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Tuscany - A Region Of Beauty And History
The Tuscany region of Italy captivates all of its visitors with its natural and man-made beauty. There are cities filled with historic sites and art treasures; medieval towns and villages perched on hilltops; and beautiful countryside dotted with vineyards and olive groves.

In Florence, the capital of Tuscany, the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) dates back to 1345 and spans the River Arno. The Uffizi palace, built in 1560, is full of Renaissance art treasures, including works by Giotto, Lippi and Botticelli. Michelangelo's statue of David stands in the academy and the majestic cathedral with its famous dome is a work of art in itself.

Siena is another historic and beautiful city. Its main square, the Piazza del Campo, houses an intricately sculptured fountain and the Palazzo Publicco, a palace dating from 1297 with an amazing collection of frescos. Breath-taking views of Siena and the Tuscan countryside can be seen from its tower, the Torre del Mangia, which is over 100 metres high. Siena's cathedral or Duomo has an unusual marble inlaid floor and a gothic and Romanesque façade.

The countryside between Florence and Siena is the Chianti wine-producing region, filled with vineyards, olive groves and chestnut trees. In the town of San Gimignano, medieval towers, built by rival families, decorate the skyline. Hilltop towns and villages with interesting buildings and medieval streets include Montalcino, Asciano and Monteriggioni.

Beyond wonderful historic sites, you will find amazing food in Tuscany. It is not that the food is what you would call "gourmet". It is the simplistic preparation of traditional ingredients. The The simple and becomes complex. Most of the ingredients are grown locally. The Mediterranean sun imparts a special flavoring to all that grows under it's rays.

Wherever you go in Tuscany, you will be struck by a sense of beauty and history that will remain with you long after you leave.

A Taste Of Food And Wine In Tuscany

The Tuscan region of Italy is a food and wine lover's delight. Modern Tuscan cooking uses fresh, locally grown ingredients, such as beans and olive oil.

Expect lunch (pranzo) or dinner (cena) to be a leisurely, unrushed affair with several courses and lots of wine. Begin with antipasto, a starter or appetizer, often incorporating local delicacies, such as pecorino cheese made from sheep's milk.

The first course (primo piatto) traditionally consists of a pasta dish or a portion of thick, wholesome home-made soup. Favorite Tuscan soups include Pappa al Pomodoro, a thick tomato soup flavored with fresh basil; Zuppa di Cipolle, onion soup topped with Gruyère or Fontina cheese; and Ribollita, a vegetable and bread soup of potatoes, cabbage and cannellini beans.

During the second course (secondo piatto), you will eat either meat or fish accompanied by vegetables or salad. An example of a local meat dish is Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a marinated t-bone steak cooked over an open charcoal grill.

Dessert, coffee and an after-dinner liqueur, such as Amaro, will follow. For dessert, you may be able to sample Castagnaccio, or chestnut cake, made from flour milled from Tuscan chestnuts.

Many locally produced wines complement the Tuscan cuisine. The most famous local wine is Chianti, which can be served with meat and most other foods. Other local wines include Brunello di Montalcino, a matured red wine to accompany red meat and poultry; Aleatico dell'Elba, a sweet red wine; and Vin Santo, a white dessert wine.

The most important thing to do when enjoying a Tuscan meal is to slow down. In Tuscany, food is meant to be savored and not rushed. There is no such thing as "fast-food". A meal is meant to be enjoyed amongst family and friends with lively conversation. Savor each fork full and sip your wine slowly.
About the Author
Author of this article is Sharon Stajda. For more of her articles please visit: Old And Sold.
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