I feel like I could write an entire book – books rather – on Tuscany. Its beauty, its calm, its people… its wine. I sit here, drinking my afternoon spritz, before excitedly moving on to my evening Chianti, longing to be back to the place that feels like home.
The best thing about Italian life is the understanding of how to relax and actually live life. Every time we are in Italy, especially Tuscany, we know that we will spend at least an hour over our morning coffee which, for me, consists of an espresso and hot chocolate. (You have not tasted hot chocolate until you have tasted Italian hot chocolate) before wandering around until the next big moment – lunch. We will picnic, or sit at a cafe for a a couple of hours talking, drinking, eating. Enjoying life. Taking in all of the beauty and tastes of what is before us.
Afternoons are for exploring and working, but when work is done… work is done. We walk away and go back to life. The biggest part of the day is dinner. This will be an easily four hour event. Meals, like everything else in Tuscany, are meant to be savored and enjoyed. And as I can never decide on just one dessert, I will always take extra time for my two.
The scenery throughout Tuscany is like being in a movie. Perhaps this is why so many movies take place in Tuscany nowadays? A favorite thing of ours is to do is drive around the countryside. One of the best meals of our lives was while wondering through the countryside. After driving to the top of a mountain, we were coming back down and stopped in at an adorable little restaurant along side the road. We sat for hours eating the best meal of our lives. We chatted and had our afternoon coffee with the owner and chef of the restaurant. I’m sure Olive Garden gots its tagline ‘When you’re here, you’re family’ because someone had been to Tuscany. Cheesy as it sounds, you really are family to people when in Tuscany.
Rent a car, but do not drive in the cities because you WILL get ticketed. The outskirts of the cities have plenty of parking! This way you can explore all the amazing landscape and countryside.
Try as many foods as you can
Apéritifs are a must
Learn a few words or phrases in Italian, show the amazing people that you care! They will love you for it.
It’s always okay to ask! Italian people are extremely helpful and friendly.
Make sure you have enough time to take things in and truly experience them. Tuscany – any part of Italy – is not meant to be rushed through. It’s an experience.
Absolutely book tours and tastings at vineyards. You can book private ones, which are our favorite. As a film photographer, I compare photos to wine. Wine in other areas of the world can be really nice, as can digital photos. Tuscany wine and film photos both have something so special about them. They are both true artistry in its best form. It is fascinating to learn why certain grapes are planted in certain hill sides or light, and then tasting the difference!
Try at some point to go in the fall. Starting the end of September until mid October is harvest time for both grapes and olives. The process is mesmerizing. The smells… delicious. The tastes… you will never be the same.
All photos taken on my Canon AE-1 and Contax 645
See more of our Italy travels.