Italy, Tuscany is a pleasure for the eyes and palate!
Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Fantastic Italy and not least Tuscany is known for good food and drink, wonderful landscapes, and cities full of historical buzz. Join me on a journey in this beautiful part of Italy. (back to the Italian menu)
Text and photo Ingar Næss. (c) (90% translated to English from Norwegian by Google)
Tuscany consists of fields and small hills with beautiful colors, old churches, history, small towns, vineyards, and restaurants with soul and cuisine, where the Italian traditions are alive and well. It is a place where facets of experience and pleasure have almost no limits. Tuscany is a pleasure for both the eye and not least the palate.
“Italy's many facets of experience and pleasure have almost no limits. Be it experiences that combine food and wine, or history and nature. And we won't get past the people and the versatile Italian culture either. Sharing the experiences is also a further facet, and I'm looking forward to that" Ingar Naess, photographer and travel writer.
This tour primarily goes to inner Tuscany and the areas south of Siena in the Val d'Orcia region. Here you will find several hundred vineyards, and not least the wonderful Tuscan nature! This is an area that is not known to most Norwegians if we are to believe the locals. But I can guarantee that anyone who makes the trip here will not regret it. Wherever you are in Tuscany, this can be a wonderful place for adventurous excursions, or just to relax and enjoy yourself.
If you are among those who like to drive around a bit to experience the gems of Italy, the area in the Val d'Orcia region is an excellent starting point. I initially thought that Siena was the best place to stay and have as a starting point to experience this area, but my clear recommendation is a trip to San Quirico d'Orcia, or somewhere nearby!
This is from one of the places the Gladiator, movie, was recorded in 1966, awarded with 9 Academy Awards, for a wonderful location that's well worth visiting!
coupleThis is a very popular place to photograph yourself and imitate this scene
If you like to stay for a couple of days, San Quirico is the town to stay in. It´s so close that you use only a few minutes with a car.
San Quirico d'Orcia is a small town and a municipality in the province of Siena in Tuscany in the middle of Italy. It is part of the Val d'Orcia, a valley where the river Orcia flows, which in 2004 was included in the World Heritage List for its unique soil that produces good wine.
San Quirico is a small, cozy town located approximately 50 minutes' drive south of Siena. The city is a great starting point for a wonderful holiday. There are many accommodation options. You can rent a house, preferably with space for 8-16 people, a room at a small vineyard, or you can stay in one of the many hotels in the area.
Local wine and a small farmhouse to stay overnight.
If it is a vineyard you want to stay at, there is everything from simple accommodation options to 400 euros for a week and upwards. (2018)
In this context, I have a tip, book here.
How about finding peace in a vineyard? We meet a nice wine farmer and tasted his wonderful wine, and he served good food prepared with incredibly good olive oil! And the wine is just as wonderful and often organically grown.
The distance from Pisa, where Norwegian has a connection, is just over two hours to San Quirico.
A tip might be to drive through Siena on the way down and feel free to stop by the town of Volterra. It is one of several famous small old towns from the 12th century. Volterra is high up on top of a hill so that they could then see if the enemy was coming to attack them.
Volterra is approximately 1h 40 minutes from San Quirico, and once you are here, you must also visit the Teatro del Silenzio located in Lajatico, the birthplace of the famous blind opera singer and multi-instrumentalist Andrea Bocelli.
It`s an alternative starting from Florence. Another option is to plan the first stop in Florence. You should set aside at least a day or two. On your way from Florence, you can take the trip via the vineyards with the "lovely Italian" Chianti!
Close your eyes, feel the taste and aroma of this wine, preferably together with toasted bruschetta smeared with a little garlic, tomato, olive oil, a little salt, and basil. Traditional Italian "poor man's food" that makes all the taste buds open up!
Well, - which way you choose to experience Chianti and Florence, you can decide for yourself. The experiences are just over an hour from San Quirico. It's worth noting if you don't take the small roads via the vineyards and let it become a day trip.
I mentioned Siena which is also one of the famous cities in Tuscany. If you have time, you can make a stop on the way to familiarize yourself with Siena. The most famous sight is the town hall square Il Campo where there is an impressive cathedral. You must have good shoes so that the three hundred steps up the tower will be a pleasure. From here you get a fantastic view over the whole of Siena and the surrounding areas. You can park right inside the city walls. From there, it takes less than a quarter of an hour to walk up to the square, if you don't choose a bus or taxi.
Wine, wine, and more wine!
If the vineyards are high on the wish list, there is plenty to choose from and you will find them everywhere. In total, there are over 200 wine producers in the Val d'Orcia area and over two thousand in the whole of Tuscany.
Between Florence and Siena alone, Chianti has over 900 vineyards to choose from. If you have any special wishes, ask ahead and plan well, then you will get the most out of the wine experience. I guarantee you many wonderful wines.
Do like me, and go to a wine tasting in San Quirico first, then you will get a large selection in a few pleasant hours. One of the places is The Wine Bar - Intralci, where you meet Alessandro Boneschi. Say hello to Alessandro, from me, and ask to taste my favorite, Messaggero, Nobile. It's just lovely!
Fantastic Brunello A stone's throw from San Quirico you will find some of the best wines that Tuscany has to offer, namely - Brunello. Brunello is produced around the small town of Montalcino, which is beautifully situated among olive groves and lots of vineyards.
Once you are here, surrounded by the old city wall, you quickly see that not much has changed since the 16th century. The impression is reinforced when you visit the old castle, the churches, and the characteristic bell tower of Piazza del Popolo. A strong medieval charm also radiates in the labyrinthine narrow streets.
This is the perfect setting to taste the delicious Brunello wine that has made the area famous.
One tip could be to visit the Norwegian-inspired restaurant Enoteca Svanen, which is located right outside the walls.
Here you can, among other things, be served fantastic meat dishes and some incredible wines, Brunello di Montalcino from Podere Canapaccia. The winery that produces this is ten kilometers from here and also offers accommodation.
Norwegians with success in Tuscany
I probably wouldn't have found these gems as easily if I hadn't had an agreement with a couple of Norwegians who have turned themselves into Italians. Einar Fjoran and Daniel Andersson arrange private weddings and events for companies. They also export wine to Norway and have an Italian restaurant i Oslo, Casa Mata.
So, if you are planning to get married, or have a daughter or son who dreams of a different and special wedding, it might be an idea to have a chat with Bella Wedding.
A large part of The English Patient was filmed in the beautiful Val d'Orcia in Tuscany. In particular, the film is shot in Pienza, between piazza Pio II, a symbol of Renaissance urban ideals, and the streets of Cosona, a fortified complex from the 15th century.
Now you can rent the place for your wedding or your big family get-together. There is room for about 100 people here.
Simple, natural, and just beautiful! No wonder many tourists just love Val d'Orcia. I had been looking forward to experiencing this, but I had never dreamed that it was only a minute's drive from San Quirico. I'm just saying, - wow!
One of Tuscany's absolute gems is Val d'Orcia. Here, nature has created its own work of art with masses of beauty. I understand why many consider this area the very signature of Tuscany. Val d'Orcia was discovered during the Renaissance around the 15th century. Here was the perfect landscape where there was complete harmony between people and nature.
The combination of natural features and man-made ability to safeguard this heritage has meant that the area has been on UNESCO's World Heritage List since 2004. As mentioned, this is a good starting point for experiencing Val d'Orcia. In addition to San Quirico, there are three other historic towns, namely Pienza, Montepulciano, and Montalcino in the immediate vicinity.
Most beautiful pictures in the early morning If you really want to experience the landscape, you have several options. There are big differences depending on the time of year you travel and the weather you encounter. If you are fond of this nature, you will experience new pictures every month all year round!
An important tip is to get up early, around six or seven, and have plenty of time. The few tourists you then meet are usually professionals who will take new photos for books, web pages, and perhaps new postcards.
When you get up early, you might get an extra bonus, namely the fog. It creates absolutely incredible paintings that you will never get after 10 o'clock! This is one of the reasons why the pros are never seen in the middle of the day because then the light is too "flat" and dull in their lenses. If that doesn't suit you, it's also great when the afternoon shadows take hold of the landscape.
Although I spent several days, in different weather, I am looking forward to another trip a little later in the year. Maybe I'll get to take part in the harvesting of the grapes as well!
Love and courtship! Juan had planned this proposal before he left France and everything went according to plan! Sometimes you can also get a "Kodak moment", this time it was my turn. Up on a ridge is an old chapel from around 1550, Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta
My "moment" this day was when I saw a man get down on his knees right in front of the chapel! There is one who proposes! I tear open the camera and snap, - because this is what I want with me. Thanks to Juan and Michell from France for my "moment" and for allowing me to publish the photos from the proposal at the Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta.
Juan had planned this in detail over several years. He had searched the web for areas that would be suitable for his proposal! Now that he saw pictures from this area and this particular chapel, he decided. They married later that year.
Fakta om Toscana
Toscana er en region i sentrale Italia som dekker et areal på rundt 23 000 km², og har en befolkning på rundt 3,7 millioner innbyggere. Regionens hovedstad er Firenze. Det grenser i nord til Liguria og Emilia-Romagna, i øst til Marche og Umbria og i sør til Lazio. Kilde: Wikipedia.
When you talk about Tuscany, it's like the image of rolling fields in deep green, yellow and red hues, crooked oak trees, and olive groves appear on the retina. Thoughts are drawn to graceful vines and scenic country roads flanked by majestic cypresses. And that landscape can be found in the natural area of Val d'Orcia south of Siena, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The landscape here has a beautiful beauty. And then the lush hills are also home to the famous Brunello wine and many adorable medieval towns.
A little about the trip: I used Norwegian to Pisa. I paid Euro 340 round trip. This is a quick and easy flight of around three hours to a small and simple airport. It is also possible to travel to Rome!
Travel tips Italy, Toscany, food, wine, wine, and more great wine. Explore the best Italian Wine!
All pictures has (c) Ingar Naess photographer