If you want to get up close to the Tuscan style of life then it means appreciating the landscape, the art, the food and the culture. Tuscan has been exporting all of these things for years so sometimes once you get here its hard to distinguish the touristy from the authentic.
Perhaps the one thing that is almost impossible to export is an authentic Tuscan villa.
Sure, you can try to recreate it … but it will never really be a villa made in Tuscany. The ambiance, the smells, even the views are all parts of Tuscany that can’t be bottled up and sent abroad like wine.
The ups and downs of the hills in Siena or the vast expanses of olive trees and vineyards in Chianti, the skyline of Florence. These are distinct Tuscan landscapes that need to be seen in person in order to appreciate. The ability to open the window from a villa in Tuscany and gaze out on to one of these images is what inspires the love of this land. Somehow just seeing the endless rows of grapes makes the flavor of the wine at dinner all that more intense, and admiring the soft slopes of the sunflower fields in Mugello make those photos more vivid. Perhaps what is attempted the most abroad when trying to imitate a Tuscan villa atmosphere is the creation of a typical Tuscan garden, with the fragrant rosemary and sage plants, the driveways lined in cypress trees and the splashes of colors with bunches of roses. Yet, even these pale when compared to those blossoms that are found under the heat of the true Tuscan sun.
Capture Moments of Time
Gifted artists throughout the ages have been instrumental in helping others visualize the wonders of the Italian landscape, skylines and culture. They take color and texture and create an emotion, like Michelangelo and his marble sculptures. It is easy to forget that these very same artists, Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi and others were also architects. They designed and built homes, monuments and villas, all of which are the more lasting forms of art that a country can offer; dramatic structures that put down roots and become as much a part of the lay of the land as the rise of a mountain and the flow of a river. We recognize so many places by its skyline - just think New York City skyscrapers, London and Big Ben, Florence and Brunelleschi’s Duomo. The same is for the countryside in Tuscany, the stone villas with their terracotta roofs, large windows and geometrical forms are a distinctive part of the culture.
Engage the Senses
Even the interiors of a Tuscan villa invoke the essence of a people who are naturally social with the large rooms, high ceilings and lush decor; all features which draw you to join the party, family gathering or reunion. These spaces invite to sit down around the “focolare” or at the table and eat with them. The kitchen, commonly thought of as the focal point of the Italian culture, is all about enjoying the textures, the smells and marked combination of fresh local flavours. The warm and gregarious nature of Tuscany is easily appreciated while sharing a plate of pasta, especially that which has been hand rolled on a wooden board worn smooth with age (and use), with fresh eggs, flour and of course...there is always a secret ingredient. The architecture of Tuscany highlights the importance of the kitchen, which is warm and inviting recognizable by the prominent dark wooden accents and the faint smell of a wood burning oven.
Tuscany Up Close
The traveller, the one who looks to engage in the culture of Tuscany, will explore not only the roads into Chianti, the vias and alleyways of Siena and the vineyards of Montepulciano but they will look deeper into the landscape and choose to experience a Tuscan villa by waking up in its four walls, opening the window over the garden and enjoy a rich breakfast of homemade pastries. It is in these restructured buildings where they will be able to realize their dream to get closer to that which makes Tuscany . . . Tuscany. Not only will they be able to touch the walls of history but they will come face to face those who strive to preserve tradition. And nothing will ever be able to communicate Tuscany better than the people who live there.
After a week-long stay at a Tuscany villa rental, one will have had the chance to talk to the owner, see first hand their passion and experience up close their enthusiasm for their home. A vacation in Tuscany can be so much more than a visit to a new land when you take the time to choose a resting place that is part of its very culture like a Tuscan villa.