European Travel > Tuscan Delights

Tuscan Delights

By JESSICA ROBERTS
Published: October 7, 2008

Most people think the jewel in Tuscany's crown is Florence. Of course it cannot be denied that the stunning architecture, museums and art galleries are steeped in history and provide an insight into centuries past. However, if crowds are not your thing and seeing how the real people live is more your style, getting out of Florence and into the countryside is definitely recommended.

Tuscany is dotted with a plethora of tiny towns, many perched precariously on hills, that are a delight to explore. One could easily spend a week hopping from town to town, sampling local delights and taking in the amazing vistas from their perched locations.

One of the most famous towns in the Tuscan countryside is Montepulciano, a medieval renaissance hill town of outstanding beauty. Renowned for it's walkable nature, visitors will be best served on foot. Not only to take in the amazing sights and architecture, but also to stop at one of the many local wine producers' shop fronts to sample and purchase the local wares. The iconic Montepulciano wine style is not the only beverage on offer. They also produce some delicious dessert wines as well as Grappa.

Grappa is a potent Italian spirit, up to 80% alcohol, that is made with the remnants of grape pressing, including the skins, stalks and seeds. It was originally produced to stop wastage, but is now considered by many to be a delicacy.

Another nearby town worth a visit is Montalcino. Again, it is the perfect size to spend the day wandering around. Visit one of the many small boutique shops for some retail therapy, or stop at one of the local restaurants for a lazy meal in the summer sunshine. The winding streets will quickly capture your heart and mind. On top of this, the local Brunello di Montalcino wine will tempt your taste buds and your wallet.

While not technically in Tuscany anymore, Castiglione del Lago in Puglia is incredibly close, and commands an amazing view over the Lago Transimeno. It is quite a small town, but also has its fair share of vivacious local vendors with a selection of delicacies for visitors to sample. From wine to a local sausages and cheese, appetites will not be left unsatiated. There is also a variety of small cafes to choose from if a cappuccino is on the cards.

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