Tuscany - The Countryside and Rolling Hills
Tuscany lies in the center of the Italian peninsula and is known locally as Toscana. It is one of the most scenic parts of the country with dense cypress forests and picturesque mountains. The natural beauty of the countryside must have had much to do with the exceptional number of artists who have been born over the centuries or lived in the area.
Florence is the capital of Tuscany and just a couple of hours drive from the city takes you into the loveliest wine country. It is a joy to see the erect tender green baby vines on symmetrical frames bordered by rows of dark green cypress trees. The gently undulating countryside has dense forests of tall cypress trees.
A good way of enjoying the countryside and taking in its beauty is to take a bicycle tour. There are tour operators who offer guided tours and organize the hiring of the bikes too. The group is driven to a garage and the tour around the country begins with the hired bikes. This is wine country and a visit to the local winery is followed by a lip smacking sampling session. The guide takes the group through pristine countryside and then to a local town for lunch. The trip includes a visit to the neighboring Chianti countryside.
The region is famous for its olives in addition to its wines and the simple country meals get a delicious touch with both. The Northern Tuscany region is hillier and not really on the regular tourist beat. A lovely way to experience life here is to stay at one of the old traditional farms with their mellow stone houses. You can relax in the warm sunshine and enjoy fresh home cooked meals made from the local produce and wonderful homebrewed wine.
The slow pace of life provides plenty of opportunities to explore the symmetrical rounded hills on long hikes. Nature lovers can go on bird watching trips or just admire the local flora and fauna. There are plenty of ancient moss covered castles to explore too as well as old parish churches and monasteries.