Impressions of Toscana, Italy
No region in Italy evokes so quintessentially the nature of this country, where ancient and medieval history are intrinsic part of daily life as it unfolds in the narrow arched streets of quaint borghi facing an Etruscan or Roman site, or curled around a 12th century castle hill, on the majestic and stylish piazzas of cathedrals, statues and palazzi in uncountable sumptuous cities. Cities which used to be States, cities which have always been and continue to be the beating hearts of a sparkling culture, art and civilisation. 'Italia' at its best, at its grandest.
Toscana is a very large area in surface, and it is consequently also very diverse. We therefore split up our exploration of Toscana in five distinct areas, agreed, a bit in an arbitrary way, because there is in reality not another one. Five areas for five regions with an own identity and background: Pisa and Prato in the North, Siena and the Chianti region in the centre, Arezzo in the East and Grosseto in the South. And no, the city of Firenze is not part of the present report, for several reasons. First, I have not yet visited Firenze with my digital camera at the ready, a reason which I hope I will soon be able to strike from this introductory text; second, there is so much to show and tell in Firenze that it will probably deserve a report of its own anyway; and third, what's the problem, Firenze is just about everywhere in the descriptions here of places in all corners of Toscana, from the largest cities to the smallest villages and hamlets. Oh, and by the way, forget 'Tuscany' and 'Florence', the Italian place names 'Toscana' and 'Firenze' are so much more genuine and they are perfectly pronounceable.
Before visiting the place of your choice: