Peregrine's own in-house Tuscaphile, Jaqueline Donaldson, gives us the lowdown on why Tuscany is the stuff dreams are made of:
For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of visiting Tuscany. From my countless devouring of A Room with a View to my love affair with everything Italian, I was worried this famous region of Italy wouldn’t live up to my romanticised ideals. But I’m happy to say that surpassed is an understatement.
The food, oh the food! I know everyone goes on about the food in Italy, but it’s for a very good reason. And you’ll soon find out (probably after your first lunch) that no one can do Tuscany’s cuisine justice in words. Food is an event here, so take your time to savour the simplicity of the flavours and the richness of a dish’s history.
Make sure you try the following local specialties: panzanella, ribolitta, cacciucco, pappardelle alla lepre and the hearty bistecca alla Fiorentina. And don’t forget to indulge in gelato while strolling and it would be sacrilege to not wile away an evening in a trattoria slowly sipping Chianti over a relaxed meal.
The land and cityscapes I challenge anyone to say their heart didn’t skip a beat on the streets of Florence and Siena or in the Tuscan countryside. The lively main streets and piazzas overflow with ambience and the tiny backstreets, where women lean out of windows and old men play cards outside of tiny cafes, feel like they haven’t changed in centuries.
Tuscany’s rolling hills are home to rustic vineyards, myriad wildflowers and old stone houses. Our picnic in the countryside outside of Montecatini was one of my favourite afternoons of all time – not only for the gorgeous scenery but for the basket filled with locally made delicacies.
Art and history are very much present I loved that everywhere I went history flowed alongside the modern day. You can’t help but see the famous cathedrals, buildings and art in Tuscany’s cities; but around every corner there is also an architectural or artistic wonder, and they are used everyday rather than roped off and revered. Customs that have been part of the culture for centuries are still practiced by young and old, and dishes – in Italy it always comes back to food – that have been made forever still bubble away in the kitchens of every home and restaurant.