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Tuscany, March 2006 -  Tuscany is a charming stretch of land, blessed by nature. The vineyards rolling along hillsides, green cypress trees, snaking sandy roads leading to rust-colored farmhouses and moss-coated castles, symmetrically rounded hilltops surmounted by towns so homogeneous as to seem one single building. Tuscany is a land of interesting landscapes and compelling medieval hill towns, a center for Renaissance art and architecture, and Tuscany produces some of the finest wines in Italy.

Vineyeards everywhere ! Chateaux - also everywhere.

Tuscany has all sorts of coastlines beaches good for lounging and socializing, beaches good for listening to the wind, coves that make for wonderful diving, and marshlands (if you'd rather be birding). Tuscany's coastline begins at Bocca di Magra, the mouth of the Magra River and runs south to Porto Santo Stefano-Orbeterllo-Port'Ercole, A promontory formed by a small island that is joined to the coast by two barrier beaches. Tuscany offers sunning along its many beaches, and fantastic diving along the seaward coast of the promontory. There are lots of hotels and places to stay. It has been the summer home of the King of Belgium and is a favorite spot for wealthy Romans.

Real caves, full of wine bottles... ... and barrels !

As the place where, in 1400, modern thought started, Tuscany has always had a call on travelers -- and even before then, Hannibal came as did lots and lots of Romans.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the principle stop on "The Grand Tour," taken by all those wishing to expand their experience and knowledge, of greater importance than Rome and all other places. Today -- although Tuscany is steeped in history, art, music and culture -- it also lives readily in the modern world and has a modern outlook.

Tuscany isn't just a place of museums, art galleries, churches and endless pictures of saints (and sinners). Whilst having all those, plus the finest opera, in abundance, it may surprise some that, for instance:

  • Lucca hosts concerts each year featuring such international stars as Elton John, Bob Dylan and Joe Cocker -- whilst "Pistoia Jazz" and the pop concerts at Viareggio are renowned.
  • Tuscany's beaches are amongst the best in the Mediterranean.
  • Tuscany produces a higher proportion of DOC and DOCG wines than any other part of Italy.
  • The walks through the Tuscan hills and mountains are breathtaking.

One should never forget the wealth of festivals that take place, ranging from Viareggio's Carnivale in February/March to the Luminaria in Pisa to the world famous Palio in Siena, to mention just 3 out of perhaps 1,000 that happen each year in cities, towns and villages across the "Stato." Tuscany is the land of Michelangelo, da Vinci, Giotto, Puccini, Boccaccio, and Gallileo -- but it is also more than that, if that could be possible.

Tuscany, a place to remember and return to !

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