HAUTE DUBAI Magazine / Travel /
The best of Italy’s heart and soul
Always so much more than just a place, Tuscany is first and foremost a way of life in which each moment is infused with centuries of love for art, food and wine. From the mix of culture and upscale shopping – that comes with a daytrip to Florence – to the dramatic rolling hills of the countryside peppered with irresistible villages, castles and vineyards, and the splendid beaches of the Tuscan Riviera, a trip to this enchanting part of Italy has ‘unforgettable’ written all over it, and is an inspiration any time of year. Whatever it is that you take pleasure in is on offer; gourmands can choose wine and gastronomic itineraries while the culturally-inclined can take in centuries-old art and history on culture tours. For the more active visitor, trekking in one of Tuscany’s nature reserves or a round golf are just some of the ways to savour this beautiful region.
Where to stay
The Argentario Resort Golf & Spa
Located next to Porto Ercole, this 5-star hotel is surrounded by cork-oak woods and the centuries-old olive trees of Tuscany’s Maremma, home to hares, deer, squirrels, wild boar and a variety of bird species. This panoramic location enhances the elegance of the luxury resort to create a beautifully relaxed atmosphere, while a range of outdoor facilities, including an 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, three tennis courts, a football field and jogging trails, complemented by a wellness centre and a spa, are on offer for the more active guest.
Set amid the romantic heart of Tuscany, just a stone’s throw away from Sienna, Montalcino and Val d’Orcia, Villa Armena’s late Renaissance structure is built of red brick, oak roof, and terracotta that opens up to a beautiful Italianate garden. With just 10 rooms, each one unique, Villa Armena is an exclusive establishment where service, attention to detail and exclusivity are the cornerstones of the offering.
Four Seasons Florence
For an opulent and enticing Florence stay – along with signature service – Four Seasons is Florence’s luxury hotel of reference. Set amid an elegant Florentine garden bordered by an ornate conventino and Renaissance palazzo, The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze is a walking distance from many of Florence’s famed treasures including both the Duomo and Uffizi Gallery.
Where to eat
Located on the ground floor of the Palazzo della Gherardesca, Il Palagio, awarded one Michelin star, features vaulted ceilings, elegant décor and lovely views of the inner gardens. Large French doors open to a terrace that offers al fresco dining during clement weather. A seasonal menu features regional cuisine prepared with a contemporary twist, accompanied by exceptional Italian wines.
This three Michelin-starred restaurant is the result of a partnership between Giorgio Pinchiorri and Annie Feolde, who in thirty-five years of joint collaboration, and with great passion, have created something quite remarkable that represents worldwide the supreme Italian taste at table. Enoteca Pinchiorri is alluringly located in the heart of the city of the “Medici” where both Michelangelo and Giovanni da Verrazzano were born.
Located in a historic XV century palace with a spectacular view of the Chianti hills, this elegant tastefully decorated eatery is one of Tuscany’s most highly regarded restaurants. The creative menu features traditional cuisine but also contemporary creative dishes masterfully prepared by chef Gaetano, who runs the restaurant with his brother, Giovanni.
See & Do
If there’s one winery you must visit in Tuscany, it is Antinori nel Chianti Classico (www.antinorichianticlassico.it). Antinori is one of the biggest names in Italian wine, but it’s not just the vino that draws visitors here. Essentially, this winery is the Antinori family’s homage to the territory of Chianti Classico, a confirmation of the historic ties to the family’s place of origin. It is unique in Italy in its type: constructed with local materials and with the maximum respect for the environment and of the Tuscan landscape. The cellars, therefore, were constructed for reasons strictly tied to the production of wine but also to give a vast public of wine lovers the opportunity to enter into direct contact with the production philosophy of the family, offering the possibility of seeing, from the vineyard to the bottle, how a wine is born, observing step by step the phases of fermentation and aging.
For high-end shopping, take a stroll down Florence’s Via Tornabuoni which houses high fashion boutiques such as Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci among others. Another interesting shopping endeavour is known simple as The Mall (www.themall.it). Situated amid the idyllic Tuscan countryside, just 30 minutes outside of Florence, this modern outdoor shopping complex with its carefully-selected just-over 20 brands should be on every shopper’s itinerary.
The city attractions:
Start with Florence. Spare a day here to see the world-famous Renaissance works of art including Michelangelo’s David at Galleria dell’Accademia and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at Uffizi Gallery. The city also offers lovely cobbled streets that open up into pleasant squares, historic churches and monuments including the famous Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Also, don’t miss the photographic opportunity at Florence’s oldest and most photographed bridge, Ponte Vecchio.
Once you’ve wrapped-up your Florence tours, embark on a trip to Pisa, the second must-see city in Tuscany. Pisa is perhaps mainly famous for the intriguing Leaning Tower of Pisa situated in the fascinating Square of Miracles (Piazza dei Miracoli), but the city’s real charm is in its hushed streets, which you will not discover if you restrict your visit to the square.
For the best beaches in Tuscany, visit Viareggio. Just a 20-minute drive north of Pisa, this area is where wealthy yacht owners moor their yachts. The area is also famous for summer resorts, with beautiful long beaches that include such as Forte Dei Marmi and Camaiore.