Summertime Adventures in Tuscany Post-Covid

A view of the via Francigena

With the health crisis of COVID-19 lessening and restrictions easing, would-be travelers are thinking of venturing out of home and out of town, anxious to see and experience something new. Luckily for those ready to explore, Tuscany’s department of tourism sector is preparing to relaunch for summer 2020 travel with an initiative called ‘Tuscan Destination.”

This year the promotions target those in Generation Z and Millennial groups, whether planning a solo trip, as a couple or with a few friends. The website can entice the imagination and offer recommendations for a safe and relaxing holiday.

The campaign also focuses on families and the Boomer generation with short breaks in uncrowded spots or lengthy stays in scenic surroundings. With the possibility of not only booking accommodations, but also excursions, spas, wine tasting and more activities, travelers can use VisitTuscany as a one-stop source.

Some of the offers entice visitors to gardens and villas throughout Tuscany. The Medici Park and Villa Demidoff, in Pratolino north of Florence, might be the perfect spot for a family picnic shadowed by Giambologna’s famous ‘Colossus of the Apennines.’ With two Italian gardens and flora and fauna in a natural setting, there is plenty of room for exploring. Further south in the Val d’Orcia, an area designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Villa La Foce, built in the 15th century contains spectacular gardens and views in all directions. La Foce, restored in the 20th century by writer Iris Origo and her husband Antonio and now run by their daughters, offers charming accommodations with BnB in a renovated farmhouse or perhaps an entire house with pool accommodating from five to 10 guests. The onsite restaurant serves local specialties with fruits and vegetables grown in their garden and olive oil from their ancient olive groves.

For art lovers who enjoy the outdoors, consider the sculpture exhibition “Forme nel Verde” (Shapes in Green Spaces), in Horti Leonini in San Quirico d’Orcia. Visitors can view art as an element and expression of the landscape as art within nature. The exhibit goes from July through October and offers free admission.

Families can take a trip back in time during Renaissance Days in Scarperia on the weekend of September 5-6. In this town north of Florence in the Mugello Valley, shopkeepers, craftspeople, food stall operators and market sellers, all dressed in Renaissance costume present typical life in the 1400s. Falconers, flag throwers, dancers and musicians entertain visitors and the only currency accepted is the “fiorino di Scarperia” (the Scaperia florin) during the Renaissance Days.

Why not try a cooking class in Pisa featuring a trip to the local market to select fresh seasonal ingredients, the basis of genuine Italian cuisine, followed by a lesson in making homemade pasta? Students can learn how to make long, flat tagliatelle or stuffed ravioli from scratch and the secrets of a rich tomato meat sauce. The final touch, authentic and delicious tiramisu, can be achieved by beginners and experienced cooks alike. To finish, students and chefs, sit down for a delectable and authentic lunch accompanied by a good Tuscan red wine.

Imagine experiencing the life of a medieval pilgrim with “Trekking for Families on the Via Francigena,” the ancient road leading from Canterbury, England to the Eternal City of Rome. A half-day excursion for families traversing through chestnut woods and over ancient bridges provides a view into the Middle Ages and this historic and spiritual route. Beginning in Pontremoli, on Tuscany’s border with Liguria, the guided tour of 4 – 6 km. (2.5 to 3.7 miles) is suitable for children six and older.

A visit to Monteriggioni, a hilltop walled town in the province of Siena, known from the 6th century BC as an Etruscan city, provides an enlivening experience for families. Imagine walking along the medieval fortifications and 14 watchtowers with views of rolling hills and communities in every direction, experiencing life in the 13th century in this well-restored village. A visit to the small museum of weaponry and armor can provide more of a sense of the Middle Ages.

If any of these adventures pique the imagination, they are just a few of numerous ideas and propositions for summertime activities in Tuscany. Visit the website and start dreaming and planning your summer trips.  (rita kungel)