily with cheese, sourced from Lunigiana, and infused with Saffron from the commune of San Gimignano
Below you will find more information on what we get up to in Tuscany, We are extremely confident in all our relationships across the board in Tuscany
TESTIMONIAL 7 Nights wine Touring Piedmont and Tuscany. A Discovery through wines and foods and excellence.“ I thank you both Tim and Cristian for the extremely well planned and executed tour of Italy for us. I felt at all times well looked after, stimulated by your obvious deep knowledge and passion for wines. This then enabled us to enjoy our trip all the more so...Ted and Dawn Chatsworth
7 day wine intensive exploration of Sangiovese in Chianti and Montalcino. TuscanyThe Robertson Wine Tour team designed a wonderful two day tour of Montalcino in Tuscany. We wanted something outside of the usual big names and they came through for us. They have a great relationship with the wineries and we felt we were attended especially well due to this. The...Steve and Janice Patterson
Honeymoon - Rome and Tuscany 9 nightsHi Tim, Yes, we have been crazy busy since coming home. The trip was wonderful. The scenery, the food and the accommodations - all were terrific. To call out a few notables: We liked the range of restaurants, from La Pergola to small pizzerias we found on our own in Rome. We really...Susan Rosen and Dan Rorabaugh
4 nights staying between Florence and Siena, taking in Montalcino and Chaintis wine regions"We have to say Superb job Tim, Tuscan wines and great company with Robertson Wine Tours. You provided an excellent choices of vineyards and overview in Montalcino, Bolgheri and Chianti. We are pleased to be home none the less and thank you once again. Lets think Sicily in a couple...Richard Bough
THE WHITSITT CLARENDON TOUR OF ITALY 2019Tim did an excellent job interleaving wine with exploring Italy, keeping it balanced so that we didn't get overwhelmed with tastings. Our palates were primed before going to each region: on the eve before going to Tuscany, he recommended we explore the fabled Brunello and several other Sangiovese-centric wines. By...James Clarendon