It is a cliché: Tuscany is the most beautiful region of Italy, the one that everyone falls in love with, goes home and writes about – telling the world how marvelous Italy is and forgetting the difficulties of daily life in Italy in their portrayal of the beauty they found there. Italians hate this side of visitors to their country.
Well, as the train entered Tuscany, I started falling in love with Italy too. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go home to write about it, but unfortunately I certainly hadn’t forgotten the somewhat trying moments of daily life in Italy (getting my Permesso di Soggiorno and opening a bank account were never far from my mind). Tuscany is the region of Italy with the best of everything – beaches, mountains, cute little villages, big cities, open countryside, olive groves and vineyards. All of which look beautiful when enhanced by the Italian heat haze (or is that smog? It’s hard to tell when you’re blinded by love).
Of course there are plenty of touristy activities to get caught up in during a stay in Tuscany, from hiring a car and driving to every village and/or church possible, to wine tasting at the vineyards covering the picturesque rolling hills, or even paying a lazy €50 just to be allowed onto the sand at a beach.
As I’d now been travelling for 5 months without working, I was up for something slightly more budget concious than paying for sand. And so I ended up staying with an Italian friend and her family in a tiny village near Florence, which meant an truly authentic Tuscan experience.
After a weekend spent riding bikes between small villages, hanging out with the locals, meeting their childhood friends and eating more food than I thought could ever fit in my body thanks to the Nonna (Grandma) who doesn’t accept “I’m full” as an excuse not to eat, I too had fallen for the cliché. Tuscany is most definitely highly rated by tourists for a reason and I’d recommend it to anyone coming to Italy. But be aware of the Tuscan cliché that you too might just fall into.