Located at the country's very heart, Tuscany is the largest region in Italy, covering nearly 9,000 square miles and home to just under 4 million residents. Tuscany's capital, Florence, and the surrounding areas offer spectacular vistas that attract 10 million visitors annually. People in the region speak Italian, but Tuscany has its own language simply named the "Tuscan dialect," as well. It was also the birthplace of The Renaissance.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Tuscany boasts six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, places noted to be of great historic and cultural significance to the world and therefore worth preserving. The Square of the Cathedral of Pisa houses gorgeous architecture and one of the world’s foremost medieval art centers. It also contains with in its walled perimeter a certain “leaning” tower. Florence, originally founded by the Roman Empire, boasts a historical center that has been listed a World Heritage Site also, as has Val d’Orcia and the historical centers of Prenza, Sienna and San Gimigrano.
Known as the “Art Palace of Italy,” Tuscany is awash with buildings designed by some of history’s greats. Within those buildings are further examples of works by past residents that include Donatello, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. The roots of much classical music can be traced to Tuscany, as can the legendary composer Giacomo Puccini and literary giants such as Dante Alighieri, the 13th century author of the masterpiece, “Divine Comedy.”
Food and Farming
Prosciutto di cinghialo (cured ham of wild boar), carabaccia (onion soup) and lombatina (veal chop) are a just a handful of the region's many specialty dishes. The Tuscan climate and nutrient-rich soils makes for an excellent crop, the region is famed for its olive groves and produces four variations of the fruit -- frantoio, moraiolo, leccion and pendolino. Tuscany is also home to a variety of cheeses, which include raviggiolo, caciotta, the goat's cheese, caprino, and pecorino, which is made from the milk of sheep.
Chianti, a bold, full-bodied red wine originates from the region’s Chianti Mountains and is thought to date to the 13th century, though it wasn’t until 1716 that three Tuscan villages were labeled as the official makers. Born from the Sangiouese grape, all bottles were once shorter and rounder than the modern-day tradition vessel and were housed within straw basket cases, or “fiasco.” Chiantis incorporate a range of scents and flavors such as cherry, plum, almond and vanilla.