Tuscany

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Tuscany is just so stuffed full of culture that it could actually burst.  The major Renaissance cities do unfortunately suffer as a result and Florence is becoming something of a nightmare with queues to rival those of Versailles or Granada.  Despite that, it is such an impressive city that you really have to go; I spent a month there and determined to see at least one major sight every morning and another every afternoon.  Still I failed to see all I planned!  Top of the list if you have limited time would be the Cathedral, Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi (the queue is horrendous and even if you arrive before it opens you will have to wait at least a couple of hours) and the Pitti Palace with its impressive, if rather austere, gardens.  Also probably worth walking up to the Piazzale Michelangelo to get a panoramic view of the city.

Once out of the cities though, it is still possible to find quiet little towns also containing the odd masterpiece, but not on the primary American tourist route so much less stressful and definitely worth a visit.

The food and wine are right up there with the best of France or Spain and, like those countries, they have managed to retain local food without becoming too precious about it.  So, genuine local produce and decent wine, pizzas that actually taste of something, and a general absence of restaurant chains; at least that was when I was last there..

San Gimignano Siena Pisa Florence
     
Arezzo      

 

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Jeremy Harrison 2005-2013