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Posts from the ‘Tuscany’ Category

A walk one early Tuscan morning: Vineyards and poppies

Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Arezzo, Grosseto… Tuscany plays host to more stunning cities than you can even begin to list, let alone visit on a single trip to the region. Full of art history’s jewels, quaint little streets and magical churches, these are the cities which inspired a golden age of travel. Yet the cities are only one facet of Tuscany’s charm. All along the length of the region, there are beaches so sandy that they can rival the very best of Spain’s costas. In its restaurants, the Tuscan people will tell you that the very best food of Italy is served up, from wild boar to Sopa Della Pescaia. But above all things, Tuscany is characterised by its iconic landscapes. Who hasn’t salivated over the picture postcard views of undulating hills truncated by a cypress-lined winding road? And it is this landscape, punctuated by vines and olive trees and pine-perfumed air that I like to enjoy above all things.

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I’m lucky. I have family living in the region. And that means proximity. When we visit them my favourite thing to do is to get up early, as the sun is just starting to make its ascent, and walk. Walk in whatever direction my feet take me. For all roads in Tuscany lead to a lovely landscape, as countryside paths take the earnest visitor through those perfectly ordered vineyards, across freshly ploughed fields and amongst wild flowers.

These photos are from one such morning walk when the hour was perfectly peaceful and the light a creamy tone of reflected gold. But despite the sun’s fast ascent, there was a tangible sleepiness to the air, as poppy heads drooped delicately along grassy verges, snails curled up in snoozing groups on deserted street posts, and the birds, slowly awakening, heralded the start of a sunny new day. Pure. Bliss.

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Tuscan Towns #1 – Monteriggioni

There is nothing like a period drama to stir the soul, not least when an exotic location enables escapism, both historical and geographical. Such is the enduring magnetism of a film like A Room With a View. Starting a young Helena Bonham-Carter and the endlessly successful partnership of Judy Dench and Maggie Smith, it is the very essence of period delicacy, all set against a stunning Tuscan backdrop. Having become hooked on the film last year, it has gained a near gospel status in our household, and when a trip to see relatives in Tuscany beckoned this Easter, the film was omnipresent in our preparations. As we looked at the map and planned towns and cities to visit, the voice of Judy Dench as Eleanor Lavish pervaded. Recommending Monteriggioni to her fellow diners as a must-do destination, we felt persuaded to follow suit. Many years have past since the novel (on which the film is based) was written, but Tuscany is a richly historical land, steeped in the past, and we were sure it’s charm would not have disappeared with the period.

Charming Monteriggioni

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Charm we found in buckets when eventually we made it to this idyllic Tuscan village, whose miniature scale is tightly contained within the impressive and historically unbreachable castle walls that encircle it. Located within the gently undulating hilly green landscape which has put Tuscany on the tourist map for centuries, the castle town is practically untouched by the passage of time, with a historical core which has escaped the sullying of modern expansion.

The Great Walls of Monteriggioni

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Based around a tidy little Square whose central stone fountain is partnered by a rustic stone church, everything in Monteriggioni is rendered in miniature albeit with a distinctive flavour of power reflected by the imposing walls which encircle it. A walk around those walls was a clear highlight of the visit, not least for the Tuscan views punctuated by cypress trees and sun dappled hillsides.

No wonder Monteriggioni was on the wish list of visitors making their way to Tuscany in the late 19th century. Happily for we romantics of the 21st, very little has changed, enabling a level of escapism which only a carefully staged period drama might otherwise provide.

The rolling Tuscan landscape surrounding Monteriggioni

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.