Tuscan towns and villages

Tuscany harmoniously blends striking medieval hilltop villages, beautiful pastel villas and a florid landscape of green and gold to sublime effect. Maybe not a list of individual big-draw sights, nonetheless a tour here is the essence of Italy, distilled into a hypnotic series of gentle strolls and long lunches, wine-tasting and glowing sunsets. An appreciation of the land and its people is best gained by slow exploration. Take a walk through world-famous vineyards and olive groves near Montepulciano before sampling a drop, perhaps at Colle di Val d’Elsa, a rural treasure perched on a ridge overlooking rolling fields, with a scattering of museums and galleries around town. Volterra also rewards leisurely touring: medieval ramparts encircle the town, the 13th century cathedral’s tower visible for kilometres around. A symphony of autumnal shades, honey and russet mansions face out onto quiet streets, the buildings’ slender faces contrasting with the town’s well-preserved Roman remains, and the leafy piazzas that are made for people-watching.

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