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Best Places in Tuscany

Best Places in Tuscany

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Trip Plan Tags: 
luxury,
spa + wellness
Destinations: 
Europe,
Italy,
Tuscany

Am going in spring time with my family. Looking for all inclusive package vacation with hotel transfer from airport tours and activities around Tuscany Maremma

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See + Do

Wine Touring in Tuscany

Most of the larger wineries in the three most famous zones—Chianti Classico, Montalcino, and Montepulciano—now offer the chance to taste and purchase either directly from the estate or via an outlet in the nearest town. Some have moved into catering too, expanding their tasting rooms into small taverns, restaurants, or wine bars, but few offer vineyard visits or anything more interactive. One of the exceptions is the Fattoria dei Barbi (www.fattoriadeibarbi.net), one of the oldest Brunello di Montalcino estates, and one of the first anywhere in Italy to open its doors to visitors (www.consorziobrunellodimontalcino.it). As well as free tastings in the winery, the estate organizes guided tastings for groups of between eight and 30 people, which can be booked ahead via the website; it also has a rustic restaurant, the Taverna dei Barbi, and several self-catering apartments. The estate plays host to the Museo della Comunità di Montalcino e del Brunello, with a fascinating collection of artifacts, including children's games and winemaking tools, illustrating the history of the local community and the area's long wine-growing traditions (www.museodelbrunello.it). Montalcino is also the destination and focus of the new Treno del Vino, a "slow tourism" scheme promoted by local winemaker Roberto Cipresso, who is behind the ongoing transformation of Montalcino's abandoned train station into a multitasking wine space that will house a "Virtual Museum of Wine," a research center, a wine cellar, and a shop offering tastings and purchase of wine and edible Tuscan delicacies. The station is reached from Siena on a vintage train—see the website for times and prices (www.winestation.it). Services begin in the summer of 2007 on an experimental basis; by 2008, the train will have its own restored "tasting car," where the wine will keep flowing durng the journey. Another initiative launched in 2007 by the Terre di Siena tourist board, Degsustazioni ad Arte, pairs memorable wines with memorable works of art in various locations around the province: See www.terresiena.it for details.

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See + Do

Montalcino, Italy

Montalcino, Italy
Website: www.terresiena.it

Montalcino is famous for Brunello, probably Italy's most famous red wine—and also one of the most expensive. Combine history and enology with a visit to the formidable Rocca, a 14th-century fortress with a wine bar offering tastes of various local vintages (Piazzale Fortezza; 39-0577-849-211; www.enotecalafortezza.it). Five miles south on a lovely country road, the Abbey of Sant'Antimo (39-0577-835-659; www.antimo.it), a Romanesque masterpiece with an interior partially decorated in translucent alabaster, has beautiful light. It also enjoys magnificent acoustics, as you will hear if you catch the traditional Gregorian chant sung seven times daily by the community of French monks that recently recolonized this formerly abandoned monastery. Between Montalcino and Sant'Antimo, the collection of rural artifacts, photos, and documents at the Museo della Comunità di Montalcino e del Brunello on the Fattoria dei Barbi estate is well worth a look.

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Maremma, Italy

, Italy
Website: www.lamaremma.info

Stylish, top-dollar resorts like Punta Ala alternate along the coast with family-oriented gelato-and-pedalò beach villages. But inland, and in the patches of coastline that are protected as nature reserves, there is a sense of wide-open spaces and remote natural beauty that is rare in densely populated Italy. To the north, the wine estates of Bolgheri make some of Tuscany's most prized reds, such as the stellar Sassicaia. Piombino, south of here, is the port for ferries to the rocky island of Elba, where Napoleon Bonaparte was sent in exile in 1814. Farther south still, the beaches at Castiglione della Pescaia get consistently high marks from Italy's Lega Ambiente (Environmental League), making it one of the most popular coastal destinations. Twenty minutes away, Vetulonia, on the site of an ancient Etruscan city, hosts a worthwhile archaeological museum; it also organizes visits to Etruscan tombs (1 Piazza Vetluna; 39-0564-948-058). About a half-hour drive south toward Monte Argentario, the Parco Naturale della Maremma (www.parks.it/parco.maremma), also known as Parco dell' Uccellina, is a vast 24,000-acre natural paradise with pristine beaches, pine forests on the estuary, and virgin woodland in the hills, all providing incredible bird-watching and hikes with magnificent views. Access is from the Alberese visitor's center (Via del Bersagliere 79; 39-0564-407-098), which also organizes guided walking and riding tours. Cars are not allowed in the park, but a jitney takes visitors to the head of the trails at Pratese, while another runs down to the long, unspoiled beach at Marina di Alberese. In mid-August, the present-day butteri gather here for the annual cattle rodeo.

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See + Do

City of Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy
Website: www.terresiena.it

This gloriously preserved historic city is among Italy's most perfect examples of organic medieval urban planning. The centerpiece of Siena is café-lined Piazza del Campo, the shell-shaped "sitting room" of the city where the Palio, a fiercely contested bareback horse race, is held every year on July 2 and August 16. On the south side of the square, elegant Palazzo Pubblico has been the seat of the city's government since the 13th century. The view from the top of the Torre del Mangia is spectacular, and the elegant Palazzo also houses the Museo Civico, which contains frescoed masterpieces such as Simone Martini's Maestà and Ambrogio Lorenzetti's Effects of Good and Bad Government. Don't miss the Renaissance Libreria Piccolomini inside Siena's stripy Gothic cathedral (Piazza del Duomo), with lively frescoes by Pinturicchio and a graceful ancient Roman sculpture of the Three Graces. Also in Piazza del Duomo, there's a new museum complex, Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala (santamaria.comune.siena.it), that was a hospital until a few decades ago. A fascinating 15th-century fresco cycle on the life of the pilgrim hospital (Siena was on the Via Francigena, the vitally important pilgrimage road to Rome) and the new archaeological museum can be visited; the sprawling complex also hosts regular exhibitions. Traffic within the centro storico is highly regulated; nonresidents can drive in only to drop off bags at hotels (ring your hotel for guidance) and must then park in one of the (pricey) car parks outside the walls. Try one or more of the four Trekking Urbano routes (one specifically geared for children)—the "Vicoli e Giardini" (lanes and gardens) itinerary is a particularly good introduction to Siena's unique mix of country and city. Leaflets can be picked up from local tourist offices or downloaded from the town's website (www.comune.siena.it). In summer, the city hosts the international Siena Jazz festival (www.sienajazz.it) and the classical Estate Musicale Chigiana (www.chigiana.it) in magnificent historical palaces, courtyards, and churches.

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Hotel

Il Pellicano, Italy

Località Sbarcatello
Porto Ercole 58018, Italy
Tel: 39 0564 858 111
Email: info@pellicanohotel.com
Website: www.pellicanohotel.com

It's hard to find a reason to leave this sumptuous 50-room resort with its heated pool, private pebbly beach on the Cala dei Santi, and superb (but pricey) restaurant. Set in a natural amphitheater on the rocky Argentario coast, this exclusive resort's accommodations are discreetly spread out in villas nestled among pine trees and cypresses. Rooms are spacious and light-filled, and decorated with comfortable luxury in mind; most have terraces overlooking the sea. The privacy factor draws aristocrats and muckety-mucks from the fields of entertainment, the arts, and banking: A staff of more than a hundred is on hand to cater to their every whim. Even if you're not staying in the hotel, a meal at Il Pellicano is worth a detour. From June to September, lunchtime here consists of an informal but spectacular buffet on the stunning seaside terrace overlooking Porto Ercole, with an array of exquisitely fresh fish and meats; make your choice, and it will be custom-barbecued for you. In the shoulder seasons and in the evenings, the elegant dining room serves a creative Italian menu that rates a Michelin star (the only one on Monte Argentario). Choose from tagliolini with lobster in a pea and barley cream, a delicate thyme-scented roast turbot with potatoes crushed with shallots and fennel, or lamb shank with spelt and Swiss chard. The wine list offers more than a thousand labels.

Open April to October.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.