5 Secrets to Enjoying Tuscany
As a born-and-bred Florentine, I’ve had the delight of guiding hundreds of B&R travelers in my home region of Tuscany, a place I know by heart.
As I’ve seen time and time again, there’s nothing better than in our fast-paced world to go slow, and here in Tuscany, we do just that, in the spirit of enjoying life, moment by moment. Here are my secrets to getting the most out of your Tuscan visit.
Secret 1: Explore!
The first secret to enjoying Tuscany is to do as my fellow Tuscans have done: explore the wide world around them. As a proud native, I like to ask my travellers from North America if they know why and how the New World, the Americas, were named. Enter the Florentine explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci, who, in 1502, demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies were part of a heretofore undiscovered continent, rather than the eastern outskirts of Asia.
Many of my travellers are also surprised when I mention that another Tuscan has made his mark on one of New York City’s most famous sights. Standing at the entrance of New York Harbor, the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge was named after the explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who first sailed there in 1524 from the little hilltop town of Montefioralle. (Verazzano actually never made it back home, because on the way back he made a stop in Guadaloupe and was eaten by flesh-eating tribes—but fear not, the only devouring happening on your B&R trip will be you, digging into the famous cuisine of Tuscany).
In the spirit of exploration, my fellow countrymen longed for adventure, to make a name for themselves, and to see what was at the edge of the known earth. Personal experience trumps any other knowledge, so if you want to truly get to know Tuscany, don’t take it from me—come experience it for yourself.
Secret 2: Embrace the Challenge
Like many of the great metaphysicists say, you cannot understand joy until you understand the struggles of life. I won’t sugarcoat this: if you go to Tuscany on a bike trip, you cannot expect it to be easy. It’s not.
But having guided and encouraged so many travellers of all abilities up and down these gorgeous hilly landscapes, I can say this with all confidence: you will love biking in Tuscany. People end up loving the hills just as much as they love to complain about them, but in the end, everyone’s sense of pride and achievement is worth the hard work. I’ve seen it time and time again. And, remember, just like the famous commercial says, “For everything else, there’s the e-bike.” It’s a game-changer.
Secret 3: The Rewards Are Worth It
In Tuscany, we travel the lesser-known rural roads through small hill towns, farming villages, acres of vineyards and olive groves. After the challenges come the rewards: time slows down and the gastronomic delights of Tuscany are yours to indulge in.
On a B&R trip, you can get away from your usual routine, and connect back to being yourself again. We sip the best regional wine, indulge in rich Tuscan cuisine, all in the company of our friends. (And we’re experts at making this magic happen).
Experience Tuscany With B&R
Tuscany Biking Trip
Some come for the sun and to be seen, but on our Tuscany Biking trip, we’ve got better plans: sumptuous spreads, behind-the-scenes tours, award-winning wines, and spectacular biking through picturesque hills.DETAILED ITINERARY
Tuscany & Umbria Walking Trip
There is something eminently peaceful in wandering through medieval hilltop towns, passing vines tended to for generations, and savouring traditional, local and eminently fresh cuisine. Need more convincing? See for yourself on our Tuscany & Umbria Walking trip.DETAILED ITINERARY
Secret 4: Enjoy Every Moment
I’m a guy who lives out the cliché of being part of a big Italian family, so as you might imagine, all of our get-togethers were always busy and packed with people. We’d sit down at a big table piled high with food, elbow to elbow at my grandmother’s house. Unlike most Italians, I always had trouble sitting at the table for two or three hours at a time during meals. These food marathons were a bit exhausting for a kid like me, so I would impatiently keep looking at the clock on the wall.
I’ll never forget what my grandmother said once she noticed my fidgeting. “When you sit at this table, stop watching the time. In here, we don’t count the time, but we enjoy it.” It sounds better when expressed in Italian, but the lesson I learned as a ten-year-old is universal: celebrating the joy of daily life happens when we slow down to connect with each other. For me, this is the essence of Tuscany.
We Tuscans have been embracing this philosophy for centuries: it’s in our history and DNA, from a time when we used to count the hours based on the shade cast by a cypress tree. Wine lovers may know of the iconic black rooster, the very symbol of the Chianti region. (Every bottle of quality Chianti in Tuscany has a mark of a black rooster (gallo nero) on it, a practice which dates to medieval times).
The motto of the Order of Chianti reads:
Mangia, bevi, ama forte,
Non aver paura della morte.
The literal translation suggests one should “eat, drink, and love with zest; do not be afraid of death.” The metaphorical translation? Life is too short; enjoy every moment with no regrets!
Secret 5: Use Your Senses
In a time when technology gives us the illusion that everything can be satisfied by a single click, I urge you not to limit yourself to getting to know my land through a TV screen or a YouTube video. Tuscany cures all; the best way is to experience it with every one of your senses.
Come and feel the mistral in your hair during a long downhill along the Val D’Orcia. Come to Siena to listen to the thousand stories of this timeless town. Bite into a juicy apple fresh from the tree, and let it be your intimate reward for having climbed the Crete Senesi. Or take in all the complex aromas of a glass of Chianti Classico Riserva, produced in the Castle of Verrazzano—yes, the same Verrazzano who, one day in 1524, decided that the world he knew wasn’t enough and decided to jump on an adventure to get to know an entirely new one!