The home of the Renaissance and the birthplace of the Italian language, Tuscany has always excelled in terms of literature and the arts. Even today, its cities abound with cultural fervour and are home to some of the most prestigious universities in Italy. Combined with its bustling, intellectual cities are rolling rural landscapes - packed with fields of sunflowers and vineyards. Take your time here to savour slow-cooked food or stroll through medieval streets to renaissance-filled galleries for a real taste of la dolce vita.
Our Editorial team's advice
Tuscany is a large, expansive region, and thus requires a fairly substantial holiday budget. In order to really make the most of everything on offer, it is best to avoid visiting (particularly Florence) in summer, as there are just too many people. It is all a matter of taste, but we have a certain soft spot for the area in autumn. The natural light during this period is perfect for photography enthusiasts.
Outside of Florence, Tuscany is best explored by car. As soon as you leave the city, it is the easiest way to freely move around the countryside and discover the characteristic little roads leading from village to village. If this is your first holiday here, Florence, Pisa and Siena are enough to get a spectacular first taste. There are so many hidden treasures though that you'll feel as if you need to come back to again and again...
A culinary tradition which has been handed down since the time when Florence was governed by the Medici family, Florentine steak is a typical Tuscan dish. Only the best cut of the meat of a young Chianina or Maremmana cattle is used to make it. This typical T-bone steak with a thickness of at least two inches is grilled, without seasoning, on hot embers of wood coal. Well-cooked on the outside, red and juicy on the inside, the secret lies in the tender cut.
Allegedly cacciuco used to be made by fishermen using the fish they hadn't managed to sell during the working day. Livorno-style cacciucco is a peasant dish, prepared with different types of molluscs and shellfish. Cuttlefish, octopus, rockfish, slipper lobsters, mussels and various kinds of firm-fleshed fish are all cooked together in a tomato and stock-based sauce. Once ready, it is served with Tuscan garlic bread.
Commonly called cantucci or cantuccini, Prato Biscuits are prepared using the same recipe that Antonio Mattei perfected almost a century and a half ago. The dough is a mixture of flour, sugar, eggs, almonds and pine nuts and has no fats like oil or butter added, hence the hard texture of the biscuits. In Prato, the ancient Antonio Mattei biscuit factory is still open with its original brand name, and continues to produce quality products.
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