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Travel Matters Ltd

28th August 2020

Italy – Tuscany, a place for body and soul

I’m so happy I finally got to visit Tuscany and its crown jewel Florence. Florence is housing some of the world’s most precious Renaissance art and architecture, including Michelangelo’s “David” statue, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus at the Uffizi Gallery and the very photogenic Duomo basilica.

Florence was just as beautiful as I have imagined. In fact there is such a thing as Florence syndrome when people are overwhelmed by the beauty around them. To quote from Wikipedia:

Stendhal syndromeStendhal’s syndrome or Florence syndrome is a psychosomantic condition involving rapid heartbeat, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations allegedly occurring when individuals become exposed to objects or phenomena of great beauty.

For this reason they have several ambulance vehicles around the Duomo every day.

View from Hotel Brunelleschi

As our hotel we chose Hotel Brunelleschi Firenze, a stylish boutique hotel right in the heart of the city with some of the rooms boasting the view of the famous Duomo. We loved our comfortable contemporary suite and the fact that the hotel was steeped in history with own little museum featuring Roman ruins and articles found there as well as the ancient tower. Their Michelin star restaurant is highly recommended but needs to be booked in advance as it is located in the Byzantine Pagliazza Tower, which is very dear to the people of Florence.

Restaurant Santa Elisabetta is on the first floor of the tower, with a particular circular shape, in an intimate atmosphere that only houses seven tables.

But my main objective was experiencing the Tuscan countryside with its rolling hills, vineyards, medieval hilltop towns and hot springs.

Did you know that the magnificent natural scenery of the Val d’Orcia with its typical cypress trees was added to the UNESCO World heritage list in 2004.

Tuscan countryside is so very fragrant with lavender, thyme and fig trees so to fully appreciate its beauty we decided to stay in a small agroturismo place with a working olive farm and vineyard.

It is very easy to spend a whole week in Tuscany, staying either at a private villa or one of the numerous hotels, be it a rustic agroturismo place or a swanky Belmond Castello di Casole or Borgo Santo Pietro.

I absolutely loved exploring small local towns and more famous locations like Pienza, Siena and San Giminiano.

San Gimignano square

As to be expected, Tuscany is a culinary delight too, although dishes are more hearty and based on peasant traditions. Fiorentina steak is probably the most famous of them all – a large, typically 1kg piece of T-bone steak rom local Chianina cattle. Other dishes include a variety of stews, thick soups and pates. All washed down with a carafe of Chianti of cource!

Tuscany is truly the pace where you rest with your body and soul and we would be delighted to help you organise your trip!

By Karen Simmonds
28th August 2020